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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 – As a young boy I spent quite a bit of time on my Uncle Charlie’s farm. Uncle Charlie had a continuing problem with raccoons. The raccoons would get in his corn storage bin and eat ears of corn. Uncle Charlie’s attempt at a solution was to purchase a dog, a fine young boxer. This boxer, named Tiny, was huge, lightning quick and aggressive.  Charlie just knew that before long that Tiny would do his job and start tallying up some kills. Tiny seemed to be a very willing participant in this scheme. The mere smell or sight of a raccoon would drive him into a howling and barking fit, straining at the leash to get at his prey. Despite Uncle Charlie’s best plans and Tiny’s willing good intentions, several years went by before an opportunity would present itself for the dog to earn his keep. One day, out of the blue, Tiny happened to stumble upon a raccoon inside the corn bin. Tiny positioned himself at the door of the bin and blocked any escape by the hapless raccoon. Tiny tensed up and began to growl and bark at the frightened raccoon, gradually inching nearer and seemingly ready for mortal combat. I had heard the commotion and came running, hoping to see Tiny in action. It looked like the raccoon’s time was running out when something strange occurred.
  • CARMEL – The bags of mail delivered to U.S. Rep. Elwood H. “Bud” Hillis’ 5th Congressional District office were enormous and plentiful. The day had come for the anticipated arrival of the responses to Hillis’ 1974 constituent survey.  Each of us who worked for the congressman looked around the room at each other and wondered who would get stuck with the huge job of hand collating and tabulating the poll results.  I was only 21 years old at the time, but I didn’t need to look around the room to know that myself and another intern, occupying the lowest rung of the office ladder, would be tasked with the laborious job.  There were several interesting proposals on the survey, but the one which grabbed my attention were a couple of questions regarding the issue of abortion. The first question on the issue addressed the 1973 U. S. Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade and the protection of abortion enabled by the Court’s decision. As I tallied up the responses to the question of “Do you support the Supreme Court’s decision to establish a woman’s right to receive an abortion?” (This was the crux of the question, but the exact wording may have been a little different.)  I was not surprised that a narrow margin of constituents in the 5th District did not favor the Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade. After all, Indiana is a conservative state, and the 5th District was one of the most conservative in the state.  What else would you expect? The second question on the issue provided a little more surprising response. The question asked some thing to the effect of, “Would you support legislation banning abortion except in circumstances of rape, incest, defective fetus or life of the mother?”  The results on this question provided a substantial majority who would support the legislation. I believe these results were above 70%. It was notable to me that it was rare back in 1974, just as it is today, to get 70% or better agreement on any political issue. It struck me that here was an issue that might have grounds for compromise.  
  • CARMEL – Sometime this coming weekend, Joe Sixpack, Betty Sixpack and the Sixpack brood are going to want to celebrate the Fourth of July with their usual trip to grandma’s house, the family barbecue and, of course, fireworks. In a day or two, Joe Sixpack is going to get the economic shock of discovering just how bad inflation has gotten. He’s paid the $5.25 a gallon for gas, but Betty has done much of the grocery shopping for the family and the full impact of inflation has been hidden by nifty new packaging and marketing gimmicks.  The two Sixpack progeny, Biff and Buffy, have been largely immune from inflation as far as they know and are far more worried about which pronoun they will use to call themselves next year in school. Joe is going to head down to the local stop and shop to fill up the gas tank for the trip to grandma’s house. His full tank is going to cost him over $100 for his pickup truck. He will go inside to pick up a case of beer because nothing goes better than alcohol with high explosives. He will be shocked to find that the price of beer has risen over 5% since April. 
  • CARMEL – In the spring of 1864, Ulysses S. Grant was ordered by Abraham Lincoln to leave his command of the Union forces fighting in the Western Theater of the Civil War and to proceed to the East where he would take command of the entire Union Army.  Grant, who has sometimes been criticized as a less-than-adroit tactical commander, was brought East by Lincoln because he possessed the characteristic that the president valued most – he wasn’t afraid to fight, and he was relentless. Grant also was a mathematician at heart who understood the basic numbers of the Civil War and was prepared to make whatever sacrifices were necessary to enable the superior numbers of men and material which the North commanded to ultimately break the back of the rebellion. The 20th Indiana was part of Gen. Winfield S. Hancock’s Second Corps, and it was moving inexorably to its next rendezvous with history near a small town named Spotsylvania Court House. 
  • 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.
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  • Brooks excoriates Rokita over child rape case
    "We are confident of Americans’ ability to work through the issue of abortion now that the Supreme Court has returned it to the democratic process. But it’s crucial for law enforcement to stay above the partisan fray. A case in Indiana leaves us deeply concerned on that score. Initially, some doubted news reports that a 10-year- old Ohio rape victim had traveled to Indiana for a legal abortion. There were also unsubstantiated claims that the physician who performed the abortion had failed to report the abuse of a child and the abortion performed on a girl under 16, as Indiana law requires. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita rushed precipitously into this fray. He told Fox News he was investigating the physician and 'was looking at her licensure.' This, after admitting he hadn’t examined evidence that she complied with reporting requirements. Even worse was his inflammatory rhetoric: 'We have this abortion activist acting as a doctor,' he said. Despite the arrest and confession of a defendant in the rape, and news accounts documenting the physician’s timely reporting, Mr. Rokita continues to say publicly that he is investigating her. The justice system’s legitimacy requires that law enforcement be fair, deliberative and ethical. Government investigations should remain confidential unless and until a defendant is charged, with respect for the presumption of innocence and government’s burden of proof. A baseless investigation, if disclosed publicly, causes the target reputational damage, humiliation and loss. We are appalled that, by his own admission, Mr. Rokita announced his investigation before gathering the most basic facts."- Former Indiana congressman and district attorney Susan Brooks and John Tinder, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
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