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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  – Like most Hoosiers, I was shocked and saddened by the senseless murder of eight Indianapolis FedEx employees last week. As a feeling human being it is natural to want something to be done so that an event like this won’t happen again. After all, how can anyone look at the photos of the innocent victims and not hope that their deaths were not in vain. “Please, dear God, do whatever you must do to bring an end to this senseless violence,” we plead. Into this sea of despair enter those who never wish to see a tragedy go unexploited, the liberal gun control lobby. One of the few certainties of life is that when any event such as the FedEx mass shooting occurs, the parade of politicians, pundits and activists roll out their incessant refrain that only outlawing what they term assault rifles will stop the violence. They are quick to exploit any gun-related headline event to strike a blow against one of your rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. It sometimes seems like these people are happy another shooting occurred. There is no denying that the American people love their guns. In fact, the best estimate is that there are at least 120 guns for every 100 Americans. That is a lot of guns. It dwarfs the second closest nation, Yemen, by almost a two-to-one margin. The United States is a nation of guns and that is not by accident. It is only due to the fact that American colonists possessed large amounts of rifles for both hunting and maintaining effective militias against possible Indian intrusions that they were able to band together and throw off the repressive yoke of King George III.
  • KOKOMO – I’ve never had a job where my decision has meant the difference between life and death. Shucks, during my 38-year career as a financial consultant, the two biggest challenges that I’ve had are recommending an investment before some world event made the markets drop, or not recommending the next greatest technological thingamabob before it became larger than the GDP of France.  I admire those who have those necessary jobs that require them to make life and death decisions on a daily basis. Our service men and women, law enforcement officers, first responders and medical personnel all deserve our gratitude. Most of us understand and accept the pressure-packed nature of these jobs and know that these folks are doing their best to serve the American people. We generally laud these vital workers and honor the work that they do. However, there are a few jobs where no matter what decision you make, someone is going to criticize, vilify and condemn your efforts and decisions.  Governor of Indiana happens to be just one of those jobs.
  • KOKOMO – In this month’s issue of “Whistling Past the Graveyard” we will take our annual look at the looming disaster of our national debt and the complete ambivalence of the American public and our government officials at this very real existential threat to most things that we hold dear. Every year that I have been writing for Howey Politics, I have devoted at least one column to the ever-mounting Red Menace of the national debt. I’ve written and obsessed about this subject during both Democrat and Republican administrations because irresponsible governmental spending knows no political party. Both Republicans and Democrats are recklessly irresponsible when it comes to the long-term threat of deficit spending. No one gets a pass. The latest trigger to my annual rant is the latest $1.9 trillion boondoggle of President Biden’s pandemic response or the Democrat Party’s “never let a crisis go to waste” cash grab. I won’t rehash the argument that only a very small piece of this “relief” bill is actually pandemic related. Most of us know by now that the spending bill was packed to the gills with mostly pork for the insatiable appetites of voracious Congressional Democrats. Instead, let’s take a look at the relief aspects of the bill.
  • KOKOMO – One of my lifelong obsessions is to study history from a human perspective. I’m not really interested in dates and places or how many Mongols killed how many Visigoths.  I am interested in why humans react the way they do when placed under stressful situations. What makes a common farm boy from Elkhart climb over a trench and charge across a field at Antietam, Belleau Wood or Peleliu into the face of flying lead and shrapnel? Of particular interest to me is how do leaders, from squad level to army command, motivate their ordinary soldiers to do the extraordinary, and what traits make for a good leader?  The more I study the issue of leadership I find that I have great difficulty in telling you exactly what it is, but I’ve learned to recognize it when I see it. Most of the characteristics of an effective military leader are usually found in our proficient governmental leaders. No, I’m not talking about the fuss and feathers elected officials who prance around the halls of Fox News waiting to spout their opinions on just about any topic that will net them some air time. I’m talking about the workhorse leadership who work diligently without much fanfare and yet are right on the firing line when the bullets start to fly. These are the men and women whom I admire. The Hoosier State is very fortunate to have a U.S. senator who has proven to be a leader of quiet dignity and humility, who has helped lead the United States Senate through some of its biggest recent battles. Sen. Todd Young has been the Hoosier senator who has found himself sought out to provide counsel and leadership on a variety of issues.
  • KOKOMO – And now we know the truth. It was never about draining the swamp.  It was never about building a wall. It was never about restoring power to the governed. It was, is and forever will be about doing what most benefitted Donald J. Trump.  First, let me start by acknowledging that there were some very good things that happened over the years prior to the pandemic. Our economy skyrocketed.  Bureaucratic red tape was cut and enabled all Americans to prosper.  Unemployment rates dropped to historical lows in every measurable subgroup.  The judiciary was nudged to a less activist and more conservative status by a wealth of newly appointed judges at all levels, including three outstanding appointments to the United States Supreme Court. Peace broke out in the Middle East when several nations struck long-awaited treaties with Israel.  Our military was beefed up to deal with threats from current adversaries and potential adversaries in the future. China’s threat to world peace and our economy was recognized and the process of reining in its abuses was well underway. All in all, the achievements of President Trump’s term in office were pretty impressive. But, then there were the other things that hallmarked the Trump Administration. The vainglorious, megalomaniacal rantings via Twitter, the revolving door staff changes that discarded a host of talented public servants like empty beer cans, the associations maintained with questionable friends, the vilification of anyone, friend or foe, who dared to disagree with The Donald. Worst of all, the incessant and unabated failure to tell the truth in the smallest to the most important matters. In certain ways, he conducted himself as a blended incarnation of Benito Mussolini and Joseph Goebbels. I don’t want to dance around this one. Donald Trump was a big fat liar!
  • KOKOMO – The late founder of Walmart was a disruptor of major proportions.  His company launched a retail revolution from the sleepy backwaters of Arkansas and totally transformed Main Street USA by creating a dynamic big box retail entity that effectively replaced your local hardware, sporting goods, clothing, fabric, appliance, stationery, toy, dry goods, pet and you name it stores. His work was revolutionary, highly profitable and controversial. Worshipped by some and cussed by many, Sam Walton became the be all and end all to the world of retail. He created a concept that would last forever, or did he? Just when it appeared that Walmart would become the most dominant and powerful business in the world, along came a diminutive young man named Jeff Bezos and a quaint online bookseller named Amazon. While Walmart brought gale force winds to the retail world, Amazon brought five hurricanes tied together with a trio of tornados. Just as Sam Walton before him, Bezos and Amazon found themselves worshipped and reviled by nearly equal numbers. Such is the life of a disruptor. I believe that President Trump will be viewed by history as a disruptor and not just because he is scorned by such a large percent of the American people and much of the world. He will be viewed as the proverbial bull in the china shop that got things done at the same time that he crashed the aisles. With President Trump’s time in office quickly coming to a close, it’s time to take a balanced look at the legacy of his time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  It’s a mixed bag and deserves more than just knee jerk adulation or vile contempt.  

  • KOKOMO – I am a partisan Republican. I voted for President Donald Trump. I wanted him to defeat Biden and arrest any further slide of our country into the grip of socialism. I desperately wanted to jam a Trump victory into the faces of CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Facebook, Twitter, Nancy, Chuck and all the rest of the usual suspects. At this point it looks like a Trump victory will not happen. The electoral deck is stacked against him and the massive mail-in voting and overwhelmed vote-counting operations in historically ethics-challenged Democrat-machine-run urban centers appears to present a series of hurdles that cannot be overcome. While I would never suggest to President Trump that he just throw in the towel without fully exploring the depths of potential Democrat chicanery, I would suggest that he consider the impact of his every action on our nation and on our reputation throughout the world. While I am a loyal Republican, I am first and foremost a proud American. As an American, I do not want to see our judicial system decide elections.
  • KOKOMO – The 28th vice president of the United States, Hoosier Thomas Marshall, once quipped, “Indiana is called the mother of vice presidents because it is home to more second-class men than any other state.”  While time, absentee ballots and attorneys will decide whether Vice President Mike Pence gets to continue to live in One Naval Observatory Circle for four more years, the thought must have crossed Pence’s mind sometime in the wee small hours of the morning after Election Day, “Where do I go from here?” President Trump's loss on Saturday makes it likely Mike Pence eventually falls short of grasping the brass ring. While the path to the presidency for Pence would have faced difficult hurdles if Trump had won, the road to presidential glory becomes immeasurably more challenging now that the former Indiana governor finds himself looking for Two Men and a Truck in January. For a relatively quiet man, Mike Pence has shown that he possesses the grit of a riverboat gambler when it comes to his political career. Safely ensconced in a congressional seat, a member of the leadership team in the House of Representatives, with the speaker’s job a reasonable career goal, Pence chucked it all to make a run for Indiana governor in 2012.
  • KOKOMO – As I write this, we are 17 days from, arguably, the most important election in my lifetime. In my opinion, we have never seen an election with such well-defined lines between economic philosophies as this one. On the basis of economic philosophy, how to vote should be a relatively easy decision. On the surface, the decision appears to boil down to whether you trust and support a capitalistic economic system which rewards effort, education, skills, hard work, ingenuity and risk or whether you support a philosophy of government managed economics, income redistribution and government created do overs for actors with bad behaviors. As a life-long Republican, I believe that our philosophy has always been that we are for equal opportunity for all, not equal outcomes. Right or wrong, I stand by that belief. Although the decision of who to vote for should be an easy one, it has been made much more difficult because of President Donald J. Trump. He is not a conventional president nor candidate, so he does not lend himself to a traditionally economics-based decision. The fact is that many traditionally economics-based voters will not vote their core beliefs because of their abject hate of the Orange Man. Their attitude is, “Orange Man bad, don’t confuse me with facts.”  
  • KOKOMO – One of the characteristics I admire most in a human being is loyalty. There is a comfort when entering a barroom brawl, either literally or figuratively, that no matter what, someone has your back. To me, this is true whether it is in personal, business or political relationships. The way I judge a man is to determine whether I’d want him next to me in a foxhole. Unfortunately, the world of politics is filled with the insincere, the selfish, the ungrateful and the disloyal. When the sun is shining the disloyal person will hide in the shadows and protect their secret failing.  When times are tough and the call of unity in manning the walls is made, the disloyal will come slithering out of the woodwork. I’ve got some experience in living and dealing with the politically disloyal. For nearly 12 years I served as a Republican county chairman. For those of you who don’t know the job of the county chairman, it is to serve as the fire hydrant at the Dalmatian convention. You are expected to devote countless hours to the job, raising money for candidates, organizing mail and door-to-door campaigns, recruiting talent and developing strategy. When you are needed, you are the most revered person in the world, but after the votes are counted, you are relegated to the corner of a cold and lonely office until the next election rolls around.  
  • KOKOMO – If there was a just God of Politics, all that newly elected speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, Todd Huston, would have to worry about at this time would be how he and his leadership team will craft a budget for the state after a year of upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   But the God of Politics is a fickle feller and Speaker Huston has been thrown into the fire on his first time at bat. Mixed metaphors aside, Huston will not only be forced to match income and expenses for a biennial budget in a time where incomes are uncertain and expenses are in unchartered waters, but he will also have to deal with the incredibly sticky wicket of reapportionment, the drawing of legislative districts. Making Huston’s job a potentially more difficult one is the current uncertain state of affairs on the election front. Currently, Indiana Republicans control 67 of the 100 seats in the Indiana House. The number of Republicans is critical in order to head off some of the potential legislative games that historically came to be the hallmark of Indiana Democrats under Pat Bauer during the bad old days.  It seems like just a quaint memory now, but close your eyes and you can remember February, 2011, when Democrat Minority Leader Bauer led his wayward band of merry men and women out of the friendly confines of Indiana into their luxury escape at the Comfort Suites Hotel of Urbana, Illinois. 
  • KOKOMO –  Last week I bumped into one of my Ball State University classmates, Charles L. DePew, while I was having a Mt. Olympus, ultra-liberal, hops-infused IPA down at the local Brew and Books on Main Street. Charles, who we all called “Stinky” in the frat house, was quick to expound on why he can’t wait for Thanksgiving this year because he has a long list of people and organizations to thank for President Trump’s reelection.  When I questioned Stinky if he was referring to people like Sen. Lyndsey Graham and the NRA, he replied that those people were helpful but the gift of reelection was given by a group of people who you never would have expected, out-of-control Democrats and their sympathizers from coast to coast. I tend to live in a world of common sense and reason so I was taken aback by Stinky’s assertion that the Democrats would contribute the most to undoing of Joe Biden’s slipshod, cobbled-together lovefest campaign in a basement. I asked Stinky to expand on his theory. Mr. DePew said he was simply giving credit where credit is due. “What better way is there to scare the bejeebers out of the average American voter than to give the Democrats a fair audition. We have and what a whopper of a failure. Let’s start west and work our way east.” “In California, you have a completely Democrat state bankrupted by a flood of illegal immigration and a laundry list of government-supplied freebies given to the non-productive class."
  • KOKOMO – There might not be more than three people in 10,000 who would proudly tell you that statistics was one of the three things they most enjoyed about college. I’m sure that parties, spring breaks, home football weekends, fraternities, sororities, dating, drinking, no in loco parentis and cruising through life for four to six years would probably consistently outrank statistics class in their “these were a few of my favorite things” song salute to higher education. What made a traditionally difficult and boring class move to the top of my personal list of things that I most enjoyed about college? For me, the answer was simple, Dr. Lou Mattola, who made statistics come alive and rendered order out of the chaos of randomly arranged numbers and mathematical equations. In short, he put the story in story problems. His secret was to reduce a seemingly complex subject like statistics into real life scenarios such as casino betting odds, coin toss probabilities, batting averages and the likelihood of outcomes. Just think of him as the kind of guy who could explain the movie “Moneyball” to you over a beer and you’d sit listening to him all night. As someone who struggled with trigonometry and calculus, I appreciated Dr. Mottola’s ability as a professor. I wish I had told him at the time what I thought of his teaching.
  • KOKOMO – At this point in the 2020 United States presidential election, it is beginning to look like the mountains of abuse heaped on President Trump by the national media, the leftist social media, every anarchist group known to mankind and even a few Republicans just might be successful in defeating him and sending a third-rate Democrat to the White House. If I were the type of person to sit around wearing a tinfoil hat and seeing multiple gunmen on the grassy knoll, I might just be a little cynical about the timing of a pandemic hitting when the United States’ economy was the best that it had been in history, with record low unemployment across all demographics, increasing personal incomes and unheard of stock market valuations. Further, the attention paid to the coronavirus seemed to grow as the Democrat trumped-up impeachment fell apart in a dismal partisan failure.  No, I’m not going to be one of those people who see conspiracies wherever you turn. I merely want to ask the question, win or lose in November, where does the Republican Party go from here? Should Donald Trump defy the current odds and big poll deficits and win a second term, what would the future hold for the Republican Party?  
  • KOKOMO – If you could see an existential threat to the United States standing right before your eyes, would you personally take action to deal with it? I ask this question for two reasons. First, I believe that there is an existential threat to our country standing in plain view for all Americans and the world to see.  Second, this isn’t a threat that can only be dealt with by our national intelligence apparatus or our military. The threat which we face does not require risking world war or nuclear annihilation. It is true that direct confrontation may be required to check our opponent, but each of us, as individuals, can do our part to defeat the plans of our enemy. And make no mistake about it, this opponent is our enemy. The worst enemy that we face today is the government of Communist China. China has made no secret of its goal to become the world’s largest economy, to build a modern military that is both larger and more technologically superior to the United States, to expand its boundaries by bullying weaker neighbors and to dominate the world through a combination of economic, political and military coercion. China is well on its way to accomplishing its goals.
  • KOKOMO – The most precious sentence in existence is the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. There is a reason that it is the first amendment contained in the Bill of Rights. For those of you who need a refresher course: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Our forefathers recognized these holy rights and made sure that they were enshrined for all eternity. Today, there are significant elements in our society who would deny us these rights and even those who would practice the worst form of abuse, which is self-censorship. By now it should be painfully evident to nearly everyone that the mass uprising upon the murder of George Floyd has been hijacked by a sinister group of anarchists who are bent on the destruction of every form of sane existence. The move to abolish the police, the creation of no-police zones in some major American cities, the wanton destruction of monuments and memorials, and the attempt to erase much of our American history is clearly not because a bad police officer used excessive force and killed a black man.  
  • KOKOMO — There was a brief moment following the death of George Floyd when people of all races, creeds and colors shared the shock, horror and revulsion about his wanton murder at the hands of an out-of-control law enforcement officer. Virtually no one who saw the video of police officer Derek Chauvin snuffing the life out of a human being by jamming his knee down on the throat of Floyd could find a single excuse for taking this human life.  
    No excuse could be remotely acceptable for this death. It was an excellent opportunity for our society to take a much needed look at race relations and to discuss the difficult duty that the police have of balancing the enforcement of laws and the use of appropriate force. And then the opportunity died. Somewhere along the way, the legitimate expressions of grief and anger of the citizenry of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, were replaced by those who were bent on dishonoring the life and death of George Floyd by common lawlessness, theft, looting, burning, assault and general mayhem. The sympathetic views of much of our population were replaced by disgust and anger at those who would use the death of Floyd to launch anarchic campaigns against the public peace and its institutions.To put it simply, George Floyd did not die at the hands of a police officer only to be memorialized by a looter carrying off a big screen television from your local Target store.  
  • KOKOMO – I’ve been a life-long Republican and I’ve been politically active for the majority of my life. My first overt Republican act was to send a fan letter to Presidential candidate Senator Barry Goldwater way back in 1964.  Funny, even Hillary Clinton was a Republican back then. The first Republican State Convention I attended was in 1972. As an 18-year-old brash young teenager, I bucked the demands of my county chairman to vote for William Sharp for governor and instead I voted for Otis Bowen. This early experience in observing the impotence of a county chairman should have deterred me from ever being a county chairman, but one day I would eventually be dragged into the maelstrom. Over my 58 years in Republican Party politics I have met and interacted with a wide variety of those who identify as Republicans. While the national media is quick to try and persuade you that all Republicans are Bible-toting, gun-slinging, fat-cat bigots, the truth is far different.
  • KOKOMO  — Flip on any television channel and they will be staring you in the face, United States Senators, Republican and Democrat alike, who apparently have nothing better to do with their time than pontificate on the absurd and engage in political bickering. It is enough to make you sick, but with Covid-19, we’re sick enough already.  Not all Senators have crawled into the mud for the daily wallowing about in front of the cameras. One in particular, Indiana Sen. Todd Young, has been devoting his entire time in public service to thinking about the big picture. Perhaps it is because of his former work as an intelligence officer in the United States Marines Corps that Sen. Young has taken a thoughtful and forward thinking approach to the nearly out-of-control menace of China.  Analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is the hallmark of intelligence work and Young has excelled at bringing those skills to his career in government. While some of his Senate colleagues spend endless hours trying to reverse the 2016 Presidential Election, Young is squarely focused on the future. To Todd Young, China should dominate our national groupthink.
  • KOKOMO  — A person’s memory can be a strange thing. Long ago experiences may be repressed for many years before some event triggers their remembrance. Just the other night I woke in the early morning hours and the following thought crossed my mind, “Journal of the Plague Year.” I know I read something like this. Who was the author? Who was the evil teacher who forced me to read it? What in the world was it about? All that I could remember was that some old English author wrote a boring book about a plague in London. Who was tormenting me like this? The next morning I took my cup of coffee and headed for my computer. I was curious whether there had been anything in that book that even vaguely resembled the experience that we are all having at this time in history.  Much to my shock and amazement, life in 1665 London, England, held much in common with our modern day version of the plague. As I began to reread Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the “Plague Year,” it dawned on me that perhaps it wasn’t that bad an idea to make the book required reading in an English Literature course. I wish I could tell my late teacher, Mrs. Heaton, that she was a pretty good teacher. Daniel Defoe’s book was published in 1722. He had been only five years old at the time of the great 1665 London Plague.
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  • Doden first 2024 GOP INGov contender to explore run
    “I have spent the last decade focused on tackling Indiana’s greatest challenges and implementing conservative solutions that get real results for the people of Indiana. As a husband, father and Hoosier who is passionate about restoring excellence to our communities, I believe that our brightest days are ahead. While the political class tells us that they are solving our biggest problems, people tell me it often feels like they are more worried about keeping their office, or their next political career move, than improving our lives. Many leaders who know me well have encouraged me to bring my authentic, bold, no-nonsense approach to the Indiana Governor’s race. As a lifelong Republican, I am eager to support others in the party who have vision, character, and who want to see Indiana be bold. With three years before the 2024 Primary, we will work not only to win the Republican nomination for Governor, but to ensure that high-caliber Hoosiers who want to make Indiana even better have a chance to do just that.” - Republican Eric Doden, who has formed an exploratory committee for the 2024 Republican gubernatorial nomination. Doden is a former CEO of the Greater Fort Wayne Inc. business organization and was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence in 2013 as president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., a position he held until stepping down in 2015. Doden is the first declared GOP contender in a field expected to include Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Attorney General Todd Rokita, Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer, and former state senator Jim Merritt.
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  • HPI Power 50: Crisis shapes 2021 list


    INDIANAPOLIS – After two decades of publishing Power 50 lists in the first week of January, this one comes in a true crisis atmosphere. As we watched in horror the U.S. Capitol being overrun by supporters of President Trump on Wednesday, the COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 8,000 Hoosiers and 350,000 Americans, shutting down our state and nation for nearly two months last spring. While vaccines are coming, there will be a distinct BC (Before COVID) and AC delineations as this epic story comes to a close. It gripped like a vise key figures, from Gov. Eric Holcomb to Vice President Pence. It delayed an election, closed schools and restaurants, reordered the way we do business and buy things, and will set in motion ramifications that we can’t truly understand (like the virus itself) at this point in time. There’s another crisis at hand. It’s our society’s civics deficit, fueled by apathy that transcends our schools and societal engagement, and allowed to fester by a news media in atrophy. That three members of the Indiana congressional delegation – U.S. Sen. Mike Braun and Reps. Jim Banks and Jackie Walorski – signed on to a protest this week, induced by losing President Donald Trump to “investigate” widespread vote fraud that doesn’t exist, is another indicator of the risks a polarized and undisciplined political spectrum brings to the fragile American democratic experience.

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