A couple of weeks ago, we replaced the television in our bedroom for one main reason: the “smart” part of our old smart TV quit working and we couldn't watch Netflix. I need Netflix because of its endless library of stand up comedy. My wife on the other hand decided the first order of business was to re-watch all of “The West Wing” from the start. I had forgotten what an awesome show that was. Oddly, Martin Sheen’s performance as the fictitious President Jed Bartlet is incredibly believable. The character is not perfect, however. In season one, we learn that he withheld ...

As a younger, less sophisticated man, I was employed as a counselor at the Indiana Boys School. I left that job twenty 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 ...

Sadly, I am old enough to have seen the tone and intensity of patriotism ebb and flow wildly over the years. Of course, nothing causes it to shoot up like national security threats, Olympic Games, and political campaigns using different versions of it to curry favor with voters. Enter 2016, where we have had all three in large doses. There is not necessarily more of these three types of fuel for our fodder, but the exposure to that fuel is off the charts due to the seemingly unlimited access to all of it. Were the Olympics on twenty-four hours a day? It ...

Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana Republican Party just can't seem to quit making the big mistake.  And this time in his surprising promotion to the national ticket, he left his state party and his hand-picked successor a parting gift worse than the proverbial lump of coal. Let me explain. On Tuesday, the Republican state central committee replaced him on the ballot. They replaced him with Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, who Pence publicly endorsed four days earlier. It took the committee two ballots to follow Pence's recommendation, because they had Congresswoman Susan Brooks as an available option. Most politicos who are engaged in ...

On March 4, 1933, in his first inaugural address, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke the famous phrase “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Oh, how welcome that sentiment would have been in Cleveland last week. Like many Americans, I couldn’t look away during the Republican National Convention. I watched with fleeting hope that the GOP would at least try and find a way to put together a coherent message as to why we should have faith in their nominee’s ability to advance our common goals. It's not that the convention failed that is most bothersome. The clear lack of ...

In 2014, I finally read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, the satirical novel about World War II experiences and time traveling. In the classic 1969 book, the main character is thrown into the future and sees a bumper sticker that says “Reagan For President.” I thought: “Vonnegut is a psychic genius! How could he have known?” It's simple really. Reagan had sought the Republican nomination in 1968. Shame on me for not paying attention to presidential politics when I was one year old. This week, and I don't know why it hit me so hard this week, I have been a little preoccupied with ...

Every politically engaged Hoosier knew that when Gov. Mike Pence left congress to run for governor in 2012, that part of the attraction was the ambitious opportunities being a governor would provide him. Oh, how things have changed. Or have they? Gov. Pence is being considered by the Trump campaign as a possible vice presidential nominee. Now for those of us watching Pence’s less than momentous reelection bid here at home, this might be a bit of a surprise. But there are plenty of folks who think he is one of Trump’s best available options, even though Pence didn't even vote for ...

I saw a quote on Twitter yesterday in reference to Indiana’s 5 percent jobless rate by Governor Mike Pence that caught my eye. He said: “There is no denying the momentum of our strong Hoosier economy.” I know that is not very eye-catching for most people. Luckily, I am excited about explaining why it should be. President Bill Clinton coined the phrase: “it's the economy, stupid,” in reference to one of the most vital parts of his successful 1992 presidential campaign. Ironically, it is Governor Pence who is touting Indiana’s economic standing as the reason for his reelection in 2016. Technically, it ...

This week I am writing a message to supporters of Donald Trump. I don't mean the ones who supported him months ago. Those supporters really wouldn't get this. I am specifically talking about the supporters who once could not fathom Trump as the Republican nominee, but now are “falling in line” and “getting with the program.” I am speaking directly to you. This will make perfect sense to all of you. I envision you regretfully nodding while you read this, wishing you had not become the very thing that makes today’s topic even possible. The topic is fascism in America. Robert Kagan of ...

GOP presidential candidates seem to think basketball is the key to Hoosier voters. Admittedly, many of us like talking basketball.  As a general rule though, we prefer talking it with others who know just a little about it. With our great state serving as the center of the GOP nomination circus this week, the two leaders both tried to connect with us.  It would be a waste of time to make fun of their embarrassing attempts if they had filled our ears with substance following their gaffes.  But since they haven't, I get to write another column about the field's utter ...