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Sunday, July 21, 2019
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Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:35 PM
KOKOMO – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
    
When my ancestors, Scots Irish immigrants from Ulster, immigrated to America in the early part of the 18th Century, they were not greeted by Lady Liberty and her famous poem. The statue had not been erected nor the words of the poem written. However, they were welcomed by a vast land whose siren call around the world could be heard by all, “Come to America and be free!”
    
For centuries, the downtrodden and oppressed from around the world have made their way to our shores asking only one thing, an opportunity to work and live in freedom. The flow of immigrants to our country has enriched our character and forged a nation that has been stronger, more creative and more successful than the other, generally homogenous, countries of the world. What country would not be made stronger by a man who says, “I am going to take everything that I have and move my family to the United States where there is opportunity and freedom?”
    
Of course, for over 200 years, Americans have resisted welcoming new immigrants to their country. They’ve feared that the new arrivals would threaten the prosperity that they have come to know. Our nation, as great as it is, has resisted immigration by Irish Catholics, Polish, Germans, Italians, Jews and Chinese, to name just a few. We would have resisted immigration of black Africans if they had not been forced to come here for the economic benefit of the South. I don’t know if it is merely fear of change, fear of the unknown or a natural tendency to fear anyone who doesn’t look like us that has motivated Americans over history to fight immigration. America has become a club that after trying desperately to get in, we try desperately to keep everyone else out.
  • KOKOMO - The poet Robert Browning once wrote, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”  The same could be said about a nation’s reach.??The 50th anniversary of mankind’s, July 20, 1969, first steps on the moon is fast approaching. Let’s hope that our nation will not use the occasion to focus on how great an achievement it was, but rather to reflect on the many great things that we might be able to achieve in the future.?? The year 1969 was a time not terribly unlike that of today. There was massive domestic turmoil, bordering on open revolt and numerous conflicts around the world. There seemed to be nothing which could stop all Americans in their tracks and provide us a moment of inspiration, pride and absolute awe. Since the first humanoid could tilt their head upwards, we have marveled at the existence of the faraway moon. Poets, composers and philosophers have pondered eloquently about the moon for centuries. But there on that amazing early morning in 1969, the moon ceased to be the distant mysterious celestial rock and came tantalizingly into our grasp. What seemed an impossibility at one time, was now a reality.??

  • KOKOMO – We’ve finally found something that Republicans and Democrats agree on when it comes to the 2020 U.S. Presidential election: “It’s our version of the economy, stupid!” In 2010 during a “60 Minutes” interview, President Obama famously speculated on employment and the economy, “What is a danger is that we stay stuck in a new normal where unemployment rates stay high. People who have jobs see their incomes go up. Businesses make big profits, but they’ve learned to do more with less. And so they don’t hire. And, as a consequence, we keep on seeing growth that is just too slow to bring back the eight million jobs that were lost. That is a danger. So, that’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.” The view of the Obama Administration did not change when in 2014, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told the Economic Club of New York City that the U.S. GDP growth rate, adjusted for inflation, is now projected to run a little above 2% a year. Apparently, seventy years of GDP growth averaging more than 3% was going to be relegated to history by the “new normal” of 2% growth.
  • KOKOMO – Members of Congress are frequently targeted for ridicule for what the electorate believes is unforgivable inertia. They are chastised for being cowards on a variety of issues. Many in Congress have learned how to avoid politically difficult votes by killing bills in committee or by inserting poisonous amendments into legislation to make passage impossible.  The truth is that votes are the best way for the voting public to reconcile what is said on the stump during an election and what the officeholder truly believes. The very best politicians are so skilled at the Potomac two-step that they can have people with diametrically opposed beliefs think that their elected representative supports their position. I knew a congressman once who received large contributions from both Jewish and Muslim supportive PACS. Now that is a real skill! Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, a vote will be scheduled that you can’t avoid. The day comes when you bow to the crowd or show leadership and legislative bravery. Recently, such a vote was taken in the United States Congress. The legislation in question was the Equality Act. 
  • KOKOMO  — The reader may be assured that I enjoy writing on this subject with the same joy and anticipation that one approaches a visit to the dentist. There are days when I would much rather be a sports commentator than one who slices and dices politics. If I were a sports commentator, this week’s column would have been about the collapse of the Indiana Pacers in the NBA playoffs.  Alas, instead, I will tackle the attempted coup d’état orchestrated by elements in the former Obama Administration, Democrat operatives, the media and, regretfully, the United States Department of Justice. Before I begin, I’d like to remind you that I am not a diehard fan of Donald Trump. In fact, I famously (or infamously) declared in the lead-up to the Indiana presidential primary in 2016 that the only way I could vote for Donald Trump would be if his opponent was Satan himself. (Note to self: Be very careful what you say to a national journalist at the end of a long, long interview.) Needless to say, I found Satan in the form of Hillary Clinton and I cheerfully cast my general election vote for President Donald Trump. That being said, I do not condone, approve, like, admire or support many of the things that the man Donald Trump has said or done both before and after his election as our president. In fact, much of Mr. Trump’s behavior has made me want to gag. However, I have learned to separate the conduct of Trump the man from Trump the president.
  • KOKOMO – You can massage your message in caucus all you want, but it will never change the fact that the real reason that the list of proposed hate crimes was stripped out of Senate Bill 12 was because one of those hate crimes enumerated was against the LGBTQ community.  Many in the fundamentalist Christian community in Indiana believe passionately that any recognition of the existence of the LGBTQ community is tantamount to governmental acceptance of a lifestyle that they find to be abhorrent, unnatural and against the commandments of the Holy Bible. In addition, these people believe this is just another sinister piece of legislation that will continue to chip away at their cherished beliefs and ultimately be used to impair their religious freedoms. How do I know this? I read their views on a daily basis. Over the last few years, I have built a tidy sum of Facebook friends who represent a fairly wide spread of political beliefs. Many of the people who I consider to be close friends share the belief that SB12, which originally contained a list of groups protected by the legislation, will be turned against the community of Biblically faithful. Yes, these are the same people who had a conniption fit over the RFRA legislation. I respect their views, but I certainly don’t agree with them.

  • KOKOMO – I begin my annual National Debt rant with two questions for our illustrious members of Congress and the president: 1. Do you fully understand that the trajectory of our debt growth will eventually economically crush our country and jeopardize even our treasured freedoms?  2. At what point do you finally take significant action to address this existential risk? Just a mere 18 years ago, our National Debt was at a quaint and manageable $6,000,000,000,000. I write out all of the zeros because 12 zeros seem amazing to me. In just eighteen short years our debt has soared to just shy of $22 trillion. Why does this growth in our debt seem to scare only me and a few wonkish college economics professors? Basic economics tells us that you cannot maximize production of both guns and butter without causing negative effects on your economy. The usual impact of massive government borrowing to fuel even greater massive spending are high levels of interest, high levels of inflation and high unemployment. Remember Ronald Reagan’s misery index? By all conventional wisdom, it should now be off the charts, but it is not. We presently have low interest rates, low levels of inflation and record low unemployment. While I am personally pleased with the current state of the economy, deep down in my soul I get a squirming feeling that these present good times are just an anomaly. 
  • KOKOMO – American conservatives frequently like to make fun of and/or bash Europeans for the whacky socialist programs permeating virtually all elements of their daily lives. As good jingoistic patriots, we laud the American exceptionalism that has built an economic colossus, created incredible standards of living and provide us with enough spare change to basically meddle wherever our hearts desire. However, the proud and economically wise Americans harbor a socialist cancer that has been allowed to entrench itself over time. The men, yes they are all men, practicing this heinous economic socialism are virtually all extremely skilled in the knockdown-and-drag-out business world. They won their vast fortunes by playing the capitalistic game to the maximum. They are economic victors in our society. When these scions of capitalism get together over cocktails at their frequent meetings, do you think that the good old boys talk about making America great again through competition? 
  • KOKOMO – Dear Mr. President, my wish for you for this coming Christmas is that Santa Claus comes down the chimney at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and brings you a gift that you desperately need, the gift of discretion.  You have taken a presidency that by most contemporary yardsticks would be measured as successful and turned it into a combination of a circus sideshow and a Paris Hilton slumber party. Your personal mannerisms, disregard for simple truths, mistreatment of people, abusive tweets and public braggadocio have become an embarrassment that have weakened your presidency, affected our international reputation and jeopardized your continued tenure in office. I have hesitated to write these words for months, but I just can’t be silent any longer. The last time that I spoke my mind in regard to your words and conduct, things didn’t go very well. It was April 2016, and several fellow Hoosier Republicans publicly expressed our lack of appreciation for your conduct.  
  • KOKOMO – ANTIFA plots insurrection! Police officers gunned down! Unrest in the streets! Bombs mailed to politicians!  Reading recent headlines, a person might be inclined to think that we are living in the most dangerous domestic environment in our country’s history. Former Nixon speechwriter and Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan recently said as much. Today’s volatile domestic turmoil acknowledged, there once was a much more threatening time to our republic. That time was the extremely dangerous years of 1969-1970. Nearly 4,000 domestic bombings, 28 police officers shot by snipers and numerous groups, such as the Weather Underground, actively working to destroy our nation and daily riots in the streets shook our nation to its core. Among the buildings bombed in New York City were the Marine Midland Building, Chase Manhattan Bank, Standard Oil, General Motors, the Criminal Courts Building, an Armed Forces Induction Center, the United Fruit Company and the Federal Office Building at Federal Plaza. President Richard Nixon was alarmed by the potential existential threat and called upon one of his youngest and brightest minds to get a handle on the problem and recommend presidential action. That young, up-and-coming dynamo was a Hoosier, Charles “Tom” Huston of Logansport. That such an important task as coordinating the White House response to a vital national security problem should be entrusted to the 29-year-old Huston was testament to the young Hoosier’s meteoric rise as a leading light in the American conservative movement.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – As much as I’d like to hear just one more Mike Braun or Joe Donnelly attack ad, a part of me is relieved that it is all over. The election results are in and Hoosiers soundly repudiated Donnelly and will send political newcomer, Mike Braun, to Washington, D.C. This serves to realign the political stars and return Indiana to its solid Red State status. Prior to this U.S. Senate election, I felt very comfortable that Braun would win. My official prediction was a 3% plus win for Braun. My reason for this confidence was that after serving as Indiana senator for six years, Donnelly rarely showed up in excess of 43% in the pre-election polls. My general rule for incumbent politicians is that if you can’t get to 48% in the polls before the election, don’t count on the undecideds breaking your way. Did you really believe that after months and months of expensive political ads that 9% of the voters were truly undecided? I didn’t. People lie to pollsters; it is a fact of life. My general rule is that 60% of undecideds tend to break for the challenger.
  • KOKOMO – Tom Petty wrote the unofficial Indiana state song back in the 1990s: “She grew up in an Indiana town; Had a good lookin’ momma who never was around; But she grew up tall and she grew up right; With them Indiana boys on an Indiana night …” But, rather than a last dance with Mary Jane, the dance has only begun. Indiana will soon face a legislative issue that will make Sunday alcohol sales and riverboat gambling seem like quaint anachronisms.  The issue that I believe will eventually rattle the halls of the Indiana Statehouse is the legalization of marijuana. I know you are thinking that there is no way in Hagerstown that a conservative state like the Hoosier State will ever legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use. I’m here to tell you that it will eventually happen and the wheels of change are already starting to turn.

  • KOKOMO  – Let me make this as plain as I can: I don’t want Charles Schumer as my United States senator. Why would I worry about Charles Schumer serving as my senator? No, Chuck Schumer is not going to move to Indiana and run for the U.S. Senate. He doesn’t need to come to Indiana; he has Sen. Joe Donnelly to serve as his personal lap dog. The good people of Indiana could be excused six years ago when they were hornswoggled into thinking that Joe Donnelly was a reasonable, moderate alternative to voting for Richard Mourdock. An awkwardly juggled response to an abortion question at a debate and Donnelly didn’t seem like such a bad bargain for many former Richard Lugar Republican. What we’ve learned in the last six years is that the problem with voting for a chameleon is that you just never know what color they’ll be on any given day. Let me help you with this one. Joe the chameleon will be the one in a light shade of pink. On some days, good ole Joe from conservative Indiana will be downright fuchsia.
  • KOKOMO –  The Golden Rule of Politics, “Do unto others before they do unto you,” has been generally observed in this country for hundreds of years.  Since the first Congress was gaveled into session, the cutthroat nature of politics has only grown more intense. However, this rule flies in the face of another axiom that Mother Dunn generously dispensed to her seven children as they grew up in Central Indiana: “What goes around comes around.” Perhaps it was my mother’s Baptist upbringing, but she had a keen understanding of what the Bible meant when it said, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Mom would employ these sayings and their many variations to address a wide variety of situations, from failure to study for tests to squabbles with a sibling. As we look to the current political turmoil fomenting in this country, it would do politicians of all political stripes some good to remember Mother Dunn’s reminder, “What goes around comes around.” Politicos of all persuasions, at every level of government, have become  increasingly Machiavellian. While this strategy of using the ends to justify the means may work very well in the short run, few of the perpetrators ask the question, “How is this going to come back to us?” And ladies and gentlemen of the political establishment, let me reiterate, “What goes around comes around.” Sometimes it comes around in spades.

  • Craig Dunn: A Hoosier spy and the JFK assassination
    KOKOMO – President John F. Kennedy was an avid reader of the British spy novels written by Ian Fleming. Fleming’s hero, James Bond, conjured up in the President’s mind the vision of a tall, dark and handsome man, oozing charm and sophistication. When the opportunity presented itself late in 1961 or early 1962, after learning of his exploits, Kennedy summoned to the Oval Office the American James Bond. Ushered into the Oval Office was a short, corpulent, pear-shaped, popeyed man with pigeon toes and a duck waddle. The man was William King Harvey, native son of Danville and Terre Haute, Indiana. The American James Bond was also the Hoosier James Bond. For one brief year in Harvey’s life, he would operate at the highest levels of government with awesome responsibilities fraught with danger to himself and his country. The road to the pinnacle of professional success for Harvey had certainly been a long, bumpy and winding one. The roots of his ultimate success and failure rested firmly in the soils of the Hoosier State.

  • KOKOMO - Recently, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo let slip his feelings on the United States of America. While bashing President Trump at a bill signing ceremony in New York City, Cuomo said, "We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great." I’m sure that Cuomo and his band of like-minded spiritual advisors will attempt to walk this back by saying it was taken out of context, it was a statement that needed greater elaboration or that Trump’s vision of America was what he was talking about. Given enough time and the support of fellow leftists in the media, Cuomo may just be able to get most people to forget he ever said, "We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great." Unfortunately for Gov. Cuomo, this graphically offensive statement sounds to the vast majority of patriotic, loyal and proud Americans as nothing other than a direct attack on all that we hold dear. As the grandson of both Italian and Sicilian immigrants, you might have expected Cuomo to be the biggest flag-waving proponent of the United States. 
  • KOKOMO  – The taxi driver in Budapest looked at me with an expressionless face as I asked him to take my wife and myself to the place where the Arrow Cross fascists murdered hundreds of Jews on the banks of the Danube River toward the end of World War II. Not sure of what else to tell him, I simply told him, “You know, the place with the shoes.”  “Ah yes, the shoes, the shoes, I take you there!” Our time was going to be limited on our first trip to Budapest and we wanted to pack in as many of the sights as possible. While most tourists rush to visit Fisherman’s Bastion, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, St. Estevan’s Basilica, the amazing Hungarian Parliament building or one of the other better-known tourist attractions, my wife and I tend to dig a little deeper for some of the lesser known sites. From the time when I first began planning for this visit to Budapest, I knew that there was one pilgrimage that we had to make. During the latter months of 1944 and into early 1945, over 3,500 Hungarians, mostly Jews, were rounded up from the Jewish ghetto of Budapest by the fascist Arrow Cross group, marched down to the banks of the river, forced to remove their shoes and then lined up and shot so that they would fall into the river. In this way, the evidence of the Arrow Cross crimes would be swept away by the icy Danube.
  • KOKOMO – After studying politics and politicians for the entirety of my adult life, I’ve noticed the propensity of our elected leaders to want it both ways. This can be seen across a variety of issues.  Sen. Max Deerjaw has grown adept at arguing for the sanctity of life when it comes to the issue of abortion, but he can launch an equally lucid rationalization for the death penalty. Rep. Tad Earwax hops on the stump and attacks the inherent evil of property tax increases and in the next breath can advocate jacking up the gas tax. No, turning and twisting facts, statistics and emotions to get the response you want from the voting public is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to politicians of both political parties in Indiana. I guess it should come as no surprise that Attorney General Curtis Hill should make the attempt to eat off of both sides of the plate when it comes to his disastrous problem with the sexual assault allegations. Hill’s initial claims of being denied due process and an opportunity to tell his side of the story made him somewhat of a sympathetic figure to many people. 
  • KOKOMO – To quote former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” This is exactly where we are after one week of the Attorney General Curtis Hill mess. It is a mess – no “ifs” “ands” or “butts” about it! It is a mess that leaves a lot of knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns floating around the Statehouse like countless political fairies. The worst part is that this mess is likely to get a lot messier as time unfolds. First, let’s look at the facts as they have been reported. At around half-past midnight on March 15, the Indiana Legislature adjourned sine die. For those of you who don’t speak Latin, that means, “We stop getting paid for doing nothing.” The next morning, the Indianapolis Star headline screamed, “Indiana Legislative Session Descends Into Chaos on Final Day.”  What are the senators, representatives, lobbyists, staff and good time Charlies supposed to do after a day of blaming each other for allowing a handful of tax, gun, technology and school bills to die without a vote? Why have a big party, of course! The echoes from the beating of the legislative gavel had barely died out when the booze began to flow at party central, AJ’s Lounge.
  • KOKOMO – United States trade imbalances and difficulties with our nation’s trading partners are complex and not subject to easy fixes. If it were as simple an issue as merely comparing tariffs, as President Trump has recently attempted with his explanation of Canadian dairy tariffs, then we could solve the problem by either charging identical tariffs or none at all. However, tariffs are just the tip of the trade iceberg.  Barriers to free and fair trade raise their ugly heads in a variety of ways. Regulatory, taxation, customs, subsidization, dumping, preferential trading and currency barriers are just as potent and chilling in their effect on free trade as are tariffs. Sniffing out the barriers and the subtle nuances that either enhance exports or restrict imports of is more of an art than a science. As long as nation states exist, there will be no such animal as unrestricted free and fair trade. The idea is as romantic as it is illusive. For those of you who are so easily moved to criticize President Trump for his tough trade positions with China, Canada, Mexico, Europe and, soon to be, India, you need to recognize this rather inconvenient fact about trade. You may call Trump a jingoistic “America Firster,” but every last one of our trading partners in this great big world are their “Country Firsters.”
  • KOKOMO – Never in the history of Indiana Republican politics has so much been said by so many about so little. I’m speaking about the proposed changes to the Indiana Republican Party Platform regarding marriage and families that will be voted on by delegates to the Indiana Republican Convention this coming weekend in Evansville.  To hear some vocal critics tell it, you would think that Beelzebub himself drafted the rather innocuous change that drops the Pence era “marriage is between a man and woman” affirmation and replaces it with a sentence that looks amazingly benign. The proposed new wording states, “We support traditional families with a mother and father, blended families, grandparents, guardians, single parents and all loving adults who successfully raise and nurture children to reach their full potential every day.” Now I don’t know about you but that is a sentence that I could support anywhere, anytime. 
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  • Pence vows to return to the moon on 50th anniversary
    "Standing before you today, I am proud to report, at the direction of the president of the United States of America, America will return to the moon within the next five years, and the next man and the first woman on the moon will be American astronauts. We’re going back." - Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at Cape Canaveral observing the 50th anniversary of NASA astronaut and Purdue graduate Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. Pence is seen here with astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who followed Armstrong on to the moon surface on July 20, 1969.
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  • Epstein, Acosta and the perversion of power
    For those of you wondering why Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned Friday despite President Trump's assertion that he is a "great labor secretary," spend 15 minutes to read Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown's "Perversion of Justice: How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime." You'll learn that District Attorney Acosta bowed to the demands of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's all-star legal team, cut "an extraordinary plea agreement that would conceal the full extent of Epstein’s crimes and the number of people involved." This is about a lurid a tale of crime and power as I've ever read. While this was going on, Epstein's enforcers were tracking down witnesses and journalists, issuing threats.

    Brown writes: "Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes." We are learning that Epstein's circles included dozens if not hundreds of underage girls, recruiters, presidents, princes and the rich and famous.

    Florida State Sen. Lauren Book, asks: “Where is the righteous indignation for these women? Where are the protectors? Who is banging down the doors of the secretary of labor, or the judge or the sheriff’s office in Palm Beach County, demanding justice and demanding the right to be heard?"

    Of course President Trump said of Epstein in 2002, “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side." Wink-wink. That was three years before Trump's infamous Access Hollywood comment (if you're rich and famous, "you can grab them by their pussy") and five years before Acosta's plea deal with Epstein. It begs the question, What would Mother think?  - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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