Friday, March 28, 2008

Bias Irritation

I accept that there are inherent biases in the media. I just object when they are rubbed into the nose.

For instance, check out this article from the Washington Post, on Obama the Boy Wonder of Internet Fundraising:
Obama's unprecedented online fundraising success is often depicted as a spontaneous reaction to a charismatic candidate, particularly by young, Internet-savvy supporters.

Wow, when Ron Paul was doing exactly the same thing, last year, all was dismissed as a fluke or ridiculed. Change it to read something like this: "Paul's surprising online fundraising success is often depicted as a reaction to a co-conspirator, particularly by young internet-savvy idiot savants who live in their parents' basements." Same phenomenon, praise for one guy, derision for the other. Yay, journalistic integrity.

But there's more. Check this out:
Ads for Obama pop up on political Web sites, such as the left-leaning blog Daily Kos, and on more general ones, such as those of newspapers.


Obama has targeted unlikely sites, such as the conservative Washington Times, where an ad for the candidate appeared yesterday on the same page as a story about an economic speech he gave that morning.

So, the Kos is "left-leaning"? Are you kidding me? Of course the Washington Times is conservative, so if honesty is possible there, why the hedge on Kos?

I expect this, and know it's always there. Normally it's left under the surface and it irritates me far less. I suppose I should be grateful that the junior copy editor is in charge now and then and fails to cover up the obvious tells.
Zoning And God

(Fishers, IN)- I grew up in Parma, Ohio- a town largely built in the post-WW2 boom, when GIs returned home and so many took the opportunity the flee the old cities and get into a new, safer, cleaner suburban community. Parma once held the claim to fame as the world's largest suburb.

There were many churches in my neighborhood, but besides the one I attended, the one that sticks out in my mind was St. Josaphat's Ukranian Church.

It's now known as the Ukranian Catholic Eparchy of Saint Josaphat. Essentially, it is a cathedral, with a Pope-appointed Bishop seated there.
St. Josaphat's Cathedral, Parma OH.

Needless to say, it's a crown jewel of the now-aging neighborhood- a thing of beauty that holds tremendous value (aesthetically, spirtually, monetarily) even as the surrounding area deteriorates a bit. It's bedrock for the community.

So it's interesting to me that my new hometown of Fishers is having a zoning debate over the height of a church. From an Indy Star report:
St. George Orthodox Church is moving from its longtime home on North Sherman Street in Indianapolis to 116th Street and Cumberland Road. The church plans to build a sanctuary more than five stories high but needs the town to make an exception to its zoning code to do so.

More than 20 homeowners who live near the church have told the town they oppose St. George's building plan. They say the size would dwarf the single-family homes in the area and disrupt the residential character of the neighborhood.
This is short-sighted on the part of the homeowners, at least if they plan on living in the community for more than three years. Back in Parma, St. Josaphat's dwarfs everything around it- until you go two blocks south and encounter my old church- St. Francis de Sales. Catch the thing I said about the bedrock of the community? Fishers is largely brand new today, just as Parma was in 1948. Fishers will deteriorate, just as surely as Parma has. Churches that are well-supported, however, are well maintained, and later serve to hold the rest of the community up as the deterioration begins around it. Why wouldn't you want that? More from the Star:
(Bob) Kehlor sees more than aesthetics involved in opposition -- it's a matter of principle.

"I asked for small variance for my property to build a driveway, and the town wouldn't let me do it,' he said. "That was nothing compared to what they want to do. The town should stick to its code, otherwise why even have it."

I can understand his very legitimate gripe. Why should one property owner be restricted while another can have the rules bent? Mr. Kehlor supplies the answer- get rid of the zoning.

As long as there is zoning, there will also be zoning appeals, and therefore variances. And, so long as variances are granted to some and not to others, the accusations of favoritism and unfair dealings will be there and will be legitimized. Zoning does unfairly punish individual property owners, who lack the kind of numbers a church can present- in terms of members-as-lobbyists, and cash for variance fees. Zoning's intent is to protect one property owner from the destructive actions of another. I doubt Kehlor's driveway would have been injurious to his neighbor. I can assure anyone that having a more grand church isn't going to injure anyone either. Quite the contrary. The problem is an overreaching government, that is well-exposed by this example.

If the Church owns the land, the Town shouldn't be able to play Land God over it, any more than it should have over Mr. Kehlor.

The old argument against zoning-free communities is that, "a hog farm could spring up next to you". In case you hadn't noticed, the hog farms in Fishers are long gone. They sold out to developers, because the land was far less valuable as a hog farm. That argument is bunk.

At the end of the day, I think that if this was a building that added assessed value to the Town, there would be no discussion. The variance would be granted- post haste. But, it will add a very different set of values to the Town, but also including property values for the neighborhood that surrounds it. Approve the darned thing!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Oh, So Indiana Matters?

(Fishers, IN)- Some are getting all excited about the Democratic primary, because with it being a close contest, Indiana now matters enough to have Obama and Clinton campaign here.

Call me cynical, but I'm not impressed that the horse race situation makes our state at long last worthy of visitation, begging, and bombardment with campaign ads. Great that you're here now, but who could doubt that you wouldn't be here if it were wrapped up.

My personal taste came on Saturday, when a telemarketer called. Her question: Who will I vote for in the Democratic primary?

Well, now that's one hell of a leading question. I took on a woe-is-me voice and said, "My good lady, I wouldn't vote for either of them if my other option was a sharp stick in the eye".

She took that fairly well, and then asked if I would be voting in the primaries. I said that I would. That was the end of the call, and I'm sure she assumed I would vote Republican. No, I go to the voting place, sign the book, and then walk out. Until they have a place for None Of The Above, or make primaries something other than a public function on behalf of the private organizations the Republican and Democratic Parties are, then that's my only real 'choice' when voting in primaries.

On another note, I thought political push-poll calls were illegal. Moreover, I'm on the No-Call List. I thought it was illegal for pollsters to call those on the list. Do the rules not apply now?