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Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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  • Bloomberg ponders 2020 presidential run as a Democrat

    Chalk this one up in the what-goes-around-comes-around category. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pondering a 2020 presidential run as a Democrat, telling the New York Times“It’s impossible to conceive that I could run as a Republican — things like choice, so many of the issues, I’m just way away from where the Republican Party is today. That’s not to say I’m with the Democratic Party on everything, but I don’t see how you could possibly run as a Republican. So if you ran, yeah, you’d have to run as a Democrat.”

    Should he win the Democratic nomination, the billionaire Bloomberg would likely face President Trump, a billionaire Manhattan Democrat who turned Republican and has said he will seek reelection. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

  • Hurricanes and blame
    As a potentially catastrophic hurricane is bearing down on our beloved Carolinas, President Trump spent Thursday morning settling scores and affixing blame on his political opponents over his administration’s Puerto Rico hurricane response from 2017:

    Our President tweeting: “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.......This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”

    Yes, Mr. President, this is bad politics at a time when there shouldn’t be any politics at all. Concentrate on the task at hand. It’s bad form to blame victims of a natural disaster. Very unbecoming. Why don’t you become a leader?
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • 9/11 changed everything
    My son Thomas and I stared at the “Today Show”  on Sept. 11, 2001 and the slicing gash in the World Trade Center’s north tower around 9 a.m. It was a clear day and we wondered how a pilot could have wandered tragically into such a huge building. Viewing skyscrapers in Chicago often, we still lacked scale since the twin towers were so gigantic. We thought we were looking at a wayward Cessna, and not a 747 airliner.

    At 9:03 we watched Flight 175 assault the south tower, and in an instant, we knew this was terrorism coming to the U.S. mainland. As we watched the towers fall and smoke engulf Manhattan, we feared a similar attack on Chicago’s Sears Tower or the Hancock Building. Being Midwesterners, these were our towers.

    So much has changed in the past 17 years. There has been the trillions of dollars spent on security, two wars fought in the name of 9/11, close to 6,000 American soldiers sacrificing their lives. We take our shoes off at the airport and arrive hours early for routine flights. In the back of our minds, terror constantly lurks. In an instant, we went from a Cold War peace dividend to what seems to be the new 30 Years War.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher.
  • After a head-spinning week, Pence weighs in

    After yet another head-spinning week at the Trump White House, we watched Vice President Mike Pence say on CBS Face The Nation Sunday morning: 1. He’s willing to take a polygraph test on the anonymous NYT op-ed article; 2. He doesn’t believe any of his staffers were involved and then said in a “clarifying” segment of his Face The Nation interview that he didn’t even have to ask his staff; 3. Believes the DOJ should investigate the op-ed source, even though there doesn’t appear to be a crime; 4. He’s willing to sit for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller; 5. He hasn’t considered invoking the 25th Amendment designed to remove a president if deemed unfit for office; 6. and “Fear” author Bob Woodward has a “complete misunderstanding” of how this White House operates.

    Whew. The vice president is willing to take a lie detector test. Think about that. And any one of these statements in another era would bring 72 point headlines. One other thought: From Michael Wolf, to Omarosa, to Bob Woodward and now the NYT anonymous inside writer, we hear the same themes: This White House is dysfunctional on a historic scale. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

  • Op-ed author should reveal self, explain and resign

    The “senior official” in the Trump administration who wrote the New York Times op-ed piece needs to reveal him/herself and resign. If the scenario this person describes is true, this person owes it to the nation to stand up and explain motives and circumstances. When this person took the oath of office, he/she swore allegiance to the constitution and to protect and defend the United States.

    Meanwhile, the New York Times did a disservice to the nation and credible journalism by allowing this anonymous op-ed to be published in this cloak of secrecy. It plays into President Trump’s notion of “fake news” and use of anonymous sources. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

  • The outer bounds of political correctness
    We have reached the far, far, far boundaries of political correctness. We learned that Lilly Diabetes has pulled its sponsorship of NASCAR’s Conor Daly car this weekend because, as WTHR’s John Stehr reports, his father allegedly used the N-word nearly 35 years ago. “Before Conor was born.” Unbelievable.

    So we’re watching careers, altered, destroyed and end for quotes made decades earlier, by comments made in private meetings, by comments taken completely out of context, by people making uncorroborated allegations of reported slurs, and now this.

    We also witnessed an IndyStar columnist insist that “white people” stop using the N-word. We think everyone should stop using the N-word. - Brian A. Howey, publisher.
  • Trump to campaign for Braun in Evansville
    President Trump will return to Indiana for a MAGA rally at 7 p.m. CT at the Ford Center in Evansville and to campaign for Indiana Republican Senate nominee Mike Braun. It will be the 10th rally for Trump in Indiana and first since he appeared in Elkhart two days after the May primary. Doors open for the general public at 4 p.m.

    “Evansville is a crossroads for so many great Americans in Indiana and the neighboring states, so it’s an ideal stop for President Trump’s next rally,” said Michael Glassner, Chief Operating Officer for Donald J, Trump for President, Inc. “The President is expected to report on the booming Trump economy that’s lifting up families across Indiana, his tough immigration and trade policies, his new EPA coal rules, and more. Most importantly, President Trump will remind Hoosiers of the need to get out and vote in midterm elections this fall to protect and expand the GOP majorities in the House and Senate, including supporting Mike Braun in his race against Joe Donnelly for the U.S. Senate.” 
     
    It will be the first time Trump will be in Indiana since Braun called on Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill to resign after he was accused of sexual harassment allegations on July 2. Braun, Gov. Eric Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch have said they have “zero tolerance” for any type of sexual harassment. At least 11 women have accused President Trump of some type of sexual harassment.

    HPI asked Braun “Is that going to be a problem for President Trump to come in and campaign on your behalf when there are all these allegations sur- rounding him?"

    Braun: Yeah. I think in his case, most of that is tabloid kind of anecdotal stuff. Everybody should have the process to push it legally. In this day and age if that happens, clearly you need to be accountable. What happened with Curtis as opposed to what happened there is different for the reason I just mentioned. If there’s anything there and anybody wants to go forward, there’s a process to go through.”
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
     
  • What you get with TV stars, sleazebags, billionaires and Mooch
    After reading about the Paul Manafort trial, hearing of Rick Gates testimony and now the “Unhinged” book by Omarosa Manigault Newman, several observations:

    1. The Trump 2016 campaign was, well, sleazy. Not the Indiana part, but all the alleged tax evasion, the embezzlement, backstabbing and conspiracy of Manafort and Gates. Donald Trump apparently had no idea that Manafort was broke, seeking wild bank loans and promising high ranking jobs if they pulled off a miracle (which they did). The campaign vetting process appears to have been non-existent.

    2. Omarosa’s qualifications were … what? That she was a TV star on “The Apprentice”? Or was she there to check off the “African-American” box on the diversity chart? Whatever the reason, this was resume-lite and she had no reason to be in the White House where she secretly recorded her final conversation with CoS John Kelly in the … Situation Room. That sounds like a national security breach to me.

    3. This has evolved into a presidential administration of TV stars, talking heads, billionaires … and Mike Pence. Mooch, we hardly knew ye.

    Sooooo, we shouldn’t really be shocked that the ethic limits are pressed and pushed, while protocols and securities are breached.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher.
  • Braun urges conservative execs to share tax relief with employees
    Republican Senate nominee Mike Braun told Kokomo Rotarians on Tuesday that in order for the tax reforms of 2017 to work, employers need to spread the benefits around. “That does need to made permanent,” Braun said of the tax reforms. “Because it will unleash, just like it has so far, more energy in this economy. Conservatives need to make sure the Dems don’t win on this. Share the benefits with your employees, like I said we did earlier. It’s a golden opportunity for conservatives to share the benefits with your employees.” Look for our coverage of Braun’s swing through Kokomo and Delphi on Tuesday in the weekly edition of HPI on Thursday.
  • Trump, Pence and the Koch Bros
    There’s no question, Vice President Mike Pence has remained steadfastly loyal to President Trump. But the bossman continues to take swings at Pence allies. Last month, senior White House officials were suggesting National Intelligence Director Dan Coats had “gone rogue” as he continues to warn of Kremlin assaults on the U.S. election. Coats made another full-throated assertion on that front in the White House briefing room Thursday, while Trump hours later could only muster up it’s all a “hoax” rhetoric.

    President Trump is also lambasting the Koch Brothers, a network of billionaire and millionaire donors which Pence has courted for years. Key Pence lieutenants, like the recently departed Marc Short, Stephen Ford and Matt Lloyd were key Koch aides. President Trump doesn’t care, tweeting, “The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas. They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more. I made them richer. Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn. They want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First & the American Worker - a puppet for no one. Two nice guys with bad ideas. Make America Great Again!”

    There’s been no yuuuge Trump infrastructure plan, but Pence might need some bridge reconstruction with the Kochs down the road. -
    Brian A. Howey, publisher.
  • Trump's pretty good week ...
    President Trump had a pretty good week. The GDP was a lofty 4.1%, the jobless rate is at a rock bottom 4%. Trump appeared to cut a deal with the European Union’s Jean-Claude Juncker, backing away from the auto tariffs he’s been threatening. North Korean despot Kim Jong Un returned the remains of more than 50 missing U.S. soldiers. “Private business investment has surged from 1.8 percent the year BEFORE I came into office to 9.4 percent this year -- that means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!” Trump tweeted on Friday.

    With economic numbers like those, Trump should be polling well north of 50% approval. His problem is that he continually steps on his own message, mostly reacting to the Russian collusion probe, like the allegations made this week from former fixer Michael Cohen, who said Trump knew about a June 2016 meeting with Kremlin operatives. “I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?). He even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!” Trump tweeted on Friday. “The only Collusion with Russia was with the Democrats, so now they are looking at my Tweets (along with 53 million other people) - the rigged Witch Hunt continues! How stupid and unfair to our Country....And so the Fake News doesn’t waste my time with dumb questions, NO,…”

    So the Russian collusion probe and a cast of strange, strange characters - Michael Cohen, Carter Page, Paul Manafort - obscure what should be a robust economic windfall.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Memo to Mayor Joe
    Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett told the IBJ’s  Hayleigh Colombo he hasn’t figured out his 2019 plans when the first term Democrat faces reelection. “I haven’t made a final decision,” Hogsett said. “It’s 16 months away, actually, but who’s counting?” Well, a lot of folks are counting, Mayor, including Councilman Vop Osili. It’s been a pretty tough first term with crumbling pavement and record homicide rates which will be tough to square since running as a law and order candidate in 2015. Of course, one decision by Amazon could change everything.

    Memo to Mayor Hogsett: To be mayor, you have to love the job, which is the toughest in politics. If you're still undecided on whether to seek reelection this late in the process, at a time when you should be raising bucks and fine tuning a reelect message, you've probably already answered the question. Look what happened to your old buddy Evan when a decision comes late. 
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Time for Trump and Putin to cut a deal
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wants Maria Butina back in Moscow, saying the federal charges against her for illegally lobbying the NRA, U.S. Treasury and CPAC as an unregistered foreign agent are “fabricated.”

    With President Trump and President Putin getting along so swimmingly, and with both having a penchant for the “art of the deal” (Putin tends to use tanks in his artful deals) perhaps one is in order here. We send Butina back to Moscow. In exchange, Putin puts former CIA/NSA employee Edward Snowden on a jet to Washington. On June 21, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed charges against Snowden of two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and theft of government property. Snowden lives in Russia, where the Moscow girls make him sing and shout, on temporary asylum. 

    So let’s make a deal! Perhaps Vlad can bring Snowden along with him to the White House in October. He could then party down with the sexy Butina on the way back to Sheremetyevo. -
    Brian A. Howey, publisher.
  • Trump ponders Putin's 'incredible offer'
    There’s been a lot of haywire stuff crossing the wires, from White House double negatives, where President Trump’s “no” really meant “go” (according to Sarah Huckabee Sanders), and finally, Russian President Putin’s rekindled idea of a joint U.S.-Russia cyber security probe. Trump called Putin’s proposal to allow Russian questioning of Americans and reciprocal questioning an “interesting idea” and an “incredible offer” at the Helsinki news conference.

    The notion that the U.S. would force former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, who has been an intense critic of both Presidents Trump and Putin, to testify before what would be a “fox/chicken” commission is lunacy. But Sanders said Wednesday, “There was some conversation about” with nothing determined. 

    Really? Really???? State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the idea “would be a grave concern to our former colleagues.” McFaul reacted, saying on Twitter that he hopes “the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin.” Otherwise, he said, it creates a “moral equivalency” between a legitimate U.S. “indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin.” My final thought? Yikes. There is no moral equivalency between U.S. justice and Putin’s Russia which has no “rule of law,” only “Rule of Putin.”
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • 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

  • Pence stay restricts Brown County SP to regular folks
    First, most of us are proud that another Hoosier, Mike Pence, is vice president of the United States. It reflects on our political culture and heritage and a talent pool we produce that affords our leaders to prime position in the upper eshelon of American governance.

    But this weekend, in the heart of summer, Hoosiers traveling to Brown County State Park found a good portion of Indiana’s flagship recreational area closed. A sign near the covered bridge at the SR46 entrance explained there was only access to the swimming pool, Abe Martin Lodge and horse stables. The sign attempted to divert visitors to the west entrance. Why? Because Vice President Pence was staying at Aynes House, the long-time gubernatorial retreat. He was there for “private” business.

    Pence has stayed there before as vice president, with Secret Service and Indiana State Police parked across the road and at a nearby vista. This time, a good part of the park was closed to us regular folks. A huge truck blocked the access road by the stables. Obviously, the Secret Service has security concerns that weren’t present during earlier veep visits. 

    A couple of observations: Brown County State Park is for the people, not VIPs. If VIPs want to stay there, they should blend, or be housed in remote, easily secured areas without denying access to the people. The people should have unfettered access. And if there are heightened security concerns, then perhaps the vice president shouldn’t be staying in such a public place that might put vacationers in the crosshairs.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher 
  • Papa John's name disappearing from Hoosier buildings
    Papa John, ya really screwed up. John Schnatter's use of the “N-word” in a Papa John’s corporate conference call in May as reported by Forbes has led to widespread reassessment of his name adorning buildings across Indiana. "Colonel Sanders called blacks n-----s," Schnatter said, complaining that the fellow Hoosier Sanders (a native of Henryville) had never received backlash, according to Forbes. 

    His hometown of Jeffersonville ordered his name removed from the city’s basketball gym. "The city of Jeffersonville represents a very diverse community," said Mayor Mike Moore, who added that he knew Schnatter when they were both growing up and considers him a friend. "It was a tough decision, but I believe it was the right decision." Schnatter apologized, saying, "News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true. Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society." Schnatter has left the company as well as the University of Louisville Board of Trustees.

    Ball State and Purdue are reassessing buildings Schnatter donated funds for, and University of Louisville football players want his name removed from the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. “We need to change the name of the stadium ASAP, I'm not here for it," football player Sean Dawkins tweeted. Fellow player Jalen Smith added, "Domino's anyone?" Smith tweeted in response, which Dawkins responded, "Never really liked Papa Johns anyways.” Whew. -
    Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • No one's taking questions at the Statehouse
    Former IndyStar political report Mary Beth Schneider succinctly summed up Attorney General Curtis Hill’s scandal show Monday morning: “So. @AGCurtisHill checks most boxes: Deny. Blame media. Play the martyr. Refuse questions.”

    The event in the AG’s office was billed as a “press conference.” But it was a defiant statement, no questions (even to terse AG staffers) with a bit of dog & pony  theater as Hill said he was going “back to work” with peeking cameras recording him at his ornate work station. So Hoosiers now have a mute attorney general, apparently muzzled by his own attorneys, who won’t take questions. 

    In fact, since the Hill scandal broke on July 2, none of Indiana’s leaders - Gov. Holcomb, Speaker Bosma, or President Long - have been willing to go before reporters (and the people) to take questions on what has become a strange, strange episode. That's a problem for these officials who have committed to transparency and accessibility. It raises this specter: Is there something to hide?  
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Rep. Reardon describes March 15 incident with AG Hill
    State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon penned this op-ed for the NWI Times: “My name is Mara Candelaria Reardon. I am not anonymous. I am a wife, mother, business owner and a state representative. I am also a victim of sexual battery, perpetrated by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.

    “In the early hours of March 15, as is the tradition, lawmakers, staff, and others engaged in the legislative process, gathered to mark the end of the legislative session. As I was crossing the room, I came across Attorney General Curtis Hill, entering the party alone. I was quite surprised to see him in this setting, because in my 12 years in and around the General Assembly, I have not seen any attorney general attend an end of session gathering. He greeted me and the staffer that was with me. While I do not know him personally, we had met before. As we were exchanging pleasantries, Curtis Hill leaned toward me as if he could not hear me and placed his hand on my back and slid his hand down to my buttocks and grabbed it. I said “back off,” and walked away, as the staffer with me stood shocked. Later in the evening, I was standing with a group of people, and he approached the group. Hill came up behind me and put his hand on my back again and said, “That skin. That back.” I recoiled away before he could touch my buttocks again.

    “As a strong, independent woman, I planned to address the issue personally with Hill. To me, he was not the attorney general, or a married man, or a religious man, or a Republican. He was the man who put his hand on my skin and my buttocks, and I felt I needed to address it face to face. That was my plan; however a few weeks later, I was having lunch with a fellow legislator and a member of the legislative staff. At that time, the staffer, still shocked and disgusted, told us that after I went home, Curtis Hill continued to grope at least four other women, herself included. I realized that this was bigger than me, and I had an obligation to report it to our House leadership, to protect these women and any others, from Curtis Hill’s deviant conduct.”  

     
  • Bosma, Long statement on AG Hill memo
    Here is a statement from House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long: At the request of House and Senate employees and to maintain confidentiality, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) have no further public comment on the matter regarding Attorney General Curtis Hill, however they would like to provide the following information as background:

    "The internal and confidential legal memorandum from outside counsel was received by the Legislative Services Agency on behalf and at the request of the four legislative leaders, who then received a copy of the document. At some point, there was an internal and egregious breach of confidentiality, and the memo was inappropriately shared with representatives of the media. At this time, we are investigating the source of this breach of employee confidentiality and will react accordingly if the source is discovered.

    "Outside counsel was engaged to reaffirm the policies and procedures of the House and Senate in regard to the handling of these specific employee complaints. At no time did the legislative leaders, legislative staff or outside counsel conduct an investigation into the Attorney General. All actions were conducted solely to protect legislative employees. The House and Senate conducted a thorough review of the employee complaints, and shared those concerns and allegations with the Attorney General via a conference call on Friday, June 29. A follow-up, in-person meeting with the four leaders was conducted on Monday, July 2. The House and Senate have a duty to protect legislative employees, and those employees have told us they believe our review of the matter has been thorough and fair." 

     
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  • Chairman Brown still in critical, but making progress
    House Speaker Brian Bosma is in regular contact with House Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown’s family, and Bosma reported today that Dr. Brown remains in critical but stable condition at the hospital in Ann Arbor. Brown was injured in a motorcycle accident near the Mackinaw Bridge in Michigan. The family also conveyed that he has made positive progress since the accident.
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  • Bloomberg ponders 2020 presidential run as a Democrat

    Chalk this one up in the what-goes-around-comes-around category. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pondering a 2020 presidential run as a Democrat, telling the New York Times“It’s impossible to conceive that I could run as a Republican — things like choice, so many of the issues, I’m just way away from where the Republican Party is today. That’s not to say I’m with the Democratic Party on everything, but I don’t see how you could possibly run as a Republican. So if you ran, yeah, you’d have to run as a Democrat.”

    Should he win the Democratic nomination, the billionaire Bloomberg would likely face President Trump, a billionaire Manhattan Democrat who turned Republican and has said he will seek reelection. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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