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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.”

  • CARMEL – There once was a time when the thought of thousands of Russian tanks and light armored vehicles pouring through the Fulda Gap into Germany sent shivers down the spines of NATO military planners. Before the United States could airlift or send a sufficient quantity of M1A1 Abrams tanks to meet the attacking Russians, ole Marshall Boris Bettenoff could be found sipping Chablis in a café on the Champs Elysees.  This was a potent and existential threat to western Europe and NATO, not to mention the thousands of American boys we keep in Germany to serve as a rapid response force. What we have learned since the Russkies invaded Ukraine in late February is that a fresh-faced, newly trained volunteer holding a shoulder-fired Javelin anti-tank weapon can easily take out the toughest of the Russian tanks. With the massive increase in Javelins it is now “bye bye Boris!” I must assume that American defense contractors Raytheon and Lockheed Martin had a good inkling that they had a home run with the Javelin, but you just never know until you test them out on the bad guys. The United States, its NATO allies, Russia, China and their allies and inquisitive minds in Iran and North Korea have all learned a great deal in the past few months by watching the day-to-day events in the proxy war between Ukraine and Russia.  In fact, Ukraine may be the largest military test tube in history.
  • CARMEL –  Wha, wha, wha! The sounds from Millennials are deafening. The chants of baristas with philosophy degrees and anthropologists with whatever those degrees are called can be heard across this great land, “Pay off my student loans, wha, wha, wha!” Your cries have been heard by our Comforter-in-Chief, President Joe Biden and his merry band of “let’s give away cash” socialists in the United States Congress.  President Biden and Congressional leadership would love to find some legal way to cancel the student loan debt of nearly 45 million Americans. With a prospective ugly election fate at the mid-term elections staring them in the face, what better way for Democrats to get many in their base who are disenchanted with $5 a gallon gasoline and 9.5% inflation back on board the Biden choo choo? Two years ago in this publication, I warned about the exploding student debt problem and the many challenges that it presents. I identified runaway college tuitions with no market controls, easy money loan access to students who either shouldn’t be borrowing money to pursue a five-year college major in navel lint picking and the protection against bankruptcy afforded to student loan lending organizations by the generosity and opportunism of Congress as the major causes of the problem.
  • CARMEL — Back in my tender days of youth, I had the great fortune of working on the reelection campaign of incumbent Republican Governor Otis Bowen. In 1975 and early 1976, Otis Bowen was just about as popular as sliced bread. He had brought much-needed property tax reform to the good taxpayers of Indiana, instituted a state-wide medical emergency system and adopted a medical malpractice law that was destined to become popular nationwide.  Everywhere you turned you saw billboards, bumper stickers and advertisements that said simply, “Otis Bowen, He Hears You.” Bowen was so popular that his job approval rate was nearing 65%. The word came down to the campaign that the only way we could lose the election was if we screwed up. The message was clear, do not screw up. The campaign, under the steady hands of Chairman J. B. King and Campaign Manager Dan Evans did not screw up and Bowen went on to an overwhelming reelection victory 56.8% to 42.6% for Democrat Secretary of State Larry Conrad. Fast forward to 2022 and we are now told that all the stars point to a Republican landslide in the mid-term elections. Polls give Republicans a wide lead in the battle to control the United States House and Senate, with historically high numbers of incumbent Democrat Representatives calling it a day and announcing their retirement.  This has traditionally been the universal sign of throwing in the towel and tacitly admitting that an election whipping is on the way.  
  • CARMEL – President Joe Biden now finds himself at the bottom of the political trick bag with little chance of escaping before the 2024 elections. A series of political, international and economic events has conspired to slowly sink his administration. From personal gaffs, incidents of senility and political whippings delivered by members of his own party to skyrocketing inflation and Putin’s brutal invasion of the Ukraine, Biden has become the boy who just can’t catch a break. Before you get all misty-eyed and start to feel sorry for him, it might do you well to remember that virtually all of Biden’s miseries can be tracked back, in one way or another, directly to him. Actions have consequences and his willful or bumbling incompetence has led to an administration that has rivaled Jimmy Carter’s for its feckless character. Of course, surrounding the president with cabinet officials and support personnel who closely resemble the Marx Brothers and the Keystone Cops has done his poll numbers no good either. The Biden Administration, to this date, has been the perfect confluence of mayhem, incompetence and disjointed messaging. It’s as if you tried to make a casserole by using mustard, sugar, habanero peppers, beet juice, milk of magnesia, pig’s intestines and squid as ingredients.The final product ain’t gonna be pretty. Biden’s political malaise started on day one of his term of office.
  • CARMEL – Just when you thought that the forces of evil were going to once again roll over a free people with Europe and the United States standing idly by, something amazing happened. That something was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Instead of taking President Biden’s less than magnanimous offer to help him escape the Russians and abandon his people, Zelensky told Biden, in words sure to echo throughout history, “I need ammunition, I don’t need a ride.”  His words were brave, bold, refreshing and inspiring. Europe and the United States who had, up to this point, only offered weak sanctions against Vladimir Putin and Russia that amounted to little more than double secret probation, suddenly grew some spines and measurably stiffened both their military support and painful sanctions. One man, eight words and the world changed!
  • CARMEL – Please allow me to give my Democrat brothers some inconvenient truths when it comes to politics in Indiana. Republicans hold every statewide elective office.  Republicans and Democrats are fully represented in these elections and yet the Republicans hold every office. Indiana Republicans hold super majorities in both the Senate (39-11) and House (71-29). Republicans hold 255 out of 273 county commissioner offices.  Every county resident gets to vote in each of the commissioner elections and yet the GOP dominates with over 93% of the offices held. Republicans hold 22 more mayor seats than the Democrats and cities and towns are where Democrats are expected to be the strongest. The most reasonable conclusion to draw from the above information is that Indiana is an overwhelmingly Republican state and that Republican lawmakers in both the Indiana House and Senate have nothing to apologize for as the final legislative maps were approved.  
  • KOKOMO – Every day for the past two weeks I have had to stare two ironies in the face every day. As I drive to work in the morning, I pass the local Chevrolet dealership in Kokomo and marvel at how few new cars are available for sale on the lot. In fact, most days there are five or fewer cars for sale and no pickup trucks.  In the evening my route home takes me 400 yards south of the Chevrolet dealership. There, on the very corner where inventor Elwood Haynes drove the first American-made internal combustion engine automobile on Pumpkinvine Pike, I see over 1,000 brand spanking new pickup trucks fenced in on the former Delphi Automotive plant parking lot. One might expect the local Chevy dealer to sneak down the road in the middle of the night, cut a hole in the fence and acquire some inventory, but alas, that strategy is foiled by the fact that the vehicles don’t work.  They lack critical microprocessors that make up one or more of the 1,000 microchips used in a modern vehicle to control brakes, fuel injection, air conditioning, warning lights and, well, you name it.

  • CARMEL – Fill in the blank: According to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Joe Biden is a _____ (fool, idiot, cretin, moron, dolt, halfwit, dunce, dullard or imbecile). Score yourself 100 points if you said imbecile and 95 points if you chose one of the other synonyms for imbecile. Blair made this amazingly undiplomatic and rude summation of Biden after the president’s disastrous handling of the United States exit from Afghanistan and his completely tone deaf and clueless response to the international uproar caused by the unprecedented self-inflicted crisis. Now I don’t normally agree with and quote someone who liked to fly on Jeffrey Epstein’s Lolita Express, ala Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, but Blair’s bluntness speaks volumes about just how big a mess that the United States finds itself in. Another British statesman summed up our current mess in Afghanistan quite well when talking about Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s disgraceful appeasement of Adolf Hitler after the 1938 Munich Agreement. Winston Churchill summed up his disgust with Chamberlain by famously saying, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.”  This is the same situation that the United States faces today.
  • CARMEL – The United States got lucky this time!  Everyone, and I do mean everyone, dropped the ball and was totally unprepared for the Covid-19 pandemic. We were very fortunate that the Covid-19 virus was a big sissy as far as pandemic viruses go and that we didn’t witness the extinction of mankind due to our lack of preparation, slowness of response, scientific confusion, political ineptitude and the rampant ignorance and pig-headedness of our population.  It may seem ridiculous to refer to a virus that has led to the deaths of over 600,000 Americans as a big sissy, but in the pantheon of viruses, it could have been terrifyingly worse. It could have been worse not because our response could have been worse, but because the virulence of the virus could have been worse.  Covid-19 largely bypassed our younger population, unlike the 1918 influenza pandemic, and tended to target those who were elderly or who had other health issues.  That is just plain dumb luck and not good public policy. It should not be our government’s public policy to play Russian roulette with our nation’s health.
  • CARMEL – It is always a perilous thing to predict the demise of a politician or a political party. History is chock full of examples where a premature death notice has been embarrassingly retracted. With this historical fact in mind, I gingerly look to the future and speculate on the systemic risk to the Republican Party of an out-of-control former president Donald Trump and his rising legion of legislative and state-wide candidates who appear to have no allegiance to their party, but only to the messianic message of The Donald. I’m not too old to remember when the Republican Party had a cogent, cohesive message about where we stood as a political party. We were a pro-growth, pro-equal opportunity party that championed fiscal discipline, low taxes, a strong national defense, law and order and personal freedom. I believe that the vast majority of Republicans still believe in these things. However, it appears to me that the Republican Party has been hijacked, manipulated and twisted to advocate for the personal and political interests of Donald Trump, his family and many self-serving candidates willing to ride to their own victories by pretending to ride the Trump train. I know many office holders and party leaders who are personally disgusted by the continued intrusion of Donald Trump in the machinations of the Republican Party. That being said, they are terrified to speak their minds publicly on the subject for fear of Trump retaliation and retribution.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – Someone taking in a fine spring day at Indianapolis’ Garfield Park might stumble upon a strange statue dedicated to a Hoosier hero who has faded from memory over the last century. Attired in khaki field dress, topped with a tropical pith helmet, the impressive statue implies to the observer that its subject was once a giant among men. The name “Lawton” adorns the statue, but no clue is given to the amazing life of the man. As a young man, Henry W. Lawton aspired to become a humble Methodist Episcopalian minister. Yet, before his amazing life ended, this man of modest origins and Hoosier upbringing would obtain a Harvard law degree and serve his country for nearly 40 years, rising to the highest levels of responsibility in the United States Army. Lawton was born near Akron, Ohio, in 1843, and moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, later that same year when his father found work in a mill. His mother died when he was 11 and he bounced around northeastern Indiana and northwestern Ohio following his father’s ever-changing employment.
  • CARMEL – There’s a storm cloud rising in Indiana Republican politics and we may get an ugly glimpse of it in the coming year leading up to the 2022 and 2024 elections. Perhaps it is because of an embarrassment of wealth and the inevitable expansion of the Republican base, but overwhelming success many times breeds discontent when the party’s leadership does not move party and public policy at the same speed and direction demanded by its new activists. In my mind there are four types of Republicans: Fully committed Republicans who do the hard work of the party and who support our candidates whether we agree with them 100% or not; casual Republicans who lean in the direction of the party but need to be courted and cajoled into contributing time, money or even turning out to vote; opportunistic Republicans, who for personal benefit seek office or party leadership because it’s just darn difficult to be a Democrat in Indiana; finally, those true believers who have a political philosophy that they attempt to use the Republican Party for purposes of spreading it to the masses. On Election Day or during the election marathon that politics has now become, each of these groups adds votes to the bottom line, so all are critical to the Republican political dominance in Indiana.
  • KOKOMO  – Like most Hoosiers, I was shocked and saddened by the senseless murder of eight Indianapolis FedEx employees last week. As a feeling human being it is natural to want something to be done so that an event like this won’t happen again. After all, how can anyone look at the photos of the innocent victims and not hope that their deaths were not in vain. “Please, dear God, do whatever you must do to bring an end to this senseless violence,” we plead. Into this sea of despair enter those who never wish to see a tragedy go unexploited, the liberal gun control lobby. One of the few certainties of life is that when any event such as the FedEx mass shooting occurs, the parade of politicians, pundits and activists roll out their incessant refrain that only outlawing what they term assault rifles will stop the violence. They are quick to exploit any gun-related headline event to strike a blow against one of your rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. It sometimes seems like these people are happy another shooting occurred. There is no denying that the American people love their guns. In fact, the best estimate is that there are at least 120 guns for every 100 Americans. That is a lot of guns. It dwarfs the second closest nation, Yemen, by almost a two-to-one margin. The United States is a nation of guns and that is not by accident. It is only due to the fact that American colonists possessed large amounts of rifles for both hunting and maintaining effective militias against possible Indian intrusions that they were able to band together and throw off the repressive yoke of King George III.
  • KOKOMO – I’ve never had a job where my decision has meant the difference between life and death. Shucks, during my 38-year career as a financial consultant, the two biggest challenges that I’ve had are recommending an investment before some world event made the markets drop, or not recommending the next greatest technological thingamabob before it became larger than the GDP of France.  I admire those who have those necessary jobs that require them to make life and death decisions on a daily basis. Our service men and women, law enforcement officers, first responders and medical personnel all deserve our gratitude. Most of us understand and accept the pressure-packed nature of these jobs and know that these folks are doing their best to serve the American people. We generally laud these vital workers and honor the work that they do. However, there are a few jobs where no matter what decision you make, someone is going to criticize, vilify and condemn your efforts and decisions.  Governor of Indiana happens to be just one of those jobs.
  • KOKOMO – In this month’s issue of “Whistling Past the Graveyard” we will take our annual look at the looming disaster of our national debt and the complete ambivalence of the American public and our government officials at this very real existential threat to most things that we hold dear. Every year that I have been writing for Howey Politics, I have devoted at least one column to the ever-mounting Red Menace of the national debt. I’ve written and obsessed about this subject during both Democrat and Republican administrations because irresponsible governmental spending knows no political party. Both Republicans and Democrats are recklessly irresponsible when it comes to the long-term threat of deficit spending. No one gets a pass. The latest trigger to my annual rant is the latest $1.9 trillion boondoggle of President Biden’s pandemic response or the Democrat Party’s “never let a crisis go to waste” cash grab. I won’t rehash the argument that only a very small piece of this “relief” bill is actually pandemic related. Most of us know by now that the spending bill was packed to the gills with mostly pork for the insatiable appetites of voracious Congressional Democrats. Instead, let’s take a look at the relief aspects of the bill.
  • KOKOMO – One of my lifelong obsessions is to study history from a human perspective. I’m not really interested in dates and places or how many Mongols killed how many Visigoths.  I am interested in why humans react the way they do when placed under stressful situations. What makes a common farm boy from Elkhart climb over a trench and charge across a field at Antietam, Belleau Wood or Peleliu into the face of flying lead and shrapnel? Of particular interest to me is how do leaders, from squad level to army command, motivate their ordinary soldiers to do the extraordinary, and what traits make for a good leader?  The more I study the issue of leadership I find that I have great difficulty in telling you exactly what it is, but I’ve learned to recognize it when I see it. Most of the characteristics of an effective military leader are usually found in our proficient governmental leaders. No, I’m not talking about the fuss and feathers elected officials who prance around the halls of Fox News waiting to spout their opinions on just about any topic that will net them some air time. I’m talking about the workhorse leadership who work diligently without much fanfare and yet are right on the firing line when the bullets start to fly. These are the men and women whom I admire. The Hoosier State is very fortunate to have a U.S. senator who has proven to be a leader of quiet dignity and humility, who has helped lead the United States Senate through some of its biggest recent battles. Sen. Todd Young has been the Hoosier senator who has found himself sought out to provide counsel and leadership on a variety of issues.
  • KOKOMO – And now we know the truth. It was never about draining the swamp.  It was never about building a wall. It was never about restoring power to the governed. It was, is and forever will be about doing what most benefitted Donald J. Trump.  First, let me start by acknowledging that there were some very good things that happened over the years prior to the pandemic. Our economy skyrocketed.  Bureaucratic red tape was cut and enabled all Americans to prosper.  Unemployment rates dropped to historical lows in every measurable subgroup.  The judiciary was nudged to a less activist and more conservative status by a wealth of newly appointed judges at all levels, including three outstanding appointments to the United States Supreme Court. Peace broke out in the Middle East when several nations struck long-awaited treaties with Israel.  Our military was beefed up to deal with threats from current adversaries and potential adversaries in the future. China’s threat to world peace and our economy was recognized and the process of reining in its abuses was well underway. All in all, the achievements of President Trump’s term in office were pretty impressive. But, then there were the other things that hallmarked the Trump Administration. The vainglorious, megalomaniacal rantings via Twitter, the revolving door staff changes that discarded a host of talented public servants like empty beer cans, the associations maintained with questionable friends, the vilification of anyone, friend or foe, who dared to disagree with The Donald. Worst of all, the incessant and unabated failure to tell the truth in the smallest to the most important matters. In certain ways, he conducted himself as a blended incarnation of Benito Mussolini and Joseph Goebbels. I don’t want to dance around this one. Donald Trump was a big fat liar!
  • KOKOMO – The late founder of Walmart was a disruptor of major proportions.  His company launched a retail revolution from the sleepy backwaters of Arkansas and totally transformed Main Street USA by creating a dynamic big box retail entity that effectively replaced your local hardware, sporting goods, clothing, fabric, appliance, stationery, toy, dry goods, pet and you name it stores. His work was revolutionary, highly profitable and controversial. Worshipped by some and cussed by many, Sam Walton became the be all and end all to the world of retail. He created a concept that would last forever, or did he? Just when it appeared that Walmart would become the most dominant and powerful business in the world, along came a diminutive young man named Jeff Bezos and a quaint online bookseller named Amazon. While Walmart brought gale force winds to the retail world, Amazon brought five hurricanes tied together with a trio of tornados. Just as Sam Walton before him, Bezos and Amazon found themselves worshipped and reviled by nearly equal numbers. Such is the life of a disruptor. I believe that President Trump will be viewed by history as a disruptor and not just because he is scorned by such a large percent of the American people and much of the world. He will be viewed as the proverbial bull in the china shop that got things done at the same time that he crashed the aisles. With President Trump’s time in office quickly coming to a close, it’s time to take a balanced look at the legacy of his time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  It’s a mixed bag and deserves more than just knee jerk adulation or vile contempt.  

  • KOKOMO – I am a partisan Republican. I voted for President Donald Trump. I wanted him to defeat Biden and arrest any further slide of our country into the grip of socialism. I desperately wanted to jam a Trump victory into the faces of CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Facebook, Twitter, Nancy, Chuck and all the rest of the usual suspects. At this point it looks like a Trump victory will not happen. The electoral deck is stacked against him and the massive mail-in voting and overwhelmed vote-counting operations in historically ethics-challenged Democrat-machine-run urban centers appears to present a series of hurdles that cannot be overcome. While I would never suggest to President Trump that he just throw in the towel without fully exploring the depths of potential Democrat chicanery, I would suggest that he consider the impact of his every action on our nation and on our reputation throughout the world. While I am a loyal Republican, I am first and foremost a proud American. As an American, I do not want to see our judicial system decide elections.
  • KOKOMO – The 28th vice president of the United States, Hoosier Thomas Marshall, once quipped, “Indiana is called the mother of vice presidents because it is home to more second-class men than any other state.”  While time, absentee ballots and attorneys will decide whether Vice President Mike Pence gets to continue to live in One Naval Observatory Circle for four more years, the thought must have crossed Pence’s mind sometime in the wee small hours of the morning after Election Day, “Where do I go from here?” President Trump's loss on Saturday makes it likely Mike Pence eventually falls short of grasping the brass ring. While the path to the presidency for Pence would have faced difficult hurdles if Trump had won, the road to presidential glory becomes immeasurably more challenging now that the former Indiana governor finds himself looking for Two Men and a Truck in January. For a relatively quiet man, Mike Pence has shown that he possesses the grit of a riverboat gambler when it comes to his political career. Safely ensconced in a congressional seat, a member of the leadership team in the House of Representatives, with the speaker’s job a reasonable career goal, Pence chucked it all to make a run for Indiana governor in 2012.
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  • Biden on Uvalde massacre: 'Where is our backbone?'
    “As a nation we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? Where in God's name is our backbone? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why?”- President Biden, reacting to the slaughter of 19 kids & 2 teachers in Uvalde, Tex. Democratic Senate nominee Thomas McDermott Jr., said, “Todd Young has done nothing since Sandy Hook. Young has done nothing since Pulse, Parkland, Indianapolis, Buffalo, and now Uvalde – and thousands of Americans have lost their lives. As we grieve the loss of our students and teachers in Texas, Todd Young is sitting in his office collecting donation after donation from the NRA to keep the status quo – all while wishing for thoughts and prayers in hollow statements. Senator, it’s time to act or get out of Washington for those – like me – who do want to stop this violence and save our loved ones’ lives.” 
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