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Wednesday, November 27, 2019 9:43 AM

INDIANAPOLIS – The spook’s eyes at the Londonskaya Hotel bar burned holes in me. Every time I glanced in his direction, they were trained on me. I had entered Odessa, Ukraine as part of the last hurrah of Sen. Richard Lugar’s old Republican internationalist order in this pre-partitioned nation. 

It was 2007. Vladimir Putin held only shadow power in the old Soviet remnants. His fractured standing belied a reeling nation, the former Soviet Union, in steep demographic decline. High rates of alcoholism, suicide and plunging birth rates defined this former empire. Donald Trump was a gadfly, wannabe presidential aspirant who owned a couple of Gary riverboat casinos and a New York real estate empire.

It would have been impossible to foresee how this churn of events would play out a dozen years later in Moscow, Kiev, Washington and even Indianapolis. The old Republican internationalist order that once thrived in Indiana has ended, begging the question in the emergent era of the Trump cult of personality, so what if it has?

The Indiana aspect of this story can be told through the hyper-supplicant Pences, with the vice president accepting full ownership of that cult; and Indiana’s two Republican senators, Mike Braun, who owes his station to Trump, and Todd Young, a former Lugar staffer who, had he taken a different career path, might have found himself briefing the Senate in a manner similar to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Last week Vindman, former Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and State Department Ukrainian expert Dr. Fiona Hill testified before Congress of a disinformation campaign echoing Putin’s Kremlin that it was the Ukrainians, not the Russians, who meddled in the 2016 US elections. The Republican senators received a briefing on the Ukrainian fiction as multiple sources discredited the story. In the wake of the sensational impeachment testimony which appears not to have swayed public opinion, the question for Hoosier voters remains, does it matter? Do people care? I don’t think they do. Hoosier voters appear to be giving President Trump the benefit of the doubt, preferring to decide his future at the ballot box next year. Two recent polls in Indiana, the Old National/Ball State and Bowen Center poll, put Trump’s approval at 52%, while a Morning Consult poll had Trump’s Indiana approval at 50%.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – Last year was one of the bloodiest years in Indiana history as Indianapolis set yet another homicide record with 271 murders, while Evansville, Fort Wayne and South Bend all had deadly years. Perhaps, just perhaps ... it’s because Indiana is awash in guns. On Tuesday, the Indiana House voted 63-29 on HB1077 the “constitutional carry” bill that would abolish permits to carry handguns. According to National Instant Criminal Background Check System that was created by the 1998 Brady Act, these checks have increased steadily over the past three years after spiking during the 2016 election cycle. Indiana NICS firearms checks totaled 1,815,531 in 2021, down slightly from 1,935,587 in 2020. In 2019, there were 1,450,565 checks. These checks spiked to 1,436,725 in 2016 and 1,076,917 in 2015 when there was speculation that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was heavily favored over Donald Trump. Rumors were rampant that a third Clinton administration would herald new gun restrictions. While Indiana has a population of 6.8 million people, the NICS checks during these five years totaled 7.7 million.

  • INDIANAPOLIS - Back in 1976 I read a short newspaper story citing French demographer and scholar Emmanuel Todd who forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union. In his essay titled "The Final Fall," Todd deduced that the USSR suffered from stagnation, low birth rate and high infant mortality, rising suicides, alcoholism and worker discontent. At the time, I thought Todd's notion was crazy. The collapse of a nuclear super power? As a graduate of Indiana University's Russian and East European Institute, and working in Elkhart where a large Soviet dissident community had gathered in the 1980s, I attended seminars at IU and Notre Dame in which a number of scholars such as Prof. Robert F. Byrnes, Prof. Darrell Hammer, Prof. Robert Campbell of IU and Notre Dame Prof. George A. Brinkley Jr. believed that communism as we knew it was dying. "You cannot even find a glass of beer in Moscow," Prof. Byrnes said. Prof. Campbell added, "This society has to be rebuilt from the ground up. There's no way of getting out of this mess without any trouble. The question is: Can Gorbachev manage the trouble?" But in 1986, few scholars were predicting the Soviet collapse. That began to change two years later, when Prof. Brinkley described 1988 and 1989 as Soviet leader "Gorbachev's hump" following the fall of the Berlin Wall and poor harvests. Prof. Hammer observed in September of that year that "The Soviet Union ought to solve its economic problems before trying to reform politically.” In my Elkhart Truth article dated Nov. 5, 1989, I wrote, "In the light of astounding events that have taken place in 1988 and 1989, anything can happen. And it did. I watched CNN on Dec. 25, 1991, as the old Soviet hammer and sickle flag was lowered from the Kremlin after Gorbachev resigned. The USSR was kaput. Why tell this chapter today? Because there are now predictions that the same fate is in store for the United States of America.

  • INDIANAPOLIS - Becoming Indiana's attorney general is not, historically, a path to the governorship, or any other higher office. Yes, Democrat Attorney General Alonzo Smith served as an interim lieutenant governor from 1886-89, and Samuel Jackson was briefly in the U.S. Senate in 1944. In 1992, Attorney General Linley Pearson won the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but nearly quit before the convention ended in a dispute over composition of the ticket. In 2016, Attorney General Greg Zoeller lost a 9th Congressional District primary to mostly-unknown Trey Hollingsworth, formerly of Tennessee, who used family wealth to win the nomination and the seat. In the television age of Hoosier politics, Attorney Generals Edwin Steers, John Dillon, Ted Sendak, Pamela Carter, Jeff Modisett, Karen Freeman-Wilson and Steve Carter saw the office as the capstone of their political and legal careers, though the appointed Freeman-Wilson later became the mayor of Gary. Our governors during this modern era have been lieutenant governors, House speakers, state senators, congressmen, or wealthy businessmen. The notion of the state's top lawyer becoming a governor or U.S. senator began after Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill took office in 2017.

  • NOTRE DAME – In late June 2018, Democrat U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly was cruising toward reelection and was on a conference call with Hoosier agriculture reporters when he learned that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was retiring. "It was like I got hit in the head with a baseball bat," Donnelly told me. "I had been watching that like a hawk, because the way the Supreme Court operates, there’s a time when you really can’t resign after that point in the year, there are things you have to do to get ready for the next cycle. He had already hired clerks. By that time, you’re really in so deep you can’t leave. So, this was the final week when he could possibly consider; this was the end of the final week. I know how emotional Supreme Court nominations are." Donnelly ended up losing to Republican Mike Braun five months later, 51-45%, with the Republican carrying 84 counties. The Kennedy retirement and the volatile confirmation hearing of Judge Brett Kavanaugh a month before the election that included sketchy allegations that as a teenager he had sexually assaulted a girl completely roiled the Indiana Senate race. The Kavanaugh confirmation sequence was a determinative one that may have decided this race. It gave President Trump more reasons to come to stump for Braun, showing up a half a dozen campaign rallies. It certainly ignited the Republican base. And it put Donnelly in a bind, eventually opposing the Kavanaugh confirmation. This coming June, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision's in the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has the potential to alter the political environment once again. Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young is seeking a second term and will likely face Democrat Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – From my “lamestream media” perch things sure do look dicey and dangerous. There’s that 36-page coup d’etat Powerpoint titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 Jan” that President Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows gave to the House Jan. 6 Committee. The Atlantic’s Barton Gellman writes that “Trump’s next coup has already begun.” According to Gellman, “If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect.” Veteran GOP operative Steve Schmidt describes “the obvious edge of the abyss into which we are staring. A great crisis isn’t just at hand, it is underway. We are living through its early days.” NBC’s Meet The Press Daily observes: “Today prominent GOP candidates are running campaigns based on waving the bloody shirt of a stolen election. Sixty percent of the party’s voters believe the blood is real when it’s actually fake. Republicans in several states are trying their best to make sure those local officials who protected the election from false fraud claims won’t be there next time.”

  • INDIANAPOLIS – "Disastrous.” That's Indiana University -Northwest Economics Prof. Micah Pollak's forecast for a second COVID perilous winter, mostly among the 50% of Hoosiers who are unvaccinated. Pollack added that that state and local leaders need to be “shouting from the rooftops” about the need for people to get vaccinated.  Gov. Eric Holcomb found himself facing the pandemic in February 2020. Last October, he told me that the only pandemic playbook on state government shelves was one for the flu. After shutting the state down for nearly six weeks, then gradually reopening through the summer, Holcomb’s modus operandi was always to “manage” his way through the crisis. A year ago, Holcomb and the nearly 7 million Hoosiers appeared to be anticipating the vaccine developed and approved under the Trump administration. Today, he is confronted with a fifth surge of patients filling up hospital ICUs, while about half of all Hoosiers have rejected taking the vaccine. At this writing, IU Health is appealing for National Guard deployment to help deal with this latest surge. During my annual year-end interview with Holcomb, I observed: During 2020, you had the weekly Zoom press conferences, and you were given high marks for transparency and focus. After you gave what I call the “light at the end of the tunnel” speech in late March, you pulled back and stopped having them. You’re a graduate of the “Mitch Daniels School of Using Your Political Capital.”  Why didn’t you barnstorm the state urging people to vaccinate and protect themselves and their communities? "It was absolutely counter to what I heard as I got around the state," Holcomb responded. 
  • INDIANAPOLIS – There have been two types of Mike Pence for president stories in recent weeks. The first has been about Pence taking his nascent campaign to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, preparing for an upstart 2024 campaign. The second is the many articles saying he has little to no chance, particularly if former president Donald Trump runs. And now comes the Mississippi abortion case that was heard Wednesday morning by the U.S. Supreme Court, described as the most direct challenge to Roe v. Wade since the Casey case three decades ago. According to the AP, the Supreme Court had never agreed to hear a case over an abortion ban so early in pregnancy until all three Trump appointees – Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – were on board. While we won’t know whether this Mississippi case overturns Roe, or changes the dynamic of the timeline for fetal viability for several months, this represents the culmination and goal of Mike Pence’s political career. And should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, it would become his most profound achievement. Pence spoke at the National Press Club on Monday at a Susan B. Anthony event, saying, “Today as the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments in those hallowed halls, we are here to declare with one voice ‘no more.’ I’m very hopeful and I do believe that Roe v. Wade will be overturned whether it’s now or in the future.”
  • NEW YORK - "How are you doing today, Buddy?" the St. Vincent's intensive care nurse asked me in late November 2019. To which I replied, "Why do you all call me Buddy?" I was in ICU suffering from a bilateral subdural hematoma in November 2019, just five months before the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed Indiana's medical system. These nurses kept me alive. I remember thanking them for their care during my hospitalization, and I do so again almost two years into this pandemic that now seems unrelenting. We've gone from a statewide lockdown in 2020, to universally available vaccines a year later. Now, only 50% of Hoosier adults have chosen to be vaccinated, fueling what is essentially a fifth COVID surge that portends to a third bleak winter. While many of us have resumed pre-pandemic lifestyles, these ICU nurses are still living in a hell that has seen more than a million of us infected, 16,788 deaths at this writing, making this the most lethal public health sequence in Indiana history. It has to be deflating for nurses and doctors leaving crowded ICU wards filled with patients who opted not to protect themselves. This comes as the Indiana General Assembly had planned a Monday Nov. 29 to pass legislation that “ends the public health emergency.” According to a preliminary draft of a bill, it would prohibit employer vaccine and testing mandates. “If this bill passes on the 29th and effectively says we’ve addressed the governor’s concerns on ending this, I would hope at that point that the governor would then not extend this emergency," said Republican House Majority Leader Matt Lehman, noting the current order expires Dec. 1. 

  • INDIANAPOLIS – What do Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, industrialist Charles Koch, former House Speaker John Boehner, Sarah Palin and Snoop Dogg have in common? They all back marijuana reforms. The rapper Dogg is no surprise, having built his career on a foundation of bongs and kush. But Justice Thomas? He recently wrote, "A prohibition on intrastate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government's piecemeal approach. Federal policies of the past 16 years have greatly undermined its reasoning. The federal government's current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana.” And Speaker Boehner? "My thinking on cannabis has evolved," he said. "I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.” They've come a long way since iconic conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. smoked pot on his sailboat beyond U.S. territorial limits in 1965, advocating in 1971 decriminalization (but not legalization). Asked about the episode, he told the New York Times, "Yes. It was on my boat, outside the three-mile limit. I'm a law-and- order advocate, you know. To tell the truth, marijuana didn't do a thing for me.” Koch, whose Americans for Prosperity group has backed a generation of conservative congressional and state legislative candidates, has joined Mr. Dogg and criminal justice reform advocate Weldon Angelos to form the Cannabis Freedom Alliance. So beyond the whiff of weed I discovered at a Temptations concert at Conner Prairie this summer, there is definitely change in the air.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – Johnny McEntee was President Trump’s final choice to head the White House Personnel Office. He was a 29-year-old former UConn football player who became candidate Trump’s “body man” in 2015. But by the final fateful weeks of the Trump presidency, after being fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly and banned from the Department of Justice by Attorney General Bill Barr, McEntee had become, according to Jonathan Karl’s new book “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” what a senior official described as the “deputy president.” Most presidents and governors start their terms with what insiders call the “A team,” and by the end of the typical first term, the top talent moves to more lucrative and influential gigs and are replaced by the “B” and and sometimes “C” teams. In Trump’s White House, McEntee’s appointment was much, much further down the HR alphabet. Six days after Trump lost the election, he fired Defense Sec. Mark Esper, replacing him with Christopher Miller. According to Karl, McEntee also selected Miller’s senior advisor, Ret. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor as the White House Personnel Office attempted to invade the Pentagon. McEntee then gave Macgregor a handwritten “to-do list” for the new team at the Pentagon: “1. Get us out of Afghanistan. 2. Get us out of Iraq and Syria. 3. Complete the withdrawal from Germany. 4. Get us out of Africa."

  • INDIANAPOLIS – The pandemic has spun off a number of curve balls, from missing workers, to supply change disruptions and angry school board confrontations over masking, but if you’re a Hoosier mayor or city council member, well, grab your shades because the future is bright. That’s because the Democratic-controlled Congress passed and President Biden signed the American Rescue Act, bringing more than $4 billion in federal emergency funds to the state, including $1.28 billion for cities and towns. The money is significant: Anderson will get $23,105,605.; Carmel, $7,522,920.; Columbus, $8,570,495; East Chicago, $31,172,909; Elkhart, $18,042,360; Evansville, $64,483,775; Fishers, $6,900,880; Gary, $80,345,314; Goshen, $6,692,508; Hammond, $51,395,851; Indianapolis, $232,410,707; Kokomo, $19,893,216; Mishawaka, $11,883,602; New Albany, $16,927,916; Noblesville, $6,212,841; South Bend, $58,910,047; and Terre Haute, $35,936,890. Over the summer and fall, mayors and city councils have steadily developed plans to implement the funding. Whiting is investing in a new water main. South Bend is investing in pre-K and community centers, providing relief for residents behind on their water bills, fund demolitions of vacant commercial buildings that pose imminent safety risks. Indianapolis is putting more than $400 million in public safety. Hammond is spending on lead remediation and “shovel ready” infrastructure projects.

  • INDIANAPOLIS –  Sen. Todd Young seems to have it all these days. He raised a record $1.6 million for his first Senate reelection campaign this past quarter, sitting on a lofty $5.6 million cash. He doesn’t have a primary opponent. The three Democratic candidates have raised a combined $100,000. But Todd Young is lacking what may count most: The endorsement of former president Donald J. Trump in a state where he won twice with 57%. According to Politico, Sen. Young’s campaign made inquiries for a Trump endorsement last winter, not long after the Jan. 6 insurrection and then Trump’s second impeachment trial, when Young voted to acquit the former president. Politico: “Trump’s revulsion to even minor instances of disloyalty only intensified. As an example, they noted that Trump is currently withholding an endorsement of Indiana Sen. Todd Young after Young called Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene ‘an embarrassment’ to the Republican party last month.” On Jan. 6 in a statement, Young said, “As Congress meets to formally receive the votes of the Electoral College, I will uphold my Constitutional duty and certify the will of the states as presented. I will not violate that oath.” In normal times, such statements wouldn’t be a problem. But over the past year, Trump has only amplified claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” and “stolen” despite little evidence and pushback from Republicans like Attorney General Bill Barr, Vice President Mike Pence, former veep Dan Quayle and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  • INDIANAPOLIS - As a prelude to Donald Trump’s presidency, his adviser Steve Bannon said in 2016, “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” A week before Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection – which ended up as the first violent encroachment of the U.S. Capitol since the British burned Washington in 1814, costing five lives, three police suicides, 150 cop injuries, and more than 500 criminal charges of sedition – Steve Bannon had President Trump’s ear. According to the Bob Woodward and Robert Costa book “Peril”, Bannon told Trump on Dec. 30, “You’ve got to return to Washington and make a dramatic return today. You’ve got to call Pence off the f------ ski slopes and get him back here today. This is a crisis. We’re going to bury Biden on Jan. 6. We’re going to kill it in the crib. Kill the Biden presidency in the crib.” The roadmap to this conspiracy to violently take away Joe Biden’s 81 million vote to 74 million vote victory (306 to 232 Electoral College) was a memo by “legal scholar” John Eastman who laid out the “Jan. 6 scenario” that claimed that seven states had transmitted dual slates of electors to the president of the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence. U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah sought and could find no evidence of any dual elector slates.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – When one gets up in the morning, peers into the mirror and sees a future president of the United States, it’s safe to say that with the exception of a tiny fraction of a percent of the population, this person is living in an alternative reality. The key to escaping this alternative universe is to act and say things that make sense to at least 50% plus one of the voters. Mike Pence is that person in his mirror. But what he said to Fox News host Sean Hannity earlier this week will be seen as disqualifying for residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., by many Americans, including those who had voted for the former Indiana governor and vice president in the past. “I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration’s failed agenda by focusing on one day in January,” Pence told Hannity of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection that resulted in five deaths, at least three police suicides, some 150 police injuries, more than 500 criminal charges, and brought about the second impeachment of his boss, former President Donald J. Trump, and the first such episode for a commander-in-chief already out of office.

  • BLOOMINGTON - An Economist/YouGov poll puts congressional approval at 19%, while 59% disapprove. Now why would that be? Perhaps it's because there hasn't been any meaningful immigration reform in almost four decades, which is why we have a humanitarian crisis at the southern border, American farmers can't find enough people to pick crops and there are tens of thousands of unfilled jobs across Indiana. Or, perhaps, it is now putting the nation on a path to default as Senate Republicans are not only refusing to vote to raise the debt ceiling (something it has routinely done since World War I), but are planning to use the filibuster to keep it from happening. “This is a unified Democrat government, engaging in a partisan reckless tax and spending spree," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is said to have told Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen. 
    Ahhh, the filibuster. The Indiana Senate and 49 other state legislatures don't have this archaic tool. Neither does the East Chicago City Council, the Wakarusa Town Board or the Fort Wayne School Board. It would take 60 votes – 10 more than majority Democrats (along with Vice President Kamala Harris) – to break a filibuster. Enter U.S. Sen. Todd Young, the senior Republican from Indiana who is seeking a second term in 2022. Young said in a Senate floor speech on Wednesday, “Defaulting on our debts will start a spiral of economic turmoil. Interest rates would rise. The dollar would drop. Essential government workers might not get paid."

  • MICHIGAN CITY – As we head into a weekend commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, ponder this question: Did Osama bin Laden win? He was killed by U.S. Special Forces a decade ago, his remains dumped into the Indian Ocean. But when you consider what his goals were when he attacked New York and Washington, he has achieved much of what he wanted. When al-Qaeda attacked, the U.S. was the only “super power” on the world stage, coming a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today, there is a growing school of thought that we have now fallen behind China. America spent $6.4 trillion on what President George W. Bush described as the “War on Terror,” according to Brown University’s Costs of War Project. This includes President Bush’s “Axis of Evil” State of the Union address in 2002 when he expanded the U.S. assault on al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan to Iraq, Iran and North Korea. The Iraq War costs are pegged at about $2 trillion (coming to about $8,000 per U.S. taxpayer). The Costs of War Project estimates the U.S. spent $2.2 trillion in Afghanistan, including $837 billion on “warfighting” and $145 billion on Afghan reconstruction, the development of its national security forces that quit after 11 days this summer, as well as counter-narcotic efforts. There were 2,352 U.S. military members who were killed in Afghanistan, and the 20,000 who were wounded. In the Iraq War, 4,431 U.S. soldiers were killed and 31,944 were wounded. These human costs are incalculable, defying any dollar amount on a spread sheet.

  • MICHIGAN CITY – The people don't always get it right. From slavery, to the right of women and minorities to vote, from the way we've treated our mentally ill, to Jim Crow laws and school segregation, it took "leaders" to cut through prevailing opinion, gossip and innuendo, and forge evolving visionary policy creating a more perfect union. When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic - the most lethal health sequence in Indiana history which has claimed more than 14,000 lives - the General Assembly moved at the behest of some of the people to crimp the power of our governor. Instead of waiting for this pandemic to end, comprehensively study responses and results, and then make policy changes, the General Assembly passed laws and overrode vetoes by Gov. Eric Holcomb to send public health mandates and restrictions into the hands of local units of government like county commissioners and school boards. So, how's that going? nHalf the Indiana population is fully vaccinated, leaving the other half exposed, and now the "end of the tunnel" forecasted by Gov. Eric Holcomb last March is now in its fourth surge, on course to surpass those of last fall and winter. It was wholly avoidable. According to state health officials, four of Indiana's 10 hospital districts are now above 100% of Intensive Care Unit beds occupied. According to the University of Washington's very credible health metrics evaluation site, another 6,000 Hoosiers will die between now and Dec. 1, with the daily death toll reaching 130 by mid-October. Our ICU nurses are overwhelmed and burned out, which is exacerbating a shortage of medical personnel. After shifts where they are the last human a doomed COVID patient sees, these ICU nurses drive past bars, restaurants and stadiums filled with unmasked people.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – On paper, Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young looks to be in the catbird seat as he seeks a second term next year. He sits on a war chest approaching $5 million. He’s undefeated, having dispatched since 2010 current or former members of Congress including Mike Sodrel, Baron Hill, Marlin Stutzman and in 2016 defeated Democrat Evan Bayh by 10%. His reelection comes in a mid-term cycle that normally favors the party that does not control the White House. McDermott’s Democratic credentials are solid, having served as Lake County party chair as well as on the Democratic National Committee. But he has a long history of attracting Republican support. His father was a two-term Republican mayor of Hammond between 1984 and 1992. McDermott upset Republican Mayor Duane Dedelow in 2003 by 52.1% to 47.9%, a margin of just 700 votes. After a narrow first reelection by virtually the same margin, McDermott has been a Region juggernaut, winning his last two terms with 82% and 87% of the vote. McDermott says that Sen. Young has become “corrupted” by Washington money influences as well as by Donald Trump. Young voted to acquit Trump during two impeachment trials. “He’s a veteran, an Annapolis grad, and quite frankly, should know better,” McDermott said.
  • NASHVILLE, Ind. - I never met Marine Sgt. Jeremy R. McQueary, but anyone traveling on State Road 46 heading into this town crosses a bridge named in his honor. On Feb. 18, 2010, while on combat support mission in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, McQueary was killed by an improvised explosive device in the midst of a war at that point was going on nine years.  Sgt. McQueary had been inspired by his father, Dallas, to serve. He graduated from Columbus East High School in 2002, just months after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the citizen patriot downing of Flight 93 that had been aimed at the U.S. Capitol. Less than three months after Sgt. McQueary's death, U.S. Special Forces found and terminated the life of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda mastermind of those Sept. 11 attacks. One could make the case that it was at that point that the United States achieved its mission; that was the time we should have exited Afghanistan, the so-called "graveyard of empires." Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, observed on Wednesday, "For more than 20 years ... " it was American warriors like Sgt. McQueary who helped "prevent an attack on the homeland." "This is personal," Gen. Milley said. "To each of them, I want you to know personally, your service mattered."

  • CARMEL – In re-reading Winston Churchill’s 1897 book, “The History of the Malakand Field Force,” it became abundantly clear that the realities of life and war in eastern Afghanistan have changed little over the last 120 years. The enemy that Winston Churchill faced in his first action as a British soldier defending the realm has seen their great-great grandchildren squaring off against our American sons for the past 20 years to much the same result. As Santayana so famously stated, “Those who fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it,” was never truer than in Afghanistan. The British, Soviets and the United States have all been dragged into the quagmire of Afghanistan for various motivations, but ultimately each suffered the same ignoble result, a final struggle between escaping with your pride and merely escaping. Each lost men and vast treasures in trying to control the uncontrollable. It would have been bad enough if our leaders had forgotten the lessons we should have learned from the British and Soviet experience in Afghanistan, but there were over 56,000 other reasons why we should have given pause to thoughts of a long-term commitment to the conflict, and that was the tragic loss of life we suffered in our previous aborted attempt at interventionism, Vietnam. Although the details may differ, there is much similarity to the two shameful disasters.  
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  • South Bend Mayor Mueller hopes pandemic ending
    “And to get even bolder, I hope this is the last community event, big community event, hat is delayed or canceled because of COVID-19. We are weeks away from turning the corner and putting this behind us once and for all. I know we are excited to get there, and right now it is a little disappointing.” - South Bend Mayor James Mueller, speaking at a Martin Luther King Jr. event on Monday. St. Joseph County Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox: “I think we are certainly weeks away from being through the worst of the omicron phase. We may have crested now or sometime in the next week, probably, we will hit our peak at omicron. And the recovery from that should almost be as rapid as the rise was. While it’s caused a lot of infections, the duration is going to be relatively short-lived.”
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