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Monday, August 19, 2019
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  • SOUTH BEND  –  Bullets don’t care. Nor do military-style weapons from which they fly. Assault rifles don’t care whether they are used to kill little kids in a school, teens in their high school, worshipers in synagogues and churches, shoppers at that El Paso Walmart or people enjoying a weekend in Dayton’s entertainment district. The shooters care. They want to bring death, grief, terror. They plan for this, hope for this, seek recognition for this. How many elected officials – those who could act to restrict use of uncaring assault weapons spewing uncaring bullets – care enough to act? Care at all? The answer to that is what happened in El Paso and Dayton. We become numb to news of mass shootings. There have been more mass shootings than days of the year so far in 2019. As of Aug. 5, the 217th day of the year, there were 255 mass shootings, incidents with at least four people shot. The Dayton carnage was especially shocking for me. Nine were killed, dozens injured in 32 seconds of rapid fire of uncaring bullets from an uncaring military-style weapon used by a shooter seeking mayhem and martyrdom. This occurred in Dayton’s Oregon District, the city’s entertainment district, with fine restaurants, trendy bars, interesting shops and historic structures. Just the night before in that popular area, my son, Steve, executive producer in TV news there, my daughter-in-law, Jennifer, and my granddaughter, Claire, walked by Ned Peppers, the bar the shooter tried to enter to kill so many more. 
  • SOUTH BEND  – The next round of Democratic debating will be different. The number of presidential candidates participating will be trimmed from the 20 competing in the first two rounds. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg already makes the cut and will be on stage again in the Sept. 12-13 debating in Houston. Questions? Q. Who won in the Wednesday night debate in Detroit? A. Donald Trump. Q. How did Mayor Pete do in the Tuesday night debate? A. Quite well. He wasn’t the winner. Elizabeth Warren came off the best. But Buttigieg stayed above the level of personal attacks against other Democratic candidates that made the Wednesday brawlers look petty. And he actually directed his criticism at Trump policies, not at Democratic policies of the past.
  • SOUTH BEND – They took the bait. Just as President Trump knew they would. Just as he made it almost impossible for them not to snap back, snap at the bait. Just as he planned. So, there they were on television, all four of them, the ultra-progressive Democratic congresswomen who stir controversy in their own party caucus. There they were with saturation coverage for days, appearing as the face of the Democratic Party. And right after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had somewhat successfully pushed them farther from the spotlight, portraying them as rogue rather than representative of the Democratic House caucus. Pelosi did so out of concern that their strident calls for impeachment and insistence on pushing for what now is politically impossible could endanger chances of Democrats retaining control of the House. Trump baited a Twitter trap, insulting the four congresswomen of color and telling them to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested” countries “from which they came.”
  • SOUTH BEND – Mayor Pete, though on the defensive over what he called “a mess” in his own city, survived the first round of Democratic presidential debates. He suffered a dip in the polls, a significant dip, but not a disastrous one for someone who started as a long, long longshot. Others fared worse under the pressure. Look at Beto O’Rourke, falling toward the point of elimination, and Joe Biden, plummeting from a huge lead to his new position as a shaky front-runner. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will continue as a significant contender at least through the first series of primaries next year. That’s guaranteed by his amazing fundraising success, with over 400,000 donors big and small, and $24.8 million raised in the past three months. He has funding to go on with a national campaign as others drop out with nothing left to finance a realistic effort. OK, Mayor Pete stays significant and is sure to continue as a contender. How significant? How far? If he is seen in the role of a humble piñata, with political activists taking swings at him as the national news media conclude that he really isn’t that popular or effective as a mayor, his significance and the length of his race as a serious contender will lessen.
  • SOUTH BEND –  South Bend police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill was proud that in 19 years as a cop he never shot anyone – never once fired a shot in the line of duty – even though mostly working in the late night when violence peaks. Until . . . O’Neill is the cop in national news, caught up in coverage of Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. He shot and fatally wounded Eric Logan, a man said by O’Neill to have forced him finally to shoot someone in a him-or-me, life-or-death situation in which Logan approached threateningly with a raised knife. White cop shoots and kills black man. That’s how it played. And that’s what happened. But it wasn’t like one of those cases elsewhere where some white cop fires a barrage of shots into the back of a black man who is running away. O’Neill fired two shots. One hit Logan – in the stomach, not in the back. Police reports say Logan, after being shot, threw a knife that struck O’Neill with a glancing blow. Still, was it justified? And how has Mayor Buttigieg handled the situation? The mayor handled it well in the Democratic debate, as well as he could, admitting problems in failing to recruit black police officers, expressing sympathy over the death but not declaring a verdict on the shooting. He didn’t fold as a result of his city, about which he boasts, being portrayed now as a mess of racial strife. 
  • SOUTH BEND — For Pete’s sake, what’s happening? Why are Bernie Sanders and President Trump attacking the mayor of South Bend? Why did right-wing conspiracy activists fake that the mayor assaulted a college student? Why is his signature achievement of fixing up or tearing down 1,000 vacant and deteriorating old houses in 1,000 days portrayed as a failure because it didn’t eliminate crime, wipe out poverty and cure cancer? Easy answer: Because South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has come out of nowhere — national political types regard South Bend as nowhere — to become a top-tier contender for the Democratic nomination for president. OK, he’s a star in the major leagues in his rookie season. But that doesn’t mean he will win the World Series. It’s a long season in baseball. The presidential selection season is even longer. So, why did the Sanders campaign attack Mayor Pete for likening Sanders to Trump?
  • SOUTH BEND  — Mayor Pete won another South Bend election. This one wasn’t so big. Or was it?

    While Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s name wasn’t on the ballot Tuesday, his candidate’s name was. James Mueller, his candidate, his choice to be his successor as mayor, won the Democratic mayoral nomination, tantamount to being elected mayor of South Bend. Mueller, with 37% of the vote, won with a double-digit percentage margin over the nearest competitor in a nine-candidate field that included four other candidates considered viable. Not bad for a candidate who came from nowhere. Well, he of course came from somewhere, from the Buttigieg administration, where he was the mayor’s chief of staff and then executive director of a key development department. But, politically, from nowhere. Mueller began the race with low political name recognition, no cultivated political following and lack of political campaign expertise. He hadn’t planned to run. Didn’t at first really want to run. Buttigieg told victory celebrants Tuesday night that Mueller “answered the call when it was not the most comfortable or obvious thing to do. It’s why, even though he’s not the cigar-chomping, back-slapping politician that some people might expect, and neither am I, he is exactly the right person.”
  • SOUTH BEND – Democratic primary election voters on May 7 will likely pick the next mayor of South Bend, the successor to Mayor Pete Buttigieg. There are nine candidates for the Democratic nomination, five of whom are viable. The winner almost certainly will be elected mayor in the general election this November. A Republican hasn’t won the mayoral election since 1967, and recent GOP efforts in city elections have been pathetic. The leading contenders based on their ability thus far to get out their messages and attract significant support are: James Mueller, Buttigieg’s former chief of staff, who has the most significant support of all, an endorsement from Mayor Pete. He also has the most funding, according to campaign finance reports, enabling him to continue to send out his message widely in mailings and on TV. Television advertising could be especially effective this time.
  • SOUTH BEND – Mayor Pete was presented with a “POTUS Pete” shirt, bright red letters on white, as he was introduced Monday at Dyngus Day festivities at the West Side Democratic & Civic Club. Some in the enthusiastic crowd packing the old club, traditional center for Dyngusing and where Bobby Kennedy campaigned for president, were initially unsure of the meaning of the lettering, referring to Washington alphabet lingo for President of the United States. But they all knew that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is making a big splash nationally in his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president. And they couldn’t miss all the national news media coverage, TV camera crews and all. Buttigieg told the crowd that he had urged journalists covering his events in Iowa and New Hampshire and elsewhere to come to South Bend for Dyngus Day to witness the celebrated event in his hometown.
  • SOUTH BEND – Cold and pouring rain usually is viewed as nothing positive, even as a disaster, for planners of an outside event. But those conditions were a factor in the positive national news coverage of the announcement of presidential candidacy by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The announcement was planned for Sunday at a major downtown intersection, with nearby streets blocked off, providing space for a crowd of up to 10,000. It seemed likely that the crowd would be the largest in 51 years for a political rally in downtown South Bend. Maybe it would even top the crowd of an estimated 6,000 at the legendary 1968 Dyngus Day rally as Bobby Kennedy spoke on the steps of the courthouse. That has been regarded as the largest gathering ever for a downtown political speech. Then came the forecast for terrible weather. The forecast proved accurate. So, the decision was made to move the event inside, but not to some auditorium. The announcement was switched to an inside site that hardly seemed inside at all. No heat. Leaks in the roof getting many members of the audience wet as the rain continued.
  • SOUTH BEND – The Buttigieg Boomlet continues. Here are five significant things about the explosion in national attention for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg as he seeks the Democratic presidential nomination. 1. Mayor Pete now gets more space in the New York Times — lengthy articles from all around the country, frequent favorable columns, big photos — than in the South Bend Tribune. This doesn’t mean his hometown paper neglects him – not at all. But the definition of a national political boomlet includes lots of attention in the national news media. The Times, with its size and resources, competes with the rest of the national news operations to cover the Buttigieg Boomlet. And the coverage and analysis add to the boomlet. For example, columnist David Brooks writes: “Pete Buttigieg has some kind of magic right now.” He notes the mayor’s surprising showing in polls, book sales and fundraising. 2. Buttigieg has raised enough money to collect a lot more money for his presidential bid. His report of raising over $7 million means he will attract the attention of more potential donors and can afford more fundraising efforts.
  • SOUTH BEND  — We’ve got an Iowa surprise. And it’s nothing to do with a forecast on when corn will be knee-high. Too early to measure the corn crop. A lot to do, though, with measuring the crop of presidential candidates. The Iowa survey released last week by Emerson College, showing South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in third place among likely Democratic caucus goers, was a big surprise. It’s another indication that Buttigieg has become a candidate to be taken seriously on the national political stage,  even before he is officially a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Q: What’s next? A: Buttigieg plans on campaigning in New Hampshire this weekend. Q: So, he’s already looking beyond that first-in-the-nation test in the Iowa caucuses next year?
  • SOUTH BEND – They call it “flyover country.” It’s where the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee needs a safe landing if he or she is to stave off the reelection of President Donald Trump for four additional years. “Flyover country” is where Trump won key electoral votes for victory in 2016 and where he could win again. It includes states in the Midwest that were crucial. Trump pulled upsets in Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa and won battleground Ohio, obtaining needed electoral votes to win the presidency, even as he trailed nationally by 2.8 million in the popular vote. The “flyover” description comes from the way presidential candidates, especially Democratic nominees, so often fly over Middle America as they travel from one coast to the other for major campaign and fundraising events and national media attention. The name also refers to the perceived attitude of some nominees, especially Hillary Clinton, who was viewed in key Midwest states where she lost as flying above the concerns of voters in the middle of the country, the concerns of those in the middle of the political spectrum, the concerns of the middle class.
  • SOUTH BEND  — President Trump has been looking better. This isn’t leading to some joke about more yellow in his unique hairdo. Nor is it satire. The president’s chances for reelection have been looking better. Not great. Better. It’s true. His approval ratings, though certainly not sparkling, improved in polls after his State of the Union address, mistakenly thought by many Democrats to be a disaster for Trump. And it wasn’t just an overnight bump in ratings. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted at the end of February showed Trump with an approval rating of 46%. OK, disapproval was higher, 52%. But remember when Trump’s approval ratings were below 40%? And some pundits thought he was left with nothing but a base that was chipping away? That he couldn’t climb beyond support by just a third of the voters?
  • SOUTH BEND – Former Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana, author of the 25th Amendment on presidential disability, an amendment now in the news, almost brought about another constitutional change that would have abolished the Electoral College. What a difference that would have made. “In the future, the American people – rather than the faceless, undemocratic Electoral College – should choose the two highest officials in this land,” said Bayh back in 1977 as he spoke at a Senate hearing on his proposed amendment to provide for the direct popular election of the president and vice president. There was bipartisan support then. Bayh, a Democrat who came close at times in over a decade of trying to get the two-thirds vote in the Senate needed to send the proposal on for ratification by the states, had the backing then of such prominent Republicans as Bob Dole and Howard Baker. But filibusters or the threat thereof, mostly by senators from small states and in particular southern states wanting to keep clout in the Electoral College, always halted the proposed amendment.
  • SOUTH BEND – How South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg would fare in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary in Indiana is uncertain. Voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and other states will determine before then whether he is a viable contender. But one thing is certain: Buttigieg, if still an active candidate when Hoosier Democrats vote, would run away with the primary vote in his home area. That was demonstrated by the enthusiastic response for the mayor this week at the first book signing for “Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future.” A capacity crowd of 800 packed the Great Hall of Century Center to hear the mayor and buy his book. They applauded long and loud when the moderator for a conversation about the book mentioned his presidential prospects. The most significant sign of enthusiasm for Buttigieg was the willingness of those who bought the book to wait in line for up two and a half hours to have the mayor sign it.
  • SOUTH BEND – Joe Biden, a Democrat, said something nice about Fred Upton, a Republican. How dare he! So, does that rule out Biden as the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee? You would think so if you read the New York Times story detailing what Biden said in Benton Harbor, Michigan, last year. The article suggests that “the episode underscores his potential vulnerabilities in the fight for the Democratic nomination and raises questions about his judgment as a party leader.” I don’t know if Biden will run or whether he could win. That’s not the point. The point is that daring to praise a Republican, even amid the partisan hatred in our election campaigns, shouldn’t rule out Joe Biden or anybody else, especially when the praise was for bipartisan cooperation. Nancy Jacobson, co-founder of No Labels, a group encouraging problem solving rather than eye gouging in Congress, said of the “breathlessly reported” tale of bipartisan language: “This sad little vignette exemplifies exactly what is wrong with American politics today.”
  • SOUTH BEND – Takeaways from national news media coverage of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s launch of his presidential candidacy are clear. He is viewed as a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. Right after his early-morning-hours disclosure of an exploratory candidacy, news that he was in the race was on morning network news and reported in the major newspapers. Think you could announce for president and get even two seconds or one sentence of national coverage? Buttigieg had extensive coverage throughout the day, even live interviews. Coverage continues and certainly will go on during his book tour in February. A key factor in this is that the mayor won by losing in his 2017 bid to be Democratic national chairman. He wasn’t selected but still gained national exposure and stature with his impressive bid for the post. Also clear from the coverage by the national news people is that they aren’t sure how to pronounce Buttigieg. Heck, even some of his South Bend constituents aren’t sure. Most of the national stories, TV and print, referred quickly to the way the mayor’s name is pronounced. Chuck Todd, host of “Meet the Press,” talked in his weeknight show about the confusion. “Thankfully,” Todd said, he goes by “Mayor Pete.”
  • SOUTH BEND – Impeachment is a dirty word. Not in the sense of coarse words in the way President Trump talks and in the way a new Democratic congresswoman talked about him, but in the sense of a word that many people don’t want to hear spoken in public. And for two entirely different reasons. President Trump and members of his unwavering base don’t want to hear impeachment spoken about in any serious way in Congress. Actually, the president uses the word himself in a scoffing way, belittling the possibility of impeachment as he rallies his base. It could become a new mantra. Like his: “No collusion. No collusion. No collusion.” A new presidential chant of choice could be: “No impeachment. No impeachment. No impeachment.” Impeachment also is a dirty word that Democratic leaders in the House don’t want to hear mentioned in public by their members. Not now. Not yet. Maybe not at all as President Trump completes what they hope will be his only term.
  • SOUTH BEND – As noted in a South Bend Tribune headline, it was: “A very busy year for your watchdog.” Yes, newspapers, despite cutbacks in reporters and coverage, the loss of circulation and advertising, and dismissal by critics as irrelevant, still perform a watchdog role. The Tribune story about that role, keeping an eye on public officials and others to spot and disclose corruption and fraud that would otherwise go undetected, focused on the newspaper’s uncovering of wrongdoing by Elkhart police and in the Elkhart County justice system. The police scandal brought the firing of the police chief and a decision by the mayor to forego running for reelection. The mess, now uncovered, can be cleaned up by good cops, informed citizens and determined civic leaders. Tribune journalists flexed their muscle in other cases from the last year as well. Among them were investigations into the sudden departure of a Transpo CEO, excuses for a vote-counting problem, and a fatal crash involving a speeding South Bend police car. That’s what newspapers are supposed to do. Long have done. Still do, though with fewer watchdogs now barking.
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  • Gov. Holcomb on Eva Kor: 'We lost a giant'
    “We lost a giant. A 4-foot-11 giant.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb in a Sunday memorial service in Indianapolis honoring the late Eva Mozes Kor, who died in Poland in July near the Auschwitz concentration camp where she was imprisoned during World War II. Kor immigrated to Terre Haute and founded the CANDLES Holocaust Museum.
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  • A son's eulogy to Father

    We gather here today to celebrate the life of Jack Eugene Howey. It was the proverbial life well lived for 93 years. As I stand here, I remember Dad’s advice to the various Methodist pastors he worked with over the years: A sermon should never last longer than 13.5 minutes, so I am on the clock.

    These past 10 months have been tough on our family as we watched a great man recede and his memories launch out into an endless expanse of time.

    Our family rallied around not only him, but also our Mother. The two of them shared an extraordinary 68 years together that began in the offices of the Indiana Daily Student at IU. They would have three children, six grandchildren. They would be among the first Western journalists to cross from Israel to Jordan on the Allenby Bridge just months after the Six Day War. They would witness topless mermaids cavorting in a huge jar at a Beirut casino, and go to a party with Abe Rosenthal and Punch Sulzberger of the New York Times in a penthouse overlooking Central Park where they hung out with Theodore White and Walter Cronkite. They would be in the room when President Nixon told a startled nation he was not a crook.

    Together they attended scores of concerts, Little League games, and Bridge games. Ever since that day at Lake Yellowwood when Dad said he was seeking a wife and gave her 10 minutes to decide, they were a fabulous partnership. Dad embraced his fatherhood, sending “Secret Friend” letters to us on our birthdays, going on Scout trips, excursions to the beach and other family vacations. And, of course, there were the annual pilgrimages to Chicago White Sox games. They ran a household where kids in the neighborhood could come and go.
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