By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Going Pogo

America and Indiana have gone Pogo: "We have met the enemy, and he is us." At this writing, as the Delta variant of COVID reinvades this nation that is now giving away coveted vaccine to third world counties, Indiana stands at an anemic 43.7% fully vaccinated with 46.4% have at least one dose. Indiana reported 878 new COVID cases Thursday, the most since May 20. New IU President Pamela Whitten announced Thursday she has a "breakthrough" COVID infection: "Gratefully, my symptoms are mild, and I will continue to work and lead the university during this time from my home office. While the vaccine is not 100% effective, I am so grateful to be protected from more serious symptoms."

Gov. Eric Holcomb has been mum over the past couple of months about the state's laggardly vaccine rate (though it was announced he will have his delayed inaugural ball in August). But other Republican governors are now speaking out. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox: "I think it's ridiculous. I don't think we can take credit for the vaccine and then tell people that there's something wrong with the vaccine. We have these - these talking heads who have gotten the vaccine and are telling other people not to get the vaccine. That kind of stuff is just, it's ridiculous. It's dangerous, it's damaging, and it's killing people. I mean, it's literally killing their supporters. And that makes no sense to me." 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey: “Let’s be crystal clear about this issue. And media, I want you to start reporting the facts. The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks. Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain. Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the vaccinated folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down. I’ve done all I know how to do. I can encourage you to do something but I can’t make you take care of yourself."

2. Redistricting hearings in August

Hoosiers are invited to attend one or more of a series of public meetings across the state on Aug. 6-7 and Aug. 11 to provide feedback on Indiana's redistricting process. Before legislators are expected to return to the Statehouse in mid-to-late September to redraw the district boundaries, public meetings will be held in each of Indiana's nine congressional districts. The meetings will be grouped into geographic areas, including north, south and central. The northern group meetings will be in Lafayette and Valparaiso on Friday, Aug. 6 and in Fort Wayne and Elkhart on Saturday, Aug. 7. In addition, the southern group will host meetings in Anderson and Columbus on Friday, Aug. 6 and Evansville and Sellersburg on Saturday, Aug. 7. The central meeting will held in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Aug. 11. State Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola), chair of the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment, will chair the redistricting meetings in the north, and State Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), chair of the Senate Committee on Elections, will chair the meetings in the south. Wesco and Ford are expected to co-chair the central Indiana meeting. "We look forward to hosting these important meetings across the state to hear directly from the public on Indiana's redistricting process," Wesco said. "Hoosiers can be confident that we'll continue to meet all of our statutory and constitutional requirements." "Public input on redistricting is extremely important to the map-drawing process," Ford said. "We look forward to hearing from Hoosiers from all over Indiana during these meetings." Campus meeting room information will be updated as it's available on the Indiana General Assembly's website at Meetings will be livestreamed and archived at
3. Chairman Schmuhl on redistricting

Indiana Democratic Chairman Mike Schmuhl reacted to the General Assembly redistricting hearings: “Over the last decade, Hoosiers have witnessed ‘right to work’ laws create a ‘work more for less’ economy, manufactured culture wars like RFRA unfairly attack our friends and family members, and a system that has gutted public school funding and diminished our children’s future – all tracing back to gerrymandered district maps drawn by the Indiana Republican Party. Hoosiers need balance to be restored. The Indiana Republican supermajority will no doubt be tempted to continue to rig the system against Hoosiers who simply want to choose their representatives in free, fair, and competitive elections. Indiana Democrats are ready to take this vital democratic debate across the state and demand that Republicans value and respect all Hoosier voices – not just elected Republican officeholders and operatives behind closed doors."

4. No Trump/Pence redux

Politico reports that Donald Trump is already mulling a 2024 ticket, but it ain't gonna be Trump/Pence: “The vice president is an incredible man and was a great vice president, but he has a huge obstacle — problem — in trying to be the nominee after dealing with what he’s dealt with over the last six months,” said a Trump adviser. Asked specifically if there was a chance Pence could serve as Trump’s number two again, the adviser replied: “zero.”

5. Hoosiers on Sunday Talk

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, snubbed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from serving on the House Jan. 6 select committee, will appear on Fox News Sunday (Pelosi will be interviewed on ABC's This Week). Former surgeon general Jerome Adams will be interviewed on CBS Face The Nation.

Have a great weekend, folks. It's The Atomic!