Thursday, March 13

Back Home Again

• I cannot tell you how satisfying it was to vote for Andre Carson in Tuesday's special election, because unless you live here and talk to white people--especially but not exclusively those from other, mostly-white districts--you cannot fully appreciate the ugly racism directed at his late grandmother, whom he now replaces for the rest of her term. In the 2002 county sheriff election, as the Democratic candidate was about to become the first African-American elected to the post, his opponent not only circulated fliers of him that cropped in Julia Carson (and Bill Clinton), but used a photo of her which had been xeroxed so many times she it made her look like an alleged Bigfoot sighting.

So, as you might have already guessed, this then was the election in which the Indianapolis Racist Star's political columnist Matt Tulley chose to complain about negative political ads two days before the special election. Andre Carson's negative political ads. Which consisted of a mailer, one of four, that characterized Jon Elrod, his Republican opponent, of wanting to privatize Social Security when, in fact, Elrod only suggested younger workers be allowed to opt out. This leads to a charge that Carson was playing on voters' fears, a charge which is remarkably forgotten when Elrod--or Tully himself--blather about the System's "impending insolvency."

• No progress in the World's Third Worst State Legislature™ on my proposal to begin statewide comprehensive testing of edumacation reporters and local school boards, but plenty of new ammo. Last week what seemed like the first forty-seven minutes of the nightly teleprompter-reading festival was taken over by that morning's mysterious disappearance of several Indianapolis Public School buses. And if you'll quit getting ahead of me I'll explain that, by the time the story aired the explanation for the no-shows--a sort of work stoppage by contract drivers for a private contractor of bus services--was well understood, and had been for hours, but it took them five minutes of This Could Have Been A Scandal-mongering to get around to spitting that out.

This is a refutation of sorts of the idea that Faux Balanced News is simply a matter of professional standards occasionally taken to extremes. Bus Drivers Walk Off Job simply didn't have a high enough Oomph Factor, so the story was told in the same aleatoric Bill Burroughs Meets Raymond Queneau Meets Standard Hollywood Potboiler Trailer Meets Junior High School Student With Issues And Very Sharp Scissors narrative technique they use when the local weather isn't scary enough and they have to switch to radar from the Great Plains, or Hudson Bay, or the Cape of Good Hope.

And this was bad enough, but when it finally ended (just after, by the way, shots of their reporter being ordered off the property of the contractor, as though they'd been thwarted trying to get the facts and so had been forced to extemporize), they ran it right into the story of a middle-school student arrested for bringing a knife to school. And the Knife Graphic was done by someone whose sole familiarity with cutlery comes from watching Halloween and its dozen sequels, and the student is identified as attending Custer Baker Middle School. And my Poor Wife and I look the same question at each other, namely, Where th' fuck is that? And the answer turns out to be "forty-five minutes away in Franklin, Indiana, Where You Can Refuse To Stand For The Pledge Provided You've Done Your Legal Research". And I found that out by googling it. The teleprompterette sorta left that minor detail hanging, like if you imagined this was IPS's fault as well it was jake with her.  

Several suburban school boards, meanwhile, have taken to open competition for the coveted title of Miss Incompetence of 2008. In Perry Township they couldn't figure out a way to discipline a 27-year veteran teacher who assigned a book with Very Bad Words in it without turning it into a cause célèbre; and up in Fishers ("The Selma of the North, Except With Traffic and Reservoir-front Property") they fired the superintendent in an emergency session--necessitating a six-figure buyout--and then had to come back a week later with a new explanation for why they did so. And the second one involved the fact that some of her staff (whom the Racist Star referred to as "underlings") were threatening to boycott a day of school because she was snotty with them, or the lounge didn't have a cappuccino machine, or something. Mind you, that was the revised explanation. Democracy simply does not work.

• But there may yet be some life in the old Faux Balance nag, as last week's sudden Republican love-fest on Property Tax Reform switching pockets to pick was described as "a grandstanding move according to some Democrats". As well as any objective observers that might have happened by, since what the Republican minority in the House agreed to was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that they were in the minority.

Senate Republicans, a Very Small Governor, and the minority House members got together to say how much they all supported the Guv's plan, which they'd had two months to do by that point, but suddenly History comes with an eraser.   In other words, at some point ("A") on March 7 last the Republicans had not held a photo-op presser on the matter, and at some later point ("A+n") they had, and the only difference was that your watch battery had wound down some imperceptible amount, and yet it was news.  

We are, thankfully, just hours away from completing the full gestation of the Property Tax pig, which the local media has been, with apologies to David "Homey" Shuster, pimping since last summer, and breathlessly reporting the imminent passage of corrective legislation since the first day of the session last January, which not even they could have possibly believed. And the arrival of that happy little bundle will mark the beginning of the countdown to the arrival of this year's property tax bills, and voter recognition that they're not appreciably lower in most cases, whereupon the whole matter will be dropped.

• Good news, though, in that despite more snow than average we managed to complete the clean-up of the Water Co. Canal downtown just in time to dye the thing green to celebrate St. Patrick, the original mythical Irishman.


K. Ron Silkwood said...

Wow, that's some right sucky local news.

bidziliba said...

"Bill Burroughs meets Raymond Queneau" talk about your exercises in style, a menacing, acerbic, melancholy word-play, and that's without the Hollywood potboiler let alone the junior high school polemic. Somehow though aleatoric and Queneau seem mutually exclusive terms. As he himself said, he had a horror of chance and practically counted words between the introduction of characters.