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Saturday, June 12, 2021
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Friday, June 11, 2021 11:37 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis 

1. Pence & forgiveness

It was English poet Alexander Pope who wrote in his 1711 “An Essay on Criticism” that “To err is human; to forgive is divine.” And that is the one-way street of Mike Pence's supplicant relationship with Donald Trump. A former Trump campaign official tells CNN that the ultimate political odd couple are "in a better place now. Things have simmered down after being pretty raw for a while." Which was to be expected when President Trump goaded his Jan. 6 mob ("It's gonna be wild!") into chants of "Hang Mike Pence" during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. Pence and family were seen that day scurrying to a "secure location" as the mob sought he and Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the gallows after the veep refused to take part in Trump's attempted coup d'etat.

S.V. Date writes in the HuffPost: "Mike Pence saved American democracy on Jan. 6, and no one wants to talk about it. Not even Mike Pence." The article quotes retired federal judge J. Michael Luttig: “Literally our democracy hung in the balance." The article continues: "Ironically, the person least interested in making a big deal out of Pence’s actions could well be Pence himself as he undertakes the perhaps impossible task of winning over the voters angriest with him for refusing to steal the presidency for Trump and tries to chart out a path to win that job himself." It also quotes former Ted Cruz aide Amanda Carpenter: "Mike Pence wasn’t a hero. He just wasn’t willing to be America’s greatest monster, and that’s what he would have been. He’s proud of the Trump-Pence record? The Trump-Pence record includes an insurrection, and he didn’t say boo about it until Jan. 6.”

For all the political risk and reward he endured as Trump's veep, the one thing that appears assured is Pence's wealth after signing a deal to write two books. In articles by the IndyStar and the New York Post, Pence went from a $147,000 home in Columbus, to a $750,000 abode in Virginia, and $1.9 million digs in Carmel, complete with seven and a half bathrooms, an indoor basketball court, and an outdoor pool. Paging Jim Kittle. Becoming vice president of the United State is obviously good for one's bottom line.

2. Banks & Trump

Donald Trump's aborted effort to "overturn" the 2020 election hasn't detered Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks from currying the former president's favor to "save democracy." Banks and committee members huddled with Trump in Bedminster on Thursday. Banks to the NYPost: “We spent nearly two hours with President Trump, who’s in great spirits. We talked for most of the time about the work that the Republican Study Committee is doing to define the agenda for the future course of the Republican Party, which is fighting for the Trump agenda. We talked about our election integrity bill, The Save Democracy Act, which he was very supportive of, and we talked about what we’ve done to define immigration moving forward. We believe we take back the majority by focusing on the Trump agenda, and President Trump plays a big role in that.” 

3. South Bend FD scandal

In an April letter to South Bend Mayor James Mueller, all 12 city female firefighters wrote after a department captain accused of sexual harassment that he was only given a "slap on the wrist" by the chief and and Board of Works. The letter stated: “You have failed us.” Now the South Bend Tribune reports that Indiana State Police detectives have launched a criminal investigation after a hidden recording device was found in locker room used by female firefighters at a South Bend fire station last week. This is a scandal.

4. COVID updates

Indiana is closing OptumServe testing sites. According to CDC statistics, 42.6% of Hoosiers have received at least one vaccine dose, and 36.7% are fully vaccinated. This compares to U.S. figures that show 51.9% have received one dose and 42.6% are full vaccinated. Kokomo and Fort Wayne Community Schools announced employee vaccinate stipends. President Biden announced he is sending 500 million doses abroad. The FDA, fearing the expiration of millions of unused J&J doses, extended the shelf life. Community Health network announced it is requiring all employees to vaccinate. As the Indiana University Board of Trustees met on Thursday, a protest against the vaccine mandate took place at the Sample Gates.

5. Warsaw solves lifeguard issue


The Indiana Department of Natural Resources and cities across the state are reporting lifeguard shortages as pools reopen after the pandemic shut them down in 2020. Michigan City will have no pros guarding its two miles of squeaky sand beaches. The City of Warsaw solved this problem: It raised wages from $12.50 to $14 an hour and will pay the $400 certification cost. It has a full contingent of lifeguards.

Harrison Ford is making his fifth "Indiana Jones" movie film. Have a great weekend, folks. It's The Atomic!
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  • BY: MARK SOUDER
    FORT WAYNE – Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has written a book titled “On the House: A Washington Memoir.”  Here is a simple review of the book: He still doesn’t like Donald Trump. Based upon my 16 years of interaction with him it accurately reflects Boehner’s political career, and – whether written solely by him or with lots of help from a professional writer – it sounds like John Boehner did in personal, small group, or public discourse. I stress those points because as someone who loves to read political history and memoirs, finding a book by someone inside of politics that is both accurate and not full of fake posturing for history is rare. John Boehner has decided to be remembered as John Boehner. Political best-sellers are usually of two types: 1.) Books by famous people that sell well because of the author’s name but are a slog to read. Few people even get to the mid-point. 2.) Books by commentators who get people excited but have never been inside of a room where the decisions are made, and probably couldn’t even get elected to a dogcatcher position by their neighbors. Even political history books these days are dominated by “wokeness,” not history. Because Boehner is fundamentally transparent about the process, it provides some good insight into how leadership works at all levels of government, not unlike private business, educational institutions, and all social organizations.
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND – Due to delay in completion of the Census, gerrymandering for congressional and state legislative districts will be rather late this year. The Indiana General Assembly moved its final adjournment deadline to Nov. 5 to have time to receive official data and play the gerrymander game. Better late than never? Good government groups in Indiana and other states would prefer never. They of course want redistricting, the once-a-decade drawing of new districts to reflect population shifts. But they never want to see another gerrymander. In gerrymandering, the party controlling the state legislature draws districts for Congress and the legislature that are designed to elect as many members of that party as possible. Districts sometimes have strange shapes as the prevailing party links together areas that vote for the opposition, surrendering those districts, but making more districts “sure bets” for their side. Gerrymandering usually works. In Indiana, where Republicans drew the districts after the 2010 Census, the GOP has built up super majorities in the state legislative chambers. Statewide totals for legislative races show that Democrats still would lose control of the chambers in a fair, nonpartisan redistricting. But Republicans wouldn’t always have super majorities, where Democrats have little voice and couldn’t even break a quorum if they all left the floor.
  • By MICHAEL HICKS
    MUNCIE – As this pandemic hopefully winds down, it’s useful to think through the forecasts and analysis that economists got right, and what we got wrong. This is important because the U.S. has not ever been through such a deep, rapid, nearly simultaneous economic downturn. Never has our fiscal response been as rapid or comprehensive. Thus, economists have played an important and lingering role in this pandemic. I begin with what we got right. The pandemic’s effect on the economy was fast and furious. Nearly all the jobs lost during the downturn occurred before any government action to close restaurants and bars, enforce mask standards or limit gatherings. State governments responded with wildly different limitations, making it relatively easy to isolate the effect of disease and government action on the economy. Over the past several months a number of high quality studies have made clear that it was disease, not government, that delivered and sustained this recession. From the very beginning, the economics profession made it clear that fixing the economy meant ending the pandemic. 
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS – Here are the facts about Hoosier earnings, with comparisons to the nation, in the years of 1999 and 2019. These years were chosen to bracket two decades dominated by the internet and telecommunications revolution, while avoiding the Covid year of 2020. The data are from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. No adjustment for price changes were made because those changes themselves incorporate information about changes in demand and conditions of supply. Interpretations are left to the readers who object regularly to those supplied by the author. Some observations are in order, however. First, of 87 industries with complete data for both years, the U.S. had 81 (93%) with higher total earnings in 2019 than in 1999; Indiana had 75 (86%). Growing earnings will be observed if more workers are employed, and/or workers are employed at higher wages, and/or workers are putting in more hours than previously.
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time in history, the president of the United States promised Americans “free beer.” This isn’t one of those “Free beer … tomorrow” signs that adorn a few Hoosier restaurants and taverns. It was President Biden seeking to lure hesitant Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine after Anheuser Busch offered free brew to gin up vaccine rates. "Get a shot and have a beer," Biden said on Wednesday as he sought to convince enough Americans to achieve what epidemiologists have termed "herd immunity" in an effort to put this pandemic behind us. "Free beer for everyone 21 years or over to celebrate the independence from the virus," Biden said, seeking that elusive 70% penetration needed for herd immunity. In Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine opted for a “Vax a Million” lottery, spurring vaccination rates up 77%, or more than 68,000 per week. Many of us thought that the Nobel Prize-level scientific achievement of producing a vaccine in less than a year that is up to 95% efficacy would be the way to get this pandemic out of our lives, our schools, our businesses, out of our stadiums. But at this writing, Indiana has just 45.5% of its residents who have received at least one vaccine dose.
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  • HPI Analysis: Congress shrinks from Jan. 6 commission as questions remain
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – In the past year, the United States has been hit by two viruses: The COVID-19 pandemic, and a political insurrection that reintroduced violence into the broad American body politic. Capitol Hill Republicans are calling for the Biden Administration to probe the origins of COVID-19 and speculation that it was man-made and escaped a Wuhan, China, laboratory. But they slammed the door shut on a Sept. 11-style bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection that resulted in the deaths of five people, the injuries of 140 Capitol and DC Metro cops, the subsequent suicides of two others, and the need for a $1.8 billion hardening of its security. More than 550 insurrectionists are being investigated by the FBI or have been charged with sedition-related crimes. The backdrop to the Jan. 6 commission is that former president Donald Trump continues to push the notion that the 2020 election was “stolen.” He is agitating for more swing state vote “audits” like the controversial one underway in Arizona despite the fact that recounts in a number of cases and courts with Trump-appointed judges had found there was no evidence of widespread fraud.
  • Horse Race: Rokita aggressively setting up 2024 INGov race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – There is only one Republican officially looking at the 2024 Indiana gubernatorial race (former IEDC president Eric Doden). There are two from Holcomb World (Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer) on most short lists. There’s a doughnut mayor touring the plains of Northern Indiana (Fishers’s Scott Fadness). There are members of Congress (Sen. Mike Braun and Rep. Trey Hollingsworth) who can buy the seat. There’s U.S. Rep. Jim Banks who appears to be on a congressional leadership track. There’s a Statehouse power player (Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray). And then there’s Attorney General Todd Rokita, who was off and running just minutes after taking his oath of office in front of Gov. Eric Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Crouch. Rokita has been hyper active on the Lincoln dinner circuit. He is picking a fight with the Biden administration over the concept of “critical race theory.” And he’s been locking legal horns with the governor over the right to Statehouse counsel on two pandemic-related laws Holcomb had vetoed.
  • HPI Analysis: Young's landmark Endless Frontier Act passes Senate 68-32
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – In and around Indiana, brand new Ford and Chevrolet pickup trucks and Subaru crossovers have been filling up parking lots in Fort Wayne, Hegewisch, Louisville and Lafayette. A portable semiconductor chip is inserted, the truck is driven off the assembly line to a parking lot, where it joins thousands of others. The chip is then pulled out and used to restation the next truck. The U.S. accounts for a mere 12% of microchip production, with the other 88% manufactured in China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Rich LeTourneau, union bargaining chairman for Local 2209, told WANE-TV that the trucks are built but they cannot be sold just yet. “We’ve probably got 12,000 to 13,000 trucks waiting on those semiconductors. The trucks are built, they’re done, they’re ready to roll, but we can’t ship them until we get the semiconductor installed. It’s that simple.” It is within this pandemic-era curveball that U.S. Sen. Todd Young watched the Endless Frontier Act, which he has co-sponsored with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, pass the Senate Tuesday by a vote of 68-32.
  • Atomic! Pence speaks of Jan. 6, Trump; 17 Capitol cops still out; INDems tout rescue; Long calls for Rokita recusal
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Pence & Trump

    Mike Pence
     was in New Hampshire Thursday night and talked about Jan. 6, the day President Trump goaded his horde of MAGA supporters to "hang Mike Pence" during an insurrection. The former veep said: “As I said that day, Jan. 6 was a dark day in history of the United States Capitol. But thanks to the swift action of the Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled. The Capitol was secured. And that same day, we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States. You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye on that day, but I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.” Swift action? It took more than four hours for the Capitol to be secured. Pence then said: "I will not allow Democrats or their allies in the media to use one tragic day to discredit the aspirations of millions of Americans. Or allow Democrats or their allies in the media to distract our attention from a new administration intent on dividing our country to advance their radical agenda. My fellow Republicans, for our country, for our future, for our children and our grandchildren, we must move forward, united." He then turned his attention to President Biden, citing "a COVID bill to fund massive expansion of the welfare state" and the "so-called infrastructure bill" that was really a "thinly disguised climate change bill." Pence added: "I just say enough is enough. We're going to stand strong for freedom." HPI Takeaways: This is the second early presidential primary state Pence has spoken. He is clearly laying the groundwork for a 2024 run. Pence said that he and Trump have spoken a number of times since Jan. 6. He is running a distant second to Trump in a number of polls. "We did our duty" is his mild retort to Trump, who had pressured Pence to scuttle the 2020 election before turning the MAGA mob on his veep. Pence is attempting to thread the GOP needle. Despite the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Republican Party remains enthralled with . . . Donald Trump at this point. Pence may not have the party juice to "not allow" anything.

  • Sen. Grooms to retire; endorses Boehnlein

    Howey Politics Indiana

    JEFFERSONVILLE - State Sen. Ron Grooms announced he will not run for reelection in 2022 and has endorsed Kevin Boehnlein for the Republican nomination. “During my tenure in the state Senate I have worked on a variety of legislation of which I am proud," Grooms said. "In particular legislation creating the Clark Regional Airport Authority, cracking down on so-called ‘pill mills’ that were distributing large quantities of opioids, and was a key supporter of the construction of the Lewis and Clark and Lincoln Bridges and the rebuilding of the Kennedy Bridge.” He is endorsing Greenville Republican Kevin Boehnlein to succeed him. Boehnlein, a financial advisor for Edward Jones and long-time Republican party activist, recently announced his candidacy for the District 46 seat. “I endorse him without reservation. He has my full support,” Grooms said, who has held the seat since 2010. He is a former Jeffersonville City councilman.

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  • Mayor McDermott eyes challenge to Sen. Young
    "To me, when we are attacked, our nation's capital is attacked — it was — and the Republican Party is refusing to even open an investigation into it, it's a disgrace. It's about loyalty to our country, and I think that's missing right now in America. I'm troubled by where we are in America. I think that people like Todd Young should have been pulling people together and trying to work across the aisle, and I don't really see that. And Sen. Young knows better. He knows what the right thing to do about the Jan. 6 insurrection is. He knows what the right thing to do is, he knows what the political thing to do is, and he chose political. And it's not a patriotic vote." - Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., on his "Left of Center" podcast saying he is considering a challenge to U.S. Sen. Todd Young in 2022 McDermott is a five-term mayor and also a former Lake County Democratic chairman. He lost a 1st CD primary race to U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan in 2020.
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