Friday, May 31

The Happy Tiddler Winks

BEFORE the week is out we’d like to add a couple points about the Court’s refusal to hear Indiana’s appeal of its Planned Parenthood ban (which, somehow, didn’t have the Chilling Effect On Our Precious Right Of Free Speech that some extra IRS paperwork did). First, I think the Hoosier State once again leads the nation in money spent defending futile un-Constitutional gestures slapped down by even the last two generations of Judical Clown Shows, including the banning of violent video games, the confusion of bondage photographs and snuff films, an obscenity ordinance based on one which had already been laughed out of court, and the Indiana House’s pursuit of the First amendment principle of petitioning non-sectarian Jesus to stop by and help spend taxpayer monies.

Second, for those of you scoring at home, that leaves “Right” to “Work”, the half-built but fully paid for I-69, a wholly mistaken property tax “reform”, and convincing people that Turd + Sugar = Tootsie Roll as the last remaining “accomplishments” of the Daniels administration. Unless you’re counting what wound up in the pockets of his pals. As I know they are.

Finally, now might be a good time to remind ourselves that in 2005 then-Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter sent his investigators to a Planned Parenthood office with instructions to wait until some intern was covering the desk at lunch, insinuate that they were police officers, and seize records without a warrant. This was necessary, he explained, because his office was charged with policing Medicare fraud. Plus they were probably covering up the rape of thirteen-year-old girls.

Carter’s gang got about a dozen records; he conceded a legal battle for more about a year later. On his way out the door, in 2008, he tried to start up another investigation spurred on by FOX contributor Lila Rose, the female James O’Keefe (right down to the Pimp & Hoe get ups, at least outside).

We’re still waiting for the fraud and child endangerment charges, Steve. Just in case you’ve forgotten.

Monday, May 27

I Never Thought I'd See The Day When I'd Say "Gee, I Miss Bob Dole". And I Still Don't.

Daniel Politi, "Bob Dole: Ronald Reagan Wouldn't Make it in Today’s GOP". May 26

I LOVE this construction. Absolutely cannot get enough of it, whether it comes from Reagantots like Davids Brooks and Frum, who somehow went from late adolescence through middle age imagining that they were the sort of people running the Republican party, or guys like Dole, who watched from the distant vantage point of the United States Congress as Barry Goldwater took over his party, Richard Nixon marched it Southward, and Ronald Reagan booted his ass out of the primaries in 1980.
“I doubt it,” said Dole when Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked him whether “your generation as Eisenhower Republicans, moderate Republicans” could “make it in today’s Republican Party.” In fact, said Dole, “Reagan couldn’t have made it."

Whose work d'ya think Congressional Republicans imagine they're advancing? What, exactly, would Reagan be standing athwart these days, saying Stop? He wouldn't be an incontinent tax cutter today because political realities in the 80s forced him to raise some? Bullshit. He wouldn't have already spent a political lifetime delivering anti-immigrant one-liners? All he'd have to do is change "hippie" to "wetback" to update his material. He's the shining star of Anti-Government Patriotism; you mean to tell me he wouldn't be on the front lines now, just because he quadrupled the Debt in eight years back then? He did that by spending lavishly on big-ticket military items and reducing the size of the middle class. What, he'd be fucking shunned today?

I'm sorry, but if Reagan survived an assassination attempt today he'd have been photographed in his hospital bed waving George Patton's ivory-handled Colt. I will grant you this: he might well have managed to change his tune at some point on marriage equality, assuming he discovered he had a gay son or something.

But then Dole manages somehow to double down. (I guess that's in a Republican's blood):
"Certainly Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas."

Yup. Give the man his due, he was chockablock with ideas. None of which a Midwesterner would mention in front of his grandma. Except the ones involving blacks and Jews.

Still, ya know what? I have a feeling both of 'em would have found a way to adapt.

And I still wanna know one thing: where were all of you while this great change was occurring?

Thursday, May 23


SO Tuesday the FBI basically shut down the 25th floor of the City-County Building in Indianapolis for half a day, seizing records from the Department of Metropolitan Development. And the US attorney, Joe Hogsett, announced five corruption indictments, including the head of the Land Bank and one of its project managers, a former spokesman for Mayor Gomer F. Ballard, USMC, plus two operators of local non-profits and a real estate agent (for a company in which the Land Bank director was a silent partner). They're accused, variously, of bribery and wire fraud for a scheme which used the Land Bank, tasked with getting rid of the city's thousands of abandoned buildings, to cherry-pick properties to sell to the non-profits for pennies. They would then flip them quickly to developers.

This was, you might expect, fairly big news. Mayor Gomer went missing for 24 hours, though he was presumed safe. His mouthpiece at first tried to insist that Hizzoner didn't actually appoint the people who work for him, before rendering that comment inoperable, and allowing as how the Mayor was deeply troubled by the fact that this was revealed on his watch.

He resurfaced on Wednesday, giving reporters a chance to record his soundbite in a steady rain. But then Channel 8 went missing.

I watched a half-hour of the morning news. Took them twenty minutes to get to a simple recitation of the basic facts, that is, that the FB Fucking I had raided the seat of Indianapolis government the previous morning. I know, you have to give people two weather reports and three recitations of the two traffic accidents slowing the morning commute first, or they'll just get confused and stay home. And you need to tell everyone about Game One of the Pacers-Heat series, so the audience can remember that you can't be bothered reporting sports anymore, except as an act of civic boosterism, or to explain why professional sports clubs can't afford to do the maintenance on the stadia we built 'em.

Then I watched the first hour of the evening news. Zero mentions. [I should note here that I tried and failed somehow (old) to tape the last half-hour, so maybe that was wall-to-wall coverage and a thorough examination of the theft of taxpayer money. Yeah, probably.]

Channel 13 teased it on opening. Had a reporter out in the rain who actually asked Mayor Gomer a pointed question. Interviewed the Star's political reporter Matt Tully, who'd fairly called out the Mayor for his Tuesday disappearing act.

Oh, but 8, and its political reporter Jim Shella, the Dean (Broder) of Statehouse hackery, did manage to work in a political story or two:

• Indiana Teabag parties believe they may have been targeted by the IRS.

• Indiana Governor Mike Pence once co-sponsored a media shield bill in Congress.

•Indiana Governor Mike Pence pledges to complete the uncompleted half of the half-completed I-69.

•Indiana Governor Mike Pence probably has some idea where he might get the money to do that, but he'd as soon not be asked.

• Indianapolis is planning to make another Super Bowl bid, probably in the future.

• President Barack Obama is mired in scandalisms.

Okay, look, I understand. Free drinks aren't really free.

Friday, May 17

It's Okay America, The Guy Who Killed Cameron Todd Willingham And Then Tried To Impede The Investigation Is On The Case

VIA Pierce we hear that  the investigation of the West Fertilizer explosion has definitely concluded that something or other sparked the explosion. Quite possibly some sort of ignition:
WEST (May 16, 2013)—The State Fire Marshal's Office and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have identified three possible causes of the fire that caused the deadly April 17 fertilizer plant explosion in West, two accidental and the third intentional, officials said during a late afternoon news conference Thursday.
Investigators determined that the fire that led to the powerful explosion was caused either by a battery-powered golf cart that was kept in the fertilizer and seed building in which the fire started, the building’s 120-volt electrical system or by an intentional criminal act, said Robert Champion, special agent in charge of the Dallas office of the ATF.
Good news if you had "Either an Accident, or Arson" in the office pool.

Guess it might be good news, or as good as you're going to get, if you're trying to prosecute that West paramedic for making pipe bombs, also.
The total amount of ammonium nitrate on the site was about 150 tons, less than 270 tons that federal records indicated was stored at the plant.

Ah, so only 750 times the amount that was supposed to trigger the federal reporting they didn't do. Not the 1350 times reported earlier by the lying Media. What was all the fuss about?

By the way, the owner of West Fertilizer, Donald Adair, didn't get any mention at all. Damed Media; always ignoring the Jobs Creators.

Thursday, May 16

I Thought I'd Missed The Kickoff, Then I Realized That Was Sixty-Five Years Ago

I'VE been working on my bike tan, finally. I'm sorry that this did not result in the photograph it should have, that of a young woman in running clothes (everyone's in running clothes. People wake up, put on running clothes, then walk two blocks of the Trail to get a coffee, and walk back) holding her cellphone to her face as she wept openly. The picture was entitled "Why you shouldn't carry a cellphone on the Trail", but I didn't get it because I don't have a cellphone.

Anyway, it's been nice to approach Scandal Scandal Scandal from the perspective of Not Exactly Giving Two Shits. Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!!!? First, it began on FOX News, which is itself a finding of fact. Second, since when are Americans supposed to be interested in something that has three consonants in a row? Finally, the only real scandal here is that had we listened to the wise counsel of the Republican party we'd have had thousands of boots on the ground in Libya, and none of this would have happened. If I remember correctly. 

The AP case? Yeah, I'm with you. Leaks? Welcome to Richard Nixon's America, those of you who may've dozed off for a few decades.

However, of all the things giving Jon Stewart the opportunity to show his principled bi-partisanship (what did the Daily Show staff do over spring break? They're still fucking hung over. My Poor Wife has already expressed her willingness to skip the recordings right over to Colbert) the one I'm down with is the IRS giving the stinkeye to Teabag slush funds for a good ten minutes before passing. Welcome, Brothers! Hey, before we begin, why don't you open your orientation materials to the 40 volumes entitled The FBI Ignores Organized Crime To Focus On Commie Celebrities? Then I'll need your signatures on this Apology Letter to the Rosenberg children. Glad to see you all made it out with your hats! 

Friday, May 10

From Transparent To Transparency

HEY, just thought I'd pop in to congratulate Indiana Governor Mike "Deacon" Pence for signing SEA 162 into law this week, a bill which will increase public knowledge of the workings of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, except for the stuff it's been lying about all along. The signing completes this year's efforts to get the Indiana General Assembly out from under all the Mitch Daniels Boondoggles it enthusiastically supported until the Bantam Menace left office. Well, there is still I-69, but you can't exactly expect them to rip a highway out of the ground when it's almost half-completed.

Besides, it's bad form to correct a project while it's being investigated by the Feds for land fraud.

The IEDC was the public/private partnership (on the standard model: public money and private deals) Daniels got the Legislature to replace the fusty old Commerce Department with, either because existing regulations would have slowed down his henchmen plucking the thing like a chicken, or because none of 'em thought of sticking "Freedom" in the title somewhere. The IEDC had a three-pronged mission: 1) make it sound like Mitch Daniels was ushering in an era of New Economic Leadership instead of Old Shady Dealings; 2) to hold the funnel while tax abatements and development funds found their proper mark, and to hold the microphone while the beneficiaries thanked Mitch Daniels for Indiana's great business climate; and 3) to exaggerate the Jobs created by such Creative Jobs Creation Events by at least a thousandfold. And as a result of the new law, Hoosiers will now be able to get a look at (2).

Pence had already brought back the Commerce Department without eliminating its doppelgänger, apparently on the grounds that you don't fire the cook until you've counted the knives. The original bill also would have required the IEDC to report specific job numbers for each company being suckled, but that requirement was dropped from the final bill after objections. From the IEDC.

Earlier this year the General Assembly effectively killed Daniels' Coal Gasification Plant deal (which, irony of ironies, had been eagerly supported by the General Assembly at the time) by reneging on its promise to make the project profitable in perpetuity. This caused our "partner" in the deal, Leucadia National, to announce that, under the circumstances, the project just didn't look profitable to them any more.

For some reason, no one mentioned the 600,000 jobs that will be lost.

Saturday, May 4

Kid Stuff

Kathleen Parker, "Prude or prudent? the debate over access to Plan B". May 3

ANYONE else wishing that the Bureau had shown 1/10th the public relations doggedness about the Anthrax Letter Bomber?

Anyway, "Pulitzer" Parker's fingerprints are all over this one:
They lost me at the word “women.”

Yeah, in 1971.
As so often happens in contemporary debate, arguments being proffered in support of allowing teenagers as young as 15 (and possibly younger) to buy the “morning-after pill” without adult supervision are false on their premise. 
Here’s an experiment to demonstrate.
Couldn't we have an example of the arguments you're demolishing first?
Question 1: Do you think that women should have access to Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, to be used at their own discretion? Yes! 
Question 2: Do you think that girls as young as 11 or 12 should be able to buy the morning-after pill without any adult supervision? Didn’t think so. 
Question 3: If you answered yes to Question 2, are you a parent? Didn’t think so. 
Perhaps a few parents answered yes to Question 3, but not many, I suspect.
Because nothing improves an experiment like providing the answers to your own questions. Unless it's admitting you're making shit up.
Yet, repeatedly in the past several days, we’ve heard the argument that any interference with the over-the-counter sale of Plan B to any female of any age is blocking a woman’s right to self-determination.

IKR? I had to roll up my truck window at a stoplight Thursday to drown out the group of ladypeople next to me chanting "Nine-year-olds are women, too!"
Fifteen-year-olds, where the Obama administration wants to set the limit, are girls, not women. And female parts do not a woman make any more than a correspondingly developed male makes the proud possessor a man.

Question 1: If someone says so-and-so "is acting like a child" do we assume he means a petulant 9-year-old? Yes! Or a sullen teenager? No!

Question 2: So is it possible that maybe "girl" is not an empirical category, but a cultural term whose meaning is determined by the circumstances? Didn't think. So.

This sort of public argument, where on one side we have a problem, and people trying to solve it, and on the other persons like yourself hurling imaginary noodles at a wall, is one of the reasons laws have to be specific. No one could possibly  think that one's fifteenth birthday, or fiftieth, confers some sort of wisdom. Dear God, how much time do you have to spend around the average 18 or 21 year-old before you despair of the future of the race?

But, then, how much time do you have to spend reading WaPo opinion pieces to despair of the present? Child! seems to be your only argument here.
The dominant question is legitimate: Even if we would prefer that girls not be sexually active so early in life, wouldn’t we rather they block a pregnancy before it happens than wait and face the worse prospect of abortion?

Ah, yes, the Reasonableness Ploy. "Sure, sure, the world is in such a sorry state these days that my moral pronouncements no longer magically solve things, as they used to. So meet me halfway for admitting it."
The pros are obvious: Plan B, if taken within three days of unprotected sex, greatly reduces the chance of pregnancy. If a child waits too long to take the pill, however, a fertilized egg could reach the uterine wall and become implanted, after which the drug is useless. 
You see how the word “child” keeps getting in the way.
Yeah, because you keep throwing it out there.
There’s no point debating whether such young girls should be sexually active. Obviously, given the potential consequences, both physical and psychological, the answer is no. Just as obvious, our culture says quite the opposite: As long as there’s an exit, whether abortion or Plan B, what’s the incentive to await mere maturity?

Twelve words. That's how long the Reasonableness Ploy can be sustained before we get to Sex Education Turns Girls Into Sluts.
What about the right of parents to protect their children? A 15-year-old can’t get Tylenol at school without parental permission, but we have no hesitation about children taking a far more serious drug without oversight?

Y'know, we just spent a week hearing how most five-year-old gun owners behave responsibly...
These are fair questions that deserve more than passing scrutiny — or indictments of prudishness. A Slate headline about the controversy goes: “The Politics of Prude.” More to the point: The slippery slope away from parental autonomy is no paranoid delusion. Whatever parents may do to try to delay the ruin of childhood innocence, the culture says otherwise: Have sex, take a pill, don’t tell mom.

Once and for all and forever, Ms Parker: you've heard this argument since puberty, as I have. It's well past time to quit pretending that we're having a moral disagreement about teen sex. It's time to quit pretending that the Evil Sexualizing Culture isn't your culture, one you celebrate when it's producing consumer crap those "children" can't live without. Or, for that matter, those guns you can't keep track of. Go fight with the 1950s. Go picket 7-Eleven for carrying Playboy. Times change. Life moves on. Sex is now widely seen as enjoyable.

Better yet, go tell the parents. Go tell 'em that your argument against "ineffective" gun control laws goes double for social moralizing aimed at controlling a pastime considerably more popular than shooting people. At least in most countries. Go tell 'em that if they want to avoid having a fifteen-year-old daughter who needs Plan B they should have one with access to birth control and the knowledge to use it. Tell 'em if they want a "child" who isn't sexually active they should stick to rearing something they can spay or neuter at a young age.

Thursday, May 2


WON'T someone please overlook the children?
“Down in Kentucky where we’re from, you know, guns are passed down from generation to generation,” Cumberland County Coroner Gary White said. “You start at a young age with guns for hunting and everything.”
What is more unusual than a child having a gun, he said, is “that a kid would get shot with it.”
Y'know, there're more seat belts than there are people thrown headlong through windshields, too.
Phelps, who is much like a mayor in these parts, said it had been four or five years since there had been a shooting death in the county, which lies along the Cumberland River near the Tennessee state line.

Let's holster the self-congratulations, Your Honor. The population of Cumberland county in 2011 was 6,832. That gives a death by gun rate of 0.0037%. In 2011 New York City's was 0.0072%.
“The whole town is heartbroken,” Phelps said of Burkesville, a farming community of 1,800 about 90 miles northeast of Nashville, Tenn. “This was a total shock. This was totally unexpected.”

Not by the rest of us it ain't.
White said the shooting had been ruled accidental, though a police spokesman said it was unclear whether any charges will be filed.
“I think it’s too early to say whether there will or won’t be,” Trooper Billy Gregory said.
You leave a kid in the car here while you run in the 7-Eleven for smokes, and not only will she be in the custody of Child Protective Services by the time you get back, and you in handcuffs, you'll be the lead story on the local news.
“It’s a little rifle for a kid. ... The little boy’s used to shooting the little gun,” White said.

Let's be fair: you can't expect a five-year-old to distinguish between proper and improper targets every time.
The company that makes the rifle, Milton, Pa.-based Keystone Sporting Arms, has a “Kids Corner” on its website with pictures of young boys and girls at shooting ranges and on bird and deer hunts. It says the company produced 60,000 Crickett and Chipmunk rifles for kids in 2008. The smaller rifles are sold with a mount to use at a shooting range.

The only five-year-old who needs to kill birds or deer is one who needs to eat them, too.
According to the website, company founders Bill McNeal and his son Steve McNeal decided to make guns for young shooters in the mid-1990s and opened Keystone in 1996 with just four employees, producing 4,000 rifles that year. It now employs about 70 people.

So much for "generations" handing down cherished weapons. The real tradition here is Jab It In Your Fucking Eye, which dates to 1964 or so.

There's nothing about sensible gun regulation that would take one bit of "tradition" away from you people. And nothing is what will bring back that little girl, or repair that family. You have been sold a load of shit, with a free side order of cultural resentment. Will anything teach you any different?