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Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:28 PM
ANGOLA, Ind. – These past few weeks, we’ve seen yet another example of sclerosis in Washington, this time with the farm bill. On a topic that begged for compromise, everyone dug in, and there was celebration in some quarters even as they were spitting the ashes out of their mouths.
Next up comes the immigration package, with House Republicans overwhelmingly balking Wednesday at the Senate passed bill despite warnings from Speaker John Boehner about the political consequences.
Later this year, we’ll get another debt limit faux crisis.
It is a city of gangs who can’t shoot straight, of rhetoric akin to methane gas seeping out of a melting tundra. Gallup has congressional approval at 10 percent, yet another historic low.
LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo’s column on page 1 hits a number of points that are resonating. And it underscores a recent piece by conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks on what he calls the “power inversion,” the rise of city states and regional governments that fill the void left by the partisan polarization in Washington.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – “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!” These were the epic words of the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus”  adorning the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. These words cut to the crux of the American experiment and spoke to our epic, melting-pot heritage. Ken Cuccinelli is acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and he made an astounding assertion on Tuesday. As the Trump administration seeks to dramatically limit legal immigration to America, Cuccinelli tweaked the Lazarus poem after a question from the press. “Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus’s words etched on the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, give me your poor,’ are also a part of the American ethos?” NPR’s Rachel Martin asked Cuccinelli during a “Morning Edition”  interview. Cuccinelli responded, “They certainly are: ‘Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.’ That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge was passed – very interesting timing.” Thus we see the aberration of a basic American ethos, replaced by President Trump and top aide Stephen Miller’s attempt to stir ethnic, racial, urban and rural divides in the country they govern.

    NASHVILLE, Ind. – It has been fascinating to watch Mike and Karen Pence orchestrate his ascension onto the national stage. It has been a meticulous crusade of control. As a congressman and governor of Indiana, Mike Pence rarely strayed from a tight set of talking points. His inner circle is constricted, calculating and guarded. 
    On Aug. 1, my Howey Politics Indiana  analysis was that it's a “reckless” course for the Pences, with my penultimate paragraph reading: “This is flint and spark in extreme drought conditions. President Trump is not uniting Americans, he is exploiting the urban/rural divide along racial lines that are pulled taut these days. An errant spark goaded by the right quote at the wrong time could have devastating consequences.” This was published two days before the mass shooting atrocities in El Paso and Dayton, claiming another 30 lives and injuring dozens more. The El Paso shooter – who I will not lend the sought-after infamy by mentioning his name – published a manifesto on 8chan just moments before opening fire. It was teeming with white nationalist diatribes against “race-mixing” along with the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The Dayton shooter appears to have sought association with Antifa, the leftist bookend to white supremacy. Isolate the fringe 1% of the American bell curve and you’ll find the warrens for these two latest cowardly shooters. The problem for Trump and, by association, Pence was the former’s own rhetoric warning of “invasions,” and amplified on Facebook by the Trump campaign and the Prosper Group based in Indianapolis.
  • INDIANAPOLIS  – Perhaps on Tuesday, Aug. 20, we’ll find private citizen Dan Coats at Wrigley Field, taking in the Cubs-Giants game. Or, perhaps, he’ll wait for that day game on Aug. 23 against the Washington Nationals. We can hope that this Cubs fan, Hoosier patriot, who never lost an election, who was willing to walk away from the money-grubbing political swamp at least twice, will treat himself to a beer, a brat and sing “Take me out to the ballgame” soon.Dan Coats deserves it. But the trade-off for the rest of us is that of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” or the warning from David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” remake: “Be afraid, be very afraid." When Dan Coats leaves as director of national intelligence on Aug. 15, the last of the “grown-ups” from Donald Trump’s White House will be gone. Jim Mattis, John Kelly, Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster had been the “guard rails” for the unpredictable Trump, who presides over an administration filled by “acting” secretaries and directors. These actors now toil with a side-glance for every presidential whim. Screw up and, well, “You’re fired.” Supposedly taking Coats’ place will be U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, a former small town mayor and district attorney who claims to have prosecuted terrorism cases, though there is no evidence that he did. He is a political defender of Trump, who has auditioned on Fox News, which is now the proving ground for economic advisors, United Nations ambassadors, and White House and Foggy Bottom communicators.

  • NEW ALBANY – This is turning out to be a disheartening summer when it comes to race relations in our country. The reelection campaign of President Trump and Vice President Pence appears to be  conducting the most overtly racist strategy since Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s independent bid in 1968. Trump is taunting four minority freshman Democrats - Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib – with tweets of “go back” to your crime-riddled countries. The problem is three of them were born in the United States and the fourth is a naturalized American. The common denominator is skin color. Trump launched a screed at a rally Greenville, N.C., Wednesday night with Pence in tow, only to have the crowd chant “send her home.” Trump said Thursday, “I was not happy with it — I disagreed with it,” but video showed him savoring the chant. When congressional Republicans pressed Pence on Thursday with their dismay with the rally, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said Pence seemed to share their concerns. “He said, ‘at first I couldn't even tell what it was.’" And that is BS. It was clear what people were chanting. You can disagree with these freshmen on politics and policy, but telling elected members of Congress to leave the country is a new low. This is David Duke meeting Joe McCarthy.
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY??INDIANAPOLIS - Ross Perot famously said, “Eagles don’t flock. You have to find them one at a time.” ??It was a prescient comment from the first billionaire to run for president, coming a few years before Steve Forbes and some 34 years before Donald J. Trump. In late spring 1992, Perot actually led President George H.W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton in the polls, giving us a glimpse of a populist movement with widespread traction.??Writing then for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, I got a ground floor view of this movement. The Perotistas had set up an office in a Fort Wayne strip mall. It was an utter beehive, with volunteers buzzing about, breaking Allen County into "zippies" (i.e., zip-codes) to organize a political movement.??Aided by the fledgling radio talk star Rush Limbaugh, the Perotistas were pissed off about what they perceived to be bad trade deals like NAFTA, with Perot saying in his Texas nasal twang that the "giant sucking sound" we’d be hearing were jobs headed to Mexico. Perot favored term limits for Congress. He loathed the special interest money that Donald Trump would later define as "the swamp." He once said, "The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, the public debt should be reduced and the arrogance of public officials should be controlled."??Perot took on both the Clintons and Bushes three decades before Trump. This came in an era prior to the World Wide Web, but Perot communicated with his peeps in his own way. He appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live," vowing to run for president if the people would qualify him for the ballot in all 50 states. Working class folks from Fort Wayne to the coasts rose to the challenge, achieving his goal in the ultimate political draft movement.??And three decades before Trump declared health reform and trade wars would be "simple" to win, Perot had his own boasts: “I can solve the problem of the national debt without working up a sweat. It’s just that simple.”??If there was an enemy at hand, Perot's approach was curt and concise: “If you see a snake, just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on snakes.”??There are many comparisons between Perot and Trump, but the former provided a crucial lesson to the latter. Perot tried to win the presidency as a populist independent. But as the rockers say, "paranoia will destroy ya" and the media got inside Perot's head. He declared midsummer that the news media was conspiring to ruin his daughter's wedding, and the whole thing began to unravel. He exited the race, then stormed back. But the window to victory had closed.??When the votes were counted, Perot carried 18.9% of the vote nationally, including 19.77% in Vice President Dan Quayle's Indiana. He paved the way for Clinton to defeat Bush. From this showing, Perot created the Reform Party, used it to run again in 1996, and the party was a presidential campaign platform that Trump briefly dallied with in 2000.??But as Steve Earle's folk hero John Lee Pettimore down on Copperhead Road might put it, Donald J. Trump came up "with a brand new plan." Trump would speak the populist code to the regular folks and take over an entire party, the Grand Old Party. While the Hoosier Republican establishment stuck with John Kasich and Ted Cruz in the 2016 primary, Trump invoked the coaching trinity (Bobby Knight, Gene Keady and Lou Holtz), deemed the state "Importantville" and like another populist (socialist Bernie Sanders) won the Hoosier primary with 53% of the vote.??Gov. Mike Pence would see the light and a golden opportunity, and today Hoosier Republicans have enjoined the Trumpian cult of personality. They now eschew balanced budgets and free trade, embrace tariffs and farm bailouts, don't mind sexual harassment allegations (unless you're Attorney General Curtis Hill) and don't sweat a bead if Harley-Davidson is demonized.??“Ross Perot was certainly the most influential political force in the late 20th century from outside the regular party system,” Allan Lichtman, a distinguished professor of history at American University, told CNBC. “I think what explains it is people’s dissatisfaction — this is absolutely relevant to the appeal of Donald Trump — people’s dissatisfaction with business as usual in Washington.”??Perot once said, “Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one-yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown.”??Donald J. Trump took that ball and rammed it up the gut, then spiked the ball into the punch bowl. He took over a party, beat the Bushes and Clintons, and as Frank Sinatra might put it, he's doing it "my way."??I couldn't find any Ross Perot quotes explicitly about Donald Trump, but he did say, "War has rules, mud wrestling has rules, politics has no rules."

    INDIANAPOLIS - Ross Perot famously said, “Eagles don’t flock. You have to find them one at a time.” It was a prescient comment from the first billionaire to run for president, coming a few years before Steve Forbes and some 34 years before Donald J. Trump. In late spring 1992, Perot actually led President George H.W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton in the polls, giving us a glimpse of a populist movement with widespread traction. Writing then for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, I got a ground floor view of this movement which for several weeks prompted many of us to think he could actually win. The Perotistas had set up an office in a Fort Wayne strip mall. It was an utter beehive, with volunteers buzzing about, breaking Allen County into "zippies" (i.e., zip-codes) to organize a political movement. Aided by the fledgling radio talk star Rush Limbaugh, the Perotistas were ticked off about what they perceived to be bad trade deals like NAFTA, with Perot saying in his Texas nasal twang that the "giant sucking sound" we’d be hearing were jobs headed to Mexico.

  • INDIANAPOLIS - By 2020, Indiana may become the so-called "middle finger" of Midwestern marijuana prohibition. Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational weed last month, joining Michigan. It's on the ballot again in Ohio this November and likely to pass. More than 30 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in either medicinal and recreational forms, as well as Canada. But this is Indiana, where the political class can sometimes be a decade behind the sentiment of voters. The October 2016 WTHR-Howey Politics Indiana Poll  revealed 73% favored legalizing medicinal marijuana, including 58% of conservatives. Democrats were most likely to support with 82% followed by independents at 77% support and Republicans with 59%. Hoosiers older than 65 had the lowest level of support but still favored legalization 57% to 41%. Indiana governors and political leaders have trailed national trends before. During the 1970s as surrounding states lowered drinking ages to 18 and 19, Indiana resisted. Its neighboring states later reinstated the 21 age limit.  While Gov. Eric Holcomb says he would need Federal Drug Administration recognition of marijuana legality before moving Indiana in that direction, his status quo to side with the prohibitionists does so on social and economic issues.
  • CHICAGO  – Psssst, Mr. President, you will not be running against Hillary Clinton in 2020. This past week, President Trump and Vice President Pence kicked off their reelection campaign in Orlando and while he repeated the premise for another four years - “Promises made, promises kept” - it was also an exercise in grievance, with nary an aspirational echo from those like President Kennedy or Reagan. “Our political opponents look down with hatred on our values and with utter disdain for the people whose lives they want to run,” Trump said. "They tried to take away your dignity and your destiny. But we will never let them do that, will we? They tried to erase your vote, erase your legacy of the greatest campaign — probably the greatest election in the history of our country."  Trump brought up Hillary Clinton’s “33,000 emails” as the capacity crowd chimed “Lock her up!” Trump won his historic upset in 2016 in part because of his own shrewd strategies and fulsome use of social media. But there were many of his supporters, particularly in Indiana, who loathed Hillary Clinton and voted for the billionaire. But folks, Hillary ain’t runnin’. She’s back in Chappaqua. While the economy is humming, GDP is meeting his prediction of close to 3 percent growth, and jobless levels are at 50-year lows, Trump is not reaping the political windfall that most presidents do with such a positive economy.
  • RAPID CITY, S.D. - Just months after he was vanquished in the 1940 election by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie became his emissary, traveling the world on his behalf in a show of American unity during World War II. At Tehran, he gave the Shah of Iran his first airplane ride. At a fete on his behalf, Willkie complimented the Shah on a beautiful Persian rug. The Shah had his men roll up the rug, putting it on Willkie's plane as a gift, where it ended up at Indiana University's Lilly Library and, eventually, Bryan House. I tell this story because Willkie built on the world travels of U.S. Sen. Albert Beveridge a century ago to form what I call the "internationalist" wing of Indiana politics. These are the public servants who understood global complexities and worked them to the Hoosier advantage. Willkie would author the book "One World" which became a template of the emerging post-World War II new order. He would be followed by U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, U.S. Reps. Lee Hamilton, Tim Roemer and Frank McCloskey, and Gov. Robert Orr. Orr would open up Asian investment in Indiana and become ambassador to Singapore. Lugar forged monumental nuclear safeguards and pushed for global food security. McCloskey intervened in the Balkan genocide. Hamilton and Roemer served on the 9/11 Commission, with the latter becoming ambassador to India. There is now a new member of the internationalist wing: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who gave a compelling and analytical viewpoint into American foreign policy at Indiana University this past week. It was prefaced during an MSNBC Town Hall when he was pressed to name a "living" Republican he admired. Coming just after the death of Sen. Lugar, Buttigieg responded, "I had such a great answer if it wasn't living," Buttigieg said, then naming Willkie. "He was from Indiana. He put country before party."
  • IOWA CITY - If you had to conjure a living version of the word "improbable," look no further than South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. When he launched his presidential exploratory effort last January, even some Hoosier Democrats thought he was overly ambitious. Heading into the sixth month of this experiment, Mayor Pete now faces a crucial sequence that will go along way in determining whether he's an epic dreamer, on the brink of a presidential nomination, or a slot on the national ticket.  After a series of critically acclaimed town halls on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC and dozens of network talking head appearances, Buttigieg will find himself on the debate stage with the frontrunners, the old folks of the Democratic Party: Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Biden has dominated with a Real Clear Politics polling composite lead approaching 20% but has had a tormented week capped by a sudden shift on the Hyde Amendment after supporting it for decades. Sanders has faded, Warren is on the rise, and Buttigieg has leveled off in the polls after flirting with the so-called "top tier" nationally and Iowa and New Hampshire polls. He lags behind in South Carolina, where he has virtually no support from the crucial black voters.
  • INDIANAPOLIS - This is the era of FBI directors leaving us hot messes in their wake. Who could forget James Comey’s July 2016 press conference? That’s when he said he wouldn’t indict Hillary Clinton on the server/email issue, but in doing so leveled searing criticism of how she had conducted sensitive affairs.  Then came the late October surprise whopper, when Comey announced a rekindled investigation of Clinton after finding her emails on Anthony Weiner’s horndogging computer. That created the upset atmosphere than led to President Donald John Trump. What Comey didn’t mention was that the FBI was conducting a counter intelligence probe into the Trump campaign. That brings us to this past week, when former FBI director and Special Counsel Robert Mueller appeared from behind the curtains. His 9-minute statement created a new sensation when he refused to absolve President Trump of obstruction of justice. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime," Mueller stoically said. Due to DOJ rules (but not the Constitution), "Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider. If we had confidence the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so." 
  • NASHVILLE, Ind. — Last week I regaled you with the legacies of the Senate lions, the late Birch Bayh and Richard Lugar. Their passing occurred just months after Indiana's newest senator, Republican Mike Braun, followed in their giant footsteps. In the television age of politics, only nine white guys have made it to the U.S. Senate from Indiana. Our new senators tend to arrive in crisis atmosphere, whether it was the assassination of President Kennedy 11 months after Sen. Birch Bayh was sworn in, the shooting of President Reagan three months after Dan Quayle took the oath, or President Clinton's impeachment that prompted Sen. Evan Bayh's first votes. Sen. Braun came to Washington with the federal government shut down, in a standoff over immigration between President Trump and congressional Democrats. It was a "crisis" that pales in comparison to the thunderclap immediacy of gunshots and impeachment, but it is a sclerosis that has created historic dysfunction at a time of global duress, whether it be climate change, rising super powers or a rapidly aging population. All of these issues will test the viability of our republic in the coming years. Braun won office by sporting a blue shirt sans tie, dispatched three sitting Members of Congress along the way with a cranky attitude that endeared him to many Hoosiers who are fed up with bovine scatology that has become federal governance. 
  • NASHVILLE, Ind. - Some things in our society are simply disappearing. Like the Studebaker Lark. Space Food Sticks. RadioShack. Blockbuster. And, of course, Hoosier Democrat county commissioners and gubernatorial contenders. That last point, however, is about to change. Gov. Eric Holcomb has just concluded his third General Assembly session and he proclaims the state is "on a roll." There’s that $34.6 billion perfectly balanced budget sans smoke and mirrors. He pumped $760 million of new funding into K-12 education, added close to $300 million into the Department of Child Services. He signed a hate crime law that will be tested in the courts, two new abortion restriction bills, and a deal to keep the Pacers in Indiana. He'll get to name his own education superintendent in 2020. It hasn’t been a completely smooth ride. Holcomb still finds a defiant Attorney General Curtis Hill ignoring his call to resign over sexual harassment allegations. The head of the state’s Veteran’s agency was forced to quit due to questionable expenditures and the governor took some heat for accepting a flight from a casino owner.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – One way to know you’re picking up political traction is when opposing partisans begin to take notice; when you are no longer ignored. That is the prelude to 2 p.m. Palm Sunday when one of the most unlikely presidential campaigns kicks off in South Bend. That’s when Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially joins some 20 Democrats seeking to take on President Trump and Vice President Pence. Buttigieg is now showing up, sometimes in double digits, in state and national polls. In several surveys he trails only septuagenarian front runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. He’s been a piping hot commodity on the cable and network talking head circuit. Last Sunday on NBC's Meet The Press and at the LGBT Victory Fund brunch less than an hour later, Buttigieg got the attention of Republicans. In discussing his sexuality, Buttigieg told the Victory Fund, “It’s hard to face the truth that there were times in my life when, if you had shown me exactly what it was inside me that made me gay, I would have cut it out with a knife. If you had offered me a pill to make me straight, I would’ve swallowed it before you had time to give me a sip of water."  In retrospect, he said, his marriage to his husband Chasten has moved him closer to God. And it brought him in proximity the political battle lines involving Vice President Mike Pence, a longtime foe of same sex marriage. “That’s the thing that I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand,” Buttigieg said. “That if you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.” That has now fully placed "Mayor Pete" on the Republican radar.
  • NASHVILLE, Ind. – Indiana now has a hate crimes law. How credible the law Gov. Eric Holcomb signed on Wednesday will be determined by the courts at some future date. In signing the law, Holcomb explained, “Our goal was to achieve a comprehensive law that protects those who are the targets of bias crimes, and we have accomplished just that. We have made progress and taken a strong stand against targeted violence. I am confident our judges will increase punishment for those who commit crimes motivated by bias under this law.”  But this came after weeks of muddled messaging. Holcomb signaled late last year that a law with a list of the potentially afflicted was one of his top priorities. He was moved by the defiling of a Carmel synagogue last summer. He vowed to be vocal. Many of us believed that this popular governor wouldn’t hestitate to use his ample political capital to achieve a high priority goal. From a practical and legal standpoint, should Johnny Himmler spray paint “Heil Hitler” on a synagogue or defile a home with a rainbow flag on the porch and a car with an equality sticker in the driveway, judges have the ability today to sentence while considering the aggravating circumstances at hand. Speaker Brian Bosma believed that to be the case before this session ever began, but Holcomb changed the equation.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – Super majorities have consequences. If there is any lesson to be drawn from the headline news item of the 2019 General Assembly session – the hate crimes legislation without a specific list of the potentially afflicted, which reached Senate concurrence Tuesday and is headed to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk – it’s that.  The pipsqueak Democratic minorities protest with the voices of mice and the super majority Republicans just grin and do what they want, often in caucus, away from public view. There is no presumptive Democratic gubernatorial standard-bearer in the wings who should be the focal and vocal point of resistance. And the true rising star of the Rooster Party, the openly gay South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, is too busy running for president. In February, when Mayor Pete conducted a book reading at IUPUI, there seemed to be a strange bedfellows alignment between Buttigieg and Gov. Holcomb on SB12, which had just cleared the Senate without a list. Holcomb declared it “unacceptable” and said there was plenty of time to forge a list. “I will continue to fight for the right ultimate outcome for our state and citizens this year so we’re not right back here in the same place next year,” Holcomb said.  HPI commented at the time: It is unclear how Holcomb will use his considerable popularity to bring his recalcitrant GOP into line. Now we know.
  • NASHVILLE, Ind. – President Trump hasn’t read the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Neither has Vice President Pence, U.S. Sen. Todd Young, nor anyone in the Indiana congressional delegation, or Congress for that matter. No one on “Fox & Friends,” “Morning Joe,” Wolf Blitzer, Sean Hannity, the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post or any member of the vast right/left wing conspiracies have read the report. We don’t know the thrust of what Mueller gleaned from what Wired has reported, which includes: A team of 19 lawyers; 40 FBI agents, analysts, forensic accountants, and other staff; more than 2,800 subpoenas; nearly 500 search warrants; 230 sets of communication records; details from nearly 50 pen registers used to track telephone calls; 13 requests of foreign governments and law enforcement agencies for additional evidence and interviews; along with around 500 witnesses. Beyond Mueller’s team and Attorney General Robert Barr, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and DOJ staffers, no one knows what’s in the report, beyond Barr’s four-page memo released on Sunday. On Friday, Barr said the report numbering more than "400 pages" will be made public soon. “Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own,” Barr wrote ton Congressional leaders on Friday.
  • GNAW BONE, Ind. – Eight years ago, Hoosier Republicans gathered for their annual spring dinner and heard an endearing speech from First Lady Cheri Daniels, who talked about her love for the Indiana State Fair ranging from hand milking cows to flipping pancakes. It was a prelude to a potential presidential run by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, whose political career was one of distinct decorum. He never ran a negative TV ad, nor did he vilify his opponents. Several weeks later, the Daniels family decided against a White House bid (who could blame them?), a decision that if you line up a chain of hypotheticals (the governor could have won the GOP nomination, could have defeated President Obama, could have tackled historic entitlement reform) might have clipped the atmosphere that produced President Donald Trump and the coarsened political environment we stew in today. Thus, we summon Monty Python’s Flying Circus and John Cleese’s famous catch-phrase: And now for something completely different. That would be Monday night's Republican Spring Dinner, 2019 version. It featured two of President Trump’s ultimate insiders: Corey Lewandowski and Dave Bossie.
  • NASHVILLE, Ind. – At 9 Sunday evening, Mayor Pete truly goes nationwide. That’s when Pete Buttigieg is featured on a televised CNN town hall, live from Austin, Tex. The South Bend mayor is attempting one of the most audacious political paths in history, which would be jumping from leading a city of 100,000 population, a $360 million budget and a thousand employees to the presidency with a $4 trillion budget and millions of workers.  Most politicians aiming for the White House have a statewide or urban political base. Buttigieg has skipped that step, though his unsuccessful 2010 run for Indiana treasurer is the source of an early chapter in his book “Shortest Way Home.” “The very first time I put my name on the ballot for office, fully one million people had voted for the other guy,” Buttigieg notes. “I had received a priceless if humbling course of education, a fitting conclusion to a decade of learning.” 

  • INDIANAPOLIS  — Perhaps we should make Feb. 27 a new U.S. holiday: Liars Day. It would be the perfect holiday here in the post-truth era. One could use it to golf or fish, do our taxes, or hit a strip club while the wife goes shopping, lying all the way. Convicted liar Michael Cohen appeared before the House Oversight Committee. He’s already lied under oath before Congress. He was President Trump’s long-time fixer/attorney and, according to the Washington Post, Trump had lied or told half truths 8,158 times as of Jan. 21. President Trump surrounded himself with an array of people who have lied. Michael Flynn was axed because he lied to Vice President Pence. And Pence, playing the dutiful veep, repeats the Trumpian lies, like that faux “national emergency” on the southern border that most of our U.S. House delegation has taken hook, line and political sinker. House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings acknowledged Cohen’s problem with the truth. “I will be the first one to refer those untruthful statements to DOJ,” the chairman warned. “He has a lot to lose if he lies.” Cummings then swore Cohen in, asking if he would say “nothing but the truth, the whole truth?” Cohen answered in the affirmative. So help us, God. I mean, really, God, we could use some help down here in Washington.
  • INDIANAPOLIS - The last time I was with Dan Coats, we had breakfast at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He looked and sounded like a man ready to retire and enjoy his grandkids. He had been a public servant since 1980, his career coursing through the U.S. House, Senate and as ambassador to Germany, taking that post just hours before the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Coats was a late supporter of Donald Trump. He and his wife, former Republican National Committeewoman Marsha Coats, had concerns about candidate Trump. Marsha wrote Trump a letter, hand-delivered by her husband, and at a subsequent appearance in Fort Wayne, Trump "sought her out,” the senator said. “He said, ‘Marsha, I will not let you down.” This Donald Trump listened and asked questions. But Coats understood the political attraction of Trump, in awe that he could draw 20,000 people to an arena. As for Trump's style, Coats told him, “If you change your speech, you might draw 250 people. I think you really need to be Donald Trump, but what I see now is a Donald Trump who listens and asks questions.”  Coats didn't retire at the end of 2016. By appeal from Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Coats became director of National Intelligence. He is guardian of the American empire, boss to spies and spooks, assessor of the plethora of threats we face and our ardent defender. He has had a tormented relationship with President Trump, most conspicuously coming to a head in Helsinki last July, when Trump met with Russian President Putin alone for two hours. A
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  • Gov. Holcomb on Eva Kor: 'We lost a giant'
    “We lost a giant. A 4-foot-11 giant.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb in a Sunday memorial service in Indianapolis honoring the late Eva Mozes Kor, who died in Poland in July near the Auschwitz concentration camp where she was imprisoned during World War II. Kor immigrated to Terre Haute and founded the CANDLES Holocaust Museum.
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  • A son's eulogy to Father

    We gather here today to celebrate the life of Jack Eugene Howey. It was the proverbial life well lived for 93 years. As I stand here, I remember Dad’s advice to the various Methodist pastors he worked with over the years: A sermon should never last longer than 13.5 minutes, so I am on the clock.

    These past 10 months have been tough on our family as we watched a great man recede and his memories launch out into an endless expanse of time.

    Our family rallied around not only him, but also our Mother. The two of them shared an extraordinary 68 years together that began in the offices of the Indiana Daily Student at IU. They would have three children, six grandchildren. They would be among the first Western journalists to cross from Israel to Jordan on the Allenby Bridge just months after the Six Day War. They would witness topless mermaids cavorting in a huge jar at a Beirut casino, and go to a party with Abe Rosenthal and Punch Sulzberger of the New York Times in a penthouse overlooking Central Park where they hung out with Theodore White and Walter Cronkite. They would be in the room when President Nixon told a startled nation he was not a crook.

    Together they attended scores of concerts, Little League games, and Bridge games. Ever since that day at Lake Yellowwood when Dad said he was seeking a wife and gave her 10 minutes to decide, they were a fabulous partnership. Dad embraced his fatherhood, sending “Secret Friend” letters to us on our birthdays, going on Scout trips, excursions to the beach and other family vacations. And, of course, there were the annual pilgrimages to Chicago White Sox games. They ran a household where kids in the neighborhood could come and go.
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