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Tuesday, November 13, 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
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  • Republican super majorities hold in General Assembly
    “Hoosiers appreciate results, and that's exactly what they get from Gov. Eric Holcomb and Republicans at the Statehouse. By voting to maintain our supermajorities in the General Assembly, Hoosiers have made it clear that Indiana is on the right track, and that we must continue this momentum." - Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer, after House and Senate super majorities held with results finally coming in from Porter County Friday afternoon, with Rep. Ed Soliday defeated Democrat Frank Szczepanski 54-46%. Democrats did pick up three seats with Lisa Beck defeating Republican Rep. Julie Olthoff, giving House Republicans a 67-33 seat majority while Indiana Senate Republicans hold a 40-10 advantage where Democrats picked up one seat with J.D. Ford’s defeat of Sen. Mike Delph. In addition to Beck in the House, Democrat Chris Campbell defeated Rep. Sally Siegrist while Democrat Chris Chyung upset Republican Rep. Hal Slager. 
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  • Marijuana and the 56% proposition (even in Indiana)

    Michiganders approved recreational marijuana with 56% of the vote, joining neighboring Canada and along with the West Coast states, Colorado, Maine and even North Dakota. It’s only a matter of time before Illinois joins the party. The Chicago Tribune  reports that incoming Democrat Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker favors legalization and Democrats in both chambers predict it will easily pass. “I suspect it’s a done deal,” said Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. “People see it as a new source of revenue. The true battle will be over who gets their cut of it taxwise.”

    Ohio voters rejected a referendum in 2016, but will vote on the issue in November 2019, so Indiana is poised to be the middle finger of pot prohibition, expending funds on enforcement instead of reaping a tax windfall. One thing that strikes us is with Michigan voters approving it with 56%, that's nearly identifical referendums in Washington, Oregon and Colorado, and the Howey Politics/WTHR Poll from 2016 showed about 56% of Hoosiers favored medicinal marijuana. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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