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Monday, August 20, 2018
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Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:35 PM
KOKOMO – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
    
When my ancestors, Scots Irish immigrants from Ulster, immigrated to America in the early part of the 18th Century, they were not greeted by Lady Liberty and her famous poem. The statue had not been erected nor the words of the poem written. However, they were welcomed by a vast land whose siren call around the world could be heard by all, “Come to America and be free!”
    
For centuries, the downtrodden and oppressed from around the world have made their way to our shores asking only one thing, an opportunity to work and live in freedom. The flow of immigrants to our country has enriched our character and forged a nation that has been stronger, more creative and more successful than the other, generally homogenous, countries of the world. What country would not be made stronger by a man who says, “I am going to take everything that I have and move my family to the United States where there is opportunity and freedom?”
    
Of course, for over 200 years, Americans have resisted welcoming new immigrants to their country. They’ve feared that the new arrivals would threaten the prosperity that they have come to know. Our nation, as great as it is, has resisted immigration by Irish Catholics, Polish, Germans, Italians, Jews and Chinese, to name just a few. We would have resisted immigration of black Africans if they had not been forced to come here for the economic benefit of the South. I don’t know if it is merely fear of change, fear of the unknown or a natural tendency to fear anyone who doesn’t look like us that has motivated Americans over history to fight immigration. America has become a club that after trying desperately to get in, we try desperately to keep everyone else out.
  • KOKOMO  – The taxi driver in Budapest looked at me with an expressionless face as I asked him to take my wife and myself to the place where the Arrow Cross fascists murdered hundreds of Jews on the banks of the Danube River toward the end of World War II. Not sure of what else to tell him, I simply told him, “You know, the place with the shoes.”  “Ah yes, the shoes, the shoes, I take you there!” Our time was going to be limited on our first trip to Budapest and we wanted to pack in as many of the sights as possible. While most tourists rush to visit Fisherman’s Bastion, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, St. Estevan’s Basilica, the amazing Hungarian Parliament building or one of the other better-known tourist attractions, my wife and I tend to dig a little deeper for some of the lesser known sites. From the time when I first began planning for this visit to Budapest, I knew that there was one pilgrimage that we had to make. During the latter months of 1944 and into early 1945, over 3,500 Hungarians, mostly Jews, were rounded up from the Jewish ghetto of Budapest by the fascist Arrow Cross group, marched down to the banks of the river, forced to remove their shoes and then lined up and shot so that they would fall into the river. In this way, the evidence of the Arrow Cross crimes would be swept away by the icy Danube.
  • KOKOMO – After studying politics and politicians for the entirety of my adult life, I’ve noticed the propensity of our elected leaders to want it both ways. This can be seen across a variety of issues.  Sen. Max Deerjaw has grown adept at arguing for the sanctity of life when it comes to the issue of abortion, but he can launch an equally lucid rationalization for the death penalty. Rep. Tad Earwax hops on the stump and attacks the inherent evil of property tax increases and in the next breath can advocate jacking up the gas tax. No, turning and twisting facts, statistics and emotions to get the response you want from the voting public is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to politicians of both political parties in Indiana. I guess it should come as no surprise that Attorney General Curtis Hill should make the attempt to eat off of both sides of the plate when it comes to his disastrous problem with the sexual assault allegations. Hill’s initial claims of being denied due process and an opportunity to tell his side of the story made him somewhat of a sympathetic figure to many people. 
  • KOKOMO – To quote former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” This is exactly where we are after one week of the Attorney General Curtis Hill mess. It is a mess – no “ifs” “ands” or “butts” about it! It is a mess that leaves a lot of knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns floating around the Statehouse like countless political fairies. The worst part is that this mess is likely to get a lot messier as time unfolds. First, let’s look at the facts as they have been reported. At around half-past midnight on March 15, the Indiana Legislature adjourned sine die. For those of you who don’t speak Latin, that means, “We stop getting paid for doing nothing.” The next morning, the Indianapolis Star headline screamed, “Indiana Legislative Session Descends Into Chaos on Final Day.”  What are the senators, representatives, lobbyists, staff and good time Charlies supposed to do after a day of blaming each other for allowing a handful of tax, gun, technology and school bills to die without a vote? Why have a big party, of course! The echoes from the beating of the legislative gavel had barely died out when the booze began to flow at party central, AJ’s Lounge.
  • KOKOMO – United States trade imbalances and difficulties with our nation’s trading partners are complex and not subject to easy fixes. If it were as simple an issue as merely comparing tariffs, as President Trump has recently attempted with his explanation of Canadian dairy tariffs, then we could solve the problem by either charging identical tariffs or none at all. However, tariffs are just the tip of the trade iceberg.  Barriers to free and fair trade raise their ugly heads in a variety of ways. Regulatory, taxation, customs, subsidization, dumping, preferential trading and currency barriers are just as potent and chilling in their effect on free trade as are tariffs. Sniffing out the barriers and the subtle nuances that either enhance exports or restrict imports of is more of an art than a science. As long as nation states exist, there will be no such animal as unrestricted free and fair trade. The idea is as romantic as it is illusive. For those of you who are so easily moved to criticize President Trump for his tough trade positions with China, Canada, Mexico, Europe and, soon to be, India, you need to recognize this rather inconvenient fact about trade. You may call Trump a jingoistic “America Firster,” but every last one of our trading partners in this great big world are their “Country Firsters.”
  • KOKOMO – Never in the history of Indiana Republican politics has so much been said by so many about so little. I’m speaking about the proposed changes to the Indiana Republican Party Platform regarding marriage and families that will be voted on by delegates to the Indiana Republican Convention this coming weekend in Evansville.  To hear some vocal critics tell it, you would think that Beelzebub himself drafted the rather innocuous change that drops the Pence era “marriage is between a man and woman” affirmation and replaces it with a sentence that looks amazingly benign. The proposed new wording states, “We support traditional families with a mother and father, blended families, grandparents, guardians, single parents and all loving adults who successfully raise and nurture children to reach their full potential every day.” Now I don’t know about you but that is a sentence that I could support anywhere, anytime. 
  • KOKOMO – It’s the final game of the Indiana State High School Basketball Championship and three seconds left in the game with the Hickory Huskers down by one. The Huskers get the ball at mid-court and Buddy Walker fires a pass to Huskers’ star Jimmy Chitwood who turns toward the basket. Jimmy’s got a Ben Franklin bet on the South Bend Central Bears so he takes two dribbles and passes the ball to Ollie McClellan who promptly clanks one off the rim.  The Huskers lose but Jimmy’s got an extra hundred for his effort. Think sports betting hasn’t caused many a fierce competitor to take a dive for the sake of a buck or two?  Ask the Chicago Black Sox, Pete Rose, Alex Karras, Paul Hornung and Sonny Liston, just to name a few. Many folks who place big sports bets just don’t trust their money to the game going on inside the lines. Let’s just say they are prone to trying to put their thumbs on the scale.  They’ve always done it and they always will. Yes, due to a 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court decision, sports betting is coming to a state near you. Soon!

  • KOKOMO – I don’t know about you, but to me the Robert Mueller investigation of Donald Trump and associates is beginning to feel like a Meryl Streep movie: boring, too long and bound to have a disappointing ending. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that a special prosecutor investigation of Russian interference and possible collusion in the 2016 presidential election was justified and in the best interests of our nation. We simply cannot tolerate foreign interference in our elections and if Russia or any foreign nationals interjected themselves into our political process, then they need to be rooted out before 2020. In addition, if either political party or their candidates knowingly colluded with a foreign power to gain political advantage, they must pay the price. Given the politically charged, high stakes nature of the 2016 election, an investigation conducted by a presidential appointee, such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would have been completely inappropriate. However, leaving an investigation to the appointees and justice apparatus of the Obama Administration is just as inappropriate. Or, as comedian Jeff Foxworthy might say, “If you believe that either Trump or Obama appointees are interested in justice, you may be clueless.”
  • KOKOMO  – I don’t know about you but I’m good and ready for this Republican primary season to be over. Most voters are now exhausted from the juvenile tactics and back-and-forth playground name-calling of some of our illustrious federal candidates. I suppose we should have expected it after candidate Donald Trump decimated a 17-candidate Republican primary field to take the GOP nomination for president back in 2016. Like chimps in a zoo playing monkey see, monkey do, the Indiana U.S. Senate race has devolved into a mess of ugly shenanigans and uglier rhetoric with the monkeys throwing poo at anyone who cares to watch. Don’t get me wrong. It is perfectly reasonable and helpful to the political process for Republican candidates to point out the philosophical policy differences and, in some cases, the personal flaws of their opponents. However, the temperature of the U.S. Senate race has risen to unreasonable levels in the waning days of the season. This race was bound to get nasty from the start. Two congressmen, Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, were willing to cast their fortunes to the wind and gamble their political careers on a high stakes roll of the dice.
  • KOKOMO – Heavyweight champion of the world Joe Louis said it best when a reporter asked him about an upcoming bout with Billy Conn and Conn’s propensity to move around the ring avoiding punches, “He can run, but he can’t hide!” That pretty much sums up the current status of the Republican contest for U.S. Senate following the surprising news that Todd Rokita refuses to participate in a debate with his opponents unless it is completely on his own terms. It has been my experience over my 40-plus years of political involvement that when someone is trying to duck a debate there is usually a good reason. That is, there is something that they want to hide. Only a few sadomasochistic people actually enjoy debating. There is so much pressure on the candidates to both try and score points with some punches and yet not get knocked out. Who doesn’t remember Nixon’s dismal debate performance in 1960, or Reagan’s triumph over Walter Mondale in 1984?  Debates rarely make you as a candidate, but they most assuredly can break you. I watched a wonderful debate performance by U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock go south in the final three minutes with his answer to a question on abortion. 
  • KOKOMO – It will probably come as a surprise to those readers who know me that at one point in my life I was an NCAA scholarship athlete. Many pizzas and beers later, I know I don’t resemble my once svelte swimmer’s physique. But, I digress.  My college degree was paid for by a full athletic scholarship. For that fact, I will forever be grateful to the good people at Ball State University. As the seventh child in a financially struggling family, my best shot at getting a college degree was to have an athletic scholarship. Of course, an academic scholarship could have been a possibility but something called advanced algebra always came between me and the academic-based money. This fact left me all wet, both literally and figuratively.
  • KOKOMO – The ugly truth is finally out and now Americans will know that one of the most powerful nations in the world has acted egregiously to interfere in elections to try and influence the outcome. We now know that there was not just interference in one election, but in several. We also know that the interference in elections did not occur in just one country. Several countries’ free elections were affected by the perpetrator.  Finally, we have also learned that this election interference didn’t just start with the 2016 elections. Electoral interference by this world power has been going on since the end of World War Two.  Who is this world power that would have the audacity to interfere in free elections? The United States! That’s who. Before the good people of the United States start acting like a reformed drunk at a tent revival, we need to hold a mirror up and take a good look at ourselves and our past international conduct. Introspection such as this is not pretty and gives you an upset stomach at times.
  • KOKOMO – The disingenuous prattle of the Democrats never ceases to amaze me.  The spinmeisters of the Democrat Party, when called upon, can crank out more bull excrement in an afternoon than the PBR (professional bull riders) can in a decade. For example: If you have been beating a drum for decades about the evil threat of global warming and find yourself continually confronted by Punxsutawney Phil presenting weather information such as record freezing temperatures, record snow falls and expanding ice flows, then you conveniently rebrand your same old anti-industrial, anti-fossil fuels mantra as “climate change.” Cold yesterday, hot today! It’s got to be climate change! Most clear-thinking Americans with real jobs and no pet polar bears have not been taken in by the linguistic gymnastics that much of the Democratic message comprises. That’s why Republicans control the White House, the House of Representatives, the Senate and a majority of governorships and statehouses across America.
  • KOKOMO  – Playing cards may not be your favorite pastime, however you don’t need to know much about gambling to understand big stakes. This year’s U.S. Senate primary in Indiana is no doubt a high leverage game that will take smarts, resolve and of course millions of dollars, to win. So, the question for Hoosier Republicans is, “Who do we want playing our hand?” Luke Messer, Todd Rokita, and Mike Braun are the likely contenders to lead the Republican ticket this fall. I suggest we ask ourselves who is best positioned to beat Joe Donnelly.  A long view of political history tells us the first mid-term election of a newly elected president can be challenging for that president’s party. When you couple this trend with a hostile media focused on derailing the Trump-Pence agenda, the political terrain this fall could be difficult. Add to this environment an affable Joe Donnelly who is willing to take both sides of every issue and run a shameless campaign based on centrist rhetoric that ignores his liberal voting record, it becomes clear that Republicans will need a responsible, thoughtful, and tough candidate.

  • KOKOMO – As promised, after my melancholy and negative last column, I sit here on this bone-chilling New Year’s Eve and offer you my reasons why the future of the United States looks bright. As I mentioned in my previous column, I am an optimistic person both personally and professionally and I can state categorically that this tome will be much more fun to write. What is out there on the horizon that gives me hope that our country is knocking on the door of a tremendous renaissance that hasn’t been seen for at least 20 years? My view is that a variety of factors are coming together nicely to act as rocket fuel for our future prosperity. First, despite what the liberal talking heads in the media, coupled with the Chuckie, Nancy and Bernie Trio might say, the Republican tax reform legislation recently passed is going to knock the economic ball out of the park. There was so much in the legislation to like. United States business will no longer have to compete against the world with a two-ton weight around our ankles. The reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% will instantly enable our corporations to compete from our shores and not be forced to ship jobs, plant and capital overseas. 
  • KOKOMO – In 2016, as part of a United States State Department program to give foreign journalists an up-close-and-personal experience with the American political process, I had the great fortune to host 30 journalists from around the world when they visited Howard County for our annual Lincoln/Reagan Day Dinner. Later that summer, at the Cleveland Republican National Convention, I was invited by the State Department to speak to 200 international journalists about the presidential election process. There I met Maurin Picard, a senior writer for Le Figaro, the Paris morning daily.  Recently, Picard contacted me to interview me regarding President Donald Trump’s first year.  Below is that interview which was published in Le Figaro on Nov 8: Picard:  What do you think of one year with POTUS Donald Trump and what are the achievements you would emphasize? Dunn:  Although we’re not quite done with one year, I would say that President Trump has had mixed results. For a variety of reasons, some of his own making, he has not been able to successfully move his legislative agenda. My hopes were that we would see either significant improvements made to the Affordable Care Act or that Congress would scrap it altogether. Of course, we have seen no success on either of these. In addition, major tax reform, including a large reduction in the corporate tax rate, would have been on my early wish list. We may now get tax reform before Christmas. I believe that both sides of the aisle in Congress wanted to see some sort of infrastructure legislation passed. We have seen nothing. I believe this will be used as a future carrot to incentivize Democrats to support other Trump legislation.  
  • Craig Dunn: A tale of two Hoosier veterans Allen and Martz
    KOKOMO – Lance Cpl. Denzil Allen stared out into the endless blue water that was the Pacific Ocean as his troopship rode the waves on the way to Vietnam. It was February, 1968, and Allen’s ship was detoured from landing exercises on Okinawa to a prospective hot LZ in Vietnam during the height of the Tet Offensive. Cpl. Allen had already done one tour in Vietnam and had been enjoying the promised two-year respite that his battalion expected following their first tour. He had recently been promoted to lance corporal and had been given the somewhat cushy job of driving the company commander, Capt. James Panther, around Honolulu.  Allen had dropped out of Lebanon High School and enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 16. He seemed to be a happy and well-adjusted young Marine who had found the friends and acceptance that was lacking in his high school days. His first tour in Vietnam had been uneventful. He did his duty and filled his letters home to his mother with talk about the beautiful scenery of Vietnam and the nice people, particularly the children.

  • KOKOMO – You may like Donald Trump. You may hate Donald Trump. You may think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread or the devil incarnate. Think what you will, there is something that all of us can agree on. Donald Trump has certainly not been a boring president. Folks who don’t live in a history book might be inclined to think that Donald Trump is the most controversial and disruptive president that our nation has ever seen. While Trump has created his share of chaos and angst in the halls of political power, he can’t hold a candle to President Andrew Jackson. It is revealing that Donald Trump added a portrait of Jackson to the Oval Office shortly after his inauguration. If Andrew Jackson is President Trump’s role model, then he couldn’t have picked a better example of a president who didn’t give two hoots about what his party or the press thought of him. Jackson came to Washington to drain the swamp as he saw it and, “whoa Nellie,” did he ever do it. As we consider Andrew Jackson, it might serve us well to remember that Hurricane Jackson blew into Washington in an era where only newspapers existed for dissemination of news and commentary. As we reflect on Jackson, try and imagine his presidency as viewed through the lens of television journalism, the internet, Facebook posts, Tweets and the New York Times.

  • KOKOMO – Beware,  Indiana legislators! There’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing lurking around, looking for the opportunity to circumvent Republican electoral success. The sheep’s clothing in this case is the benign sounding Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting. The wolf or wolves here in Indiana are the Democrat Party, Common Cause, League of Women Voters, Hoosier Environmental Council, Citizens Action Coalition, ACLU, NAACP, Indiana Farmers Union, Jobs for Justice and Moral Mondays. Back in the old days, when Democrats held the governor’s office and the Indiana House, there was no incessant drumbeat for redistricting reform coming from the media, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause. The only reason that redistricting reform has become the current cause du jour is that since 2010 Republicans have been giving Democrats a serious thumping all over the country.

  • KOKOMO – Against my better judgement, I have decided to weigh in on the subject of Confederate memorials. The existence of Confederate memorials have been the subject of much debate and consternation. Recently, in Charlottesville, Virginia, the issue came roaring from the history books onto the front pages of America’s newspapers. The issue has simmered for all of the 152 years since Robert E. Lee surrendered to U. S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. I must admit that I am personally deeply conflicted on the issue. There is something to be said for both sides of the monument debate. My great-great-uncle was held at Andersonville Prison and suffered the horrors of that hell hole during 1864. I suppose that I have as good a reason as anyone else to totally reject anything at all to do with the Confederacy and what it did to so many millions of American citizens and slaves during four long years of war. However, I am also a student of history and as any historian worth their salt knows, “history ain’t pretty.” No historical issue is ever truly cut and dried. Whereas I spent my childhood thinking that I wore a white hat when I fought as a Union soldier or as a GI battling evil Nazis, today in my relic collection I own a Nazi belt buckle with a Swastika inside a wreath with the words “Gott Mit Uns” written around the wreath. Even the lowly German stormtrooper felt that God was on his side. The dirty little secret of history is that history is written by the victors.

  • KOKOMO – Where is Oliver Cromwell when you need him?  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it is time to dissolve Parliament and call for new elections. The grand ruling coalition has fallen apart and it is now time to take our great national issues back to the people for their input. The failed uneasy marriage of personal fiefdoms that we call the United States Senate has disintegrated into a glorified exercise of nitpicking and removal of lint from the bellybuttons of government. There is a reason why a statue of Cromwell stands guard over the British Parliament.  Earning his historical spurs as a champion for the elected voice of the people, he later became known as the man who knew a dysfunctional government when he saw it. His solution to the never-ending squabbles and inaction of Parliament was to send its members home, back to the people who elected them. In a speech that could be given by Donald Trump or any fed-up American, Cromwell ended the “Long Parliament” with this zinger: “It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
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  • Lawson announces election security awareness campaign

    “In Indiana, the security of our voting systems is of the utmost importance. This public awareness campaign demonstrates to voters that proper precautions are in place to secure their vote. We take great care to prepare our election administrators for each cycle, and in partnership with counties, other states, and the federal government we are developing new answers to security concerns and election policy.” - Secretary of State Connie Lawson, announcing she will launch a public awareness campaign to build understanding of cybersecurity efforts in Indiana and help explain why voters should feel confident their vote is secure. Her Democratic challenger, Valparaiso attorney Jim Harper, believes the Indiana system is vulnerable to assault by foreign actors. Lawson explained that no piece of Indiana’s voting equipment is online. The machines and tabulators are not connected to the internet. In addition, the Secretary of State’s office has a mechanism known as the Voting System Technical Oversight Program hosted by Ball State University that tests all of the election equipment used in Indiana for an added layer of safety and security. Another tool is the Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center, an independent entity that partners with the Department of Homeland Security and allows 24/7 access to security information, threat notifications and security advisories.

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  • What you get with TV stars, sleazebags, billionaires and Mooch
    After reading about the Paul Manafort trial, hearing of Rick Gates testimony and now the “Unhinged” book by Omarosa Manigault Newman, several observations:

    1. The Trump 2016 campaign was, well, sleazy. Not the Indiana part, but all the alleged tax evasion, the embezzlement, backstabbing and conspiracy of Manafort and Gates. Donald Trump apparently had no idea that Manafort was broke, seeking wild bank loans and promising high ranking jobs if they pulled off a miracle (which they did). The campaign vetting process appears to have been non-existent.

    2. Omarosa’s qualifications were … what? That she was a TV star on “The Apprentice”? Or was she there to check off the “African-American” box on the diversity chart? Whatever the reason, this was resume-lite and she had no reason to be in the White House where she secretly recorded her final conversation with CoS John Kelly in the … Situation Room. That sounds like a national security breach to me.

    3. This has evolved into a presidential administration of TV stars, talking heads, billionaires … and Mike Pence. Mooch, we hardly knew ye.

    Sooooo, we shouldn’t really be shocked that the ethic limits are pressed and pushed, while protocols and securities are breached.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher.
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