An image

ANOTHER 4,689 COVID INFECTIONS; 36 DEATHS ON SUNDAY: The Indiana Department of Health announced Sunday that 4,689 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at the state laboratory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. There are 30.5% of ICU bed available and 77.3% of ventilators. That brings to 210,374 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. A total of 4,383 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 36 from the previous day. Another 246 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by the state and occurred over multiple days. To date, 1,809,940 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 1,794,398 on Saturday. A total of 3,210,666 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

 

PFIZER SAYS VACCINE 90% EFFECTIVE: U.S pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech said their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection, according to data published Monday from their late-stage vaccine trial (CNBC). It comes as drugmakers and research centers around the world scramble to deliver a safe and effective vaccine in an attempt to bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 1.25 million lives worldwide. Scientists are hoping for a coronavirus vaccine that is at least 75% effective, while White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has previously said one that is 50% or 60% effective would be acceptable. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, hailed the development as a “great day for science and humanity.”

 

BOX SAYS HEALTH CARE WORKERS 'EXHAUSTED': State officials are renewing their call for retired health care workers to help relieve staff in Indiana’s hospitals and long-term care facilities as the number of hospitalizations and new infections across the state continue to spike at record highs (AP). Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said Wednesday that hospitals and healthcare workers in Indiana are swamped, “needing support now more than ever.” The state’s hospitals are currently seeing more coronavirus patients than at any other time in the pandemic. There were 2,070 Hoosiers hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Saturday, according to the state’s online coronavirus dashboard. Roughly 70% of the Indiana’s intensive care unit beds were in use. "This all takes an incredible toll,” Box said during a news conference. “The greatest strain right now is on our hospital workforce, which is in the ninth month of responding to this pandemic, and facing the greatest patient load yet. They are, frankly, exhausted.”

 

COUNTIES ASK CITIZENS TO TAKE PANDEMIC SERIOUSLY: Health leaders in Fountain and Warren Counties are asking residents to start taking COVID-19 seriously. Starting on Monday, November 9th, the health department is asking people to participate in three weeks of serious pandemic precautions (WLFI-TV). As we previously reported, Fountain County became a COVID-19 hotspot for a second time when the Indiana State Department of Health moved it into a "red zone." Some local leaders in the past have not been very supportive of taking proper precautions, according to the health department leaders. "In October Fountain & Warren County moved into a new stage of the COVID-19 Pandemic," said Dr. Sean Sharma, the Health Officer for the counties, in a press release. "The rate of infections increased significantly, from among the lowest in the state to among the highest. The virus has spread into our schools, our nursing homes, and our businesses. Local and regional medical systems and public health resources are strained. The pandemic will worsen over the coming months. Now is the time for action."

 

BIDEN FACES COVID SURGE: Hours after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. declared the coronavirus a top priority, the magnitude of his task became starkly clear on Sunday as the nation surpassed 10 million cases and sank deeper into the grip of what could become the worst chapter yet of the pandemic. The rate of new cases is soaring, and for the first time is averaging more than 100,000 a day in the United States, which has reported more virus cases than any other country. An astonishing number of Americans — one in 441 — have tested positive for the virus just in the last week (New York Times). With 29 states setting weekly case records, the virus is surging in more than half the country. Nationwide, hospitalizations have nearly doubled since mid-September, and deaths are slowly increasing again, with few new interventions in place to stop the outbreak. The nation’s worsening outlook comes at an extremely difficult juncture: President Trump, who remains in office until January, is openly at odds with his own coronavirus advisers, and winter, when infections are only expected to spread faster, is coming.

 

TRUMP FACES CALL TO WORK WITH BIDEN TRANSITION: President Donald Trump is facing pressure to cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden’s team to ensure a smooth transfer of power when the new administration takes office in January (AP). The General Services Administration is tasked with formally recognizing Biden as president-elect, which begins the transition. But the agency’s Trump-appointed administrator, Emily Murphy, has not started the process and has given no guidance on when she will do so. That lack of clarity is fueling questions about whether Trump, who has not publicly recognized Biden’s victory and has falsely claimed the election was stolen, will impede Democrats as they try to establish a government. There is little precedent in the modern era of a president erecting such hurdles for his successor. The stakes are especially high this year because Biden will take office amid a raging pandemic, which will require a comprehensive government response. “America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” Jen Psaki, a Biden transition aide, tweeted Sunday.

 

REPUBLICANS MUM ON BIDEN WIN:  President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. prepared on Sunday to start building his administration, even as Republican leaders and scores of party lawmakers refrained from acknowledging his victory out of apparent deference to President Trump, who continued to refuse to concede (New York Times). With Mr. Biden out of the public eye as he received congratulations from leaders around the world, his team turned its attention to a transition that will swing into action on Monday, with the launch of a coronavirus task force and swift moves to begin assembling his team. But more than 24 hours after his election had been declared, the vast majority of Republicans declined to offer the customary statements of good will for the victor that have been standard after American presidential contests, as Mr. Trump defied the results and vowed to forge ahead with long-shot lawsuits to try to overturn them. Mr. Biden did not respond to Mr. Trump’s attacks on the result, but he also was not waiting for a concession.

 

BIDEN TURNS TO PANDEMIC RESPONSE: As he begins his transition to the presidency, Joe Biden is pivoting from a bitter campaign battle to another, more pressing fight: reining in the pandemic that has hit the world’s most powerful nation harder than any other (AP). The U.S. is now averaging more than 100,000 new infections a day, frequently breaking records for daily cases. Hospitals in several states are running out of space and staff, and the death toll is soaring. Public health officials warn that the nation is entering the worst stretch yet for COVID-19 as winter sets in and the holiday season approaches, increasing the risk of rapid transmission as Americans travel, shop and celebrate with loved ones. “The next two months are going to be rough, difficult ones,” said Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist and department chairman at the Yale School of Public Health. “We could see another 100,000 deaths by January.” So far, the U.S. has recorded more than 9.8 million infections and more than 237,000 deaths from COVID-19.

 

BIDEN TO CALL GOVERNORS, MAYORS ABOUT MASK MANDATE: President-elect Joe Biden will personally call on governors around the country to enact mask mandates in their states once taking office next year, NBC News first reported on Sunday (The Hill). A Biden campaign official told the network that governors who resist the incoming president's requests will see Biden pressure mayors of cities in their respective states to enact mandates at the local level, potentially setting him up for confrontations with Republican governors around the U.S. “If a governor declines, he’ll go to the mayors in the state and ask them to lead,” said the official, according to NBC. “In many states there is the capacity of mayors to institute mandates.”

 

BUTTIGIEG A LOCK FOR BIDEN CABINET: One near-certainty about Joe Biden's Cabinet: Pete Buttigieg will be in it. Biden officials have made clear to donors and party officials the question surrounding Buttigieg is not if, but where, he lands, Democrats close to Biden tell Axios. Behind that certainty, though, are a range of questions about how to put his obvious political talent to use. The multilingual Buttigieg has told friends he wants U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, but he may face internal competition from Julie Smith, a longtime Biden foreign policy confidant. Former diplomats Wendy Sherman and Linda Thomas-Greenfield are other possibilities. Rep. Ted Deutch from Florida also has expressed interest. Other slots for Buttigieg range from Housing and Urban Development to Veterans Affairs to the Office of Management and Budget. One key question: How would Kamala Harris feel about having a potential 2024 rival lurking the Cabinet and building a donor base from a perch at the United Nations — and around New York City's big donors? Some Buttigieg allies think he should take a job letting him burnish his credibility with the African American community, where he underperformed during the primaries.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: The daily COVID statistics are alarming. We have gone from 400 to 800 cases a day to 4,000 to 5,000 daily. That is exponential growth. No one wants Gov. Holcomb to shut down the economy again, but what we're reading from public health officials as well as hearing from friends and family is why the state is still at Stage 5, as opposed to rolling back to Stage 3 or Stage 4? - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

WHY COULDN'T HALE FLIP THE 5TH? In Indiana's 5th Congressional District, Democrats have long been the outsiders, losing Congressional elections by double digits.  But heading into Tuesday's election, Democrats were hopeful Christina Hale — who had managed to out-raise her opponent Republican Victoria Spartz and had the support of the national party since the primary — could flip the district (Lange, IndyStar). Some national political analysts were making the same predictions: the district had been named one of the most likely to change parties in the country by CNN and FiveThirtyEight. And both Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales and Cook Political Report had labeled the district "tilt Democratic" and "leans Dem" respectively ahead of Election Day. But Spartz, a Ukrainian immigrant and state senator, will be the one heading to Washington D.C. in January to represent the district, which stretches from Broad Ripple to the city of Marion. "The 5th district wasn't as left as we thought it might be," said Laura Merrifield Wilson, a political science professor at the University of Indianapolis. "At the end of the day, these districts just weren’t as amenable to electing Democrats as it seemed going into the election," said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball, in an email to IndyStar. "I and a lot of others thought there would be something of a second blue wave in these kinds of open seats, but we were mistaken."

 

Sunday Talk

 

CLYBURN SAYS 'DEFUND POLICE' HURT DEMOCRATS: House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Sunday that the “defund the police” slogan hurt Democratic candidates in the recent election. Clyburn told NBC News’s “Meet the Press” that he didn’t know if the slogan “cost all the seats” Democrats lost but noted he “really believes that’s what cost” Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) his seat to Rep.-elect Nancy Mace (R-S.C.).  The majority whip also attributed Democrat Jaime Harrison’s loss to the phrase, saying “that stuff hurt” him in his race against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “That's why I spoke out against it a long time ago,” Clyburn said. “I've always said that these headlines can kill a political effort.”

 

ROMNEY SAYS AMERICANS DON'T WANT LEFTWARD TURN: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Sunday that the results of the presidential election showed that Americans apparently want a change in leadership, but not a “sharp left turn" in policy. The Utah senator told NBC News’s “Meet the Press” that voters communicated a “mixed message,” as the Republican Party picked up seats in the House and has a chance to hold onto Senate control, but lost the presidency. “I think people are saying that conservative principles still account for the majority of public opinion in our country,” he said.

 

GOTTLIEB SAYS PANDEMIC AT 'APEX' IN JANUARY: Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb predicted Sunday that by the time President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated in January, the nation will be at the apex of the latest wave of the coronavirus pandemic. "The reality is that by the time the president-elect takes office, we'll probably be at the sort of apex, if you will, of what we're going through right now," Gottlieb said in an interview with "Face the Nation." "You know, this is going to play out over the next couple of months, and I think as the president takes office, we'll be coming down the other side of the epidemic curve, hopefully. The only question is going to be how many people have died in the course of this and how many people have been infected, and we have to keep those numbers down as much as possible."

 

GOV. CUOMO EXPECTS DIFFERENT TONE ON PANDEMIC: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) said on Sunday that Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election will make a difference in how state and local officials respond to the coronavirus pandemic. “I think you'll see a different tone now. I think you'll even see some governors start to take a different tone now that Mr. Trump is out of office,” Cuomo on ABC's "This Week." “I think the political pressure of denying COVID is gone. I think you'll see scientists speak with unmuzzled voice now. And I think the numbers are going to go up and Americans are going to get how serious this is.” Cuomo also noted rising cases in the past two months and warned of the period until Biden is sworn in. “If this administration rolls out a flawed vaccination plan, it's going to be a problem because it's going to be very hard for the Biden administration to turn it back."

 

GOV. NOEM SEES 'WIDESPREAD FRAUD’: ABC’s George Stephanopoulos pressed South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) on Sunday when she suggested that President-elect Joe Biden was the beneficiary of "illegal activities" in the election. Noem during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" said that "people have signed legal documents ... stating that they saw illegal activities" and cited New York Times reports of "clerical errors." "No widespread fraud, governor. That's very different," Stephanopoulos responded. "We gave Al Gore 37 days to runs the process before we decided who was going to be president. Why would we not afford the 70.6 million Americans that voted for President Trump the same consideration?" Noem responded, referring to the 2000 Democratic nominee.

 

TOOMEY SAYS BIDEN PROJECTION 'PROBABLY CORRECT': Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) acknowledged Sunday that media outlets were “probably correct” to call the presidential election for President-elect Joe Biden Saturday but said all ballots should be counted in the meantime. “Seventy million Americans voted for Donald Trump and they and the president deserve to have this process play out,” Toomey said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “[T]he media projection is probably correct, but there’s a reason that we actually do the count.” “And by the way, part of our process is to adjudicate disputes, it can include recounts,” he added, noting that under Pennsylvania law, a margin of 0.5 points or less automatically triggers a recount.

 

MANCHIN PANS DEMOCRAT MESSAGING: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) blamed Democratic congressional losses during the 2020 election on a lack of and ineffective talking points to the public. "We didn't have a good message, I’ll be very honest with you," Manchin said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, suggesting Republicans had successfully branded the party as far left. "We let them tag us basically before we could remind the people who we are.”

 

GOV. HOGAN CALLS FOR GOP TO RECOGNIZE BIDEN WIN: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Sunday that “whether you like it or not, it’s time to get behind the winner” of the 2020 race after President-elect Joe Biden was declared the victor. The Maryland governor, who has been a critic of President Trump, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he doesn’t think “anything” will “overturn” the projections announced Saturday. The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits contesting the vote in several states over the past week. “The way our system works is we all cast the votes, we count the votes and then we live with the results,” Hogan said on Sunday. “If there is evidence of widespread voter fraud, then we ought to come out with it. I’m sure they are a few irregularities,” he added before telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that he hasn’t “seen any evidence” of voter fraud.

 

REP. RICHMOND SEES BIDEN 'LEVERAGE': Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign, said Sunday that the former vice president's lead in traditionally Republican states will give him increased leverage in negotiating with congressional Republicans. CBS’s Margaret Brennan asked Richmond on "Face the Nation" if the 71 million votes President Trump received indicated that “Trumpism is not dead.” “I think Vice President Biden will be a different kind of president,” Richmond replied. “I think he’s going to be able to bring house members from the Republican side, senate Republicans together, many of them. “But then again, you have to look at his numbers. He won Arizona, he won Georgia,” Richmond added. “That will give him some coattails and some leverage when dealing with the Senate.”


[[In-content Ad]]

Congress

 

HOUSE PREVIEW: The House is on recess this week. Leadership elections will take place Nov. 18–19 (Axios).

 

SENATE PREVIEW: KIRSCH CONFIRMATION ON FAST TRACK - The Senate will hold leadership elections Tuesday morning. Most roles are not expected to change. A Senate leadership source tells me they'll hold "new member orientation" this week. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his top priorities through the end of the year are to pass a full-year spending deal, tackle coronavirus stimulus legislation and confirm more Republican judges. The Senate Judiciary Committee is also working behind the scenes to quickly confirm Thomas Kirsch, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (previously held by Justice Amy Coney Barrett). At 5:30pm on Monday, the Senate will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on James Ray Knepp II to be a judge for the Northern District of Ohio.

 

State

 

SPORTS: COLTS LOSE TO BALTIMORE - Lamar Jackson cranked up the tempo in the second half and the Baltimore Ravens took advantage by scoring two touchdowns in a 24-10 victory and broke the NFL record for consecutive games with 20 or more points (AP). The Ravens have done it in 31 straight to break a tie with Denver. Baltimore also has won a league-high 10 consecutive road games including the franchise's first in Indianapolis.

 

SPORTS: SKIDDING BEARS LOSE TO TITANS - Coach Mike Vrabel has been warning his Tennessee Titans they had reached a crossroads after losing back-to-back games (AP). Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes, and the banged-up Tennessee Titans responded Sunday by never trailing in beating the Chicago Bears 24-17. The Titans (6-2) avoided their longest skid since Tannehill took over as starting quarterback and stayed atop the AFC South going into Thursday night’s division showdown against Indianapolis. Still, Vrabel clearly wasn’t very happy after his Titans failed to build on a 17-0 lead after three quarters. “We just have to finish games better,” Vrabel said. “We’re up, dominating the football game and make it too close.” Amani Hooker recovered the Bears’ onside kick attempt for Tennessee with about a minute left to seal the victory after Nick Foles made it interesting with a pair of late TD passes for Chicago.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP GETTING CONFLICTING ADVICE FROM FAMILY - President Donald Trump has spent the hours since Joe Biden was declared his successor in an increasingly lonely environment: Resisting family members’ calls to concede, fending off criticism from every corner of Washington and watching surrogates who once marveled at his stubborn defiance go dark on the airwaves (Politico). For the second time this weekend, the president left the White House in the morning for an outing at his Virginia golf club — a “safe space,” as one administration official described it — for him to weigh his next steps. In recent days, the defeated incumbent has been confronted with a torrent of conflicting advice over how he should spend the remaining months of his presidency. Some in his inner circle have encouraged him to battle the election results until the bitter end, while others privately insist he should simply concede to protect his legacy. Within Trump’s own family, there appear to be divisions. Trump’s wife, Melania, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have been urging the president to think seriously about an exit strategy, according to two people briefed on their discussions. But Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric have continued pugnaciously tweeting away.

 

TRUMP TO FIGHT ON AS STAFF KNOW HE'S LOST: Apart from a few die-hards, most people close to President Trump know the race is over — but no one wants to be the sacrificial lamb who tells him to concede, people familiar with their thinking (Axios). Trump's long-shot legal war, aimed at preventing him from being the first one-term president in 28 years, is being enabled by active supporters — and a lot of passive appeasement. Top Trump advisers sat the president down at the White House on Saturday and walked him through the "options for success," a campaign official tells me. The official added that they made clear to Trump the likely outcome of waging these legal battles, but he was firm that he wants to forge ahead anyway.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BUSH CONGRATULATES BIDEN - Former President George W. Bush, the only living Republican ex-president, extended congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Sunday while appealing to the American people to come together in the wake of a bruising political campaign (CBS News). In a statement, Mr. Bush revealed he spoke with Mr. Biden and Harris on the phone and said he offered the president-elect "my prayers for his success and my pledge to help in any way I can." The former president also marked Harris's historic election, as she will be the first woman vice president and the first Black vice president. "Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country," Mr. Bush said.

 

WHITE HOUSE: STAFFERS GETTING COLD SHOULDER FROM K STREET - White House aides and other administration officials looking to pivot to lobbying following President Trump’s defeat are likely to get a cool reception on K Street. Most lobbying firms aren’t eager to snatch up Trump staffers, since in the eyes of employers they carry more risk than reward, several veteran lobbyists told The Hill. The job market will be even more difficult for younger aides with little previous experience. “The folks in this administration, especially the folks without a previous career to fall back on, are going to have to figure out a way to reinvent themselves — do something different or go somewhere different,” said Julian Ha, a partner at Heidrick & Struggles, an executive search firm.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP/PENCE SCHEDULE - President Trump has no public events scheduled. Vice President Pence will lead a White House coronavirus task force meeting at 3 p.m. in the White House Situation Room.

 

SCOTUS: OBAMACARE CASE TO BE HEARD TUESDAY - A week after President Trump’s electoral defeat, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on one of the principal goals of his 2016 campaign—eliminating the Affordable Care Act—in the midst of an intensifying pandemic (Wall Street Journal). The president and Senate Republicans never found a path to repeal or replace the Obama-era health-care law. But by reducing to zero the penalty for failing to maintain health insurance, they effectively removed the piece they found most objectionable. In Tuesday’s case, a Texas-led group of Republican-leaning states, backed by the Trump administration, contend that change made the entire health-care law unconstitutional. If a majority of justices agree, the result could be loss of health-care coverage for at least 20 million Americans.

 

MEDIA: ALEX TREBEK DIES - Alex Trebek, the Canadian-American quizmaster who stumped generations of trivia fanatics as host of the long-running syndicated game show “Jeopardy!,” died Sunday morning, the show said in a statement on social media. He was 80 years old (AP). “Jeopardy!” did not specify a cause of death in its statement. Mr. Trebek had been receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer. “Jeopardy” said it had no immediate plans to announce a new host. Episodes hosted by Mr. Trebek will continue to air through Dec. 25.

 

Local

 

INDIANAPOLIS: KEYSTONE RAMP TO 86TH STREET TO CLOSE - The off ramp from northbound Keystone Avenue to 86th Street will be closed during the day this week as the Indianapolis Department of Public Works prepares Keystone for road work set to begin early next year (IndyStar). The ramp will be closed from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and again during the same time period throughout the week as needed. The $8 million Keystone Avenue project, scheduled to begin January 2021, will stretch from 65th Street to I-465. The first phase of rehabilitation, comprising Keystone between 39th and 65th streets, is expected to wrap this month.

 

NEW PALESTINE: SCHOOLS MOVE TO VIRTUAL FORMATE DUE TO COVID - New Palestine High School is moving to virtual learning indefinitely after receiving six positive coronavirus tests from students and staff in one day (WIBC). The shift to virtual learning starts immediately, Southern Hancock County schools said in a letter to parents. The district said evidence suggests community spread has happened at the school, and contact tracing has been completed, with families contacted by the district nurse. The high school will use virtual learning for at least two weeks, until Thanksgiving break, and data may show that the shift needs to continue, the district said. Students are currently scheduled to go back to the school on Nov. 30.

 

HOWARD COUNTY: COVID CASES TRIPLE - Howard County’s daily average of positive COVID-19 tests has tripled over the last month as the state and county experiences a surge heading into the winter months, though restrictions are not currently being considered as local hospital capacity remains robust (Kokomo Tribune). The county’s seven-day moving average is now 35 COVID-19 cases a day as of Sunday, according to the Indiana Department of Health. The county’s seven-day positivity rate is 8.5% for all tests and is 15% for those who received their first-ever COVID-19 test. Those numbers are slightly below the state averages of 9.5% and 18.2%, respectively. The county saw its highest daily total on Friday with 48 new COVID cases on 280 new tests. It reported 34 new cases Sunday. Just one month ago, the county was averaging 10-13 new cases a day.

 

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: HANDYMAN SUES OVER MASK MANDATE - When John Goetz, who holds a doctorate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, had to quit working full-time because of his chronic fatigue syndrome, the avid woodworker decided to start a handyman business to help support his young family (South Bend Tribune). Going by the nickname “Handyman Jack,” he launched a website, bought insurance, attained accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, came up with a slogan (“Goetz the Job Done!”) and started taking jobs. That was in February. Then COVID-19 happened. Now, on top of the economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Goetz says his business has suffered from another setback: St. Joseph County’s “mask mandate,” which he says he cannot follow because of his medical condition. “Because of having chronic fatigue syndrome, I am often short of breath even without wearing a mask,” Goetz, of South Bend, said in an interview. “It’s so bad that, when I put one on, I almost passed out one day.” Believing the order to be illegal, Goetz decided to sue. On Oct. 30, Goetz filed a complaint asking the St. Joseph Circuit Court for an injunction that would block the county health officer’s mask order, which requires the use of face coverings in enclosed businesses or public spaces where people cannot stay 6 feet apart.

  • Brian Howey: The grind of scandal will take its toll
    INDIANAPOLIS — A week ago Monday I began writing the “Double dog impeachment dare” story that headlined the Sept. 19 edition of HPI as a cautionary primer for why going down that rabbit hole would be dangerous for our nation because the consequences are often unintended and the ramifications impossible to gauge. 

    By the time I published it a week ago, the emerging scandal of the DNI whistleblower’s urgent complaint involving President Trump and Ukraine President Zelensky had blown up like a mushroom cloud, as fast as Hurricane Rita did in 2005.

    It is a disconcerting circumstance. And I am disturbed by what appears to be another round of scandal and hyper media, allegations and denial, talking heads churning out conspiracies and illogical defenses.

    Our nation faces huge challenges. Our entitlements are on an assured crisis course, probably by the end of the next presidency. We are now running trillion dollar deficits with a good economy. We have no idea how bad that will get in a recession, or a severe recession. We have climate scenarios that are daunting in an immigration/refugee and humantarian sense, and we must begin preparing now. We don’t have a grasp on how artificial intelligence is going to impact the workforce as a whole, and the vital middle class specifically.

    Scandals, probes and hearings are grinding us down at a time when we should be preparing our great nation for the generations of our children and grandchildren.

    If you’ve read the previous nine pages involving Mike Pence and Dan Coats, there are some important tell tales that are cautionary.

    Dan Coats became emotional at the end of his Economic Club speech when he urged us to appreciate the great nation we have and prepare ourselves to hand it off in the “sweep of history” to our children. I’ve heard a lot of great speeches, but that one was truly moving.

    Coats reminded us of the importance of the truth. 

    Or getting captured in a slogan (“build that wall”), which can be 20 feet high and topped by a 21-foot ladder or 21-foot deep tunnel.

    Coats tells us that technology is accelerating at an unimaginable pace. Dictators like President Xi or Kim Jong Un have an advantage: They can make split decisions, while our presidents and Congress must go through processes. This could put us at an incredible disadvantage  without wise leaders who work with each other, have a viable trust, and don’t get swallowed into the rabbit holes.

    In Tom LoBianco’s profile of Mike Pence, a man I once had a working relationship with, we learn that his boss, President Trump, cannot be trusted. His word means nothing, as we learned on the July 12-15, 2016, sequence that brought Pence onto the GOP ticket. We learn that Mike and Karen Pence rely on Biblical scripture to reconcile their exchange of principle for power.

    Vice President Pence has cut off an array of relationships out of fear of stoking the paranoia of his boss, and that will not serve him well in the long run.

    In President Trump, we find a leader who dodged what he calls a “witch hunt” after he sought, as a private citizen, help to power from a foreign adversary. The Republicans in our congressional delegation claim he was exonerated, but the only reason Trump wasn’t indicted was because of a Deparment of Justice rule stating that a sitting president cannot face charges.

    Even more disturbing is what we’re learning now, which is the day after the Russian collusion threat seemed to pass on July 24, he engaged in the same behavior. This time as president, appearing to extort dirt from a foreign leader in exchange for congressionally approved military aid. It is an astonishing development.

    As Trump opponents try to paint him as a wannabe authoritarian, we’re finding a handful of states cancelling presidential primaries so that Trump’s Republican challengers — William Weld, Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh — can’t get on a ballot. That not only reveals a lack of confidence in the political potency of the incumbent, but it reinforces what Trump himself called a “rigged system.”

    This past week, I’ve pressed several members of our delegation to weigh in on just one component of the Ukraine story, since at this time we don’t have the DNI inspector general’s report, haven’t heard from the acting DNI Joseph Maguire, the whistleblower, or Dan Coats, other than what he said Tuesday, which was greatly constrained due to the classified nature of his knowledge.

    It’s a simple question: Is it OK for American political candidates to seek anything of value from foreign sources? There has been no response. So let me help them out with what should be P101: No, it’s not OK. Or as U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse said, “It’s really, really bad.”

    There are laws that prohibit campaign funding to come from foreign sources, as well as anything of value. There is a sprawling history of presidential races where foreign powers don’t endorse our nominees.  

    The last time foreign money came into an American presidential race, with President Clinton in 1996, there was widespread criticism and offenders faced legal consequences.

    Our challenges and dilemmas grow and multiply, while our courage and logic pool dissipates like a shallow puddle in a heat wave. 

    So much for my cautionary primers. 

  • INDIANAPOLIS – It took nine months after South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg kicked off his long-shot Democratic presidential campaign before he landed his first spate of Indiana endorsements. Ten Hoosier mayors – Tom McDermott of Hammond, Dave Kitchell of Logansport, Brent Bascom of Rising Sun, Gay Ann Harney of Rockport, Ron Meer of Michigan City, John Hamilton of Bloomington, Gabriel Greer of Peru, Greg Goodnight of Kokomo, Ted Ellis of Bluffton and Hugh Wirth of Oakland City – were part of a group of more than 50 mayors to endorse this upstart presidential campaign. Beyond his fellow mayors, Buttigieg hasn’t picked up much support from the Democratic Indiana political establishment. U.S. Reps. Pete Visclosky and André Carson aren’t on board, nor is former senator Joe Donnelly, who attended Buttigieg’s campaign kickoff last April. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett was also there, but didn’t endorse this past week, presumably concentrating on his own reelection bid.

  • Merriam-Webster: Aberrant (n) 1: a group, individual, or structure that is not normal or typical: an aberrant group, individual, or structure; 2: a person whose behavior departs substantially from the standard. Synonyms:(Adjective)  aberrated, abnormal, anomalous, atypical, especial, exceeding, exceptional, extraordinaire, extraordinary, freak, odd, peculiar ....

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - On July 27, 2016, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made his infamous "Russia, if you're listening ..." appeal for dirt on Hillary Clinton. It commenced a two-year jigsaw puzzle type investigation that became President Trump's nightmare. It all seemed to end last July 24, when Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress that he could not indict Trump for obstruction of justice because of a Department of Justice rule that a sitting president can't be charged. Mueller distinctly said, “The President was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed.”  July 25 should have been a new day, a new era for President Trump, the proverbial sigh of relief. The House could impeach, but there was no way the 55-seat Senate Republican majority would convict. So what does President Trump do?  According to a rough transcript released by the White House, the president essentially attempted to extort dirt on potential rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, from the rookie President Zelensky of Ukraine, a former comedian. It is the same Ukraine that gave up its nuclear weapons under the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, went through a revolution in 2014, then saw Russian President Putin annex the Crimea before launching a low-grade war on the eastern part of the country that has since claimed 13,000 lives. This summer, President Trump inexplicably held up close to $400 million in U.S. military aid from this new president, pulled Vice President Pence away from attending Zelensky's inauguration last May, and then subtly put the screws on him on July 25.
  • CARMEL – Police stop a driver westbound on 96th Street in Hamilton County. They find less than an ounce of marijuana and this driver in arrested, complete with a stay in the county jail, facing thousands of dollars of legal bills, court costs, fines and a criminal record. Police stop an eastbound driver on 96th Street in Marion County. They find a doobie on the console. He is not arrested, faces no charges, legal bills, court costs or fines. That is the evolving state of marijuana prohibition in Indiana. It's like swiss cheese, with a big hole in the middle and others likely to form in college and border cities. Acting prosecutor Marion County Ryan Mears, then an unelected official, abruptly announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases of under one ounce, which was quickly reinforced by Sheriff Kerry Forestal. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Bryan Roach said his force would still make marijuana arrests. But after Mears dismissed nearly 150 possession cases, it's only a matter of time before the arrests stop. The cops I know aren't big fans of doing the paperwork, only to watch an offender go free.

  • Brian Howey: Wrap your mind around the notion of 'President Pence'
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - There have been three presidents with vivid Indiana ties.  William Henry Harrison won the battle of Tippecanoe and served as a territorial governor. Abraham Lincoln moved to Spencer County as a boy within days of statehood in 1816 and became a man on the prairie, as poet Carl Sandberg writing that he gained his gait, demeanor and sense of spiritual place, particularly after he journeyed from the Ohio River to New Orleans and witnessed his first impressions of slavery.

    Benjamin Harrison, grandson of the aforementioned ninth president, was born in Ohio, moved to Indianapolis in 1854, and after serving as a general in the Civil War, used a law career to enter the U.S. Senate before reaching the White House 1888. 

    There have been six Hoosiers who have served as vice president - Schuyler Colfax, Thomas Hendricks, Charles Fairbanks, Thomas R. Marshall, Dan Quayle and Mike Pence - the literal heartbeat away. Of this group, Marshall came closest to ascending to the presidency after President Woodrow Wilson suffered two strokes a century ago, though the First Lady hid the president's condition from the former Indiana governor.

    I recount this history so you might begin to wrap your mind around the prospect of "President Michael R. Pence." Conventional wisdom would have been that this might not occur until 2025. But on Tuesday of this past week, Ambassador William B. Taylor. Jr., a West Point graduate, war veteran and career diplomat selected by President Trump last June as chargé d'affaires for Ukraine, gave bombshell testimony before three House committees.

    In essence, Taylor confirmed what President Trump had been denying, though his acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney blatantly confirmed a week ago, the so-called "quid pro quo" between $400 million in stalled U.S. military aid to Ukraine in exchange for political dirt on Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden and a Long Beach, Ind., homeowner.

    In an explosive 15-page opening statement, Taylor described communications with European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland: "During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election," Taylor explained. "Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelenskyy was dependent on a public announcement of investigations — in fact, Ambassador Sondland said, 'everything' was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelenskyy 'in a public box' by making a public statement about ordering such investigations."

    Trump would respond to Taylor's testimony on Twitter, calling him a "never Trumper Republican" and "human scum."

    Why did this apparent extortion matter? Because the Ukraine is a vulnerable U.S. ally, attempting to fend off an invasion and occupation by Russian President Putin. It’s waged a war that has cost 13,000 lives. 

    Last June, Trump told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he was open to foreign assistance in his reelection campaign, to which Federal Election Commission Chairman Ellen Weintraub responded: “Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election.“ 

    So why should we ponder the sooner than later prospect of "President Pence?" Because impeachment has been established in the U.S. Constitution, but it is a political mechanism to remove a public servant who has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors." That is deliberately vague, to be determined by the House for impeachment, and then the Senate for a trial, with Chief Justice John Roberts (ironically a Long Beach native) presiding.

    Public opinion has everything to do with this. When the U.S Supreme Court ordered the release of the so-called "smoking gun" tape during President Nixon's Watergate scandal in 1974, his public support in the polls collapsed, and so did his Republican backing in the U.S. Senate. Nixon resigned within hours.

    Polling in support of the Trump impeachment inquiry and removal is far ahead of where it was for Presidents Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1999.  Trump's approval has been mired in the low 40% range for most of his presidency, and on Wednesday a Quinnipiac Poll revealed 55% approve the impeachment inquiry. 

    When the Daily Caller gauged the 55 Republican senators, only seven said they wouldn't vote to convict Trump. Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham told Axios they will weigh impeachment if a crime was committed.

    U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun were not among that group of seven. Both have been ardent supporters of Trump, and both are laying low. Young co-sponsored a resolution against the impeachment inquiry with Sen. Lindsey Graham this past week. But the Hoosier senators are different than there 53 GOP colleagues, in that if Trump were to resign or be convicted, they would have a Hoosier president in Mike Pence.

    Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote this past week, the situation is “fluid.” President Trump still has his core supporters, but many others inclined to support him are exhausted by the constant, self-inflicted drama. At some point, President Mike Pence might seem like a safe harbor for Republicans.

    The columnist is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana at www.howeypolitics.com. Find Howey on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol.
  •  INDIANAPOLIS - Three years ago, Curtis Hill was a Republican rising star, capturing the nomination for attorney general in a spirited convention floor fight, then leading the ticket that November in votes. He became a rare African-American Republican, working in a building where the rest of his party of white. Hill gave a racial component to Republican politics that had seen females win the constitutional offices, save governor, when Holcomb edged out U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks for the nomination following Gov. Mike Pence leaving his nomination to join Donald Trump’s presidential ticket. But this past week, Hill was fighting for his political career and his law license. His reputation has taken a beating. He faced a Supreme Court disciplinary hearing over allegations of sexual harassment and groping at a 2018 sine die party. The ensuing headlines were a politician’s nightmare. There was a parade of 26 witnesses, including Democrat State Rep. Mara Candaleria Reardon, four Republican legislative staffers, and an Elkhart County employee of Hill’s when he was prosecutor there, who testified under oath that her boss sought sex, saying, “We need to ---- because it would be hot.” Hill was described as a “creeper” who was “grabbing butt” and sliding his hands down Reardon’s backless dress. The “Me too” era passed the Indiana Statehouse over the past couple of years with no official taking a fall. That Hill’s alleged conduct came after movie moguls, media anchors and U.S. senators had been swept from power was an indicator of being tone deaf.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – The spook’s eyes at the Londonskaya Hotel bar burned holes in me. Every time I glanced in his direction, they were trained on me. I had entered Odessa, Ukraine as part of the last hurrah of Sen. Richard Lugar’s old Republican internationalist order in this pre-partitioned nation. 

    It was 2007. Vladimir Putin held only shadow power in the old Soviet remnants. His fractured standing belied a reeling nation, the former Soviet Union, in steep demographic decline. High rates of alcoholism, suicide and plunging birth rates defined this former empire. Donald Trump was a gadfly, wannabe presidential aspirant who owned a couple of Gary riverboat casinos and a New York real estate empire.

    It would have been impossible to foresee how this churn of events would play out a dozen years later in Moscow, Kiev, Washington and even Indianapolis. The old Republican internationalist order that once thrived in Indiana has ended, begging the question in the emergent era of the Trump cult of personality, so what if it has?

    The Indiana aspect of this story can be told through the hyper-supplicant Pences, with the vice president accepting full ownership of that cult; and Indiana’s two Republican senators, Mike Braun, who owes his station to Trump, and Todd Young, a former Lugar staffer who, had he taken a different career path, might have found himself briefing the Senate in a manner similar to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Last week Vindman, former Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and State Department Ukrainian expert Dr. Fiona Hill testified before Congress of a disinformation campaign echoing Putin’s Kremlin that it was the Ukrainians, not the Russians, who meddled in the 2016 US elections. The Republican senators received a briefing on the Ukrainian fiction as multiple sources discredited the story. In the wake of the sensational impeachment testimony which appears not to have swayed public opinion, the question for Hoosier voters remains, does it matter? Do people care? I don’t think they do. Hoosier voters appear to be giving President Trump the benefit of the doubt, preferring to decide his future at the ballot box next year. Two recent polls in Indiana, the Old National/Ball State and Bowen Center poll, put Trump’s approval at 52%, while a Morning Consult poll had Trump’s Indiana approval at 50%.

  • INDIANAPOLIS - Last Sept. 19 in my publication Howey Politics Indiana, I wrote the cover story "Double Dog Impeachment Dare."  It came just as the whistleblower had surfaced, flagging President Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Zelensky. There were 146 Democrats (including Indiana's Andre Carson) and one former Republican backing the impeachment of Trump at that time. I acknowledged a sinking feeling about this Ukraine story. Just a day before his “perfect” July 25 phone call with Zelensky , Trump seemed to have dodged the Robert Mueller threat. But last June 16, Trump was asked by ABC's George Stephanopoulos if he would accept foreign intel heading into his 2020 reelection. "I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening," Trump answered. "If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘we have information on your opponent' – oh, I think I'd want to hear it."  Federal Election Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub quickly released a statement on Twitter to make it "100% clear to the American public" that accepting such an offer is illegal. "This is not a novel concept," Weintraub said. "Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation."
  • INDIANAPOLIS -  Since House Democrats impeached President Trump on a mostly party line vote late last month, I’ve been pretty outspoken that his future should be determined by the voters at the ballot box in November. A historic first censure of a president should become a viable option. Having stated that, we appear to be in for a Senate impeachment trial, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi is refusing to send the two articles to the Senate until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows witnesses. Specifically, Democrats maintain that White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former White House counsel Don McGahn, former nation security adviser John Bolton, and several Office of Management and Budget officials should testify. President Trump wants Joe and Hunter Biden to swear an oath and talk before these Senate jurors. Since polarized Washington has foisted this debacle on to the American people, then it's only fitting to have a real trial, with real witnesses. If Trump wants us to believe there was no transgression, he should allow senior aides to testify.

  • INDIANAPOLIS — With closing arguments completed and Senate jurors in Q&A mode in President Trump’s impeachment trial, we find this a cleaved nation, with the We Ask America Poll in Indiana perfectly framing the situation: 47.4% of Hoosiers approve of the president, 47.7% disapprove. A Fox News Poll released Monday has 50% supporting Trump’s impeachment and removal, while 44% oppose. There is little that can be said from the well of the Senate that will change the opinion of these masses, or of the two major political parties, or perhaps even you, dear reader. The Senate is poised to acquit President Trump. The risks facing Republican senators are the recent revelations from Lev Parnas and now former national security advisor John Bolton. Will that give them pause prior to their potentially premature verdict? As U.S. Sen. Mike Braun said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the House impeachment managers “put together a broad, comprehensive case” but he characterized it as “circumstantial in nature.” And then came this nugget when moderator Chuck Todd took a Rex Early axiom (“I don’t have to slam my hand in the car door twice to know that it hurts”) and pressed the freshman Hoosier senator: “This president, as you know, he’s going to take acquittal and think, ‘I can keep doing this.’” Braun responded: “No, I don’t think that. Hopefully it’ll be instructive. I think he’ll put two and two together. In this case, he was taken to the carpet.”
  • INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Supreme Court faces a “political” decision that will be known in the next three weeks: What to do about Attorney General Curtis Hill? Former justice Myra Selby determined a 60-day suspension in light of his 2018 sine die party horndogging, in which he was accused of groping a Democratic legislator and three staffers. She also recommended no automatic return to office. Indiana law requires the AG to be “duly licensed to practice law in Indiana.”  In Selby’s words, “By seeking and accepting the responsibilities of the office of Indiana attorney general, (Hill) undertook to conduct himself both officially and personally in accordance with the highest standards that the citizens of the state of Indiana can expect.” So if the Supremes accept Selby’s recommendation, Hill “likely would be forced to immediately vacate his office because he no longer could practice law,” according to NWI Times reporter Dan Carden. This has never happened since the 1851 Indiana Constitution became the law of the land. And it begs all sorts of questions. Is the alleged behavior by Hill that kind for which any other lawyer in Indiana would be disciplined?
  • HPI Interview: Dr. Myers says next 2-3 days crucial in warding off 'catastrophe'
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - With 12 confirmed coronavirus cases and no deaths, Gov. Eric Holcomb declared earlier this week that Indiana is “remarkably prepared.” Yet as of Friday morning, the Indiana State Department of Health has conducted only 73 tests for the virus. Dr. Woody Myers, the presumptive Democrat challenger to Holcomb, told Howey Politics Indiana  that he sees a “potential catastrophe” unfolding in the state. “The next two or three days are more important than the next two or three weeks,” said Myers, a former Indiana health commissioner under Govs. Robert Orr and Evan Bayh. “In the next two or three days, the priority needs to be testing, testing, testing. The only way we can know where we are is to confirm where the virus is in the bodies of potential patients. That is the only way we can use what we call contact tracing.”
  • HPI Analysis: Trump-Biden race enters into decisive narrative stage
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – To win this fall’s election, President Trump will want you to feel unsafe from urban strife. Think of downtown Indianapolis last spring at the apex of the George Floyd protests that killed one person and shattered dozens of massive glass panes. For Democrat Joe Biden to win the presidency, he must convince enough voters in key states that COVID-19 and the corresponding economic collapse present a far greater danger. While many observers believed the die was cast in May and June as the United States struggled with the pandemic and economic fallout, this campaign’s vital contours are being shaped as we speak as Trump and Biden seek to steer these differing narratives. How this race evolves (or de-evolves) over the next two weeks will have profound implications for the next decade. And just after this sequence, early voting begins, much of it by mail.

Howey Politics (Column Widget)

"Select a day to show the events for that day below the heading "This week's events"
Calendar
Title and navigation
Title and navigation
Move back 3 monthsMove back 1 month

December 2020

Move forward 1 monthMove forward 3 months

December 2020

SMTWTFS
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031