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Tuesday, July 17, 2018
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  • Mark Schoeff Jr.: Donnelly poised to be check on Trump
    WASHINGTON – Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly and his Republican challenger, former state Rep. Mike Braun, bust out their blue shirts on the campaign trail. But when one of them is serving in the Senate next year, he will be wearing a jacket and tie, a sartorial change depicting governance that Donnelly can use to his advantage.

    Braun upended his primary challengers – Reps. Todd Rokita, R-4th, and Luke Messer, R-6th – by touting his outsider status. The anti-Washington trope can be a powerful campaign theme, but there is a potentially compelling counter-argument. Once Braun comes to the capital and starts wearing a suit, he has to decide how much of a check he wants the Senate to be on President Donald Trump.

    So far, the indication is that he won’t provide any brake on the president. Braun is a businessman who doesn’t push back on Trump’s tariffs against steel and aluminum from the European Union, Mexico and Canada and a variety of products from China. The retaliation to these levies could hammer Hoosier farmers and manufacturers.

    Braun wants to scrap the Affordable Care Act and start from scratch on health care reform. Presumably, he backs the Trump administration’s decision not to defend in court provisions of the law that would prevent insurers from denying coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Even Hoosiers critical of Obamacare likely take comfort in that part of the measure.

    When it comes to the Supreme Court nomination of federal judge Brett Kavanaugh that Trump announced on Monday night, Braun is all in with the president. He already has made a pre-emptive strike on Donnelly assuming that Donnelly also will support the president’s choice for political reasons. That rhetorical tactic shows that Braun is getting the hang of the so-called swamp that he criticizes. The SCOTUS pre-action designed to box Donnelly in is a time-honored Beltway move.

    It also illustrates how Donnelly can counter Braun by showing that he can be a check on Trump when he’s wearing a suit and tie on the Senate floor – and he can do so while still keeping the door open to working with Trump.

    When Donnelly casts his vote on Kavanaugh, it won’t really matter where he comes down as long as he credibly explains why he’s taken his position.

    In a statement, he called the administration’s move on pre-existing conditions “the latest deliberate and harmful action taken by the administration to create chaos and uncertainty and drive up health care costs for families.”

    When $34 billion in U.S. tariffs on Chinese good went into effect on July 6, likely triggering Chinese retaliation against U.S. soybeans and other crops, Donnelly responded by saying in a statement: “I urge the administration to instead take measured, targeted action in a way that will allow manufacturers, the steel industry and all our farmers to continue selling quality products all over the world.”

    Trump backed off the administration policy to separate families of undocumented immigrants at the border and then told Congress to fix the problem. So far, the Republican House has failed.

    Donnelly is offering himself as someone who can get the job done when he’s wearing a suit and tie: “As I’ve said, it will take President Trump, [Senate] Majority Leader [Mitch] McConnell and [House] Speaker [Paul] Ryan working with those of us who have shown we’re willing to find a bipartisan solution.”

    Is Braun committed to a bipartisan path on volatile issues or only the Trump path? So far, it looks as if it’s the latter. The Braun campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment. If Braun is beholden to Trump rather than to the Senate as an institution, can he be a check on Trump? The urgency of answering that question may increase this fall.

    Donnelly has used the words “chaos” and “uncertainty” to describe Trump policies. Another word that might fit by the fall is “reckless” – especially if the Trump tariffs cause economic pain for Trump voters and the president threatens to shut down the government over funding for a wall on the Mexican border.

    Donnelly “will not be an automatic ‘yes’ or an automatic ‘no,’” Ron Klain, a former official in Democratic White Houses, told the Indianapolis Star recently. “That’s one of his great strengths in this race.”

    If Braun wants to appeal to voters in the middle who think it’s a good idea to rein in Trump – and who may provide the winning margin in November – he might want to start to show some independence from the president. 

    Schoeff is HPI’s Washington correspondent.
  • Rich James: Lake precinct change wasn't about money
    MERRILLVILLE  – Let there be no doubt about it, the Republican move to reduce the number of Lake County precincts is not about money. No, it is an effort to dilute the Democratic vote in the county.

    Republicans say it’s about saving money because reducing the number of precincts will lower the cost of hiring election workers. Well, it will, but that’s not what Republicans are after.

    A 2014 state law that pertains to Lake County only  requires the elimination of all precincts with fewer than 600 registered voters.

    The fact is that Lake County has 283 precincts, out of a total of 523, with fewer than 600 registered voters.

    The General Assembly in 2014 approved legislation calling for the reduction in precincts. Lake County Democrats, who opposed making any reduction, pretty much ignored the law, hoping it might go away.

    Because the Lake County Election Board couldn’t come to an agreement, the issue shifted to the Indiana Election Commission, which is composed of two Republicans and two Democrats. Yeah, they couldn’t reach an agreement either.

    So, the Republican-controlled Legislature took things a step further earlier this year. A new bill shifted the precinct realignment to Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a Republican, if the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement by July 1.
    Not surprisingly, no agreement resulted.

    Lawson now is seeking help, saying, “I want to hear from individual voters in Lake County about how to make this consolidation work best for you.”

    Chances are she will hear from county GOP Chairman Dan Dernulc. But there is virtually no chance she will hear from Lake Democrats who don’t want to get into an intraparty fight.

    The bulk of the precincts with fewer than 600 registered voters are in Gary, East Chicago and Hammond. Those cities, of course, are the most Democratic in the county.

    As the county’s population shifted from north to the south, the precinct situation has stayed virtually the same.

    The way things stand, many north county Democrats can easily walk to the polls on Election Day. Eliminating precincts, Democrats contend, will result in many elderly voters staying home.

    Gary, for instance, has seen its population decline from about 185,000 to less than 80,000 today. Yet, the number of precincts has remained virtually the same.
    In an era where the precinct organization plays less of a role in getting out the vote, Democrats fear things will worsen with the elimination of 283 polling sites.

    It has taken four years, but it appears Republicans are about to win the precinct fight. What remains to be seen is how quickly and efficiently Democrats react. 

    Rich James has been writing about politics and government for almost 40 years. He is retired from the Post-Tribune, a newspaper born in Gary.
  • Shaw Friedman: Curtis Hill, attorney general or corporate shill?
    LaPORTE – While recent news reports of Attorney General Curtis Hill’s after-hours alleged misconduct are deeply troubling and cause for justifiable outrage, of equal concern to Hoosiers ought to be the question – who is our attorney general really working for? Is it big money corporate sponsors or average working Hoosiers?

    CBS News recently reported on a lavish retreat hosted on Kiawah Island, South Carolina in April that a dozen Republican attorneys general, including Hill, who have the final say in their states on what enforcement actions to bring or not, attended on the tab of various corporate interests who paid $125,000 each just to get to rub elbows, buy drinks and food and schmooze with them.

    Well-heeled corporate donors like those from Koch Industries, big tobacco, payday lenders, oil and gas interests and the NRA fork out big bucks to ensure that AG’s like ours stay compliant and supportive of their interests. Between yoga on the beach, the dolphin tour and the Kiawah creatures walking tour, there’s still plenty of time to hobnob and strategize about what can be done to satisfy the insatiable appetite of certain corporate interests who wish to further roll back environmental and health/safety regulations along with basic employment protections for average working stiffs.

    A look at some of the amicus or friend-of-the-court filings submitted by our attorney general over the year-and a half he’s been in office tend to show why Curtis Hill is held in such high esteem by these big money corporate interests and why Hoosiers need to question what any of these cases have to do with Indiana’s best interests and whether they in any way reflect the will of Indiana voters:

    Eleven Republican state attorneys general, including Hill, filed a federal court brief in support of California’s ag industry that was infuriated by that state’s Proposition 65 regulation of the herbicide, glyphosate. Why they’d stick their beaks into California’s environmental regulation becomes clearer when one sees the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was eager to protect the manufacturer of glyphosate and signaled to their reliable AG’s to come to the rescue of agribusiness interests there.

    That same group of Republican attorneys general also filed a brief in federal court in California seeking to oppose the City of Oakland’s case against BP Oil over emissions standards when Oakland sought to use state common law nuisance claims to attempt to impose regulations tougher than those of the Clean Air Act. Again, why did our AG feel it necessary to go across the country to intervene in this dispute when there are problems right here at home that need his attention?

    On political gerrymandering: Despite polls showing that a clear majority of Hoosiers want to see an end to partisan gerrymanders and with respected elder statesmen like former Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar going on record with an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court against partisan gerrymandering, Curtis Hill still felt it necessary to join with 14 other Republican attorneys general to file an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court saying there is “nothing invidious or irrational” about partisan gerrymandering. Interesting that rather than consult Hoosiers before he filed his brief, Hill ignored the advice of Lugar and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who filed a succinct and chilling assessment in their brief: “Partisan gerrymandering has become a tool for powerful interests to distort the democratic process.”

    On employment law issues, Hill stood with big corporate interests in trying to have Indiana’s Teachers’ Tenure Act of 1927 ruled obsolete when he actually filed with the U.S. Supreme Court an appeal the justices rejected. Fortunately, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals had found that the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution protects Indiana’s tenure law from attack and yet Hill still felt the need to take an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, a petition denied by the high court. No worries. Hill was at least able to preen for his corporate overseers by attempting this unwarranted and baseless attack on teachers’ interests.

    The most odious and offensive of all the amicus briefs or suits filed by Attorney General Hill has to be the suit he filed in a Texas federal court with Republican attorneys general of 19 other states seeking to have key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as the guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing illness, declared unconstitutional. Betting money is that he didn’t clear that suit past our governor or any other Hoosier state elected officials who well understand that there are nearly 1.5 million Hoosiers who suffer from diabetes, heart disease, cancer or arthritis who depend on this most popular part of the ACA to guarantee them coverage in the private insurance marketplace.  

    When the Trump Justice Department refused to defend the pre-existing conditions coverage of ACA in that same Texas lawsuit, Curtis Hill praised the decision ignoring the advice of fellow Republicans like Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), who made clear that “the Justice Department argument in the Texas case is as farfetched as any I’ve heard.” Insurance companies and others who have chafed at providing coverage for those with pre-existing illnesses have found a good friend who will march lockstep with them in Curtis Hill.

    Let’s be honest: Curtis Hill was an obscure county prosecutor who was little known around our state, but had a nice sounding name on the 2016 ballot in a low-visibility state race when he recorded his first win for statewide office. Hoosiers have to now question just who is their attorney general working for – their interests? Or, the assorted corporate sponsors who paid big money to rub elbows and do yoga on the beach and check out the porpoises with him at that luxury retreat back in April? I think the answer has become all too readily apparent. 

    Shaw Friedman is a LaPorte attorney who has represented various local governmental entities during his 34 years of law practice in Northwest Indiana. He’s former Legal Counsel for the Indiana Democratic Party and a regular HPI contributor who can be contacted at friedman@netnitco.net 
  • Craig Dunn: The strange case of Curtis Hill
    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.
  • Joshua Claybourn: The nuts and bolts of indiana impeachment law
    EVANSVILLE – Following a quick and tense announcement Monday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill signaled he would not be leaving office without a fight. Nearly all of the statewide elected officials have called for his resignation, along with numerous other high ranking Republicans such as Gov. Eric Holcomb, Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long.

    Assuming that Hill does not leave on his own, he may only be removed through one of two methods. First, he could be impeached by the House of Representatives and then convicted by the Indiana Senate, with a two-thirds vote required in each body. 

    Alternatively, Hill could be removed by a joint resolution of the General Assembly, which would also require a two-thirds vote in each body (Ind. Const., Art. 6, Sec. 7).

    Substantively, the Indiana Constitution specifies that removal can be sought by the Indiana legislature “for crime, incapacity, or negligence.” The phrase does not have a settled or clear meaning. The constitutional drafters were searching for a flexible standard that allows removal in a variety of situations. But they also wanted a standard that required some specific, demonstrable offenses for removal of state officers.

    While he was still a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Minority Leader Gerald Ford famously noted that “an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” 

    As with the federal impeachment process, Indiana’s removal process gives the legislature the authority to determine appropriateness for removal, so if the legislature is willing to remove a state officer, then for all practical purposes it can.

    No statewide office holder has been impeached in the state’s history, so we have no standard rules to follow. If Indiana chooses to follow the federal example, the Senate would pass a resolution laying out trial procedures, including limiting the number of witnesses and the length of depositions. Unlike a normal criminal trial, the jury in an impeachment sets the rules for a case and decides what evidence they want to see and what they won’t.

    Impeachment of a state officer is no small matter, and we should not approach it as a simple technical application of the law. The process would dominate the political agenda for months and throw the government (and Republican Party) into disarray. An unsuccessful effort to remove Hill would leave him and the GOP damaged and enfeebled. If some Hill supporters believe the removal effort was unjustified, it will escalate partisan tensions and feed political distrust in the same way it has with Trump in Washington. 

    The political capital needed for a two-thirds vote would be the same whether it’s done through impeachment or a joint resolution, but a joint resolution would be much quicker. A protracted trial in the Indiana Senate would be long, messy, controversial, and costly. 

    While Hill is likely struggling in the court of public opinion — and at least one group already has a poll in the field — he would likely portray a Senate impeachment trial as wasteful and unnecessary to a public potentially sympathetic to that argument.

    Taken altogether, we should expect to see Bosma and Long pursue a joint resolution for removal rather than a full impeachment trial, while Democratic leaders may opt to pursue a full impeachment and exploit a rift within the GOP.

    As one would expect, Curtis Hill continues to portray this as a criminal proceeding and demands all of the due process protections typically included in a criminal trial. But the removal process is political, rather than criminal in nature. 

    Regardless of removal’s political nature, Curtis Hill and the Indiana legislature have a responsibility to avoid civil strife and put the state on a stronger footing. Let’s hope they listen to their better angels and achieve that result. 

    Joshua Claybourn is an Evansville attorney with Jackson Kelly PLLC.
  • Trevor Foughty: 4 SCOTUS justices had Indiana ties
    INDIANAPOLIS – With the announcement that Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring, speculation is mounting that 7th Circuit Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was on a short list of potential replacements. Because Barrett lives in Indiana and teaches law at the University of Notre Dame, this speculation is especially ramped up in the Hoosier State. This begs the question: How many other Supreme Court justices hailed from Indiana? Well, that depends on how you look at it.

    In the case of a U.S. representative or senator, it’s pretty easy to determine a home state. Just look at where they were elected. Similarly, since most presidents and vice presidents have previously held elective offices, you look to the state where they were previously on the ballot. Supreme Court justices, on the other hand, don’t typically have a history of being on the ballot, so an alternative method is needed to determine a home state.

    Here we have four options: 1) State of birth; 2) state where formative years were spent; 3) state where a significant part of adult life was spent; and 4) the state from which the justice was appointed (note: because most Supreme Court justices come from lower courts, this is the standard the Court itself uses, and it generally reflects on which court they served and/or which state within the district or circuit the justice lived while serving).

    Using these criteria, there have been four Supreme Court justices that have some connection to Indiana. Two were born here, three grew up here, three spent part of their adult lives here, and one was appointed from here. If Barrett (who is originally from Louisiana) does become the next justice, she would meet criterion three for having attended law school at Notre Dame and later teaching there, and on criterion four the Supreme Court would likely list her as being appointed from Indiana because of her current position on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (which is based in Chicago, but covers the federal courts in Indiana, where she resides in South Bend).

    Here’s a look at the four justices Indiana has some claim to:

    Willis Van Devanter: He was born and raised in Marion, and after getting a law degree in Cincinnati practiced law in Marion for three years. He then moved to the Wyoming Territory, where he served as the city attorney for Cheyenne, a member of the territorial legislature, and, at only age 30, the chief justice of the territorial court. After Wyoming became a state, he was named chief justice of the State Supreme Court but gave it up after only four days and went back into private practice. In 1897, he moved to Washington, D.C., to become assistant attorney general and was named to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, where he served until President William Taft named him to the Supreme Court in 1911. He became the first Supreme Court justice to move to “senior status” after the system was established in 1937

    Wiley Blount Rutledge: He was born in Kentucky and had a transient childhood. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, he moved to Indiana to teach high school, and took law school classes part-time at Indiana University. His time living in Indiana was brief and he didn’t finish his legal education until he moved to Colorado, earning his law degree from the University of Colorado. After a few years of private practice, he became a law school professor at the University of Colorado, and then Washington University in St. Louis. After being named dean of that latter law school, he became dean of the University of Iowa’s law school. In that role, he was a very vocal supporter of President Franklin Roosevelt’s court-packing plan. This support earned him enough goodwill that Roosevelt named him to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1939 and to the Supreme Court in 1943.

    Sherman Minton: He served as a U.S. senator (D-IN) from 1935 until 1941, and the last four years was the Senate majority whip. After he lost reelection in 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt named him to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 1941, where he served until President Harry Truman (with whom he had served in the Senate) named him to the Supreme Court in 1949. Minton is the last Supreme Court justice who had prior experience in Congress. While he was considered a strident New Deal liberal in the Senate, he was later seen as one of the more conservative Supreme Court justices. He is the only Supreme Court justice to spend his entire life as a Hoosier resident.

    John G. Roberts: The only Hoosier to ever serve as chief justice, Roberts was born in Buffalo, New York, and moved to Long Beach, Indiana, in fourth grade. After growing up in Indiana, graduating from La Lumiere School near LaPorte (senior picture at right) he attended Harvard for both his undergraduate and legal education. After graduating from Harvard law school, he clerked for Justice William Rehnquist and stayed in the Washington, D.C., area. He held positions in both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush (“41”) administrations and worked in private practice before and after. Bush “41” nominated him to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1992, but the nomination failed for a lack of a vote. President George W. Bush (“43”) similarly nominated him to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2001, but it also failed for a lack of a vote. The younger Bush nominated him to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for a third time in 2003, when Roberts was finally confirmed by the Senate. He served on that court until 2005 when he was appointed to serve as the chief justice of the Supreme Court, where he still serves today.

    Foughty blogs at CapitolandWashington.com
  • Jack Colwell: Elections matter
    SOUTH BEND –  Elections matter.
       
    Not all elections. Russia’s vote in March didn’t matter. Reelection of Vladimir Putin was preordained. Who was permitted to run, what could be said in campaigning and what journalists could report about any of it were controlled. It was a foregone conclusion that Putin would win by a landslide and that the election would have no effect on him or his policies.
       
    But our elections matter. We can change leaders and the course of the nation. Sometimes we do, other times we stay the course.
       
    The 2016 presidential election was one of the most important ever in changing the nation’s course. It was close. Nothing was preordained. And the results mattered. A lot.
       
    The course of the nation was changed on spending priorities, taxation, health care, environmental regulations, foreign policy, trade, immigration, social issues, voting rights and approach to civil rights. The change isn’t just temporary. Much of it will have long-lasting effect. That’s driven home clearly by the resulting control of the Supreme Court.
       
    Justices selected by President Trump and confirmed by a Senate kept Republican by voters in 2016 can for many years, likely for decades, provide a majority to strike down gun regulations, halt campaign finance changes, curb abortion availability, slap down unions, approve immigration bans and slow some social changes.
       
    Conservatives who took the chance now take a bow. They wanted many of those changes. They took a chance that Donald Trump, though not really a conservative and with many flaws, would bring the change in course they wanted. Polls show more and more Republicans, although not pleased with Trump tweets and personality, now express overall approval of the job Trump has done.
       
    A significant number of progressives took a seat instead of a chance. They didn’t want those changes Trump has brought or a solidly conservative Supreme Court. But they didn’t like Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. Maybe because of her personality or because of her husband. Maybe because of what she charged for speeches or that she had a personal email server. Maybe because she defeated Bernie Sanders and some of her supporters seemed to be mean to Bernie. For whatever reasons, a decisive number of Democrats stayed home on election day or defected to a third-party candidate with no chance to win.
       
    Decisive number? It didn’t take that many in key states where the race was close and the presidency was decided. Polls had shown that Democrats had the potential support to take control of the Senate, especially because of the seats that were up for election in 2016. The potential did not materialize. Democratic turnout was down.
       
    Republicans seemed more convinced that the 2016 election mattered, really mattered. They were right.
       
    The election this fall will matter, too. Not as much as the monumental 2016 election. The presidency isn’t at stake. Control of the Supreme Court isn’t there for the taking as it was in 2016. Court control? That ship has sailed on a long conservative cruise. Control of the Senate doesn’t seem to be within Democratic grasp. The seats up this time favor Republicans.
       
    But, control of the House is in play. That’s important. If Republicans keep control of both Senate and House to go along with the presidency and Supreme Court, the change of direction determined in 2016 will be solidified. If Democrats at least capture the House, they will have one legislative chamber with budget-making power and the ability to slow down some of the changes and investigate rather than just rubber-stamp administration actions.
       
    While the 2018 election won’t matter as much as 2016 did, it still will have meaning for the future. A lot? The voice of the voters – the voters deciding to have a voice – will determine that. 

    Colwell is a South Bend Tribune columnist.
  • Morton Marcus: Appealing to Sec. Azar on the nanny state
    INDIANAPOLIS  – Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), lived in Indiana for the last 10 years as an executive for Eli Lilly and Company. Therefore, I humbly appeal to our fellow Hoosier for relief from the tyranny of the nanny state.
             
    Tell me, where, in the name of our Hoosier vice president, does the federal government, via the Department of HHS, get off telling me I’m obese? I know this is a leftover from some previous administration, but it’s a year now and the oppression continues.
             
    Now that I am shorter than I used to be, and in possession of a mature male figure (think Grover Cleveland or William Howard Taft), my Body Mass Index (BMI) tops 30, the magic number for being classified as obese.
             
    That’s right. HHS tells us that Indiana ranks 10th in the nation with 32.5% of the population age 18 and over wearing the “Big O” for Obese pinned to their triple XL tee-shirts. Imagine, one of every three adult Hoosiers is righteously rotund, compared to 29.6% of all Americans.
     
    It doesn’t end there. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), an agency of HHS, headquartered in swampy Georgia, spreads the tale that 26.8% of Indiana adults “engage in no leisure-time physical activity.” That is the 13th highest figure in the country. Do they give us credit for getting up for another beer when the game is stopped for a commercial break? And you know the real exertion that plastic wrapping on the chips requires.
             
    But denigrating us isn’t enough for these bureaucratic busybodies. They’re after our kids, too. The CDC reports that nearly 48% (might as well say half) of the young people in our state have “parks or playground areas, community centers and sidewalks or walking paths available in their neighborhood.”  Nearly half of youth have healthy resources and that seems pretty fine to our way of thinking. Yet CDC ranks us 13th from the bottom (which is Mississippi), and they don’t stop there.
     
    We’re 16th in percent of “students in grades 9-12 who drank regular soda/pop at least one time per day.” That’s only one-fifth of our youngsters enjoying some traditional refreshment each day. Think about Kentucky where the figure is close to a third of all students having a daily pop. Makes you wonder: What are the other two-thirds drinking?
     
    However, the worst of these CDC figures is a direct challenge to private enterprise working with schools to satisfy consumer demand. Indiana ranks third in the nation in “percent of secondary schools that allowed students to purchase soda pop or fruit drinks from one or more vending machines or at the school store, canteen, or snack bar.”

    Mr. Secretary, stop this harassment! Just because taxpayers pick up the medical bills resulting from our habits, shouldn’t mean we have to be responsible citizens. 

    Marcus is an economist.
  • Brian Howey: Trump's tariff reckoning begins for Hoosier farmers
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    FREMONT, Ind. - Friday became the day when the reckoning begins. That’s the day President Trump’s first wave of tariffs kick in, hitting China with $34 billion of new taxation on imports. Hundreds of billions more are just over the horizon.

    China will respond, taking aim at American pork, poultry, soybeans and corn. So if you’re a Hoosier soybean farmer, and an overwhelming majority of these sturdy folks voted for Trump in 2016, this presents a dilemma. The guy you sent to Washington to drain the swamp, tell it like it is, and shake things up, is now fiddlin’ with your bottom line.

    The American Soybean Association is putting President Trump’s tariffs into perspective: Soybeans are the No. 1 U.S. agricultural export, with sales of $27 billion last year according to the Foreign Agricultural Service. Of those $27 billion in soy exports, $14 billion worth of soy and soy products were sold to China, which has stated it will retaliate in-kind to the Administration's Section 301 tariffs, with a 25 percent tariff falling on U.S. soybeans. According to a study conducted by Purdue University, it is projected that China's soybean imports from the U.S. would fall by 65 percent and total U.S. soy exports would drop by 37 percent. 

    According to the ASA, Brazil is already the world's largest soybean exporter and is poised to fill the void in the event that U.S. soy exports to China decrease. Over the next 10 years, Chinese demand for soybeans are projected to grow from 97 million metric tons in 2017 to 143 million metric tons in 2027 — more than 10 times the U.S. soy exports to the European Union. “There is room for us to grow our exports to China, which has proved to be a robust and vital marketplace, and we should be focused on ways to expand trade instead of restricting it with tariffs,” the soybean association said.

    The Wall Street Journal quotes Purdue agricultural economist Chris Hurt: “The total value of this year’s U.S. corn, soybean and wheat crops has dropped about $13 billion, or 10 percent, since the start of June.” Hoosier Ag Today reports Indiana soybean plantings are up 4 percent this year. What that means is that planting decisions made after the 2017 harvest showed Hoosier farmers are even more invested in soybeans. The Trump tariffs came just as this year’s crops were gathered and planted.

    According to Axios, researchers at the University of Illinois and Ohio State University estimate that over four years, a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybean imports by Beijing would result in an average 87 percent decline in income for a midsize Illinois grain farm. 

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is starting an ad campaign against the tariffs. “The administration is threatening to undermine the economic progress it worked so hard to achieve,” Chamber President Tom Donohue explained. “We should seek free and fair trade, but this is just not the way to do it.” 

    President Trump remains defiant on his tariffs, telling Fox News last Sunday, “Every country is calling every day, saying, ‘Let’s make a deal, let’s make a deal.’ It’s going to all work out.” 

    It had better. CNN’s MoneyWatch reports: Farmers are dying by suicide at a higher rate than any other occupational group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The suicide rate in the field of farming, fishing and forestry is 84.5 per 100,000 people, more than five times that of the population as a whole. Purdue’s Chris Hurt weighs in: ”Think about trying to live today on the income you had 15 years ago." 

    In 1985, Indiana hosted the first Farm Aid benefit concert, a group formed by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young. Farm Aid Communications Director Jennifer Fahy observed, "The farm crisis was so bad, there was a terrible outbreak of suicide and depression.” Today, she said, "I think it's actually worse." And this is before President Trump’s tariffs take hold.

    Former Indiana Republican congressman David McIntosh, who once represented the agriculture-rich 6th Congressional District and now heads the Club For Growth, sees a disaster looming. 

    “I think we should push the Chinese on intellectual property,” McIntosh said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “But I don’t think we should put tariffs on Chinese goods. Those, by the way, are paid by Americans, not by the Chinese. If you enter into a trade war with them, the whole world economy will shrink. That’s the problem for us. Tariffs bring counter tariffs and you get into a trade war. We saw it before the Great Depression, we have seen it other times where it just leads to everybody being worse off. It will end up being a disaster.”

    Yes, the 1920s ended with the Great Depression.
     
    Former Republican operative Steve Schmidt sounded alarms for Hoosier soybean farmers. “The consequences of this will be paid for by the American workers, the soybean farmers, because when those markets go, they’re gone,” said Schmidt, who renounced the GOP last week. “They’ll go to Brazil when the supply chain is interrupted.”

    The reckoning has arrived.

    The columnist is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana at www.howeypolitics.com. Find him on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol.

  • Brian Howey: Is there method to Trump's madness?
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    CHICAGO - In the climactic scene in the movie “Apocalypse Now,” we find Capt. Willard in his attempt to terminate the command of a rogue colonel saying to his target, “They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.”

    Col. Walter E. Kurtz, responds, “Are my methods unsound?” And Willard replies, “I don't see any method at all, sir.”

    That’s what I see with President Trump this past month. A year after U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Joe Donnelly advised us to “wrap our heads around” the potential of a nuclear war with North Korea, President Trump had a one-day summit with the despot Kim Jong Un. His “fire and fiery” rhetoric appeared to bring Kim to the table. Dialogue is always preferable to war. You can make the case that incendiary tweets motivated the murderous Kim to show up.

    In its wake, Trump tweeted there was “no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” It was a naive assertion, contradicted by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who was asked Wednesday about Kim’s steps to dismantle, saying, “No, I’m not aware of that. The detailed negotiations have not begun. I wouldn’t expect that at this point.” 

    Trump’s nominated ambassador to South Korea, Harry Harris, also believes a nuclear threat still exists, telling Congress, “We have to continue to worry about that … it's based solely on the ballistic missile threat from North Korea."

    Which brings us to immigration. Last April President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal immigration and this included separating children from families appearing at the U.S./Mexican border seeking asylum. 

    What has ensued is an utter encroachment on American values, on our long embrace of the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Unless you’re a native American, your ancestors once huddled and yearned.

    For weeks, President Trump lied about this. Last week Trump declared, “The Democrats have to change their law — that’s their law.” But there is no law requiring family separation. There are laws against “improper entry” and a consent decree called the “Flores settlement” that limits migrant child incarcerations to 20 days. A federal judge ruled in 2016 that it applies to families. 

    No, this was a policy concoction of Trump and Sessions, who appeared in Fort Wayne last week referencing the Holy Bible. “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said.

    In Trump’s worldview, taking a hard line of illegal immigrants, even mothers and children, is red meat for his political base. It ignored the question, “What would Jesus do?”

    The outcry to the 2,300 children separated from their families included rebukes from Rev. Franklin Graham, all the living and former First Ladies, Bono and Pope Francis. If one of you had a pastor last Sunday advocate these family separations, please send me the text of the sermon. 

    U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, one of the few Hoosier Republicans to speak out, said Monday, “As a father of four children, I believe the separation of illegal immigrant families at the border is heartbreaking, and I am against it. Our nation’s immigration system has been broken for many years, and this is just the latest example of how broken it truly is.”

    Bucshon is correct on both fronts. The separations are cruel and inhumane. The immigration system is broken and has been for years. We’ve watched Republican Indiana General Assembly leaders Brian Bosma and David Long plead with Congress to do its job and come up with durable border and immigration solutions. Congress is inert. With moderates routed via primaries from both parties, the polarized Republicans and Democrats have repeatedly punted. It’s why the notion of throwing all congressional incumbents out is so appealing.

    Donald Trump fed on these fears and discordant responses from “leaders” who simply won’t lead. He won the presidency by exploiting these paranoias that prompted the chants “Build that wall.” Since April, 2,300 kids were removed from their families, perceived by the White House as a bargaining chip on a wall Congress has virtually no appetite to build and Mexico won’t pay for.

    Trump’s ultimate truth after a façade of lies is, as he put it to the Republican National Convention in July 2016, “I alone can fix it.” And after mushrooming criticism, he signed an executive order Wednesday ending the separations. “We’re going to have strong — very strong — borders, but we are going to keep the families together. I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.” Neither did the scores of suburban moms who voted for him in 2016.

    Trump was flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, whose long-time motto has been, “I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order.” Perhaps that order held as he consulted his boss.

    Trump’s executive order is simply a temporary fix. While families arriving today won’t be separated, it leaves those 2,300 kids in limbo, without their parents. There is no long-term solution in sight.

    No, Mr. President, I don’t see any method at all. Sir.

    The columnist is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana at www.howeypolitics.com. Find him on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol.
  • Trevor Foughty: The wild 1968 Indiana Democratic convention
    EVANSVILLE – For political junkies, it’s the 1968 Indiana Republican Convention that best exemplifies a sort of golden age for state convention floor fights. The gubernatorial battle on the GOP side that year is well-remembered because it was a hotly contested race between the sitting secretary of state (Edgar Whitcomb) and the sitting speaker of the Indiana House (Otis Bowen), both of whom would eventually become beloved governors (less well-remembered is that future U.S. Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz was a third candidate in that race).

    It’s also remembered because it marked a sort of statewide coming out party for Keith Bulen, who helped engineer a coalition of large county delegations that backed a successful slate of candidates led by Whitcomb. Bulen had made a name for himself in Indianapolis after winning election as a state representative in 1960, wresting control of the Marion County party from the iron grip of Dale Brown in 1964, and orchestrating a mayoral victory for an untested young candidate named Dick Lugar in 1967, but his sights were set much higher. The 1968 convention would end with Bulen being named the Republican national committeeman from Indiana, which in turn would build his profile nationally and place him in the orbit of Presidents Nixon and Reagan. The 1968 Republican race for governor stands out as much for its place in the significant Bulen mythology that would build over the subsequent three decades as it does for any candidates involved.

    But while most people might best recall the Republican convention, it wasn’t as dramatic as most think. Whitcomb won on the first ballot with 1,260 votes, with Bowen and Butz finishing well behind with 527 and 429 votes, respectively. In truth, it was actually the 1968 Indiana Democratic Party convention that produced a floor fight to be remembered, both because it featured a colossal upset and because it ended with what’s probably the narrowest margin of victory ever seen in a state convention.

    That race featured a matchup between heavy favorite Dick Bodine, who was then minority leader in the Indiana House (and had been speaker just two years prior), and sitting Lt. Gov. Robert Rock. While serving as speaker in 1965, Bodine had attracted the support of Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Gordon St. Angelo, who deemed Bodine a better successor to popular Democratic governor Roger Branigin than Rock. For the next three years, St. Angelo and other Democratic officials effectively put the full weight of the state committee behind Bodine, even going so far as to endorse a slate of candidates headed by Bodine in the days leading up to the convention.

    Given this longstanding establishment support, coupled with Bodine’s high profile as a House speaker, it was easy to see Rock’s candidacy as the quixotic efforts of a jilted lieutenant governor. But what was expected to be a relatively easy victory for Bodine at the June 21 convention ended up shocking the Hoosier political world when Rock narrowly edged Bodine 953-951 for a two-vote victory. Adding insult to injury, 28 delegates failed to vote at all, with most of them coming from the Lake County delegation that favored Bodine.

    In one apocryphal accounting of how such an upset could occur (oft-repeated amongst Democrats and published in a 2002 edition of Howey Politics Indiana) 23 Lake County delegates were so confident in Bodine’s victory that they skipped out on the convention to hang out at the hotel pool. While such a version of events makes for a good story, it’s tough to verify. Newspaper coverage of the convention noted the missing delegates but didn’t speak to where they might have been. Additionally, neither campaign pointed to the missing delegates at all in their post-race analysis.

    More importantly, though, the “swimmin’ delegates” theory fails to address why such a presumptive favorite ended up in such a close contest. Fortunately, that answer is easier to verify; according to lieutenant governor nominee James Beatty at a press conference after the event, “It was obviously more of a vote against Gordon than against Dick.” Many delegates were apparently bothered that the state chairman would endorse a slate of candidates and try to force his will on the convention, so they turned the gubernatorial race into a bit of a protest vote.

    Also, news reports surfaced just days prior to the convention that alleged St. Angelo had cut a deal with the Marion County party. In exchange for getting the Marion County delegates to vote as a bloc for the slate, the state party would forgive tens of thousands of dollars in outstanding assessment fees the local party owed.  And, just for good measure, St. Angelo also put the Marion County chairman, Beatty, on the slate for lieutenant governor. While St. Angelo and Beatty both denied any such deal existed, the reports created backlash in two ways: First, out-state delegates resented Marion County getting a special deal on paying hefty assessments; and second, after Beatty failed in his attempt to cast the Marion County votes as a bloc, many of “his” delegates revolted against being told how to vote. The Marion County impact hit especially hard. While Bodine was expected to carry most of the delegation, the final tally showed more than a third of the 262 votes going for Rock.

    While the delegates bristled against St. Angelo’s heavy-handedness on the state races, it was his handling of the presidential race that caused the most backlash. St. Angelo was close to Lyndon Johnson’s White House and he hoped to play a critical role in nominating Vice President Hubert Humphrey at the national convention once Johnson declined to run for reelection. But Humphrey wasn’t yet an announced candidate when Robert Kennedy entered the race and made Indiana the first state in which he would be on the primary ballot. In an effort both to deny Indiana’s delegates to Kennedy and to promote Branigin as a potential vice presidential pick, St. Angelo convinced Branigin to run for president in the Indiana primary as a “favorite son” candidate.

    While this plan failed when Kennedy won the primary and Branigin, widely seen as a Humphrey stand-in—only garnered about 3% of the vote, RFK’s assassination a month later essentially freed the Kennedy delegates. Two weeks later, supporters of Eugene McCarthy, the runner-up and only other serious candidate in the Indiana primary, flooded into Indianapolis to demand the convention send McCarthy-aligned delegates to the national convention in Chicago instead of Humphrey-aligned delegates.

    Despite demonstrations and protests both inside and outside the convention hall that would foreshadow the riots to come in Chicago that August, at one point a group of McCarthy supporters violently stormed the stage in an attempt to take control of the convention. St. Angelo manipulated the convention to ensure the vast majority of delegates would be Humphrey loyalists. While St. Angelo would make a point of saying he would give the McCarthy forces four or five delegates, that gesture was seen as hollow and the McCarthyites were set on making him pay. They would exact their revenge on Bodine, with McCarthy’s Indiana spokesman taking credit for Rock’s victory once the convention ended.

    Though bruised, neither St. Angelo nor Bodine was beaten. St. Angelo would spend the rest of the year as co-campaign manager for Humphrey’s campaign and help him secure the nomination. He continued to serve as the state chair until 1974 and ended his 10-year tenure as the longest serving chair in state history. Bodine wasn’t a candidate for the state legislature in 1968 because of his gubernatorial bid, but he won back his seat in 1970 and was immediately re-installed as minority leader.

    Rock would lose to Whitcomb in November, Bowen would succeed Whitcomb, and Bulen would help ensure that Republicans would hold the governor’s office for 20 years straight. As a result, popular history has mostly forgotten about the Democratic convention of that year and made the Republican convention more monumental in hindsight. Whether you prefer the hotel pool or the convention floor, if you’re a political junkie then the Democratic convention had most of the action. 

    Foughty is an Indiana University employee and blogs at CapitolandWashington.com.
  • Shaw Friedman: Indiana Democrats will avoid arcane issues
    LaPORTE – Despite some wishful recurring thinking from my brethren on the other side of the aisle about some kind of Bernie vs. Hillary battle for the soul of the Democratic Party supposedly playing out, real insights by those who know organizing Indiana political campaigns realize that’s just not the case across much of Indiana.

    Unlike Hoosier Republicans, who it appears spent a good deal of energy fighting this past weekend at their convention about competing platform planks and do seem to have some real philosophical splits playing out between social conservatives and the more moderate wing of the GOP, most Hoosier Democrats understand we’re not in any position to have these arcane fights about who is sufficiently purist to pass any kind of label to be a Democrat.

    With control of the White House, both houses of Congress, the governorship and the legislature in Republican hands, most Democrats I speak with around the state are ready to come to Indianapolis this upcoming weekend with a needed show of support for our newly minted state ticket and to go out from there working to make some gains both in the partisan makeup of the legislature and in picking up another seat or two in Congress.

    Frankly, the enthusiasm building around 2nd Congressional District nominee Mel Hall (who won all 10 counties over his primary challengers) and Liz Watson in the 9th (who many believe will send Trey back to Tennessee) has been contagious. While there were some minor philosophical disputes that played out in both primaries between contenders, there was no bridge-burning that we saw that would poison one segment of the party against another. There are solid nominees for the party as well in places like the 3rd District – Courtney Tritch – who could break through if the wind is at our backs as many anticipate.

    There seems to be a sense that having U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly at the top of our state ticket will be a big help to Democrats running not just for Congress and legislature but also for Democratic county candidates around the state. No matter how many times Republicans may chant, “Send Joe Home,” most seasoned Republican operatives will confess over a beer that Joe Donnelly is one of the most experienced and hard-working campaigners they’ve ever seen.  Always the “Happy Warrior” who seems to thoroughly enjoy and relish his time on the campaign trail, he has thrived and flourished in his role as a U.S. senator, maintained a sense of decency and purpose advocating for Hoosiers, and cast common-sense votes that are squarely in the mainstream of Hoosier thinking. With the vitriol and nastiness that dominated the GOP Senate primary making it one of the most bitterly contested in the nation, that’s not easy to paper over on the other side, and the recurring absence of Congressman Luke Messer at various party functions speaks volumes that indeed “all is not forgiven.”

    Democratic State Chairman John Zody is being widely praised for constructing a state ticket composed of Valparaiso attorney Jim Harper for secretary of state, former State Rep. John Aguilera of East Chicago for treasurer and Joselyn Whitticker of Marion for auditor. Harper comes from a family of lawyers in Porter County and seems articulate in espousing more open and increased voter access and participation. Aguilera served four years in the Indiana House and was a productive member of the Lake County Council. He’s a former president of the Indiana Latino Institute. Ms. Whitticker is a small business owner and former school teacher and administrator. She’s a branch leader for the NAACP and was elected to serve on the Marion city council.   

    Democrats know that to compete and win this year statewide, minor stylistic differences are going to have to be put aside and all segments will need to put their shoulders to the wheel and advocate positions that resonate with hard-working Hoosier families.

    That’s why I wouldn’t expect the kind of fight that Republicans witnessed at their state convention occurring this next weekend. Instead, I would anticipate Democrats taking a strong stand in defending the Affordable Care Act, on which there is agreement across all segments of the Democratic Party has been generally positive for Hoosiers and yet which Republicans keep trying to kill because it emerged under President Obama. Most alarming was the brief filed by the Trump-Pence Justice Department just days ago that seeks to kill of one of the most popular parts of the act, that of preserving insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

    Despite the notable success of the Affordable Care Act in not only expanding Medicaid coverage to 400,000 needy Hoosiers, the ACA brought peace of mind to an estimated 1.5 million Hoosiers in the private insurance marketplace who feared being denied coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

    Republicans campaigning in 2016 were aware of just how popular those guarantees were and Indiana GOP congressional candidates as well as the Trump/Pence ticket made numerous assurances to voters that even if they were successful in repealing the ACA, they’d keep those protections. The lawsuit filed by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and the position taken this past week in a legal brief by the Trump-led Justice Department have demonstrated how fleeting and illusory those promises were. (Hill represents the far right wing of his party and his extremism has butted up against the more moderate and consensus-building governor on several issues, whether they be needle exchange programs or CBD oil, showcasing the sharp differences that exist between the two factions that were on display this past weekend.)

    Democrats know that protecting guarantees for Hoosiers that their pre-existing health conditions will not be used as a basis to deny insurance coverage, and fighting to preserve the ACA, are key mobilizing issues on which all Democrats – no matter where they fall on the spectrum – can agree. I anticipate a highly unified and energized group of Democrats leaving the Indiana Convention Center when all is said and done on Saturday afternoon. 

    Shaw Friedman is a LaPorte attorney who is a former county Democratic chairman and who also served as legal counsel for  the Indiana Democratic Party from 1999 to 2004.
  • Rich James: GOP remains in the closet
    MERRILLVILLE –  Indiana’s Republican Party reminds me of the gay who wants to come out of the closet but can’t quite bring himself to do it. Such was the case a week ago at the state convention in Evansville. The party voted overwhelmingly to include language in its platform that marriage is a commitment between a man and a woman – nothing less.

    The party defeated an effort by Gov. Eric Holcomb to support a “strong families” stance that says, “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.”

    Just when one thought Indiana Republicans were changing for the better with Gov. Eric Holcomb replacing Mike Pence, such was not the case when it came to the party platform. It was Pence while governor who embarrassed himself and the state on national television by remaining steadfast that marriage was between a man and a woman. Pence lost all credibility when he kept contending that despite the party’s stance, the state was open to all forms of marriage.

    While the Pence faction came out the winner last week, there were some significant things said by some party leaders about the future. One of them is Porter County GOP Chairman Michael Simpson. In a speech from the floor, Simpson said that a broader understanding of family “is the best platform for our party and the best way for us to grow.” Simpson went on to say, “We’re going to continue (in Porter County) on our inclusive processes and try to bring everybody in and make them feel welcome and be a part of the team.”

    Not only did Simpson have the guts to speak out about the party’s future, so, too, did state GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer, who said that at the next convention in two years the delegates should be more varied. While Holcomb has more vision than previous Republican governors, so, too, does Hupfer when it comes to state chairmen. “We must recognize that Indiana is becoming more diverse, more urban and as is always the case, every year another set of young voters cast their first ballots,” Hupfer said. “It is imperative that our party grow and evolve at this same pace.”

    Simpson and Hupfer have a lot of work ahead of them. The party seems perfectly content to keep the closet door locked. 

    Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. He is retired from the Post-Tribune. 
  • Brian Howey: Trump's 'mission accomplished' moment
    NASHVILLE, Ind. – Some how, some way in the curiously twisted mind of President Donald J. Trump, Canada is deserving of disrespect, derision and PM Justin Trudeau has a “special place in hell” awaiting him.

    And Kim Jong Un is to be trusted.

    “He trusts me and I trust him,” Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopolous. This comes after decades of North Korean deception, lies, brutality and evasions. This is the same Kim who ordered the murders of his deputy premier for education (by firing squad), Gen. Hyon Yong-chol (excuted by an anti-aircraft gun), his brother Kim Jong-nam (assassinated in a Malyasian airport) and uncle Jang Song-thaek (killed by anti-aircraft gun and incinerated by flamethrowers) while 120,000 endure torture and hard labor in four political prisons.

    Trump also trusts Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been implicated in the murders of dozens of political opponents and journalists, annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine while shooting down a commerical airliner and runs a kleptocracy. Oh, and Putin orchestrated the meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

    New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman observes, “Trump just picked a fight with our closest NATO allies, including Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,  whom Trump’s team said ‘stabbed us in the back’ after Trudeau’s mild-mannered defense of his own country’s trade policy on dairy imports. This after Trump has had nary a word of censure for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who stabbed us in the chest with the biggest cyberattack on our democracy ever.”

    Trump had his Bush43 “mission accomplished” moment when he tweeted, “Everyone can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” After just one meeting!

    Just like “mission accomplished” came back to haunt Bush by the 2006 mid-terms when the Iraq insurgency went haywire, Trump has set himself up for embarrassment if Kim follows the model of his father and grandfather. The Trump campaign declared, “History will demonstrate that the historic summit  ... was an end product of President Trump’s bold and vigilant leadership.” 

    The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes observes, “We can all hope that history records the summit this way. But the certitude in the Trump campaign statement, like the cocky assurances from the president himself, ignores the recent history of negotiations with North Korea. And another failure, with the president having staked so much of his credibility and that of the United States, could be catastrophic.” 
  • Jack Colwell: It was worse in 1968
    SOUTH BEND – With the nation split, angry and fearful even for safety of kids in their schools, with faith in institutions and the rule of law eroding, with the threat of trade wars and real wars from Korea to Iran and with a president relishing divisiveness as a sign of successful disruption, some Americans ask if these are the worst of times. Oft heard is the question: Have you ever seen it this bad?
       
    Yes. Worse.
        
    We would not have to go back to the Civil War to find a time when the nation was torn more by internal disagreements and filled with more trepidation. Just go back to 1968.
        
    That year is getting a lot of attention in TV documentaries and national publications because it now is the 50th anniversary of events then that shook the nation. The split in 1968 was worse because it involved a terrible war with casualties mounting in Vietnam. Escalation was bringing higher casualty counts rather than the victory promised by the Pentagon. Sentiment was growing that it was a no-win war with useless loss of limbs and lives.
        
    Young men were drafted. Many resisted. Protests grew on college campuses, sometimes turning violent, building toward the later tragedy in which unarmed college students were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State. Protests were not the peaceful variety of the women’s marches last year or the marches now of nice-mannered kids against gun violence. Angry protests then often turned into riots with injuries and extensive property damage.
        
    There was not just character assassination but actual assassination, the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.
        
    Hatemongers didn’t just use code words to promote discrimination and stir bigotry. They called blatantly for rigid racial segregation, resorting to violence to enforce it. Alabama Gov. George Wallace launched a third-party presidential effort based on segregation.
        
    Politics also was nasty then, not with tweets but in the streets.
        
    It the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, bloody confrontations erupted between demonstrators and Chicago police. Each side sought blood. National Guard troops with bayonets fixed and machine guns mounted on jeeps blocked Michigan Avenue, separating anti-war demonstrators in Grant Park from delegates at the Conrad Hilton Hotel. Reporters trying to report on the event weren’t treated very well then either, by either side, inside and outside the embattled convention center.
        
    The president, Lyndon B. Johnson, was unpopular, so much so that he decided not to seek reelection. No presidential candidate was viewed as a popular, unifying leader, except perhaps Bobby Kennedy, who was slain. Richard Nixon, the Republican nominee, wasn’t exactly beloved even in GOP ranks. Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic nominee, emerged weakened from the Chicago convention madness. He wasn’t that popular either.
        
    Rioting in the cities amid rage over the assassination of King finally subsided, though anger remained and racial conflict was not ended. Americans asked where it all would end, or if it would. When 1968 ended, divisiveness didn’t.
        
    Somehow, the nation got through it. More years were needed to end the war in Vietnam and to find that Nixon wasn’t the one to provide solid, stable leadership. Problems remained, as they always will, but the Constitution prevailed, American prosperity grew, divisiveness seemed to lessen, and the nation’s power and prestige in the world, questioned during Vietnam, was restored.
        
    If America could survive 1968 and come out better, it can survive the divisiveness now and come out better again.
        
    Overly optimistic? I don’t mean to be. I’m saying that we can come out better, not that we will automatically or quickly. The nation didn’t heal automatically or quickly after 1968. And while things were much worse then, we can’t assume that we have yet seen the worst of our present divisiveness.
        
    War in Korea? With Iran? Another draft? Protests less peaceful? A constitutional crisis? We hope all of that is averted, that we do not replicate the rage of 1968 before things do get better.  

    Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune
  • Joshua Claybourn: Welcome to Evansville
    EVANSVILLE  – As 1,500 delegates and their friends descend on Evansville for this year’s Indiana Republican Convention, it will mark only the second time in modern history that the GOP convention will take place outside of Indianapolis. Here’s what you need to know about the state’s third largest city.

    Pardon our mess 

    Just as Indianapolis emerged in the 1980s from its negative reputation as “India-no-place” or “Naptown,” Evansville is now undergoing its own resurgence. The downtown alone has over $500 million in renovations simultaneously occurring, an unprecedented amount of investment.

    Simply put, Evansville’s downtown is poised for booming growth with renovations and new construction happening nearly everywhere you look. Some of this progress will present an unattractive annoyance – construction barrels, cleared lots and closed streets are common sights – but it all points to a promising renaissance.

    Tropicana Evansville, the state’s first land-based casino, opened 75,000 square feet of gaming fun in renovated space. Two new downtown hotels under construction will soon join the recently completed DoubleTree convention hotel, which rests next to the new Stone Family Center for Health Sciences, a collaboration for medical education by the University of Evansville, University of Southern Indiana and Indiana University.

    Joining all of that are scores of new housing developments, small businesses, restaurants, and shops that recently opened or will open in the near future. It all may look messy now, but it’s welcome progress for a vital Indiana region. 

    Evansville’s long political shadow

    As the city’s chief executive, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke will play a large role at this year’s GOP convention. In a heavily Democratic city, he is the first Republican to be reelected as mayor since the 1970s and continues to boast high approval ratings. But visitors to this year’s convention will also see signs of the city’s long shadow extending to Indianapolis. Indeed, not since Evansville native Robert Orr occupied the governor’s mansion has the city exerted such a strong influence on state policy.

    Evansville resident Suzanne Crouch leaves her fingerprints all over Hoosier policy and the modern GOP. After serving many years as vice chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee and then as state auditor, she now helps shape the Holcomb administration’s agenda and shepherd it across the finish line during legislative sessions.

    Crouch’s replacement in the legislature, Holli Sullivan, is busy shaping her own legacy as a member of the Ways and Means Committee and chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee.

    Gov. Eric Holcomb spent most of his formative years up the road in Vincennes in Evansville’s cultural orbit and later worked on the staff of Evansville-based Congressman John Hostettler.

    Congressman Jim Banks, the state’s fastest rising GOP congressional star, also worked on Hostettler’s staff and lived for a period in Evansville, building notable connections with the region’s political leaders.

    On the Democrat side, former Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel and former congressman (and U.S. Senate candidate) Brad Ellsworth continue to be discussed as possible statewide candidates.

    A regional approach

    Cut off from the rest of the state, at least until the completion of I-69, Evansville rarely thought of itself as exceptional. But all of that is changing thanks to strong public and private partnerships. The city can serve as a model for the state’s new regional approach.

    Evansville has increasingly worked together with surrounding communities to transform the area as a destination to live, work and play. We were among the first to implement a unified, county-wide school district and library. The result has been both the school and library system excelling as among the very best in the state.

    More recently, Southwest Indiana was selected as one of three regions to receive $42 million in state matching funds under the Regional Cities Initiative geared toward talent-attracting projects. The region’s success with implementing the project is directly tied to various local governments working together as a region, not as separate silos. Admittedly, a recent push to unify city and county government failed in a referendum, but the bigger picture suggests a region committed to cooperation and efficiency.

    Indiana cannot excel on the success of Indianapolis alone. As younger generations flock to urban centers for jobs and cultural amenities, we need areas like Fort Wayne, South Bend and Evansville to flourish as hubs of growth.

    Evansville has started down a viable path to progress. This year’s GOP convention provides a prime opportunity for state leaders to see its progress thus far, but also glimpse the additional steps needed to empower our state’s regional urban hubs for sustained growth. 

    Claybourn is a Republican attorney from Evansville. 
  • Craig Dunn: GOP family plank is an innocuous change
    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. When it comes to children and all of the problems that we have in our society with drug abuse, gang violence, depression, education and nurturing, who wouldn’t be in support of any type of family that provides love and support for our children? Well, I could name names, but they tend to be the usual suspects when it comes to thumping a Bible to suit their purposes.

    This may come as a shock, but I have a substantial number of friends who don’t think anything like I do when it comes to equal rights for the LGBT community. Some of those friends are just downright hostile if you don’t approach LGBT issues with a meat cleaver instead of a paring knife. No gray areas. No shading. No waffling. No hedging. They just want a simple message politicized in the Republican platform that LGBT people don’t matter because ee-i-ee-i-o the Bible tells me so.

    One leader from the Immaculate Biblicist Family Organization went as far as to declare that the Indiana GOP eliminated more than half of Indiana households in their platform; the media called it “inclusive.” 

    I don’t know what leaked copy of the platform document this guy was reading, but what I read said, “We support traditional families with a mother and father…”  That doesn’t sound like it tossed out traditional families. It sounded to me like a sentence that embraced all the possible ways that children might be raised in a loving environment. But I guess understatement just won’t make people open up their checkbooks and send money to groups that will advocate for discrimination based exclusively on sexual preference.

    The whole concept of a political party platform is pretty laughable in and of itself. Very few people work to create it. Very few vote to approve it.  Miniscule numbers read it. Fewer still follow it. An awful lot of energy goes into creating a document that goes into the bottom drawer of some party leader’s desk immediately after the Republican State Convention.

    The most significant message that can be delivered by the platform requires understanding how the whole platform process works. 

    The platform committee is assembled by the Indiana Republican Party chairman.  The Indiana Republican Party Chairman is Kyle Hupfer. He serves at the pleasure of our Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb. It is safe to say that the platform committee will have a mix of political beliefs represented, but the majority will be in sync with the governor’s beliefs. The committee holds a few hearings and then drafts a document that could have been written without all the fuss of holding hearings. The document gets voted on by the platform committee at the state convention and then goes to the assembled delegates for an up or down vote. There are ways to amend the document, but there are plenty of procedural roadblocks to ensure that the platform committee report will be adopted as written.

    Gov. Mike Pence stamped his personal beliefs all over the 2016 Indiana Republican platform and it was passed without a considerable number of delegates being able to do anything about it. Trust me on this one, I was one of the delegates favoring inclusion and we got our hats handed to us by a system that is structured to cater to the governor’s wishes.

    Therefore, this current proposed Indiana Republican platform language tells us a lot about the man who leads this state, Eric Holcomb. As I have always suspected and respected, Gov. Holcomb has the best interests of all Hoosiers at heart and is moving to bring our state up to contemporary standards when it comes to realizing that we live in a world of immense diversity that must be inclusive in order to achieve important economic and societal goals. You simply have to have all of your horses pulling together if you are going to succeed in the modern world. White, black, brown, gay, straight and religiously diverse horses pulling in the same direction to make a better state for everyone.

    Indiana is on the verge of being greatly imperiled by its own success. Our pro-growth environment of lower taxes and less government regulations has created an unparalleled business boom in this state. We will not only need to create our own workforce with critical technological skills, but we will need to attract talent from other locales both domestic and foreign. This will be needed to meet our current growth projections, let alone the massive increased demand that a new Amazon headquarters might present us.

    There are those of you sprinkled around the great Hoosier State who like things just as they are. You are perfectly comfortable with living a life devoid of change, devoid of color, devoid of diversity of opinion. The B. I. B. L. E. is your daily roadmap and you will respond in a variety of ways to protect your views and way of life. I respect your views and beliefs. There are just times like these where I can only encourage you to collectively chill out and listen to your hearts and your children.

    I have read what many of my Facebook friends have been saying about the Republican Party because of this proposed platform change and it is troubling. Those of you calling for an end to Republican majorities in the legislature fail to understand that your interests will be far better served by the Republican Party than by the Democrat Party. Those loudly promising to support the Libertarian Party just don’t understand what the Libertarian Party represents.

    Once the Indiana Republican Party Convention in Evansville concludes, the platform will rarely see the light of day and we can all go about our business of making the Republican Party, “the party of ideas” and Indiana, “A State That Works.” I commend the leadership of the Indiana Republican Party for making this small, but significant, change to our party platform in the name of inclusiveness.  Thank you, Gov. Holcomb for giving this the nudge it needed. 

    Dunn is the former Howard County and 5th CD Republican chairman.
  • Trevor Foughty: Reforms reduced convention nominees
    INDIANAPOLIS – When the Indiana Republican and Democratic parties meet this weekend and next, respectively, for biennial state conventions, the main attraction of each will be the selection of candidates for secretary of state, state auditor and state treasurer. Then again, these may only be main attractions in the nominal sense as both parties have unopposed slates and will likely endorse their top-of-the-ticket standard bears by acclimation.

    But whether we’re talking about the mid-term year conventions that select the three constitutional offices, or the gubernatorial year conventions that select the statutory offices of attorney general and superintendent of public instruction (the latter will happen only once more before being removed from the ballot), uncontested races have become more or less the norm. Exhibit A: I suspect that most readers didn’t realize I omitted the lieutenant governor as a convention-selected candidate, because in practice it has become merely the ratified choice of the primary election-selected gubernatorial candidate (and no longer occupies its own ballot spot in November, to boot).

    Of course, it’s no secret that modern convention politics lack the drama of a bygone era. In order to generate more enthusiasm around the events, Indiana Democrats now market their conventions as “Big Dem Weekends” and have moved their annual fundraising dinner to the first night to attract donors and others who might not otherwise serve as delegates. Meanwhile, Republicans now hold their mid-term conventions outside of Indianapolis to create more of a destination getaway feel around them, and to give regional delegations reason to become fully invested in the festivities.

    But while we might never again see the high stakes drama of, say, an Edgar Whitcomb-Otis Bowen convention floor battle for governor like we had in 1968, spirited contests do emerge (ask our last two attorneys general or our current treasurer). Even then, however, the expectation of modern convention delegates is that the selection process will be over quickly, which is why punditry (and even strategy) around contested elections revolves around who can keep which delegates from heading home early.

    So, while modern conventions lack the intensity of their historical counterparts, perhaps the greater difference is the sheer number of responsibilities granted to convention delegates. Regardless of the year, modern state conventions will adopt a party platform and select exactly three candidates. In gubernatorial years, they also elect national convention delegates and presidential electors.

    Contrast this with the reality of 100 years ago. At the 1918 Indiana Republican Party convention, delegates selected candidates for secretary of state, auditor and treasurer, just as they will do this year. But they also selected candidates for attorney general and superintendent of public instruction, offices which came with two-year terms at the time.

    Perhaps a bit ironically, all five offices that year were unopposed contests on the GOP side, but that didn’t mean the convention lacked drama. That’s because there were contested races for clerk of the Supreme Court and state geologist, both of which were statewide elected offices at the time. (Two years prior, delegates also had to elect the state statistician and the reporter of the Appellate Court, also offices that are no longer elected.)

    The state geologist race had an added layer of drama that year because the Republican Party platform included a new plank calling for removal of the position from the ballot. Indiana University professor Lewis F. Rourke would ultimately win the GOP convention battle, then lose to Democrat incumbent Edward T. Barrett in the fall election. But Rourke got the last laugh: The Republican-controlled legislature followed through on the platform promise the next year, making it an appointed position, with the requirement that the appointee must be a staff or faculty member of Indiana University through what’s now known as the Indiana Geological and Water Survey (though it doesn’t appear Rourke was ever appointed to the post, IU is still statutorily obligated to carry out the functions of the office on behalf of the state).

    In addition to choosing more than twice as many executive branch candidates as today, convention delegates a century ago also chose judicial candidates. In 1918, Republicans nearly had a contest for 1st District of the Supreme Court that was avoided when a rumored second candidate was not nominated. They had only one candidate for the 2nd District of the Appellate Court, but delegates had to select two of three candidates for spots on the 1st District of the Appellate Court.

    Over the next 50 years, various reforms would limit the number of candidates selected at conventions. The same 1919 law that removed the state geologist from the ballot also removed the state statistician. Judicial reforms that began in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s would take judges off the ballot in favor of the current Judicial Nominating Commission (and would eventually remove the reporter and clerk spots from the ballot). Around the same time, Hoosier voters passed constitutional amendments that extended term lengths for the executive offices from two to four years, reducing the number of candidates selected every two years; they required gubernatorial candidates to be nominated in a primary election; and they removed the office of lieutenant governor from its own ballot slot.

    It’s easy to claim that conventions have largely become humdrum, stage-managed affairs because a small group of party leaders conspires to control the selection of candidates as much as possible. 

    But such a claim misses the obvious fact that various governmental reforms, made in the name of democracy, government efficiency or both, have limited the number of offices chosen by the broader electorate and, by extension, convention delegates. A hundred years ago, a dozen or more contests could be sent to the convention floor each year; today, there could never be more than three. With the horse race intrigue of conventions largely neutered by such reforms, party leaders on both sides probably deserve more credit than derision for creatively trying to make the convention process relevant and appealing to broader audiences. After all, whether there is drama over the next two weekends or not, the selection of candidates and the adoption of party platforms necessarily shapes the future governmental decisions that will impact the lives of all Hoosiers. 

    Foughty is an Indiana University employee and publishes at www.CapitolandWashington.com.
  • Morton Marcus: Trump breaks jobs protocol
    INDIANAPOLIS – This weekly column is focused on Indiana’s economy, rarely commenting on national issues. But this time, we must make an exception.
             
    Early morning, Friday, June 1, President Trump tweeted, “Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning.” This most unusual national leader was telling his tweetees that he knew the closely guarded monthly employment data and he liked them.
             
    Presidents do get advance looks at all types of key data. Prior to this, presidents kept their mouths shut about economic data until an hour after the official release time. It wasn’t just tradition, it was a policy set down for a wide group of government employees by the Office of Management and Budget to avoid insider trading. But now, this president was wiggling his toes in the stock market bathwater. His words were enough of a favorable hint to send ripples of glee through the regular bathers in those waters where the big boys surf and the little guys drown.
              
    If the president was suggesting that the news to be released at 8:30 a.m. would be favorable, then stock prices would rise. They did, as the eager denizens of Wall Street jumped to that conclusion and stock prices bounced up. Following Wall Street tradition, good employment news was expected to fuel inflation. This shot interest rates up in the belief that the Federal Reserve Board would continue restoring positive real interest rates. Higher interest rates mean U.S. dollars are more attractive compared to other currencies and the value of the dollar rose accordingly.
             
    These effects tended to disappear as the day progressed. But there it was, another sign of the intemperate, adolescent presidency.
             
    How far are we from having a Trumpian command to our statistical agencies to give him “good” numbers and to avoid public release of “fake” data? Distortions of reality are the standard tools of many political leaders. But interference with information about reality is a disservice to mankind.
             
    Most of the data produced by government and private parties are subject to question. There are valid disputes about what should or should not be included in any data series. Should we count RVs, autos, and boats as they leave the factory or as they leave the dealers’ lots? Is a person released from the hospital after just 23 hours to be counted in the daily census? Should attendance at a sporting event include unused season tickets?
             
    However these issues are decided, they do not have the importance of the employment and unemployment data released monthly for the nation, states and counties.

    Meddling with these data for political purposes must not happen. Worse still is violating policies established to protect the public from the ego gratification of the unbalanced mind. It reminds us of Jimmy Cagney saying, seconds before immolation in the 1949 movie, White Heat, “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”  
                
    Mr. Marcus is an economist. His views can be followed on a weekly podcast  or reached at Whogetswhat4@gmail.com
  • Rich James: Sheriff Martinez is inconsistent
    MERRILLVILLE – Newly elected Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez doesn’t exactly practice what he preaches. For a number of years, Martinez made a name for himself as part of a drug interdiction task force that cruised interstate highways in Lake County, particularly Interstate 65, which was a major route for drug couriers.

    Martinez seemingly had an uncanny ability for nabbing those hauling drugs through Lake County. So gifted did Martinez seem, that some came to question his ability to nab drug runners. Many came to believe that Martinez had a connection in Mexico that informed him as to when drugs would be flowing through the county, making it easier for him to nab couriers. And suddenly, Martinez’s party was over.

    “I was transferred out of the task force for political reasons…” Martinez said. “I couldn’t do something I loved doing and it was done without any regards to the health or safety of the people of Lake County.”

    Ironically, Martinez was moved out of the interdiction unit by Sheriff John Buncich. Buncich later was indicted and convicted of accepting bribes from towing contractors.

    Martinez won a Democratic caucus last fall to fill the remainder of Buncich’s term. Last month, Martinez won the Democratic primary and is expected to easily win a four-year term in November.

    So, what did Martinez do when he took office following the precinct caucus? He did the very thing he said he despises.

    Martinez started moving effective, competent people out of their jobs. Deputy Commander Jamie Harris, who had straightened out the drug task force after being put in charge, was moved to patrol on straight midnights. And Matt Eaton, who was acting chief when Buncich was removed, was put in charge of making sure the department had enough gas, oil and wiper blades to keep the patrol cars equipped.

    So, Martinez can complain all he wants about being moved out of the interdiction unit, but it rings hollow when he did the very thing he complained that his predecessors did. 

    Rich James has been writing about politics and government for almost 40 years. He is retired from the Post-Tribune, a newspaper born in Gary.
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  • McCain: 'Low point of American presidency'
    “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake. President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world. It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout – as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world. Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency. - U.S. Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, reacting to President Trump’s summit with Russian President Putin. 
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  • Trump defies Coats, disgraces himself and our nation

    President Trump disgraced himself and the U.S. when he stood next to Russian President Putin, signaling his belief in the strongman over his intelligence leaders such as Dan Coats, who just last Friday warned that Russian assaults of U.S. institutions were ongoing. 

    National Intelligence Director Coats, in a statement following the Helsinki news conference, said, “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.” President Trump referenced Coats’ warning, but insisted Putin was “extremely strong in his denial” and said, "I don't see any reason why it would be." What we don’t know is what Trump and Putin discussed when they met alone for two hours (except for translators).

    The biggest fear is that patriots like Coats might resign, leaving this president to his own unpredictable and destructive devices that were on full display throughout the week when he blasted NATO allies, embarrassed British Prime Minister Theresa May, and called the European Union a “foe.” This is a crisis of unprecedented proportions. 

    Hoosier Republicans, more than those across the nation, need to stand up and declare for the ideals long espoused by statesmen like Dan Coats and Richard Lugar, as U.S. Sen. Todd Young did this afternoon, when he said the U.S. “must deter additional aggression by Putin.” There is reluctance to do this because of Vice President Pence’s station in the Trump administration (Pence has lunch with Trump Tuesday at the White House), but we make the case that for that very reason, their voices must be heard and will carry extra weight.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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