Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The funny thing about guns and American history

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 10:18 AM

History can be a great teacher.

But we have to be willing to learn the lessons.

It has occurred to me often as we Americans slog our way through this dispiriting presidential campaign in this age of relentless divisiveness that many of our troubles stem from the fact that we don’t understand our own past.

In an exchange I had a few months back with Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour – perhaps the primary advocate in the state for the National Rifle Association and other gun groups – he said that one reason he supported unfettered access to firearms was because of America’s revolutionary history.

He cited the continental militia, in particular. He marveled at what armed citizens had accomplished in hurling back the redcoats to help the fledgling United States of America achieve its independence.

Lucas merely articulated, albeit with more passion and eloquence, the same argument the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre has advanced for years as the historical case for expansive gun ownership.

It’s a seductive notion, this idea that untrained farmers and tradesmen seized their trusty muskets and hurled back the mightiest military force on earth so that a people yearning to be free could thrust off the yoke of tyranny.

Unfortunately, it’s not true.

George Washington deplored the militia’s performance in battle during the Revolutionary War. The Continental Congress despaired over the militia’s ineffectiveness.

Even Samuel Adams, perhaps the most egalitarian of our founders, denigrated the militia:

“Would any man in his senses, who wishes the war may be carried on with vigor, prefer the temporary and expensive drafts of militia to a permanent and well-appointed army?”

If the militia members did not fight effectively in battle, why, then, are they not forgotten?

At least part of the reason is that the militia did perform a role in the war. The militia served as a kind of police force, one that helped to keep slaves from revolting and loyalists to the crown from providing aid to the British troops.

As such, they helped to keep weapons out of the hands of those who might use them against the Continental troops.

In other words, the militia members — who now are touted as the poster boys for the NRA and gun rights — actually were some of the earliest agents of gun control in this country’s history.

That’s what’s known as irony.

The other reason the militia loom large in our national memory is that the militias serve a mythic purpose.

Our national mythology is that our founding represented a new birth of freedom, a restored innocence made possible by a return to an American Eden. In this mythology, we Americans lived once upon a time unfettered by constraints of either government or reality.

The immediate problem of this myth, of course, is that Americans in the 18th century who were not white males did not live in freedom, period.

But another problem is this myth denies the larger reality of this country’s founding. Our founders were practical men. They did not fight a revolution to dispense with government – that was a dream hatched later by anarchists – but to create a country in which the people governed themselves.

It is more romantic to imagine hardy pioneers, muskets in hand, marching through an untouched wilderness to form a country than it is to remember that the true miracle of our founding came from weary men studying by lamplight, reading, writing, arguing, amending, negotiating and compromising their way to form a government like no other.

What they came up with, after starts and stops, was a system that advanced national needs, protected individual rights and created mechanisms for balancing competing interests, even those not anticipated in the 1700s.

It was – and is – a marvel of political engineering.

The famed director John Ford’s last great film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” explored the way we Americans substitute myth for reality. The film’s most famous line is:

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

But when we print the legend — when we forgot our actual history — we conjure up a past that never existed.
And we pine for a future for which we may long but constantly eludes us, like a ghost that vanishes from our grasp into the mist of our imagination as we reach for it.
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Friday, October 21, 2016

The Bayh-Young debate wasn't Lincoln and Douglas

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 11:14 AM

  • (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, pool)
Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas really made things tough for U.S. Senate candidates.

When Lincoln and Douglas debated in 1858, they were arguing about the fate of a nation. They jousted over the meaning of what it means to be an American and advanced arguments that continue to echo across time.

Democrat Evan Bayh, Republican Todd Young and Libertarian Lucy Brenton didn’t quite hit that high standard when they debated Tuesday night in WFYI’s studios in Indianapolis.

Theirs was a lively encounter, but one that is not likely to linger in memory. Each candidate came in with a task and — with varying degrees of success — each did what he or she set out to do.

Brenton’s job, of course, was the simplest. She had to seize her moment in the spotlight, explain who and what Libertarians are and make all of that seem warm and inviting.

She succeeded.

She made a few jokes about being part of a “mom corps,” dropped in a Star Wars reference or two, repeatedly pointed in the other candidates’ direction and said, with a smile on her face, that they were owned by special interests.

Young came out swinging. Every question — climate change, the Middle East, Russian aggression, guns, etc. — seemed to him to be an opportunity to pivot to his talking points.

In fact, it often appeared that Young’s economic development plan centered on the creation of a statewide drinking game. If every Hoosier over the age of 21 lifted a glass each time Young mentioned that he was a Marine, that Bayh voted for Obamacare, that Bayh was a lobbyist or that Bayh was a “D.C. insider,” every brewery, winery and distillery in America would experience full employment.

Bayh’s approach was subtler.

He came into the debate determined to show that he was the adult in the room, the unflappable grown-up who could not be rattled.

When Young smacked him, Bayh shook his head, more with studied regret than in anger, and all but tut-tutted that it wasn’t true.

At times, Young’s inability to rattle Bayh seemed to annoy the Republican. Near the end of the debate, Young shook his finger in Bayh’s direction and accused the Democrat of selling out Hoosiers.

“You took the money and ran,” Young said.

It wasn’t a moment that suggested senatorial dignity — which Bayh pointed out in the press conferences that followed the debate.

There, Bayh delivered a small soliloquy on the rhythms, protocols and courtesies of the U.S. Senate.

“It’s a collegial place,” Bayh said, before adding that people who don’t recognize that aren’t likely to be “productive.”

Then he delivered his body blow.

Referring to Young’s finger-pointing near the debate’s conclusion, Bayh did his patented sorrowful head shake and said:

“He seemed like he was kind of losing it there at the end.”

It was an old pro’s counterpunch.

For his part, Young refused to back down.

In his press conference, Young said he pushed Bayh hard because Hoosiers need to decide “how much character matters.”

He said he didn’t regret speaking of his opponent in harsh terms.

“I don’t apologize for my passion, my conviction,” Young said.

If Bayh and Young played the antagonists in a kind of low-rent Greek drama, Brenton assumed the role of the chorus and offered both wry commentary and comic relief throughout the hour.

At one point, she said both her opponents had gone over “to the dark side.”

Then, right at the end, she stepped out from behind the lectern and said she wanted to put some distance between herself and her two opponents because they were slinging too much mud and she was wearing a white suit.

In her press conference, she was asked about her zingers and she chortled.

“If you can’t have fun in politics,” Brenton chuckled, “you’re not doing it right.”

Maybe that’s the key lesson for the evening.

For all their differences, Lincoln and Douglas liked and respected each other. They hit each other hard, but above the belt.

America was better for it.

I’m not sure we can say the same about Tuesday night’s Senate debate.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Can Keith Cooper ever forgive us?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 10:20 AM

Keith Cooper
  • Keith Cooper

Keith Cooper is becoming a household name around here these days. It’s ironic because all he wants from the State of Indiana is to have his name given back to him.

Cooper is an African-American convicted felon who lives in Chicago. He was released from the Indiana Department of Correction in 2006, after spending nearly 10 years in prison, much of it at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.

He wants Gov. Mike Pence to issue a pardon for his conviction for an uncommon reason: he is innocent.

In 1997, Cooper was convicted in Elkhart County of armed robbery and sentenced to 40 years in prison. But by 2005 it had become clear that the evidence used to convict him was no longer credible. The conviction of his alleged accomplice had already been overturned by the Court of Appeals and remanded to Elkhart County for retrial. In the course of pursuing that retrial, the accomplice’s charges were dismissed.

Then Cooper was offered a deal: He could withdraw his petition that sought exoneration of his conviction and, in exchange, could walk out of jail a free man. Otherwise he would have to petition for a new trial himself, remaining incarcerated until its completion.

In 2006, he accepted the deal. He would be able to reunite with his three children immediately, but the felony on his record still stood.

After nine years in prison, life on the outside has had plenty of challenges. One in particular is the felony conviction still follows him everywhere, specifically in the job market. Cooper has been working as a forklift operator since his release from prison, but advancement has been regularly thwarted due to his erroneous “record.”

In 2011, five years after his release from prison, he began his journey to receive a pardon from the governor of Indiana. Many who are minimally aware of this case, like I once was, ignorantly believed that Cooper was just another convict trying to get out of prison. I just happened to read a little further the other day, and now I can’t let the situation rest.

When one seeks a “pardon,” the request is literally for the conviction to be “forgiven.” This would be a unique pardon to grant, since the requestor is technically not asking for forgiveness in the classic sense of the word. There is no admission of guilt, remorse or reform, since Cooper is claiming he is innocent and virtually everyone involved with the case now agrees. The victims, the prosecutor and, to some extent, the court system itself attest to his innocence.

So in this case, it is actually the State of Indiana that needs forgiveness.

All Cooper wants from Indiana is his name cleared and returned to him so that he can move on with his life.

So what is the problem?

First, Gov. Mike Pence, through his staff, decided that there are still some last ditch and burdensome judicial options to exhaust before the governor should act. His office does not want to inappropriately intervene in the business of the judiciary prematurely. That last-ditch effort is a post-conviction application for relief from Elkhart County.

Second, the elected prosecutor in Elkhart County is Curtis Hill, the current Republican nominee for attorney general of Indiana. Hill’s office negotiated the deal to which Cooper agreed for his 2006 release from prison. Hill has not commented on the substance of the pardon request.

I will let you decide the political calculus of the defiant approach to this no-brainer of a request, given these circumstances.

Finally, the Indiana Parole Board submitted a non-binding recommendation for pardon to the governor in March of 2014. It has been collecting dust for more than two and a half years. It is also important to note that Pence appointed the parole board members he is now ignoring.

Democrat gubernatorial nominee John Gregg is on record supporting the pardon.

Republican gubernatorial nominee and current lieutenant governor Eric Holcomb is considering the situation but believes it can be resolved quickly.

The handling of the matter, or more accurately the timid recoiling of Pence from handling it, defines his leadership abilities. Bluntly, he is simply unable to stray from the script when governing. Correcting this error by the state should be something the governor, any governor, should embrace. If righting this wrong is so undesirable for Pence, why does he claim to want to govern at all?

In a week where Pence has spent inordinate time expressing grace and forgiveness for Donald Trump’s lewd and quite possibly criminal behaviors, he is doubling down on Keith Cooper.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that prisoner was you,” is an apt quote offered by the late Lewis Smedes, the famous theologian and Christian professor.

The irony here is that the prisoner today is no longer Cooper. The prisoner is Mike Pence. I don’t expect Pence to ever issue the pardon, since he has effectively run out his own clock by hiding from it.

And it’s an embarrassing mess he is clearly leaving behind. I have faith that in January, our next governor will do the right thing.

What I selfishly want for Keith Cooper is that he can find the strength to follow Smedes’ advice and forgive Indiana for what it has done to him.

I assure you, Mr. Cooper, this is not who we want to be. Please accept our apologies when you ultimately receive the pardon with our sincere hope that your forgiveness of us, and not ours of you, finally sets you free.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Richard Lugar, as usual, talking sense

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 11:26 AM

Richard Lugar
  • Richard Lugar
Minutes after Richard Lugar finished his lecture here at Franklin College, someone in the audience asked him a question.

Is it too late to get you to run for president?

Lugar, 84, chuckled as laughter and applause danced across the room.

“In a word, yes,” the former six-term U.S. senator from Indiana said.

More laughter.

And a few groans of disappointment.

Lugar just had wrapped up an address that combined dispassionate analysis of our current disheartening political climate with an impassioned cry for renewed standards of civility and statesmanship.

He talked about how divided we Americans have become:

“A fascinating Washington Post opinion poll of residents of Virginia, conducted a month ago, found that 60 percent of respondents who planned to vote for Hillary Clinton did not know of a single family member or close friend who planned to vote for Donald Trump. Similarly, 54 percent of Trump voters did not have a family member or close friend who planned to vote for Clinton. This cultural disconnect is all the more notable in that Virginia is considered a purple swing state that can go either direction in a presidential election. So even as the state itself runs close to 50-50 in its voting behavior, the two political camps are deeply segregated.”

After establishing that we now live in a place that more closely resembles a set of warring tribes than it does a functioning nation, Lugar talked about the coarsening of American life and discourse. He said we Americans have come to view each other as hostile combatants rather than fellow citizens.

In doing so, we divorce ourselves not just from a sense of shared belonging to a great nation, but from reality.

“We can debate the cultural and psychological reasons for this, but it is symptomatic of the willingness of Americans to disparage political rivals in terms that are harsher and less connected to the truth than those that are acceptable in other areas of life,” Lugar said.

Lugar said this disconnect has produced a government – and a country – that cannot function.

“The American political system clearly is failing to address obvious problems for which broad based solutions are well understood, such as immigration reform and the viability of entitlement programs. On numerous issues, we are failing even to have a civil conversation,” Lugar said.

If anything, that’s an understatement.

At the time Lugar delivered his lecture, we Americans were in the midst of national arguments about missing emails, demeaning more than half the country’s population and whether one presidential candidate should jail another.

Meanwhile, the middle class is disappearing, more and more of our children are growing up in poverty and we live in a world of increasingly varied dangers.

Lugar called for an old-fashioned solution.

Some people call it statesmanship. Some call it leadership.

He said that candidates for office should make a kind of pledge to themselves:

“I affirm that members of the other party love our country and are people of good will, and I will avoid portraying them as unpatriotic or disloyal.

“I believe that members of the opposing party can contribute to good policy. I will explore opportunities to work with them and will attempt to include them in early deliberations on my initiatives. I recognize that bipartisan support from elected officials broadens public acceptance of new laws and policies and improves the chances that they will be successfully implemented.

“Even as I participate in partisan debates and work on behalf of my party, my first motivation will be a careful reflection on what is good for the country. I will avoid legislative and policy actions that have no purpose other than to score partisan political points.

“Although I will advance arguments consistent with my own political philosophy, I will study issues in depth with an open mind. I will consider multiple points of view and avoid an exclusive reliance on my party’s positions and talking points.

“I will maintain my civility, even when others around me do not. I will measure my words, to avoid inflammatory rhetoric that often is destructive to the political process and national unity.”

Not surprising in this distressed era, is it, that there are people who want Dick Lugar to run for president?

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Business as usual after the election?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 9:14 AM

  • iga.in.gov
The campaigns for governor and 125 seats in the General Assembly are winding down. We’ll be relieved soon from the slurs and insults of competing camps. Commercials will return to products supposed to make us regular again.

The big question of these elections is “Will anything be done by state government to make Indiana more attractive as a place to live and a place to run a business?”

Every candidate told us she/he has a plan. That’s wonderful. But plans don’t do well in our legislature because most Hoosiers believe we don’t have any real problems and they elect people who agree with them.

After all, we already have the Lord’s blessing (“Ain’t God good to Indiana?”). Plus many business publications declare Indiana the winner in promising few quality government services and delivering less.

We’re becoming the North Korea of the Western Hemisphere. Our state government tells us how fine life is here and most of our news media print and broadcast all the good news they can find in self-serving press releases.

However, Indiana is trending down relative to other states. We currently rank as the 16th most populous state, with 6.6 million residents. We gained 136,000 since the Census of 2010 (22nd among the 50 states), which translates to a 2.1 percent increase (32nd) compared to the national growth rate of 4.1 percent.

Natural increase, the excess of births over deaths, accounted for 95 percent of our population growth. You aren’t troubled by meeting strangers in Indiana.

International migration ranked us 20th at 57,000, offset by net domestic out migration of 47,000. Thus, we ended up with only 10,000 new residents. We also lost 3,000 for unknown reasons.

Did you get that? 47,000 more Americans chose to leave Indiana than to move here from elsewhere in the U.S. In a free country, where you can move anywhere, anytime, without a permit from the government, losing population through domestic migration is … at minimum … embarrassing.

To add to our embarrassment, 58 of our 92 counties lost population, during an economic recovery, between 2010 and 2015. And we’re told how well Indiana is doing.

Why are people leaving? There are many reasons, but our state’s economy is one. No, it wasn’t the recession, as some politicians want you to believe.

Between 2005 and 2010, the Indiana economy, measured by Real GDP, grew by 3.3 percent, a shade better than the 2.9 percent increase enjoyed by the nation. Yet, when the recovery got rolling, 2010 to 2015, the U.S. gained 9.5 percent while, Indiana — “the state that works” and “business friendly Indiana” — advanced by only 1.7 percent.

Our share of U.S. GDP fell from 1.91 percent in 2005 to 1.86 percent in 2015. I can hear it now, “What’s the fuss over 0.05 percent?” The answer: “$6.7 billion in foregone output by Hoosier businesses and possibly 66,000 Hoosier jobs in 2015.”

Yes, indeed, somebody’s been drinking strong moonshine while the moonlight's fair along the Wabash.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

#NUVOpop: Great Lakes Avengers!

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 7:17 PM

10/12 Great Lakes Avengers! from Bridget Wilson on Vimeo.

Hey everyone! Welcome back!

There aren't as many new titles out this week as last week, however there's a lot of cool stuff going on. A new Spider-Man event starts this week, and we get two new super hero titles as well- Solo (former Merc for Money) and Mosaic (the newest Inhuman). There's also a Lost Boys comics, a Warhammer 4000 series and a new Dark Tower: Drawing of Three series as well!


The Clone Conspiracy
(W) Dan Slott (A) Jim Cheung

It's a new Amazing Spider-Man event! The Jackal is back and has figured out the key to eternal life and this means huge and horrible things for the wall crawler. Death is one of the defining points for Spider-Man. But if the Jackal has discovered a way to bring back all of his loved ones, will he still be the same?
Electric Sublime

(W) W. Maxwell Price (A/CA) Martin Morazzo

After the Mona Lisa is tampered with, the Bureau of Artistic Integrity calls the world's greatest art detective for help. However, he's been in a mental hospital for years because of the insanity that comes with his job. Crime, adventure, mystery, madness and talking mannequins all collide in the Electric Sublime!
Great Lakes Avengers
(W) Zac Gorman (A/CA) Will Robson

The world's worst Avengers group is back and worse than ever! After gaining the rights to the Avengers name and being reinstated as an official Avengers team, Dr. Val Ventura (AKA the Flatman) starts getting the gang back together. However after a series of deaths and members quitting, the only people that are left are Big Bertha and Doorman? Will they blow their second shot at super hero-dom??

(W) Geoffrey Thorne (A) Khary Randolph

Mosaic is Marvel's newest Inhuman! Morris Sackett was a professional basketball player and world famous celebrity... until the Terrigen Mists changed everything. His body was destroyed and now he has the ability to jump from person to person, like a ghost. While he's in a person's body, he can control them and the memories they hold. Follow him on his terrifying and strange new adventures! 

(W) Mark Millar (A) Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion

Mark Millar explores the after life in his new sci-fi comic epic! Have you ever wondered where we go when we die? Perhaps there is no heaven or hell, instead you go some place else where you are reborn into the best version of yourself. What if instead, we go to a world where we have to fight for survival? 

That's all for this week! Next week, Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye and Infamous Doom both start!

If you need the full release list, click here.

I'll see you next week!
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The financial status of Hoosiers: Not as grand as some say

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 3:50 PM

Matt Will, an associate professor of finance at the University of Indianapolis, writing in the Indianapolis Star in June, referred to recent trends in disposable per capita income to argue that the Indiana economy is running on all cylinders. As a life-long Hoosier Republican in this our 200th year, I too am very much interested in how Hoosiers have done, especially since the election of 2004 in which we held the Indiana Senate and took the Governor's office, through most of which time we have also held control of the House of Representatives.

Alas, as our great Hoosier philosopher, Abe Martin of Brown County, said, "Figures don't lie, but you can group 'em so they'll answer th' same purpose."

Back in our own locker room, I regret that I am not as impressed with our performance as Professor Will.

Per capita income, based on an average, has been deceptive. In the extreme, if I am making $100 and enjoying pay increases, while four others are just getting by making $20 and without increases, then our average is $36 and increasing. In this extreme example, the median of the five of us, however, is still making $20 and struggling, no matter what the average is doing.

So we should ask how the median Hoosier household is faring.

The answer isn't pretty.

From 2004 until 2015, the latest full year for which data is available, real median household income has risen 1.6 percent in the U.S., but it has fallen 2.1 percent in Indiana. Had income in Indiana at least kept up with the nation, Hoosier working class households might each have nearly $2,000 more to spend on goods and services annually. Figuring in state and local taxes doesn't seem substantially to improve the picture for our after tax income.

While Will did cite median incomes to boast of superior gains from 2008 forward, from the economy's peak in 2007 Indiana's median household income has fallen over 4 percent compared to the nation's drop of 1.6 percent.

Over 50 percent of Indiana's counties have been depopulating, an ominous sign of their decline. Meanwhile, the expanding Indianapolis metropolitan area is netting growth only from its surroundings, not from out of state. In total, our low cost of living should therefore be read as struggling demand for goods and services, especially for housing in our rural counties. Hopelessness and lack of economic opportunity have combined to make Indiana's rural counties among the nation's leading producers and consumers of meth, a cottage industry.

Our great poet, James Whitcomb Riley, in My Ruthers, extolled the Hoosier desire for independence when he wrote: "I tell you what I'd ruther do - ef I only had my ruthers - I'd ruther work when I wanted to than be bossed round by others". So how is entrepreneurialism doing in Indiana?


Indiana ranks 44th out of 50 states in business start-ups (the worst of all our surrounding states) and 45th in small business ownership.

Who replaced the Federal government in 2016 as our largest employer, having driven out of business so many local economic mainstays? Walmart.

Our grandparents' generation levied taxes and broke up concentrated wealth so that our parents' generation could graduate from our public universities debt-free; raise families unencumbered; buy homes, goods and services from others; and indeed start businesses themselves to supply those goods and services. But today the percentage of our college graduates carrying student debt has risen from 54 percent in 2004 to 61 percent in 2015, while the debt they carry has sky-rocketed from an average of $19,400 to over $29,200, with many owing far, far more than that. In per capita college graduates, we're 43rd out of 50 states.

Let's face it, my fellow Republicans. In spite of our good intentions, we're not in a position to boast to the rest of the nation how we have succeeded for Indiana. Has reducing taxes, disempowering labor, and reducing public goods and services worked well? It has not. Our bond rating is strong, but most Hoosiers are worse off.

America's leading businesses are those that would not hesitate to change strategy if the times demand it. For Hoosiers and for Hoosier Republicanism, too, change means challenge and necessity, but also opportunity. Embrace it.

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Growing identity crisis leaves the GOP in tatters

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 3:26 PM

  • wikipedia.org
Great humorists know the line separating comedy and tragedy is a fine one.

Consider the jest by the immortal Will Rogers. He said once that Democrats form a firing squad by arranging themselves in a circle and then shooting back toward the center.

Substitute the word “Republicans” for “Democrats” and what Rogers meant as a joke becomes prophecy.

The GOP now is in tatters.

USA Today reports that more than a quarter of America’s Republican U.S. senators, governors and members of the U.S. House of Representatives now say they cannot support presidential nominee Donald Trump’s candidacy. Four years ago, only three such Republican officeholders refused to back 2012 nominee Mitt Romney.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, has said he no longer will campaign with or support Trump. Trump has reciprocated by referring to Ryan as a disaster as speaker and saying he no longer wants nor would he accept Ryan’s help.

Two Republican senators locked in tough re-election campaigns, John McCain of Arizona and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, have renounced their support sand said they no longer can march with Trump. Trump has responded by calling for a purge of party turncoats.

The trigger for this eruption into open warfare was the revelation of a 2005 recording of Trump talking about women in vulgar, misogynist terms and describing actions that constitute sexual assault.

But, long before the release of the conversation, there had been much internal skirmishing and below-the-surface feuding.

A lot – but not all – of the tension can be laid at Trump’s feet.

His campaign to win the nomination had all the subtlety and seductiveness of a hostile takeover. Most presidential candidates understand that pulling a party together after a divisive primary season involves wooing vanquished opponents and assuring their supporters they will be treated with respect.

Trump went at party-building another way.

When he’s in a good mood, he tells other Republicans to kiss his ring. When he’s in a bad mood – which is most of the time – he orders them to smooch lower.

But it would be mistake to say the GOP’s civil war is all Trump’s fault.

Some of the tensions within the party simmered long before Trump began his rise. Social conservatives and business conservatives often haven’t seen eye to eye – and the emergence of the tea party and the alt-right have called into question the very definition of what it means to be a conservative.

Republicans aren’t just fighting over who calls the shots within the party.

They’re battling, tooth-and-nail, fangs-bared, with each other over who they are.

Such internecine strife will make it much harder for Republicans to prevail on Nov. 8. It is tough for candidates to make the case they can govern the country when they can’t even govern their own party.

Democrats, of course, have reacted to all this with glee.

Here in Indiana, they’re already targeting Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Holcomb, U.S. Senate candidate Todd Young and congressional candidates Trey Hollingsworth and Susan Brooks, in particular, with messages aimed at forcing those GOP candidates to make a difficult choice.

Embrace Trump and risk offending women voters across the state.

Disavow Trump and alienate The Donald’s still sizable minority of devout supporters.

The passions Trump stirs up are so great that there doubtless are Americans and Hoosiers who see this meltdown of the Republican Party as a good thing.

It isn’t.

American political parties do not function well without credible opposition.

The checks and balances about which we Americans love to boast aren’t written into our constitution. The phrase doesn’t even appear in that august document.

No, the real checks and balances are woven into the fabric of our history and our experience by custom. We use parties to make sure that one faction – one segment of the population – doesn’t have unfettered sway over the entire nation, state or city.

When one party does have unchecked control, bad things happen.

The Republican Party now is tiptoeing on the edge of collapse.

While it can be tempting to see Donald Trump as a clown and the GOP’s wind-milling gyrations to regain balance as the stuff of slapstick, we must remember that fundamental truth.

The line separating comedy and tragedy is a fine one.

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Friday, October 7, 2016


Posted By on Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 4:01 PM

10/5 CAGE! from Bridget Wilson on Vimeo.

Hey everyone!

This was a pretty crazy week. There were twenty six new titles out this week. TWENTY. SIX. On average there are about 8-10 new titles out on any given week. It was really hard to choose only five comics to talk about this week.

DC is putting out some really awesome stuff. There's a He-Man/ Thundercats crossover, Midnighter and Apollo are back together, Deadman gets stuck in a mansion, and the newest title from the Young Animal imprint is out as well. Shade the Changing Girl is a mind trip; it's about an alien girl that steals a coat and comes to our planet and hides inside the body of a mean girl. It's intense.

Marvel is doing a soft reboot. After the events of Civil War 2, everything is changed. Teams are divided, X-Men are dying and new heroes are being introduced. The company is bringing back Marvel NOW, which means there are new storylines starting. Champions is about the young heroes of the Marvel universe branching out and forming their own team. There's also Deadpool: Back in Black (Deadpool + alien symbiote; what could go wrong?) and a new Jessica Jones comic.

Weird crossovers seem to be a theme this week. Xena and Ash from the Evil Dead are teaming up this week. Archie and co. are meeting the Ramones, and Kurt Russell gets to meet Kurt Russell in the Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from new York cross over.

We also have a few noir/ mystery titles starting this week, a Betty Boop comic, a new Star Trek comic and the 90's hit called Homies is back to celebrate the wedding of Hollywood and Gata.

I told you there was a lot going on this week.

(W) Kwanza Osajyefo (A) Jamal Igle

In a world that fears them... black people are the only ones that have super powers! After a boy is gunned down by police officers, he miraculously wakes up completely fine! As he's struggling to figure out what happened to him, he stumbles upon one of the greatest secrets in history.

(W) Brian Buccellato, Jennifer Young (A) Matias Bergara

The world has been forever changed. People now experience an uncontrollable desire to eat human flesh. There's a town in the Everglades that is safe from all the madness... for now.

Death of Hawkman
(W) Marc Andreyko (A) Aaron Lopresti

All Adam Strange wants to do is to get back to his love on the planet of Rann, Alanna. But when he's finally able to return to her, he finds the once peaceful planet in turmoil. Alanna has declared war on the planet of Thanagar, which is home to the hero named Hawkman. As Adam Strange tries to solve the mystery of what's happened, he finds an ally in Hawkman.

Death of X
(W) Jeff Lemire, Charles Soule (A) Aaron Kuder

Taking place 8 months in the past, we finally get to see what caused the fight between the Inhumans and the X-Men. The Terrigen mists that give the Inhumans their powers kill and sterilize the X-Men. A new Inhuman with amazing powers is found in Japan. On Muir Island (a big research facility for the X-Men), Cyclops and his team discover that everyone on the island is dead.. because of the Terrigen Mists.

(W) Fabrice Sapolsky (A) Fred Pham Chuong

If you're in the mood for a good kung fu noir series, search no more! Taking place in the 70s, it involves many different stories which are all connected. Juan Jin's life has become a lot more complicated. He's on his way to becoming a hero whether he likes it or not! Murder, legacy, gangs and more come together to make Intertwined!


NOW Cage
(W) Genndy Tartakovsky (A) Genndy Tartakovsky

Fans of Luke Cage rejoice! He's got a new book out this week as well. In case you can't get enough of his Netflix show, Marvel is putting out a new series all about Power Man. The series takes place in the 70's and is all about Luke Cage first starting out. The art is wacky and the story is hilarious. Be sure to check it out this weekend!

Also, here's a trailer for Luke Cage in case you're missing out.

That's all for this week! Next week... there's Clone Conspiracy, a new event involving Spider-Man, and a Lost Boys series starts as well!

If you need the full release list click here!

Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, September 29, 2016

#NUVOpop: Josie and the Pussycats!

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 5:30 PM

9/28 Josie and the Pussycats! from Bridget Wilson on Vimeo.

Hey everyone! The rest of the week is supposed to be rainy and gloomy, however that doesn't mean you have to mope about! There are comics to be read! In fact, there are so many new comics out this week, you could make an umbrella out of them to shield you from the rain.


This week in comics... there's a new Assassin's Creed comic called Locus which takes place in Victorian London. Set sail with Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean comic! Also, why vote Hillary or Trump when you could vote for the Three Stooges?! Yes that's right; the Three Stooges are running for office but I suppose we won't be any worse off than before.


Batman Beyond Rebirth
(W) Dan Jurgens (A) Ryan Sook

Terry McGinnis is back in action! It's been about six months since the events of Batman Beyond #16 and Neo-Gotham has been rebuilding itself. Terry is getting used to being Batman again and it's tough since most people think that he's dead. And Bruce Wayne? No one knows what happened to him. But the Jokerz have some terrible things up their sleeves and they're ready to show Neo-Gotham what they're made of.
(W) Joshua Williamson (A) Jason Shawn Alexander

It's the second ice age and humanity is holding on by a thread. Most of the planet has been wiped out and if that weren't enough, there's a new disease called "frostbite" that freezes people from the inside out. Fortunately, scientist and his daughter have discovered a cure to frostbite. However, there are people that don't want a cure to frostbite..
Josie and the Pussycats
(W) Marguerite Bennett, Cameron Deordio (A/CA) Audrey Mok

It's Josie and the Pussycats like you've never seen them before! In this reboot from Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deordio, this is the band's new origin story. Josie is trying to get a band together so she can achieve her dreams of fame and stardom, but a band needs trust in order to survive. Will the be able to make it or will they break it?

Surgeon X
(W) Sara Kenney (A) John Watkiss

It's a dark future for Britain. The entire country is on medical collapse! The government is trying to regulate medical practices. They're trying to control how much surgery is available to everyone and how much medicine everyone is allowed to have. Antibiotics have been greatly restricted to the point where people are dying left and right. The people are calling for change and in the middle of all of this, Sugeon X arrives on the scene... and she's here to save lives.
Teen Titans Rebirth
(W) Ben Percy (A) Jonboy Meyers

Things have been pretty messy after the events of Teen Titans #24. Tim Drake is missing in action, Raven is off on her own and the entire team is in shambles. Now, Damian Wayne is stepping up to lead a new team of Teen Titans! He's recruiting Starfire, Beast Boy, Kid Flash, and Raven to help him take down his grandfather, Ra's al Ghul! Will Damian be able to lead a team properly or is he in over his head?

That's all for this week! Next week, join us for the Death of Hawkman, a special Deadman series and a He-Man/ Thundercats crossover!

If you need the full release list, click here.

See you next week! 
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pence, step away from the Syrian refugees

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 12:34 PM

  • thestatehousefile.com

As a younger, less sophisticated man, I was employed as a counselor at the Indiana Boys School. I left that job 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned trying to help my young criminals in that juvenile prison continue to help me in the world of politics today.

Go figure.

One of the most common "teaching moments" a counselor gets is when the child is faced with conflict. Any kind of conflict will do. The challenges and opportunities created by conflict are invaluable to any young person's growth.

The same rules apply to politicians. And the faster a politician learns from the teaching moments given to them, the more successful he or she will ultimately become.

So let's talk about Gov. Mike Pence and the Syrian refugee battle that he is losing in embarrassing fashion. As a counselor, my advice to the governor would be simple — walk away. His refusal to acknowledge that he has lost the fight that he picked is a statement about his character. The American people don't seem to be aware of this fatal flaw, no matter how hard I try to draw attention to it.

To review, on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 the terror attacks on Paris occurred. In response, on Monday, Nov. 16, more than 20 governors across our great land attempted to suspend, eliminate or block Syrian refugee programs in their states under the guise of "security." No meaningful suggestions on security have been made by this bunch, though.

Gov. Pence joined the herd of sheep on this one, and as if it were on cue, he did it while a Syrian family was en route to Indiana. As a result of his almost-trademark bad timing, our state was once again the national leader of intolerance and fear.

In the coming days and weeks, we learned that state government had acted outside of its authority on this one. Pence had not vetted the authority of the state program, in the midst of his haste to complain about the federal government's inadequate vetting.

It was obvious early on that he was on the wrong legal side of this situation, and the series of court defeats have been predictable. In December of 2015, even Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin publicly announced his plan that the archdiocese would continue to resettle families here. Exodus Immigration has also continued its work, and more than 170 Syrian families have been settled since this regrettable example of politics began.

You see, the State of Indiana does not get to decide whether refugees are placed here. Not one, but two federal courts have now ruled that way. The ruling this week was a shameful scolding of the state, featuring quotes from 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner like, "You're so out of it!" This comes on the heels of a 36-page order issued by Judge Tanya Pratt in February that read like a drill sergeant speaking to the troops on the first day of boot camp.

Governor, the battle is over. Though I can identify a list of opportunities over the past 10 months where you could have, and should have, walked away from this loser, it is now obviously the end of the road.

And then, I read in horror the statement provided by his spokesperson, Kara Brooks on Thursday following the court's ruling. It read in part:

"The Pence administration will continue to use every legal means available to suspend this program in Indiana unless and until federal officials take steps to ensure the safety and security of our citizens."

Uh, you already tried that.

And you lost, big.


The only legal means you have is to withdraw from the federal program. That of course doesn't "block" resettlement; it simply removes state government from being a part of the resettlement. Judging by recent history, I'm not sure the state's involvement has proven vital anyway. But, other than that, this fight is over.

America, there is a man on the Republican ticket that cannot admit it when he has lost. A man who won't acknowledge when the public disagrees with him. A man who does not respect the authority of the judicial branch of the federal government.

And on this one, it is not Donald Trump. It is Governor Mike Pence.

Excuse the analogy between crime and politics here. Some of the criminals I used to counsel early in my career would look at this column and laugh. Many of them would say that I always taught them to look for the way out of any conflict early so they would know later where it is when they absolutely needed it.

They were a captive audience, so they listened to me even when they didn't want to.

Our governor doesn't want to listen either. Maybe the electorate will.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Bayh and the KKK

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 10:49 AM


The contempt some politicians have for the intelligence of the voters is just breathtaking.

Consider a press release the Indiana Republican Party issued recently. The release castigated the Democratic candidate for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat, former Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, for “allowing” the Ku Klux Klan to hold a rally at the Statehouse.

“When given the chance to show courage as Indiana’s governor and stand up to a hate group that has had a history of domestic terrorism, Evan Bayh took the easy way out to protect his political career. This is another in a long list of examples of Evan Bayh doing what’s best for him, and not what’s best for Hoosiers,” the Indiana Republican Party’s executive director, David Buskill, said in the release.


Keep in mind that the Indiana GOP released this diatribe at the same time that the national Republican Party and its standard-bearer, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, are thumping Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton every hour on the hour for saying half of The Donald’s supporters belonged in “the basket of deplorables.”

Included in that basket were racists.

Such as those who belong to the KKK.

Keep in mind also that current Indiana Gov. Mike Pence – who is also the Republican Party’s vice-presidential nominee – has refused to call members of the KKK and other racists “deplorable.” Pence said that would be indulging in name-calling.

Apparently in the strange atmosphere of this year’s election, it’s wrong to call racism “deplorable” but it’s all right to try to deny racists their constitutional rights.

Some background: I covered Bayh when he was governor. I also covered the KKK rally at the Statehouse.

Bayh and his team didn’t welcome the Klan to the Statehouse. They tried with increasing desperation to try to find a way to deny the KKK the right to rally.

In doing so, they only made the situation worse. The Bayh administration’s attempts to get around the constitution gave the Klan a lot of free publicity.

As a result, what otherwise would have been a relatively small event turned into a huge gathering that drew every crank and crazy in the rust belt and the upper south to the Statehouse steps.

Near the end of the rally, some of the Klan followers turned their rage toward a small group of protestors and newspaper photographers and tried to beat them up. The police battled to restore order. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt – or killed.

Buskill said in the GOP release that other states had tried litigation to deny the Klan the right to rally. That is true.

What the release failed to mention is that those lawsuits did not succeed. If the Bayh administration had gone to court to try to deny those KKK members their First Amendment rights to assemble and to petition government, Indiana would have been throwing good money after bad. The state would have lost the case and then been forced to pay the Klan’s legal fees.

The First Amendment, you see, doesn’t have an asterisk. It doesn’t say that some citizens have the right to assemble and petition government and others — regardless of how noxious their beliefs may be — do not.

(I know a little bit about that. For six years, I was the executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. During that time, we filed several suits defending the Klan’s right to rally and march. We won them all.)

My purpose isn’t to argue on behalf of Evan Bayh or, goodness knows, the KKK. Nor is it really to chide the GOP.

I understand that we are nearing the end of a contentious campaign season in which the stakes are high. Partisans on both sides of the divide are willing to say and do almost anything to win.

I just would point out that one of the measures of our devotion to the freedom that is the bedrock of the American experiment is our willingness to defend the rights of those with whom we disagree.

Or even whose views we, yes, deplore.

To suggest otherwise doesn’t just insult one’s political opponents. It insults the voters.

And it insults the idea of America itself.

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