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Thursday, December 12, 2019
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Wednesday, November 27, 2019 11:39 AM

“The coup has started.” I put these words in quotations because they were actually tweeted out by someone in the know. No, this wasn’t one of President Trump’s ubiquitous tweets. This tweet belongs to Mark Zaid. Who is Mark Zaid you ask? He is none other than the Trump whistleblower’s attorney. Most importantly, this tweet was launched in January 2017. Zaid even followed up that tweet with, “Impeachment will follow immediately.”

  • KOKOMO — When Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders canceled appearances and left the campaign trail last week because of a heart ailment, I was moved to reach down into the old bag of amazing but true historical incidents to find a relative parallel. I didn’t have to look too far. Normally, when I want to be dazzled by presidential heroics, I usually turn to either Theodore Roosevelt or Andrew Jackson for my fodder. I had Mr. Peabody turn back the time machine to Oct. 14, 1912, to the final month of the heated presidential election between Democrat Woodrow Wilson, Republican William Howard Taft, and former president and Bull Moose Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt.  Roosevelt had served out the term of office of assassinated President William McKinley and had then been elected to a term on his own. During his time in office Roosevelt had been a hurricane of activity on just about every front imaginable. He combined his vision with enormous energy and a remarkable capacity for salesmanship.
  • KOKOMO – As a fan of the television series “Stranger Things,” I’ve enjoyed seeing the program’s vision of the “Upside Down” alternate dimension existing parallel to the human world. It’s scary and dangerous and can be found pretty near to where you are standing. Of course, growing up, I closely followed the comic book adventures of Superman and its occasional tale of Bizarro World, a world where everything is pretty much backward from how it should be. If President Trump gets his way, the United States will soon join the “Upside Down” and Bizarro World with the introduction of negative interest rates.  Before we go charging off into the negative interest great unknown, we should all get a thorough education about what negative interest rates might mean. Let’s start with the situation of Bargersville, Indiana, retiree Elmer Toadsnuggle. Elmer has a small pension and Social Security. He scraped and saved $100,000 prior to retirement and he’s now shopping for a bank where he can buy one of those high interest certificates of deposit. 
  • KOKOMO – Lately the Zen Master has encouraged me to open up my sensory powers and observe more of the world around me. I’ve embraced my Zen Master’s suggestion, and I have to say that much of what I’ve seen is disturbing. So, for lack of a better title for this column, I’ll call it things that make you go “Hmmm.” By now I’m sure that you’ve noticed that you can’t turn on the television, peruse the internet, read the newspaper or go anywhere without being bombarded with the not-so-subtle message that a climate crisis is upon us, sea levels are rising, baby polar bears are dying by the thousands and you better buy your electric auto soon to save the planet. No less than our all-knowing former President Barack Obama warned us way back in 2009 that global warming and a rise in sea levels threaten our existence.  Surely, President Obama, a major supporter of the Paris Climate Accord, would lead by example and show the average Bible-toting, gun-loving dim-bulb American how to live. Well, guess again! Just last month former President Obama purchased his second home, a 7,000-square-foot beauty on Martha’s Vineyard for a whopping $14.85 million. Added to his 8,200-square-foot home in Washington, D.C., one can see that the Obamas are going to leave a monstrous carbon footprint.
  • INDIANAPOLIS — You can see it with your own eyes. You can feel it in the depths of your stomach. You can hear it with your own ears. It is happening right now and it is getting worse. You don’t need a newspaper or television reporter to tell you.  Indianapolis is in a state of decline. My experience with Indianapolis, as an outside observer, began when I was a little boy. My father was an auto body repairman and he had to make a weekly trip to Indianapolis to buy parts. Frequently, I tagged along with the promise of White Castles or the peanut vending machine at a parts supplier enticing me. While dad and I certainly got to drive down Meridian Street, we also traveled to many of the business areas of Indianapolis purchasing fenders, moldings, headlamps and the like. We got a pretty good look at the big city. The Indianapolis of the early 1960s was a sleepy big city that was clearly experiencing urban decay. The affluent were abandoning the city for the suburbs and the people, buildings and city that were left behind had all seen better times.
  • KOKOMO – The Trump reelection strategy is playing out quite nicely at this point. The little fish in the Democrat Party and the big fish in the national media have all taken the bait, hook, line and sinker. While I personally find much of the president’s antics and histrionics objectionable, if you are a student of politics, you must admire the audacity in carrying out the slash-and-burn strategy of divide and conquer that Mr. Trump is using to be reelected. With an economy humming along on all eight cylinders, the only way any Democratic opponent is going to make any headway against the president is by having a serious discussion on a wide range of substantive issues ranging from our national debt to income inequality to healthcare. President Trump has effectively been able to reduce 18 Democratic candidates, the rudderless Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Democrats in the Senate to a state of sniveling blather that oscillates between wild promises of a bag of free goodies to impeachment for the offense of non-collusion collusion.
  • 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. 
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  • The Azar, Verma feud festers
    "The federal agency I lead, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is taking swift action to implement it." - Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Director Seema Verma, in  Chicago Tribune op-ed. That same day, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar went on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fix News — one of President  Trump’s favorite TV shows — and claimed credit for driving the same initiative. “POTUS and I envision a healthcare system with patients in the center,” Azar tweeted from the Fox News set. “We’re fighting powerful interests to deliver honesty and transparency in healthcare.” The feud between these two Hoosiers who control more than $1 trillion in annual federal spending has transfixed The White House West wing and Washington. President Trump has asked Vice President Mike Pence to quell the Azar/Veerma feud.
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  • Into the impeachment vortex ...
    Here we go. Where America ends up in early 2020 after the fourth presidential impeachment that got underway this week is anyone's guess. 

    When I wrote the Sept. 19 HPI cover story - "The Double Dog Impeachment Dare"  - the Ukraine quid pro quo scenario was just beginning, becoming a full congressional/media vortex suck. Regular Hoosiers I know aren't paying much attention and are polarized by President Trump.

    We'll restate past thoughts on these alleged high crimes and misdemeanors: 1. Impeachments are messy and unpredictable. 2. Impeachment is an American tragedy. 3. Impeachment will result in unintended consequences. 4. Hoosiers are prepared to render a verdict on President Trump at the ballot box next November. 5. If we get into a mode where we're impeaching an American president every 20 years, the fragile American experiment will be doomed. 
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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