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Monday, April 6, 2020
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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  — “What’s a granny worth?” My next door neighbor correctly judged that I was baiting him with the question. This discussion occurred while several neighbors were having a safe social distance happy hour outside of our homes. I’m sure it was an interesting sight as neighbors sat in lawn chairs spread out on both sides of our neighborhood street drinking a glass of wine or a bottle of beer.  After much discussion over the issue of toilet paper and sanitizer stockpiles, the talk gradually turned to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the virtual shutdown of our economy. I turned to my next door neighbor and asked the question about how much we were willing to spend to save a granny, when my neighbor across the street yelled out, “Hey, watch it, I’m a granny too!” The truth be known, we were all of the age to be either grannies or grandpas. Before we could hash out a consensus answer, the heavens opened up on us and drowned out our little neighborhood attempt at maintaining some normalcy. The question still hangs in the air. With the staggering loss of incomes, jobs, market valuations and $2 trillion stimulus bills, just what is the dollar value of a higher risk person?
  • KOKOMO – This column is dedicated to my Facebook friends and their friends. I’m writing it in response to the many ridiculous, clueless, heartless and just plain stupid posts that many of my friends have written over the past week. I call them Facebook friends, but in a real sense, they are merely acquaintances or friends of friends of friends. I have nearly 1,600 “friends” on Facebook but in reality, I’ve never met most of them.  Because of my political work and work as a columnist on HoweyPolitics.com, I receive a lot of friend requests. Normally, these “friends” are a good source for stories and scoops in the making. They are always interesting for entertainment purposes. They have great memes and funny jokes. But then along came the COVID-19 virus. I’m now giving strong consideration to pruning my Facebook tree way back because many of these people have turned just downright loony. The number of wild and wacky conspiracy theories, attacks on government officials and callous disregard for their fellow man has moved from just irritating to alarming. 
  • KOKOMO  — I rarely find myself giving unsolicited advice to the Democrat Party, but this may be the time to offer some based on my real life experience. After all, if you don’t gain wisdom as you age and gather experiences, both good and bad, what the heck are you doing? The advice that I have to give is in regard to the current effort by Democrat Party insiders to nuke Bernie Sanders as a threat to win the nomination to be their party’s standard bearer in the 2020 presidential election. Here is my advice for those actively pursuing the “Never Bernie” strategy: Don’t even think about it! It sends shivers down the spine of every insider Democrat to imagine what President Trump might do to Sanders and down ballot candidates in a head-to-head campaign. They see not only another loss to Donald Trump, but also the loss of their House majority and a potential strengthening of the Republican majority in the United States Senate. Yes, a Sanders candidacy even potentially spreads disaster down to state and local election levels. After all, how would you like to be a reasonably moderate candidate for state representative in Moose Heel, Minnesota, and have your election jeopardized by political ads focusing on the Sanders/Castro lovefest?
  • KOKOMO  — Indiana is now a gambling mecca. We can play scratch offs, play the numbers, indulge ourselves playing Willy Wonka for money, bet on the ponies and now we can wager on sports. The next expansion of gaming that I’d like to see is political bookmaking. After all, if we can bet on whether the Colts will score on their next drive (bet against it), get a kick blocked (bet on it) or whether we’ll win the Super Bowl next year (called a sucker bet in Vegas), then why can’t we bet on politics? Imagine going to the sports book right now and making a wager on who will emerge as the 5th Congressional District Republican candidate or on how badly Gov. Holcomb will trounce his Democrat opponent. Maybe drop a fiver on whether or not Attorney General Curtis Hill will survive his ethics complaint and be the Republican candidate for AG in 2020. Now that might spark my interest in gambling.

  • Ain’t God good to Indiana? Folks, a feller never knows; Just how close he is to Eden; Till, sometime, he ups an’ goes; Seekin’ fairer, greener pastures; Than he has right here at home.

    KOKOMO —  Reporter William Herschell wrote these words in 1919, but they are just as true today as they were then. What prompted me to recall these lines written so long ago, that became so famous that they grace a bronze plaque in the Indiana Statehouse? Why, Illinois, of course! Illinois, home of incarcerated former governors, middling sports teams and mountains upon mountains of budgetary red ink in Chicago and in the state capitol, Springfield.  Illinois, the state that is called home by more than 200,000 fewer residents than five years ago. Illinois, the tax-and-spend state that has become the poster child for Democratic government mismanagement.

  • KOKOMO  –  The casual observer of the recent “Red for Ed” teacher action day probably believes that it was very successful. A massive teacher turnout blanketed the Statehouse and let legislators and the governor know that teachers were fed up with the status quo and weren’t going to take it anymore. The event received the intended publicity across the state.  Newspapers skewered Republicans. Everyone in power felt the heat.  The last bit of good news regarding “Red for Ed” came on Dec. 10, when Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his 2020 Next Level agenda. Holcomb summed up his priorities by stating that “he will put Hoosier students, teachers and parents first. That means listening to our teachers and giving our students the best education possible.” Furthermore, Holcomb committed to: • Retaining and bringing the very best educators to teach in Indiana; • Changing career-related teacher professional growth points from required to optional; • Supporting the Teacher Compensation Commission and making Indiana a leader in the Midwest for teacher pay; • Working with educators to identify unfunded mandates and unnecessary requirements in K-12 education; • Holding schools and teachers harmless for 2018-2019 ILEARN scores. To most folks this looks like the governor and teachers are moving in symphony and that, soon, all will be right. This probably is not the case. There are deeply ingrained, philosophical issues that will not be resolved anytime soon. If you think that “Red for Ed” was about teacher pay and the educational success of little Johnny and little Mary, then you are living in the land of unicorns.

  • 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.
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  • Pence says U.S. pandemic is 'comparable' to Italy
    “We think Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States at this point.” - Vice President Pence, to CNN on Wednesday, after he was asked how severe the COVID-19 pandemic will get in the United States. The pandemic has hit Italy the hardest to date.
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  • President Trump, Gov. Holcomb address the pandemic in their own words
    The COVID-19 pandemic is becoming the story of our time. As Sen. Todd Young explained, unlike the Great Recession of 2008-09 and the Oil Shock recession of 1979-82, what we are experiencing today is a double hammer: A pandemic and a severe economic panic. The Hoosier State is poised to go from a historic low 3.1% unemployment rate to double digits in the span of a month. At least one pandemic model says 2,400 Hoosiers will die.

    Tough times shift our attention to leadership. Here are quotes from President Trump and Gov. Eric Holcomb as the pandemic approached the U.S. and then impacted our nation and state.

    President Trump

    Jan. 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” – CNBC interview.

    Feb. 10: “Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.” – New Hampshire rally.

    Feb. 24: “The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock market starting to look very good to me!” – On Twitter.

    Feb. 25: “China is working very, very hard. I have spoken to President Xi, and they are working very hard. If you know anything about him, I think he will be in pretty good shape. I think that is a problem that is going to go away.”

    Feb. 26: “We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.” – At a White House news conference.
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