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Friday, January 15, 2021
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Thursday, January 14, 2021 8:59 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – In six days, America’s experiment with Donald Trump’s reality show presidency comes to an end. It hasn’t been pretty, particularly since he lost his reelection bid by seven million votes and a 306-232 Electoral College margin.

There have been 376,000 COVID-19 deaths at a rate surpassing 4,000 a day. The 20 million vaccines that were supposed to end up in American arms by the end of 2020 didn’t make it past nine million. There were 141,000 jobs lost in December. There was a terror bombing in downtown Nashville that Trump ignored. And then came Jan. 6, when a “Stop the Steal” rally commenced at the Ellipse with the White House as a backdrop, centered around “the big lie,” which in Trump’s spin was actually his “landslide” victory stolen in a “rigged” election.

In a Hollywood-esque scene that would have made “Network’s” tormented anchor Howard Beal proud, Trump ignited the fuses of thousands of MAGA supporters, sending them “mad as hell” to the U.S. Capitol, where an “insurrection” (in the words of U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney and President George W. Bush) aimed at preventing certification of Trump’s Electoral College loss. It cost six lives, including Capitol policeman Brian Sicknick, who was bludgeoned to death, and resulted in Trump’s second impeachment in the House.

As Vice President Pence was hiding in a “secure location” from a violent mob of Trump supporters in the U.S. Capitol, Trump supporters with zip ties chanted “Hang Mike Pence” and asked for the whereabouts of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. President Trump tweeted at 2:24 p.m., “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

In American “days that will live in infamy,” we now have “1/6” joining “9/11” and Dec. 7, 1941. For the first time since Puerto Rican terrorists shot up the House in 1954, the U.S. Capitol had been breached. Before that, it was the British invasion in 1814.
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  • By JOSHUA CLAYBOURN
    EVANSVILLE – Democracy requires the consent of losers. For over 220 years American democracy prided itself on peaceful transfers of power; and in all of that time, no president who lost an election sought to subvert the will of voters and reject Electoral College results – until Donald Trump. Despite a massive pandemic and faltering economy, Trump’s post-election focus remained firmly on overturning election results and undermining the democratic system he swore to defend. For weeks Trump spawned and repeated lies and unfounded conspiracy theories about faulty voting machines and destroyed or fabricated ballots; allegations without evidence and allegations universally rejected in over 60 court cases, many presided over by Trump-appointed judges. But with repetition and time, many of Trump’s supporters believed the lies; in their eyes his victory became a landslide and those who denied it were either naive or part of a vast conspiracy. Trump used these false election-fraud allegations to justify his lawlessness. “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules,” he argued. “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.”  Trump’s attempt to undermine and overturn the national election not only shattered norms and traditions, but also sowed seeds for insurrection, violence, and civil unrest by his supporters, saying it comes from a love of country. 
  • By CRAIG DUNN
    KOKOMO – And now we know the truth. It was never about draining the swamp.  It was never about building a wall. It was never about restoring power to the governed. It was, is and forever will be about doing what most benefitted Donald J. Trump.  First, let me start by acknowledging that there were some very good things that happened over the years prior to the pandemic. Our economy skyrocketed.  Bureaucratic red tape was cut and enabled all Americans to prosper.  Unemployment rates dropped to historical lows in every measurable subgroup.  The judiciary was nudged to a less activist and more conservative status by a wealth of newly appointed judges at all levels, including three outstanding appointments to the United States Supreme Court. Peace broke out in the Middle East when several nations struck long-awaited treaties with Israel.  Our military was beefed up to deal with threats from current adversaries and potential adversaries in the future. China’s threat to world peace and our economy was recognized and the process of reining in its abuses was well underway. All in all, the achievements of President Trump’s term in office were pretty impressive. But, then there were the other things that hallmarked the Trump Administration. The vainglorious, megalomaniacal rantings via Twitter, the revolving door staff changes that discarded a host of talented public servants like empty beer cans, the associations maintained with questionable friends, the vilification of anyone, friend or foe, who dared to disagree with The Donald. Worst of all, the incessant and unabated failure to tell the truth in the smallest to the most important matters. In certain ways, he conducted himself as a blended incarnation of Benito Mussolini and Joseph Goebbels. I don’t want to dance around this one. Donald Trump was a big fat liar!
  • By LEE HAMILTON
    BLOOMINGTON – If the months since the November elections have shown us anything, it’s that the U.S. is more deeply divided than we’ve experienced in a very long time. This has been building at least since the 1990s, starting in Congress and ultimately coming to be reflected in a polarized electorate, but it’s reached the point where, rather than take pleasure in the success of a politician elected to the presidency, you have to keep your fingers crossed on his behalf. For starters, we now have a Congress, and electorate, divided along multiple fault lines. There are, of course, the partisan differences on the complex challenges that beset this country on climate change, economic growth, the pandemic, policing and racial justice, our policies toward China and Russia. Political groups with opinions on these and other issues are more sophisticated, more active, more insistent, and more aggressive in trying to shape the public dialogue than ever before. Each side tends to be suspicious of the other, viewing their adversaries not just as wrong, but as attacking our national security interests. Now in the mix, though, we also have the divisions stoked by President Trump, whose desperation to hold onto power has led him and his followers to traffic in conspiracy theories lacking any evidence and to reject the norms, principles, and institutions we’ve relied on for centuries to build this nation. There now seem to be two Republican parties in Congress and in the country at large: One that is interested in enabling and appealing to people who reject constitutional democracy, and one that is willing to stand up for it.
  • By MICHAEL HICKS
    MUNCIE – The essential basis of an economy is trust. As the founding father of economics, Adam Smith noted, an economy “. . . can seldom flourish in any state in which there is not a certain degree of confidence in the justice of government.” Our modern world subsists almost wholly on a high degree of trust in the justice and capacity of government, business and households. Thus, among the many crimes committed by the insurrectionists of Jan. 6, 2021, was a full-fledged attack on the American economy. It was an assault upon the ‘confidence in the justice of government’ not only by a few tens of thousands of protestors, but among far too many elected officials, including members of Congress and the president. It is they who must reckon with an event whose lawlessness demands terse retelling. On Jan. 6, our Congress and vice president met to fulfill a solemn, if mostly symbolic, constitutional duty to certify election results from states. Outside, on the streets of our Capitol, the president caused to assemble a crowd of many tens of thousands. This angry crowd was fueled by dozens of political groups and members of Congress. These people had been carefully groomed for weeks to believe the Big Lie, that the 2020 election was fraudulent or stolen.
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS – The COVID-19 pandemic inflicted sustained pain and hardship on too many for too long. The effect on our economy, however, is mixed. The shock to the economy occurred in March and April of 2020. In the United States, 24.7 million persons lost their jobs. Of these, 16.3 million (66%) were added to the numbers unemployed and 8.4 million left the labor force. During this recovery, through November 2020, 16.9 million persons have found new jobs or returned to previous positions. The number unemployed declined by 12.2 million and 4.6 million have come back into the labor force. (Don’t fret about the rounding problem with the numbers.) This partial recovery leaves us 7.8 million shy of the February employment numbers, distributed as 4.0 million unemployed and 3.8 million out of the labor force.
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  • Atomic! Impeachment redux; Bucshon, Banks nay, Mrvan yea; Pence nixes 25th; Carson targeted

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Impeachment redux: 
    For the second time, impeachment proceedings have begun in the U.S. House against President Trump, a week before he is scheduled to leave office. But this time is different. Democrats say Trump led an “insurrection” against the United States after Trump goaded a MAGA rally to overwhelm the U.S. Capitol, killing at least five people.U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney announced she would vote for impeachment, saying,  “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Three other House Republicans have said they will follow Cheney. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell believes Trump has committed an “impeachable offense,” telling the New York Times there’s a 50/50 chance he would vote to convict. This comes as Vice President Pence, despite his “ruptured” relationship with Trump and reportedly tiring of his boss’s “bullshit,” declined to invoke the 25th Amendment on Tuesday. “I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  

  • Atomic! Pence hanging around; Trump says speech 'Totally appropriate'; Holcomb on the 'big lie'
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump and Pence finally meet: While Vice President Pence was hiding in a "secure location" from a violent mob of Trump supporters in the U.S. Capitol, President Trump tweeted at 2:24 p.m. on Jan. 6, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” Trump didn't contact Pence when the insurrection ended, according to the Washington Post. The ultimate White House odd couple finally met in the Oval Office on Monday and had a “had a good conversation, discussing the week ahead and reflecting on the last four years of the administration’s work and accomplishments.” The meeting came as Pence resisted an ultimatum from House Democrats to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. The Post story portrays Pence as "hanging around" the Oval Office as Trump called allies to convince the veep to help him overturn the election they lost by seven million popular votes and by a 306-232 Electoral College margin.
  • Atomic! Pressure on Pence; Veep, speaker targeted by mob; Holcomb cites Lincoln at 2nd inaugural
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Pressure on Pence to invoke 25th: NBC News  is reporting that House Democrats have given Vice President Mike Pence an ultimatum: Invoke the 25th Amendment to get President Trump out of office ASAP, or they will trigger a second impeachment, beginning Tuesday. NBC is reporting that Pence is not inclined to opt for the 25th, an amendment written by the late U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh. It calls for the vice president to initiate the process to temporarily remove a president incapable to fulfilling his functions, and it would take a majority of the cabinet to go into effect. "We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in her letter to Pence. In a brief session Monday, House Republicans blocked a measure calling on Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment, a move that ensures a vote in the full House, the Washington Post  reported. This comes as an angered and disheartened Pence has not talked with the president he has loyally served for four years since the incident, according to multiple national media reports. In one of the greatest ironies in modern times, both Pence and Pelosi were targeted by the insurrection mob that overwhelmed the U.S. Capitol on Jn. 6.

  • Atomic! Young, Trump & truth; Bracing for final 12 days; Pence to attend Biden inaugural; Hoosiers & violence

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Young, Trump & truth: U.S. Sen. Todd Young, a former Marine intelligence officer, called Wednesday's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol the result of “a failure for many of our leaders to be truthful to the American people about what precisely has happened in our elections in recent months.” Asked by the IndyStar  if President Trump played a role in encouraging the violence that killed a Capitol policeman and a California woman, responded, “Of course. He’s president of the United States.”  Added Hoosier Republican U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, "I cannot condone this dangerous rhetoric by the president. Yesterday, the United States changed. The U.S. Capitol was breached for the first time since 1814 when the British took over and burned the Capitol during the War of 1812. Words have meaning and many of the President’s supporters took him literally, resulting in the attempted insurrection." hat Donald Trump's presidency is ending in chaos and insurrection; that he threw Vice President Mike Pence under the proverbial bus when the Hoosier wouldn't go along with this coup d'etat was entirely predictable.

  • HPI Analysis: Banana States of America
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – When newly-elected Mike Pence showed up at the U.S. Capitol for his first joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2001, he watched Vice President Al Gore declare George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as the winning Electoral College ticket. He heard Gore, who lost a bitter election that was ultimately decided in the Bush v. Gore U.S. Supreme Court case, tell the assembly at its conclusion, “May God bless our new president and new vice president, and may God bless the United States of America.” Nine months and five days later – on Sept. 11 – Rep. Pence stood in that Capitol as the doomed Flight 93 approached, only to be forced in the ground hundred miles short of its mission of terror by patriot passengers. On Wednesday, Vice President Pence presided over a joint session of Congress in what should have been a routine congressional imprimatur of state certification showing he and President Donald Trump had lost the Nov. 3 election to Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. This occurred as CBS News reported this cryptic message heard on restricted channels by multiple New York air traffic controllers: “We are flying a plane into the Capitol Wednesday. Soleimani will be avenged.”

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  • Time to inoculate General Assembly complex from COVID threat
    This year's Indiana General Assembly is conducting the "peoples' business" in unprecedented fashion during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its plate is full with issues ranging from the governor's emergency powers, to teacher pay,  redistricting and forging the biennial budget. Thus far, only State Sen. Vaneta Becker is in quarantine due to COVID exposure, but Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Rod Bray have suggested that disruptions are quite possible due to the pandemic. There have been accounts of a lack of widespread masking at the Statehouse, as well as a lack of enforcement. This problem can be quickly and resolutely solved if Huston, Bray and the Indiana Department of Health make arrangements to have the entire day-to-day General Assembly complex - legislators, staff, lobbyists, press - inoculated as soon as possible. This should not be viewed as the powerful jumping the line; this needs to happen to ensure the peoples' business is conducted in a safe and timely fashion. - Brian A. Howey, publisher.
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  • HPI Power 50: Crisis shapes 2021 list

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    and MARK SCHOEFF JR.

    INDIANAPOLIS – After two decades of publishing Power 50 lists in the first week of January, this one comes in a true crisis atmosphere. As we watched in horror the U.S. Capitol being overrun by supporters of President Trump on Wednesday, the COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 8,000 Hoosiers and 350,000 Americans, shutting down our state and nation for nearly two months last spring. While vaccines are coming, there will be a distinct BC (Before COVID) and AC delineations as this epic story comes to a close. It gripped like a vise key figures, from Gov. Eric Holcomb to Vice President Pence. It delayed an election, closed schools and restaurants, reordered the way we do business and buy things, and will set in motion ramifications that we can’t truly understand (like the virus itself) at this point in time. There’s another crisis at hand. It’s our society’s civics deficit, fueled by apathy that transcends our schools and societal engagement, and allowed to fester by a news media in atrophy. That three members of the Indiana congressional delegation – U.S. Sen. Mike Braun and Reps. Jim Banks and Jackie Walorski – signed on to a protest this week, induced by losing President Donald Trump to “investigate” widespread vote fraud that doesn’t exist, is another indicator of the risks a polarized and undisciplined political spectrum brings to the fragile American democratic experience.

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