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Thursday, July 29, 2021
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  • EVANSVILLE  – In the middle of the 19th Century, the very idea of the German soldier was considered an absurdity. Southern Germany in particular was perceived as unsuited for war, especially versus the true martial races of Europe – for example the French. Then the Germans beat the Austrians. Then the Germans occupied Paris. Then the Germans plunged the continent into two generations of war. What was conventional wisdom on the Germans – that they were fundamentally not a nation for war – was abruptly reversed. A beaten country, a perennial plaything of its neighbors, suddenly became the supreme aggressor, earning respect and fear in equal measure in a metaphorical heartbeat. This isn’t the only time this has happened. It happens quite a lot if you look. The Russians were an incoherent and staggering nation in 1941, wracked by revolution and tyranny, the country of the humiliation at Brest-Litovsk. They were so enervated that they nearly lost a war to Finland, and the German dictator concluded that Russia was ready for the taking; just kick in the door, and the whole rotten structure comes down. Four years later, Russian soldiers scoured ravaged Berlin for his corpse.
  • EVANSVILLE - Indiana University formally announced on Monday that it parted ways with men’s basketball coach Archie Miller. Miller’s tenure ends after four lackluster years with no tournament appearances, a 33-44 conference record, and zero victories against Purdue. IU and Athletic Director Scott Dolson now embark on a critical coach search. No state population identifies itself more with basketball than Indiana. We take for granted that garages serve as backboards. Here, a home without a basketball goal is not really home. California has wineries; Las Vegas has its casinos; in Texas, there are Friday night football lights. But in Indiana, we connect through our gyms and basketball goals — some hung religiously at Assembly Hall and others hung simply on the side of a barn. For Hoosiers, the sport carries a deeper, almost spiritual element.

  • EVANSVILLE – Emergencies occur in many forms – terrorist attacks, environmental catastrophes, natural disasters, riots, pandemics, to name a few. Such emergencies lead, in turn, to far-reaching problems. Long ago and in the recent past, policymakers saw that existing laws might hinder emergency responses and further endanger public health and safety. Like many other states, Indiana addressed this danger by adopting laws specifically granting the executive branch broad, flexible powers. Emergency powers originate in belief that a centralized, streamlined response wielded by the executive can succeed more quickly and efficiently than a normal legislative process. But authority vested solely in the executive branch includes many potential abuses of power, particularly when the executive possesses sole authority to declare an emergency and then respond to it. During the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities worldwide and in Indiana enacted travel restrictions, lockdowns, business closures, and mask mandates to slow the disease’s spread. Even if such steps were necessary, the state should enact them in a constitutional manner limiting the potential abuse of power. 
  • EVANSVILLE – Democracy requires the consent of losers. For over 220 years American democracy prided itself on peaceful transfers of power; and in all of that time, no president who lost an election sought to subvert the will of voters and reject Electoral College results – until Donald Trump. Despite a massive pandemic and faltering economy, Trump’s post-election focus remained firmly on overturning election results and undermining the democratic system he swore to defend. For weeks Trump spawned and repeated lies and unfounded conspiracy theories about faulty voting machines and destroyed or fabricated ballots; allegations without evidence and allegations universally rejected in over 60 court cases, many presided over by Trump-appointed judges. But with repetition and time, many of Trump’s supporters believed the lies; in their eyes his victory became a landslide and those who denied it were either naive or part of a vast conspiracy. Trump used these false election-fraud allegations to justify his lawlessness. “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules,” he argued. “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.”  Trump’s attempt to undermine and overturn the national election not only shattered norms and traditions, but also sowed seeds for insurrection, violence, and civil unrest by his supporters, saying it comes from a love of country. 
  • EVANSVILLE – If we gauge a nation’s performance in terms of economic prosperity, peace, freedom, and lack of corruption, the single biggest determining factor in ensuring that performance is citizens’ respect for the rule of law. Few things, if any, matter more to a nation’s success and longevity.  The rule of law depends on a citizenry collectively respecting those boundaries. We tell one another and ourselves that the words we ascribe to law – due process, equality, justice – carry force and meaning. Against cynicism, we believe we’re ruled not by raw power, but by these magical ideas underlying the rule of law. We underestimate what happens when we set aside the rule of law and we underestimate the utter fragility of modernity. Many times in history, we’ve turned the clock back to a much tougher and rougher past. The events of the past week offer just a peek at what may be in store for us.
  • EVANSVILLE – Polling in Texas consistently shows a tightening race in the Lone Star State. The president still leads in Texas, but not for reasons Republicans usually lead in Texas. Compared to generations of prior Republicans, Trump lags in the suburbs and among whites. So where is the corresponding increase in support for the president that buoys him despite those declines? It is among Mexican-Americans. This is not as counterintuitive as it may seem; Hispanics show increasing alignment with the emerging right-populism. Look to the Florida 2018 outcomes, driven in large part by Hispanic voter behavior, especially among Puerto Ricans, the left did not expect. Look to the (in)famous Telemundo snap poll that showed its Spanish-language viewers as the only group of Americans to think the President did great in his first 2020 debate performance. And in Texas, the all-Democrat, all-Mexican-American Laredo is a vast reservoir of prospective Trump voters.
  • EVANSVILLE - Citing emergency powers conferred on him by the legislature in the “Emergency Management and Disaster Law” (EMDL), Gov. Eric Holcomb will issue an executive order mandating face mask usage statewide effective July 27. Failure to abide by the order could result in a Class B misdemeanor.  Can he do this? Mandating masks is a legislative power entrusted to the legislative branch, not the governor. But what happens when the legislature willingly delegates those powers to the governor? That’s precisely what the Indiana General Assembly did in the EMDL several years ago — it provides a centralized and streamlined emergency response in the executive branch allowing the state to act more quickly and efficiently than the normal legislative process. In other similar situations, courts have consistently concluded that the legislature may delegate much of its powers to the executive if it chooses to do so, particularly in an emergency.

  • EVANSVILLE — Howey Politics Indiana has received questions from readers about the novel coronavirus. Here, we compile answers to your legal questions. Where does the power to quarantine and close businesses come from? For the most part, states have wide latitude under the 10th Amendment to protect public health. The federal government can make recommendations and offer suggested guidelines, but much more beyond that would be a stretch under the commerce clause. Most power for this rests with the states. Why does the governor have so much authority? All of the governor’s actions must first be approved by the legislature, but in virtually every state the legislature has delegated broad powers to the governor whenever he or she declares an emergency. (Congress has done the same for the president.)

  • The world’s largest concentration-camp network, and the most technologically advanced effort at cultural genocide, is run by the Chinese Communist Party.

    You may know them better as LeBron’s retirement-fund managers. 

  • EVANSVILLE – Everyone has their 9/11 remembrances and that is fine. Understand just how rapidly it is receding into the unremembered past: The number of Americans with no real memory of it approaches one-third, and the number of Americans with no adult memory of it creeps toward half. With the forgetting comes the loss of emotive content. It is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the falling away of emotion means we lose the felt sense of the only silver lining of the whole blood-soaked affair, the flowering of patriotism in the immediate thereafter. Those of us who lived through the bright autumn of 2001 witnessed the last mass expression of a common American patriotism of the 21st Century. No moment like it has come since, and it is unlikely to reappear. If in this vein we are the people we were two decades ago, the evidence has yet to present itself. That said, we should not over-valorize the people we were two decades past, either. The best of us rushed into burning towers in September or descended upon Afghanistan in October. The rest of us watched in stupefaction or satisfaction, or perhaps both. That goes even for direct witnesses of the great massacre, including me. We spectated. It was not two years later that the phrase emerged, not from Afghanistan but Iraq, that in the post-9/11 era only the American military was at war; the American people were at the mall. 
  • EVANSVILLE  — Another mass shooting or two and we have another wave of everyone arguing about the 2nd Amendment. Unfortunately, most arguing the point either don’t understand the matter at hand or they are situational opportunists serving a preexisting agenda. But another interesting debate seems to be bubbling to the forefront: What to do about the subculture breeding mass shootings. It is obvious by now there is a self-perpetuating shooter subculture with an ideological infrastructure. How do you take it down? Many have already begun a movement to strike at this subculture’s sources of alienation and radicalization.  One proposal has been to take down 8chan. Not just 8chan, of course. There are plenty of other fora for the dissemination and activation of mass-shooter ideology. And there is an even wider ecosystem of fora plausibly adjacent to them. You can end up scooping up Gab, parts of Reddit, some of Twitter, some of YouTube, and so on.  Once you do that, you’ve achieved the critical, and perhaps even decisive, step of disconnecting alienated and potentially violent young single males from their single most important source of motivation and validation, one another. The problem of course is that all this quite plausibly violates the 1st Amendment, the foundation of our freedoms.
  • EVANSVILLE –  Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen, the first physician to head the abortion provider in 50 years, was removed by the organization’s board after serving in the role for less than a year. Dr. Wen encouraged her team to emphasize her medical credentials, kicking off her presidency with a campaign called “This Is Healthcare,” highlighting Planned Parenthood’s role outside of politics and drawing a contrast with her predecessor, Cecile Richards. “I believe that the best way to protect abortion care is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a healthcare one,” Wen wrote in a statement about her sudden termination. Reports from within the organization suggest that Dr. Wen’s management style unsettled some, including a deep mistrust of staff, but a markedly different vision appears to have been a driving force behind her termination. Planned Parenthood’s public messaging frequently butts heads with the contention that it is anything but a healthcare provider. There are the well-worn lines that abortions are only 3% of what Planned Parenthood does, the assertion that their healthcare services are robust and vital, and on and on. Against the accusation that they are fundamentally an ideological machine relentlessly dedicated to the positive promotion — not just the availability — of abortion, they push back hard. It seems Dr. Wen took that messaging seriously and tried to manage the organization accordingly. The organization rebelled.
  • EVANSVILLE - Think about democratic and liberal society in America as it was in the distant past, nearly obscured in the mists of time, for example 1980. Or 1970. Or 1940. Or 1900. An imperfect construct, of course, but for the majority characterized by a voluntary principle: Nearly all social interaction was undertaken within the bounds of mutual benefit and mutual agreeability. You interacted with family; you exchanged goods and services; you joined benevolent societies; you worshiped in community; you attended political clubs. The entire web of liberal interaction as described by de Tocqueville was vibrant and pervasive. The important point is this: You interacted with others on a generally positive basis. Underlying every association was some agreement or shared experience, and so we generally believed most of society agreed on most of the important things. As a consequence, we were more optimistic and pacific, and therefore in turn generous.

    In antagonistic or hostile interactions, there were mutually agreed rules and resolutions to them: the political process, the judicial process, or old-fashioned geographic separation. One might not always win, but one generally felt that things were fair. As important, one believed there were defined ends and terminations to those conflicts.??There are two significant differences between then and now. The first is that more and more factions within society seek to definitively impose themselves upon the others. There are structural reasons for this — the administrative state, the supremacy of the judiciary, the collapse of federalism — and they are well known. Few genuinely wish to contend with the structural issues since those that control the relevant structures benefit from them so much.? The other significant difference is the rise of social media, which is vastly more destructive and poisonous to a democratic and liberal society than is commonly understood. Continual and unhindered sentiment-sharing reverses the normal process for human relations.
  • EVANSVILLE – If you wondered what it felt like at the exhaustive conclusion of a First World War offensive, having moved just six inches closer to Berlin at the cost of four months and tens of thousands dead, Tuesday’s election results probably felt somewhat like that. The key differences are of course that no one is dead, we live in relative comfort, the war actually did end, and you will never make it to Berlin. Following the highly anticipated 2018 midterms, neither Republicans nor Democrats perceive much incentive to adjust their approach, victory and defeat having been almost perfectly apportioned to validate the most powerful forces within any institution, those militating toward the status quo. On the one hand, Hoosier Republicans managed to hold onto their congressional seats and kept their super majorities in the state legislature, despite some of the strongest challenges from Democrats in years. Meanwhile the national GOP took small gains in favorable Senate races (including Indiana with Senator-elect Mike Braun) and fended off high-profile governor challenges.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • EVANSVILLE – The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) debate revolves in part around a Constitutional question: Does the president unilaterally set immigration policy, or do such laws require congressional authorization? When President Obama lacked the votes to get DACA through Congress, he simply implemented it via executive order. In truth, DACA was headed toward a legal challenge that likely would have overturned the rule as unconstitutional. Congress needed to take it up one way or the other anyway. But this administration’s motives to end DACA, or at least sow confusion among those benefiting from it, most certainly find their roots in more than just constitutional concerns. The #MAGA crowd feels their American identity and financial well-being stretched and insecure. Immigrants make an easy culprit. We’ve witnessed similar tension at other points in our country’s history – the Civil War, waves of immigration at the turn of the 20th century, and the cultural revolution of the 1960s – but throughout those conflicts the question was whether white Christians would make more room for other groups at a table they still dominated. In those older conflicts new groups gained acceptance in exchange for cultural assimilation.
  • EVANSVILLE – As GOP attempts at federal healthcare reform continue to flounder, John Boehner added fuel to the fire last month with remarkably prescient prophecy about the chances of his former Republican colleagues successfully passing some sort of repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. “Now, they’re never – they’re not going to repeal and replace Obamacare. . . in the 25 years that I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever one time agreed on what a healthcare proposal should look like. Not once,” he said. Plenty of evidence backs Boehner up. Other than vague, occasional references to the free market, Republicans lack a comprehensive ideological approach to healthcare policy. That’s a sad reality for an industry representing one-sixth of the national economy. It’s time for Congress to embrace a new prescription for our national healthcare headache: Unleash the states. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb wants more flexibility at the state level and “greater control of federal health care dollars being spent in Indiana.” Holcomb often defends Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 and avoids offering too many specifics, but many believe he favors more free market reforms like reconnecting healthcare buyers with sellers and reducing perverse incentives.
  • EVANSVILLE – Each year the Indiana legislature prides itself on reducing the size and scope of government, yet each session, including this one, that same legislature grabs more power from the hands of local municipalities. The message from Indianapolis is clear: The Statehouse knows best and mayors and town councils can’t be trusted to do what’s in their communities’ best interests. It is time we fundamentally change our approach. Indiana’s Home Rule Act first passed in 1980 and generally grants municipalities the power to govern themselves as they see fit. The idea, modeled off the national principle of federalism, gives more choice, options, flexibility, and freedom to local leaders. Now those ideals are under greater attack than at any time since Hoosier home rule began. In recent years the Indiana legislature handcuffed municipalities from setting a local minimum wage or from regulating housing, agricultural operations, worker schedules, or plastic bags. A move to preempt local rules for services like Airbnb failed to get out of the Indiana House, but it was a rare setback for the never-ending march to scale back home rule. This year legislators successfully banned local zoning rules for certain utility poles and undermined so-called “good neighbor ordinances.”
        
  • EVANSVILLE – I remember the moment when Mike Pence’s challenge crystallized for me. In 2012, as he campaigned to succeed Mitch Daniels as governor, Pence traveled the state setting up listening sessions with small business owners, and his campaign team asked me to set one up in Evansville. He opened the discussion with an admission that Daniels already addressed most of the low-hanging fruit to improve Indiana’s business environment, but he asked what he could do to further improve state government. As folks around the table offered comments, everyone had plenty of constructive (and harsh) criticism for the national government, but they each struggled to identify concerns with Indiana. In short, thanks to the preceding eight years of Mitch Daniels’ leadership, Indiana was working well – really well, in fact – and Pence would have to work hard to get out from beneath his shadow. Pence’s place in history as governor, literally and figuratively, will forever be viewed next to Mitch Daniels.
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  • Dr. Carroll on 'different pandemics'
    “To suggest that Covid-19 is an escalating emergency in the United States is not quite right. The truth is that the vaccinated and unvaccinated are experiencing two very different pandemics right now. If we don’t confront that, the nation can’t address either appropriately.” - Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, chief health officer for Indiana University, in his New York Times column "Covid is now a crisis for the unvaccinated" on Wednesday.
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