By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. The GOP capitulation

Here are your hump day power lunch talking points. President Trump and the Republican controlled Senate appear to have capitulated to the NRA’s embattled Wayne LaPierre. All it took was one 30-minute phone call to send Trump in full retreat on any measure of meaningful gun reform. “We have very, very strong background checks right now, but we have sort of missing areas and areas that don’t complete the whole circle,” Trump told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “I have to tell you that it’s a mental problem. Democrats would, I believe, give up the 2nd Amendment.” You can easily envision LaPierre whispering these talking points into Trump’s ear. It's a bizarre pattern. Atrocity after atrocity, Trump meets with the families of victims, gives lip service to reform, then retreats when the hardliners get to him.

This capitulation quickly spread to Capitol Hill. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise speaking at a fundraiser for Rep. Jim Banks in Columbia City, said, “What I would like to see is us to continue to focus on making the existing laws actually work,” said Scalise, who was critically wounded in an assault on the GOP congressional baseball team. “In many cases with mass shootings, we've seen people falling through the cracks that shouldn't have been able to legally buy a gun.” And Banks? “As Steve says, we need to enforce the laws that we have.”  Say what?

The “laws we have” are not enough to prevent the hundreds of mass shootings that have afflicted this jittery nation just this year, prompting stampedes at anything that sounds like gunfire. Are Scalise and Banks suggesting that law enforcement isn’t up to the task? Or we should raise taxes to hire more cops? Or raises taxes to harden all of our schools? And that police officers really like the idea of responding a nutball with a battlefield-grade weapon can kill nine people and injure 27 in 30 seconds  outside a Dayton nightclub? And that the 75% of Americans who favor an assault weapon and high volume magazine ban and the 90% who want universal background checks are to be denied? It is dizzying logic and an abject lack of leadership  and fortitude that must be addressed at the ballot box in November 2020.

2. Dozens of mass shooting threats

On the day of Scalise and Banks bizarre logic, Indianapolis police arrested two students who brought handguns to school. A Florida man who was threatening a massacre was arrested in Indianapolis after he texted friends: “I’m thinking about shooting a church up  but I’m afraid how it will affect my family in the flesh when I’m gone. So I think I’m just gonna kill some people on the street and get away with it then kill myself.” CNN: More than two dozen people have been arrested over threats to commit mass shootings since 31 people were killed in one weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton earlier this month. HPI: So it seems that many police agencies are being very diligent in assessing threats and making arrests. But it's only a matter of time before someone acts without tipping anyone off. Then we will repeat this cycle. At some point, the political consequences of the status quo will kick in.

3. Auto fuel standard end around

President Trump is "enraged" by U.S. automakers after they signed on to a pact with California not to roll back auto emission standards. This is one of the scenarios where Trump is attempting to undo policy from the Obama administration, we guess, in spite. But the economic reality is that after President Obama established the new 54.5 mpg fuel efficiency standards by 2025 in August 2012, American and foreign automakers have spent the last seven years engineering to the new standards. So you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW and, soon, Mercedes-Benz, have signed on to the California standards. Fiat Chrysler is reassessing. These corporations have invested and retooled to the higher standards.

4. South Side Pete

Mayor Pete Buttigieg held a campaign event on the south side of Chicago in what the Chicago Tribune  described as a "historic black neighborhood." But the audience was overwhelmingly white. Buttigieg told the sold-out rally, "Find the people who don't look like most of you in this room  and let them know they have the chance, not just to support this campaign, but to shape it." Polls show Buttigieg is getting virtually no African-American support. Nor has he been endorsed by any South Bend or Hoosier African-American office holders or leaders.

5. Recession? What recession?

President Trump, Vice President Pence and Kellyanne Conway insist there is no threat of recession. But Politico  reports that acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told an elite GOP funding crowd in Jackson Hole that if the U.S. were to face a recession, it would be “moderate and short.” How would he know? Trump is also considering a payroll tax cut in another "What? Me Worry?" moment. Why not further crimp the soon-to-be-insolvent Social Security fund just as the Baby Boom goes into full retirement? Trump won't be in office when those amazon chickens come home to roost, bills payable to our kids and grandchildren.

Have a great last half of the week. It's The Atomic!