Monday, December 24, 2012

WXNT Re-Arranges The Deck Chairs

WXNT, 1420-am in Indianapolis had been a radio station of interest upon my arrival in Indianapolis back in 2002, because they carried the Neal Boortz show. That satisfied my desire for bias confirmation, and from there I began listening to Jim Burrows and Trapper John in the morning on the station, then Indianapolis Indians baseball and Butler Bulldogs basketball, and quickly began feeling like I knew a little more of the lay of the land.

Not long thereafter, Abdul Hakim Shabazz replaced Jim & Trapper, and I was really hooked. Sure it was a bonus that Abdul would have me as a guest as I ran for office. But even if he did not, I would have been tuned in for the politics- from him, his guests and his callers. He was the only guy on the radio who was chasing down the newsmakers.

As I just pointed out earlier today with my Newsweek post, originate some content and you'll have my attention. So, what does WXNT do? First, they chopped Abdul as a budget cut and replace him with the worthless Wall Street Journal Report. At least they had Michael Smerconish, who wasn't the predictable righteous right-wing blowhard that most of AM talk is.

Until now. Word is out that WXNT is going... wait for it...


Local sports maybe? Can a guy hope? Might they originate some content? From Radio Insight:
Entercom Talk 1430 WXNT Indianapolis will shift to Sports on January 2 as the local CBS Sports Radio affiliate.

WXNT will shift from being one of three Talk stations in the market to one of three Sports stations joining Emmis’ “1070 The Fan” WFNI and Clear Channel’s 1260 WNDE. The latter of whom will be losing Jim Rome to WXNT as he joins CBS. WXNT is the local affiliate for Notre Dame football and basketball.

Among the syndicated hosts losing their affiliate in the Indianpolis market are Glenn Beck, Michael Smerconish, Dennis Miller, Alan Colmes, and Phil Hendrie.

I might have understood if there wasn't a sports station in Indy, or if there was only one. But there are already two. No word there on local talent being hired. A look at WXNT's website gives no clue- not a word about the format change.

I can't remember the last time I checked out sports talk. I think it was at night, trying to find a Reds game as I was driving. Alas.

It must be the cheapest way to run a radio station and make a few bucks without particular effort, just to run syndicated content via satellite. It's the only explanation that makes sense, because exciting radio doesn't enter into the picture.

Adios, Newsweek!

Another of the journalistic dinosaurs is fading into oblivion this week, and really it should have happened some time ago. See ya, Newsweek! You had nothing unique to offer anymore, and failed to evolve. From former Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker, via CNN:

For decades, the cover was also how the fierce competition between Newsweek and Time was defined. In the 1960s, Newsweek became a "hot book" after three decades as a distant also-ran, thanks largely to its forward-looking covers on civil rights, Vietnam and the women's movement (not to mention Twiggy and LSD). In the 1970s, it was the cleverness of its cover designs as well as the depth of its reporting that wowed everyone who followed Newsweek's coverage of Watergate.

When both magazines put a young Bruce Springsteen on the cover in the same week in 1975, it became conventional wisdom that we tried to copy each other. But the opposite was true: We were always looking to win the cover war, and we exulted when we did.

Images are so easy to come by online now, so original content matters more than ever. There was a fat clue in the quote above, about having a particular take on the news so as to make your publication stand out. Mother Jones and Reason carry on. Nobody buys those mags for the covers. Newsweek? Into the ash bin.

More and more old media is dying off, failing to evolve, refusing to understand what makes people want to pay for their content- or if people want to pay to view their content. Those that get it will survive and thrive, because there is no shortage of demand for news and opinion that is unique.

KHF #2 In The Can

Just finished recording the second edition of the Kole Hard Facts show for Indiana Talks. It will probably air on Wednesday, as the first is still in a rotation.

Topics? Gun control, Piers Morgan deportation petition, importing Coca-Cola from Mexico, the fiscal cliff, the Colts make the playoffs, holiday sports TV viewing, sports gambling, NHL's cancelled Winter Classic, and holiday traditions.

A lot for one hour? You bet. It's chock full!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Debut Time - 7pm Tonight!

The Kole Hard Facts Of Life Show debuts tonight at 7pm (EST) on the Indiana Talks internet radio network. The shows stream directly from the website.

Check it out!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First Kole Hard Facts Radio Debuts Thursday

First introductory edition of The Kole Hard Facts Of Life hits the Indiana Talks internet radio network tomorrow, time TBA.

It is a first show, talking about what we're going to talk about in 2013, but also discussed the hot topic of the day- gun control.

Look for more info shortly! The show is in the can and in the man's hands. The show will be live later, but I suspect this and other shows will get multiple spins as a means to introducing listeners to the hosts.

Go to Indiana Talks and check out some of my fellow hosts in the meantime!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kole On Indiana Talks

Here's a link to my brief show page on Indiana Talks. I was pleased that Gary was willing to use on old candidate head shot for the page. It was taken by Bob Kirkpatrick while goofing around before the serious shots. I love it. If I could use a face palm and still show my face, that would be perfect, too.

Good lineup shaping up there, including Gary Snyder (WBAT, Marion), Abdul Hakim Shabazz (ex-WXNT), Gerry Dick (Inside Indiana Business). I like the statewide focus Gary is honing in on. A media outlet has to offer something unique, otherwise you can get it somewhere else. It has to have a theme, some kind of common thread that ties everything together, so that one program makes some kind of sense next to another, and the listener has a reason to tune in to more than one program. Gary is putting together such a lineup.

Be sure to 'like' Indiana Talks on Facebook! I'll have my own page in the near future also.

I've Found My Special Purpose!

As this blog nears its' 10-year anniversary, it was kind of looking like it would simply fade into oblivion, what with me giving up politics and all, it having been a political blog and all. But hey! These things can be re-purposed as sure as any unwanted Christmas gift or abandoned building!

Gary Snyder has invited me to be a host on an Indiana-oriented internet radio station he is launching in 2013. I could not resist- so much so, that there might even be a little politics in it.

The show will be called 'The Kole Hard Facts Of Life' show. In the same spirit as the blog, I'll fix all the world's problems in an hour or less, talk sports, outdoor life (hiking, camping, gardening), and odd things that make Indiana anything but flyover country. I'll take calls, have guests, sponsors- the usual.

We haven't set times yet, so look for a more formal announcement shortly.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thoughts On Media

One of the things that has increasingly annoyed me in politics is confirmation bias, wherein people choose the news that suits their views. I understand why they do it. Hell, I have done it to a point. I get the Cato Daily Podcast and listen to that regularly. I never go to Drudge or Fox News, nor NPR or MSNBC. If online there, the comments will make you angry. Well, they make me angry.

Politico has a great article about the result of this. They call it a 'media cocoon'. They ascribe it to Republicans only. That's easy to do, given how they just lost the Presidential election and failed to re-take the Senate. I find all walks do this now. It isn't as though internet is only available to the right, and selective filtering never occurred to those on the left. Politico is left-of-center enough for me to find them to be part of the problem. Ascribing cocoons only to Republicans is proof enough. Nonetheless, the concept is valid and the article makes its points.

Being libertarian and having several circles of friends, I can see the various cocoons come into play. I have old music scene friends and New Yorkers in one cocoon. They can't believe the social conservative views held by some, and often are in despair over 'the course of the country', sliding into the grip of social conservatism- all while championing science and numbers... while the numbers show that the country is moving sharply away from social conservatism! There is one friend in particular that I reassure at least twice a year by pointing out how trends are moving in his direction. Stop listening to your own narrative!

Each side makes the case that policy is moving away from them. If you believe the narrative, it must be that it works in the way propaganda works- substituting facts for something plausible but not of fact, with the intent of motivating.

I get caught up in it, too. My recent despair is of the same nature, but in fact marijuana policy and same sex relationship policy just moved in a libertarian direction west of the Mississippi. What do I see? All of foreign policy and economic policy going the other way. Am I justified in noticing the ratio? Sure, but to what end?

I'm not making the case against choosing one's news sources. I'm making the case for broader horizons.

I sat in a house full of Democrats on election night. I was the only non-Democrat in the house, and not a Republican. Our host was amazed as I predicted the outcomes, but also the demeanor of those presenting the news on the various channels as we surfed. I thought they would enjoy the schadenfreude of watching Fox personnel grimace and moan, and they did. They had no idea to expect that, which floored me until I realized they never ever watch Fox. I thought it would be obvious. To not guess that Sean Hannity and Karl Rove would be unhappy? That's living in a cocoon!

So, broaden those horizons. Take in some news from the other side, and you'll find yourself rounded out a bit more. Apply this to travel (go abroad, it's eye-opening), music, films, books, food, etc. We aren't insects. We are capable of more than singular foci. Not only capable, but better for it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Double-Edged Sword That Is Facebook

I must confess, I am like a dieter. Generally with the program, but so easily tempted! Just one little Coca-Cola won't kill me. Nietzsche said it would make me stronger. Yeah!

It is hard to break away from politics. I have made many friends in politics and don't want to lose the friendships. Facebook is a great way to keep in touch, but just because I'm walking from it (or, trying to) doesn't mean they have. It's hard not to jump into the comments. I am weak. Must refute the 'wasted vote syndrome'! Must make the case that Libertarian voters didn't cost anyone the election!

No- must have a satisfying life. This is going to take some designing with intent.

I'm starting with a trip to Bloomington on Thursday, to see the #1 ranked Hoosiers take on some cupcake. Got the tickets surprisingly cheap on Stub Hub. I enjoy live sporting events, and have built in the notion of seeing at least one per month. This may be made more challenging by the NHL lockout, but I figure I can finally see games at Hinkle Fieldhouse (never been there), and return to Fort Wayne for a Komets game (been almost 20 years). Should be fun!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Be On Time

I posted a similar 'hopping off the train' message on Facebook and got a considerable number of 'thank yous' and 'oh no, please no!' type responses. They really warmed the heart and helped console me on a tough day, but I couldn't help but think how much they would have helped when I needed a pick-up on the political path, which was often. Alas, they did not come.

Maybe we need to announce quitting more frequently. Maybe, and more likely so, we need to make it a point to thank those we are grateful for not at the moment they leave us, but while they are with us. I've long made it a point to do so, and will continue, because there just aren't enough 'thank yous'. I thanked Gary Johnson when he came, and will do so again. Etc.

More comments on Facebook than here on the blog is a post for another day.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Another Ending

Back in July, I took a long, hard look at my life and decided that there were a handful of things that needed to go. The main criteria was a cost-benefit analysis. If I wasn't feeling like I was getting some kind of reward, be it monetary, emotional, or some other, then it had to go. I have too many interests to satisfy them all, and besides, I have two young kids who are my top priority.

So the politics has to go.

Over the past 10 years I have at times given everything to promoting the cause of liberty. Very rarely has it been rewarding. There aren't a lot of 'thank yous', and there certainly isn't any financial compensation. Come to think of it, I've really taken a beating financially, thanks to politics.

My views are unchanged. My actions will be. I have enough stress in my life without taking on 'fixing the world' and carrying on with some righteousness. Maybe when the kids are older, or when I'm more financially secure, I'll find myself back at the station and ready to board the train again. As for now, I'm off the train, and leaving the station for home.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

In Elections, Money Is Number One

I'm really bummed out for Rupert, in getting a 4% result in the Indiana Governor's race. I was hoping against hope that because of his celebrity status and his larger-than-life persona, taken together with the enormous amount of personal outreach he undertook, that he would be seeing numbers at least in the teens.

Rupert may be the best retail politician I've ever seen. He connects with people directly like nobody else I've ever observed. The lesson here is that none of that matters these days. While Indiana is a smaller state, it's still too big to meet everybody. What matters most is money.

I hate that. I didn't want to believe it when I ran for Secretary of State. I made (if memory serves) about 250 campaign appearances. It didn't matter. I got 3%. I was told ahead of time by my campaign manager Sam Goldstein to focus on raising money for ads, and forget about blogging and doing appearances- unless those appearances resulted in at least $200 coming home. I fired Sam. Trouble is, he was right. He lets me know about it whenever he can, and I let him let me know about it, because he was right. I can't deny reality.

I try to build myself up by rationalizing that I probably touched a few people personally, and they became Libertarian voters or candidates themselves is later years. I'll never really know. What I do know is that in order to reach the great bulk of voters, advertising is the only way, and advertising takes money. That's the reality of the situation. It's why millions of dollars are poured into tight races.

Sure, our base is growing. But it's going to take 20 years to win if we keep doubling every 4- and there's no guarantee of that. Money, money, money. *sigh*

Very Hard

Election Night is invariably depressing for me. It doesn't really matter whether Republicans or Democrats are the winners. What always becomes evident is just how tremendously distant the ideals I wish to see implemented are from becoming policy reality.

It stings a little bit more this year than most, because the Libertarian party fielded what I think was the best slate of high office candidates in its history.

Yes, the numbers appear to be higher than ever for Libertarian candidates. It looks as though Gary Johnson will break 2% in Indiana. No LP candidate for President had topped 1% before.

Rupert Boneham is at 4% as of this writing. That doubles the 2008 result, which doubled the 2004 result.

Andrew Horning is at 6% in the US Senate race. The last time there was a 3-way race for this office was 2004, and it was a 1.4% result.

So, it's clear that our base is growing, and that's great. I just feel such despair that such good people can net so little, that such failing policy can net so well.

Rex Bell is polling 6% so far in the race for US House, District 6. We got 3.5% last time, so another improvement.

But Chard Reid is at 4%? He got just under 8% last time. I know he was running against Dan Burton, he of the lousy reputation for missing votes, but this time running against Susan Brooks, who doesn't know squadoosh about economics? There is no justice.

And then, the Fishers vote went exactly the way I hoped it would not- in favor of the 2nd class city, with the full mayor. Crimony.

At this point, I don't know who will be elected President. I have a huge hunch, but I don't much care. Either guy is the status quo, which isn't working, and which is eagerly embraced. 

Depressing, indeed.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Vote For Gary Johnson!

As I've stated, I have never been more proud to vote for the entire slate of Libertarian candidates on my ballot this year. It starts at the top.

Gary Johnson with my kids & I, at a recent campaign stop in Shelby Co, IN

Gary Johnson is easily the best candidate we've had in my awareness of the Libertarian Party, which began in 1995 with Harry Browne. He just brings so much more to that table than Browne, Michael Badnarik, or Bob Barr did.

Top of the list, Johnson is a two-term governor. The usual canard is that if a libertarian was elected to office, the state would be in flames within weeks. As it happened, no flames. The people liked him enough to re-elect him. Why? He balanced the state's budget, turning a deficit into a surplus- despite cutting taxes. He used the veto pen regularly. He cut the size of the bureaucracy. I really like having someone with real executive branch experience running for us. More on Johnson's record.

I also like his personal record. Johnson started a handyman business and grew it into New Mexico's largest construction company, with over 1,000 employees. He is an Ironman triathlete (big respect!) and has even reached the summit of Mt. Everest. If Gary Johnson was offered the role on those Dos Equis ads, it wouldn't surprise me.

I am not even slightly tempted to vote for Obama or Romney.

Obama has a track record of his own now, and it's all downside for me. When he was elected, there were a few things I could be hopeful (sigh) of. Candidate Obama attacked deficit spending, said he would get us out of Iraq immediately, would close Gitmo, would end indefinite detention, would curb Executive power, would reduce spying on US citizens, and would turn the economy around. That's actually a lot of things for a Libertarian to be upbeat about upon the inauguration of a Democratic President. Alas, he failed on absolutely every single one of them. Failed. He's been a miserable President.

In fact, Obama's term has been so miserable that the Republicans should have taken this easily. Alas, they posted a miserable nominee in Mitt Romney. Normally there are some things a Republican candidate can excite a Libertarian about, in the areas of the economy, size & scope of government especially. Romney excites nothing in me. It doesn't seem he has any clue what capitalism is, unless it's crony capitalism. His track record in Massachusetts leaves nothing that makes his pledge to repeal Obamacare credible. He's about the worst example of a plastic, empty suit, country club Republican I've seen in my lifetime.

What's so horrid about the choice of Romney is that there are so many things about Obama's record to run against. For example, Obama's foreign policy is the same train wreck as George Bush's, but then Romney largely agrees with them- except that he wants to EXPAND the military! No plan to pay for it, just keep on with the borrow-and-spend.

These are Reader's Digest-sized criticism. They could go another 10,000 words each. So, it's an absolute no-brainer for me to vote for Gary Johnson.

I am certain that he will break Ed Clark's high-water numbers for Libertarian presidential candidates. It's been a long time coming, but I think the combination of  states that are 'settled' prior to election day, and the realization that neither Obama nor Romney are very exciting, will make it so.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Yard Sign Analysis

What a difference four years makes. My neighborhood was fairly awash in political signs then, sometimes sporting both Obama AND Mitch Daniels signs on the same lawn. This year? Almost nothing. Check out this snapshot from October 13, 2008, nearly four weeks ahead of the election:

Obama sign only: 38
McCain sign only: 15
Thompson sign only: ZERO
Daniels sign only: 55
Obama & Thompson signs: ZERO
Daniels & McCain signs: 53
Obama & Daniels signs: 3
Barr signs: zero
Horning signs: zero
Weingarten: 1
Burton signs: 3

Here we are, five days ahead of the election, and following the same rankings:

Obama sign only: 2
Romney sign only: 1
Gregg sign only: 0
Pence sign only: 1
Pence & Romney signs: 2
Obama & Gregg signs: 1
Johnson signs: 2
Rupert signs: 4
Scott Reske: 1
Chard Reid: 5
Susan Brooks: 3
Andy Horning: 1
Richard Mourdock: 6
Joe Donnelly: 1

Based on this, I can only conclude the enthusiasm is very low for Republicans and Democrats. Where are all the Obama signs? Out with his failures on the economy? On the wars and civil liberties? Where are all the Romney signs? Doesn't the challenger always excite? Ok, he doesn't excite me, but this is a GOP stronghold.

What can you conclude but that that Republican enthusiasm is extremely low? I mean, it was very low for McCain, but very high for Daniels in 2008. This year? Almost nothing in Fishers for Mike Pence.

Conclude that the race for governor is a foregone conclusion, but it was also in 2008. Daniels still had the yard signs everywhere in Hamilton County. So, is it fatigue? Is it a lack of organization by the Pence team?

I could get excited about the Libertarian signs. Heck- we either beat 'em or tied 'em in every race! A guy can get excited, right? My neighborhood is moving in the right direction? Maybe I worked harder than the other parties here. I dunno.

Not entirely surprised that there are more Mourdock signs than any other Republican. That's the closest race at this point, although perhaps not since the rape comments.

My other comment of interest from 2008:
The lack of anything but Obama signs shows that the Democratic organization is still very thin here. Now, that stands to change significantly. As the Obama campaign inspires people to work in his Fishers office and to put up his yard sign, surely it will yield future candidates.

Alas, the Dems did not grow here. Their numbers in the 2010 elections were right back to old baselines despite Obama nearly winning my home precinct in 2008. There was no meaningful carryover. No additional candidates for county office in 2010, no new candidates for local office in 2011, smaller team in 2012, virtually no yard sign presence in Fishers.

My conclusion about 2008 is that Fishers has a lot more independents than most people think. They may well normally trend Republican, but in 2008 they gave Obama a shot. in my opinion, it was on the basis of, "The Republicans made a mess, let's see what you can do". If the numbers go back to baseline- from 48% in 2008 to the mid-20s in 2012, that would confirm it for me, and would say, "We gave you a chance and you did no better".

So- will these independents go back to their Republican trend, or will they say, "Ok, we gave both of those teams a chance and they failed. Gary Johnson, what can you do?"

My prediction? The Libertarian baseline rises a few points, the Dems rises one point, the Republicans shed 3-5 points.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So Proud Of The Libertarian Ticket

I just wanted to express how excited I am about the Libertarian Party's ticket this year. Sure, I'm a partisan Libertarian and prone to voting 'L' regardless on the basis that a weak Libertarian candidate is still more in line with my policy preferences than strong Democrats or Republicans. This year, though, offers a string of strong Libertarians that I am genuinely proud of.

I will get to vote for the following:

Gary Johnson, President
James Gray, Vice President
Andy Horning, US Senate
Chard Reid, US House District 5
Rupert Boneham, Indiana Governor
Brad Klopfenstein, Indiana Lt. Governor

There isn't a one of them I wouldn't like to see in office. All are capable. All have been successful in their endeavors outside of politics. All of them are genuinely interested in building our state and nation, and making it a better place- making it freer, making it more growth friendly, eliminating cronyism. Each of them would do better by Indiana or the country if they were elected than their Democratic or Republican opponents.

I hope your will vote for these good people next Tuesday. I will be proud to do so. Proud!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blame Mourdock

As the US Senate race in Indiana was coming down to the wire with Republican Richard Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly polling withing a point or two of each other, Mourdock generally trailing, Republicans were gearing up to blame Libertarian Andy Horning for 'stealing votes', due to his polling 7%, well over the margin of victory.

My standard post would be to point out that A) nobody owns the votes but the voters, so the 'stolen vote' line is so much BS, B) Republicans claim to believe in competition, so hey buddy, how about out-competing for the votes? C) there are people who will vote for Horning because Donnelly is too conservative a Democrat for them, especially on issues like civil liberties and foreign policy; the conventional wisdom that there are only right-libertarians is flat-out wrong.

No need for the standard post, despite the righteousness of it. No, as the country has already learned, Richard Mourdock and the Republicans need only blame Richard Mourdock. Even Fox News couldn't hide from it:
Top Republicans were slow to embrace tea party-backed Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock after he ousted a longtime GOP senator from office. Though he eventually won their support -- and money -- Mourdock could see both fade after telling a live television audience that when a woman becomes pregnant during a rape, "that's something God intended." 

Mourdock, who's been locked in one of the country's most expensive and closely watched Senate races, was asked during the final minutes of a debate Tuesday night whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest.

"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen," Mourdock said.

Mourdock became the second GOP Senate candidate to find himself on the defensive over comments about rape and pregnancy. Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin said in August that women's bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of what he called "legitimate rape." Since his comment, Akin has repeatedly apologized but has refused to leave his race despite calls to do so by leaders of his own party, from GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on down. 

Mourdock is toast. Pro-Democrat PACs hopped on his words within a couple of hours, tying Mourdock to Mitt Romney.

Republicans had a chance to reclaim the Senate, but threw it away with their absurd statements on abortion. Can't blame that on anyone but themselves.

I expect the Lugar Republicans to be running for the hills. Abdul Hakim Shabazz had previously, accurately, laid out a 4-case scenario for Lugar Republicans. I would reduce it now to three options: 1. Vote for Donnelly; 2. vote for Horning; 3. don't vote in this race; because #4- hold your nose and vote for Mourdock- is probably not going to happen very much now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Kole In 'Current In Fishers'

Dan Domsic of Current In Fishers interviewed me regarding my take on the upcoming Fishers Reorganization/City vote:

Fishers resident Mike Kole made a decision that, by his own admission, is going to earn him extra scrutiny.
Kole recently endorsed reorganization for Fall Creek Township and the Town of Fishers.
Unlike a string of endorsements touted by the Citizens to Reorganize Fishers political action committee, Kole is one of the original plaintiffs on lawsuits that tried to compel the town council to put a city question on the ballot, as well as called reorganization into question.
“My perspective wasn’t enthusiastically City Yes,” Kole told Current in Fishers. “It was let the people decide.”

Link to the entire article.

Many thanks to Dan Domsic for reaching out to me for my perspective. I appreciate that very much!

Fishers Reorganization, Part 2

Why don't I want a Mayor? Again- Carmel provides the example. I do not want the 'visionary mayor', and the expensive pet projects that come at the whim of a single person, and which would more properly be undertaken by the private sector in any case.

Yet again, Carmel is in the news over its' palatial pet project, The Center For The Performing Arts, aka: The Palladium, and the Redevelopment Commission. From the Indy Star:

CARMEL, Ind. — City Council President Rick Sharp on Monday called for the removal of every member of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission and its spending arm.
That demand came in the wake of his revelation Monday that a $100,000 check had been written by Redevelopment Commission officials to the former head of the Center for the Performing Arts as part of a confidentiality agreement.

Speaking in front of The Palladium, Sharp said the revelation was another example of the secrecy surrounding the spending carried out by the Redevelopment Commission in its efforts to spur a redevelopment boom in downtown Carmel.

“I personally think it is time to clean house at these two organizations,” Sharp said.

“It is time to thank them sincerely for all the time they have volunteered and bring new eyes, voices and judgment to the table.”

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, who appointed a majority of the commission’s members and has been a strong proponent of Carmel’s redevelopment, said Monday that politics appeared to be at play in Sharp’s news conference.

“It would seem . . . that the campaign for mayor has started early,” Brainard said. 
Although The Palladium and other redevelopment efforts have helped Carmel earn national praise for its quality of life, the Redevelopment Commission has come under fire for its use of high-interest loans and financing methods that effectively bypassed City Council oversight.
If this is the 'checks & balances' the proponents of City and strong mayor have to offer, color me not merely unimpressed, but motivated against. Checks and balances are not characterized by City Council members holding press conferences to express exasperation over secret operations and being bypassed by the Mayor. Checks and balances are characterized by business being conducted in broad daylight, the merits of projects being debated in public forums, deliberations taking place over time, having taken feedback from the public.

With each news item from Carmel, my resolve stiffens. I do not want the strong mayor!

Friday, October 05, 2012

Fishers Reorganization, Part 1

In the wake of the lawsuit I participated in, and lost, against the Town of Fishers, the Town gained the green light towards placing two questions on the ballot. From the Town's website:

The questions will appear on the ballot as follows:
  1. "Shall the Town of Fishers and Fall Creek Township reorganize as a single political subdivision?" (all voters in Fall Creek Township and all incorporated voters in Delaware Township will be able to vote on this question)
  2. "Shall the Town of Fishers change into a city?" (only incorporated voters in the Town of Fishers will be able to vote on this question)
The following table shows which form of government you are selecting by how you vote on questions 1 & 2:
Question 1
Question 2
Second Class City
Reorganized City
Reorganized City
Remains a Town
What do I favor? Question 1. Yes; Question 2. No.

Short explanations. On Question 1, for the reorganization, the functions of township government are minimal, can be easily enough absorbed into the Town without need to hire additional personnel, cost savings in the elimination of a layer of government, and that absorption does not worry me in the functions becoming too remote as to cause a lack of accountability. So, a 'yes' vote.

On Question 2, I have never been in favor of Fishers becoming a city, even while I was participating in the suit. My fears upon becoming a city lie with Carmel (esp) and Westfield- both former towns, both now cities, both now have a bloated executive branch with pet projects galore, and higher taxes to match. Proponents of Fishers becoming a city have touted checks and balances, and that could be a compelling argument, except for the real-life result that checks and balances are completely absent in our neighboring cities. The councils could not effectively thwart the spending on the arts and sports palaces, on TIF district issues, on bonding, on borrow and spend, etc. In fact, there was the recent episode in Carmel with the Mayor doing an end run around the city council. No thank you. So, a 'no' vote.

This will result in the Reorganized City. I could as easily accept a 'No-No' vote where Fishers remains a town, except that I prefer the reorganization of Fall Creek & Fishers together. My biggest fear, one that outstrips all other concerns by a country mile, is becoming the Second Class City, with the mayor a la Carmel's Jim Brainard.

At the end of the day, I had to look at what I thought would be the best form of government for Fishers given the choices available on this ballot.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Gary Johnson at IUPUI

As part of Johnson's National Campus Tour, he will stop at IUPUI in Indianapolis today, from 6-8pm, at the Lecture Hall Building, Room 101. Event details here.

Go there to hear him speak, then meet him at Rupert For Governor Headquarters for an after-party. Details here.

I wish I could go. I'd like to hear him one day after being excluded from the debates.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Not Watching The 'Debate' Tonight

This is out of disgust really, but is also equal parts preventative medicine. I think I know well enough about President Obama, Mitt Romney, and Gary Johnson and their policy positions, and certainly where I am going to vote, so as to render watching a fairly useless exercise.

I'm disgusted at the exclusion of Gary Johnson. I won't watch Obama and Romney absent Johnson in order to keep my blood pressure down.

I've experienced more than my share of incredulous disappointment over American politics in my life regarding the choices. Such is my lot as an idealist. But I'm going to steal a line I get handed by Republicans all the time and apply it to how I see things. Mainly, the choice between Johnson and Obama/Romney is so stark as to be night and day; and Obama or Romney may be different kinds of horrible medicine, but they are equal doses of horrible medicine all the same. The American people deserve to see and hear Johnson alongside the candidates of the pro-war anti-civil rights crony capitalist duopoly candidates.

Johnson is on the ballot in 48 states. The overwhelming majority of Americans will have the opportunity to vote for him if they choose. They won't because they don't know enough of what he stands for.

Is it the job of the debate commission to carry Johnson's water? No, but then is it the job of the debate commission to carry Obama's and Romney's? No. The debates are supposed to be much more than that. Without Johnson, they will be boring, scripted affairs that judiciously avoid certain issues. With Johnson, those issues would be addressed.

In being barred, Johnson is reduced to being online at the same time as the debates, chiming in with his policy positions, I guess in the down moments. Well, that could be the entire time. It sucks in any case, and I won't watch. We do debates only slightly better than the Soviet Union did elections.

More Important Things

I have been away from the blogging for the past few weeks as I have been helping to care for my mother in the wake of a serious medical development. I don't care to share the details, but I will say that she is doing well. It's so good to see her in better sorts.

The politics will return shortly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Evolution To Obamacare Explained

Before Obamacare, the problem poor families faced was the choice between buying health care insurance they could ill afford or no health care insurance.

See how Obamacare has improved the the lot of the poor? Now the choice is between buying health care insurance they can ill afford or pay a fine. From CNN:
Congress' official scorekeeper said Wednesday that roughly two million more Americans will pay penalties under President Obama's health care law for lacking insurance than had previously been estimated.

Under the law, Americans must be insured starting in 2014 or pay a penalty assessed on their tax returns.

Shortly after the legislation passed in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office, working alongside the Joint Committee on Taxation, estimated that in 2016 roughly four million people a year would opt to pay the penalty instead of getting coverage. On Wednesday, the CBO and JCT revised that figure up to six million, citing legislation passed since 2010 as well as the weaker economic outlook.

Isn't that quaint? I remember hearing that one of the main reasons for more government intrusion into health care was that the cost of care was bad for the economy. Things were supposed to improve with such 'good news'. Of course, the economy was supposed to improve with the stimulus. I digress.

So, who will the false promises hurt the most?
Of those people who opt for the penalty, 10% are projected to be below the federal poverty level for 2016, which the CBO and JCT estimate will stand at about $12,000 for an individual or $24,600 for a family of four.
In 2014, the penalty will be no more than $285 per family, or 1% of income, whichever is greater. In 2015, the cap rises to $975, or 2% of income. And by 2016, it reaches $2,085 per family, or 2.5% of income, whichever is greater.

Isn't it awesome! My, how that President Obama looked out for the little guy!

I wonder what it would look like if Obama was trying to screw the poor?

Friday, August 24, 2012

21 Years?

Wait- no 'lock him up and throw away the key'? From CNN:
Anders Behring Breivik, the man who killed 77 people in a bomb attack and gun rampage just over a year ago, was judged to be sane Friday by a Norwegian court, as he was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

Breivik, dressed in a dark suit and tie, had a slight smile on his face as the decision was given.
He was sentenced to the maximum possible term of 21 years and was ordered to serve a minimum of 10 years in prison. The time he has already spent in prison counts toward the term.
 Maximum? Of 21 years? Minimum of 10 years? What does a murderer in Norway get for killing one person? 6 weeks, minimum of 3 days?
Breivik's rampage, the worst atrocity on Norwegian soil since World War II, prompted much soul-searching. Norwegians reasserted their commitment to multiculturalism and tolerance at a series of mass public tributes held in the immediate aftermath of the massacre.

Norwegians might want to devote a little soul-searching on their punishments for mass murder. Life in prison without hope of parole, for instance. 21 years is an incredibly light slap on the wrist.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I'm Supposed To Be Excited Now?

This could be a laugh line (at 2:12):

Madam Speaker, this bill offends my principles, but I'm going to vote for this bill to preserve my principles.

Alas, that's the whiz-kid small government part (*cough*) of the Romney ticket, that I'm supposed to be all excited about, because I'm a libertarian.

We didn't need to get a renunciation of Ayn Rand from Paul Ryan, when we had this stock footage lying around. Fear not, Rand has made no mark on him whatsoever.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thoughts On Paul Ryan

The first thing that occurred to me with Mitt Romney's pick of Paul Ryan was how surprised I was that it wasn't Marco Rubio. Yes, I know that Rubio had said that he didn't want the nomination, but at the end of the day, Florida matters a great deal in the electoral scheme of things, and he might have helped bring that state to the Republicans.

That occurring to me first tells you how little impressed I was by the choice.

If this was supposed to appeal to the libertarians or fiscal conservatives that are uninspired by Romney, it fails. The thing the GOP seems to not understand about libertarians and fiscal conservatives is that we do tend to look into the record of candidates. If Romney was counting on this part of the would-be coalition getting excited about the ticket because of The Ryan Budget, well, gosh, sorry, missed it by a mile or two.

First off, if Romney wanted this bloc of voters excited, they might have tabbed Ron Paul. Or Rand Paul. Or Jeff Flake, or Justin Amash. Heck, Walter Williams even. Secondly, the Ryan Budget would have eliminated the deficit by 2040.


That isn't serious. That's a joke, when we all know that no Congress has the discipline necessary to follow any plan for more than two years, let alone 28 years. For real budget hawks, that was nothing to get excited about.

Thus, the Ryan nomination is also nothing to get excited about. Cato tried to be helpful, but couldn't help but point out Ryan's horrible votes on a number of issues, because it's so obvious.

Par for the course with Team Romney. I can't see anything but a repeat of McCain's results, because while there seems to be plenty of anti-Obama animus, I don't see a whole lot of pro-Romney excitement. The Republicans need the libertarians, the Tea Party, the fiscal conservatives, etc., in order to win. They are doing nothing to get them interested.

This is especially the case when you have Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson proposing to submit a balanced budget in 2013.

Update: In case anyone thought Cato was too soft on the rah-rah for Ryan, Roger Pilon fills the breach with a near-endorsement in a post entitled "Is The American Electorate That Dumb?":
Ryan put it simply: The country’s going broke. You’d never know that from listening to the Democratic response to the pick. For that side, it’s all about what the Romney-Ryan team will take away from seniors, women, students, and the middle class — as if all of that ”stuff” were free from government. They’re counting on seniors being too senile, women being too emotional, young people being too uneducated, and the middle-class being too focused on their mortgages to understand the situation we’re in, where we borrow 40 percent of what we spend and add trillions to the national debt every year. The Ryan budget won’t push Granny over the cliff. The Obama team’s head-in-the-sand will.

And it isn’t as if the Obama team doesn’t know exactly what they’re doing. In Obama’s latest ad, run last night during the Olympics closing ceremonies, he himself states plainly that the nation faces two fundamentally different visions of where we’re going. But he talks only about government benefits, not about costs — the “Life of Julia” nonsense. It’s a cynical view of the American public — a view that this election, more than any in recent memory, will put to the test.
To which I say, "Is Cato That Dumb?" Two fundamentally different versions? Seriously? Maybe the Koch Brothers won after all.

What really is the difference between a plan to solve the deficit never versus in 28 years... which is the political real-world equivalent of never?

What really is the difference in Team Obama's foreign policy and Romney's? Or positions on civil liberties?

Has Cato fallen into the trap of 'gotta get rid of Obama because he's awful, replace with any warm body'? How can Cato so willfully ignore Gary Johnson? Johnson is so near to everything Cato promotes. Romney so far from it, and Ryan really little better. So, pretend Johnson doesn't exist?

Very frustrating, to say the least.

Hat Tip to Patriot Paul, for the link to the Pilon Cato article.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Hand Me My Echo Chamber, Please

My friend Steve Wainstead put a term into my head a year or two ago, and it rattles around in there from time to time. The term is 'confirmation bias', and is the idea that people will seek out sources of information that speak to their point of view, either subtly or overtly.

Common question from the left: Why are there so many right-wing talkers on the air? How do we explain Fox News? Common answer from the right: Because the rest of the media doesn't speak to me the way the talkers and Fox do.

When Fox can parade an article like this, it merely deepens the suspicions and biases of its adherents:
Back in May, Ann Romney, wife of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, wore a $990 Reed Krakoff silk shirt for a media appearance. The item of clothing set off a media firestorm, with the Romneys widely accused of being “out of touch” with average Americans.
In particular, the Washington Post wrote that the $990 blouse “will not help her husband change those perceptions, no matter how many Laundromat photo ops are on the campaign’s itinerary.”
Fast forward to last Friday, when First Lady Michelle Obama attended an Olympics reception for heads of state at Buckingham Palace, donning a J. Mendel cap sleeve jacket from the 2013 Resort collection.
The price-tag? $6,800.
This time, the Washington Post simply described the intricacies of the jacket and noted that Mrs. Obama has previously been criticized for “not dressing up enough for Queen Elizabeth II, so she stepped up her game.” No snide remarks, no outrage over the cost, no suggestion she was “out of touch.”
Just an Exhibit 'A'.

The discussion of the relative wealth of the candidates is amusing to me, for if I had to reject on the basis of their wealth, their status, their privilege in areas like education, I couldn't vote for either Romney or Obama. From Forbes:

Here’s an approximated summary of where the Obamas hold their wealth:
Cash: $660,000
Mutual funds/ETFs: $625,000
Pension: $90,000
Treasuries: $3.4 million
Real estate: $900,000
TOTAL: $5.7 million

Funny thing about making attacks on holdings while trying to appeal to poorer people. You have to count on their ignorance, willful or otherwise, to get the job done. I suppose it's working thus far.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Best Protests Money Can Buy

If I ever open a chain of businesses, I think I'll take a controversial stance on something as fast as possible. Chick-Fil-A has two lines running long today: the protest lines, and the drive-thru's. From CNN:

Former GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum encouraged people to show their support for Chick-fil-A by buying food there Wednesday. Huckabee dubbed the day "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" and touted in his TV and radio shows and online.
Over 550,000 visitors to Huckabee's event page on Facebook have responded that they will participate. The action enjoys the support of the Rev. Billy Graham.
Proponents of same-sex marriage have organized a simple counterprotest for Wednesday, asking people to donate the approximate cost of a Chick-fil-A meal, about $6.50, to gay and lesbian rights groups, according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

I've never eaten at Chick-Fil-A in my life. I'm not in any hurry to start. But I can't help but notice how it's been more free advertising for a business than I've seen in a long time.

The dialogue is all good, far as I'm concerned. The only real danger is when cities like Boston or Chicago threaten to either not approve future expansions in their cities, or threaten to ban them outright. It's one thing for individuals to act upon their consciences, but quite another for municipal governments. There's no such thing as a collective conscience- or if there is, there is no such thing as individual freedom of speech.

Update: The Indy Star (yeah, yeah) covered the long lines at Chick-Fil-A stores around the central Indiana region.

I Must Live In Abject Poverty

Why? Because I don't own a flat screen TV. I own one TV, not a flat screen, and to the consternation of my kids, it is intentionally unused and sits in the garage. We must be the poorest family in the United States. From CNN Money:
With income inequality at the center of the national political debate this year, it should be no surprise that conservatives and liberals are coming down on opposite sides of the tracks.

Conservatives point to spending patterns, saying consumption is a better indicator of living standards than income. Using that metric, the nation's poor are living better than they have been in decades, enjoying many of the amenities that the middle class have.

"People are not as badly off as you think," said Aparna Mathur, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning organization.
Liberals, however, counter by saying that while electronics and appliances have become more affordable, basic necessities such as child care, health care and transportation have not. These costs have left the poor struggling to make ends meet.

And, as is my wont, I'll split that down the middle. You see, I've actually lived in an extremely poor neighborhood for several years, and while that often gets dismissed with a wave of a hand ("That's anecdotal!"), it struck me as being "real life".

For instance, my next-door neighbor made less than $25,000 a year. But he had season tickets for the Cleveland Browns. Decent seats, too. 10 games/year, two tickets at $40/each, tailgating before the games, beers and dogs during. He was spending 5% of his income on football, easily.

While at first blush I ridiculed his decision, I also instantly knew that this was what made his life tolerable. Better than tolerable- it was what he lived for. He was exultant every Saturday, because even though the Browns always sucked, his world was going to be glorious tomorrow.

It struck me. Am I elated 10 Sundays a year? I had to confess I was not. Maybe he knew something I didn't.

We all make decisions. Spending 5% of my income on sports doesn't make sense to me, but it made perfect sense to my old neighbor. He was badly off in many ways. His house was filthy and dilapidated. His car was always being tinkered with because it was always falling apart. He never went on a vacation. Their teeth. Oh, wow, they never went to a dentist.

But if you asked him, he lived well. I know, because I did ask. Those football events enriched him. I learned to stop worrying about his 'plight' and simply accepted him as a friend.

We can look down our nose on him if we choose to, but quality of life is relative and self-defined. He had cable TV also. But the dentist just wasn't important to him or his wife. I'm exactly the opposite. It doesn't make him a bad guy, just somebody with a different set of values. If he was stealing from me? Well, then he would have been a bad guy. He was poor by most standards, but he had integrity and a self-esteem.
Several conservative researchers, however, say that Americans don't have a true idea of what living in poverty means.
The average household defined as "poor" in 2005 had air conditioning, cable TV and a DVD player, according to government statistics cited by Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. If there were children in the home, the family likely had a game system, such as a Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) Xbox or Sony (SNE) PlayStation.
Poor Americans had more living space than average Europeans and were not hungry, Rector said.
"If you took the typical poor household and put them on TV, no one would think they are poor," he said. "They struggle to make ends meet, but they are not in any type of deprivation."

This is where the lack of perspective really hammers at us. Most Americans haven't traveled abroad. If you want to see poverty on a grand scale, sure, you could go to Detroit, but travels to other countries show a great difference.

I'll never forget going to Ecuador and learning the per capita annual income was $900. I was making that every few days prior to 2009. Wrap your head around that. $3/day! Small houses; meals with loads of rice, beans, and potatoes, not much meat or vegetables; few cell phones or other gadgets; cars with multiple owners and shared, if owned at all. And yet, they were getting on with their lives, and I dare say that as a people, seemed happier than Americans.

Or, a trip to Costa Rica. We visited a mountain village. I marveled at the construction of the houses. The materials were thin, the wires exposed, the air flowed through because the walls weren't sealed to the gables, the average entire house the size of my living room. The most delightful, generous people.

The average Ecuadoran or Costa Rican wasn't living with as much wealth as the poorest in America. That was plainly obvious. Plainly.

On the whole, I think we worry here too much. We stick our noses into other people's business, because we're so full of ourselves that we think we know better how other people should live. This applies to the right and the left.

People make decisions based on their own value systems, towards their own happiness. We may not understand their decisions. They do not necessarily constitute 'problems'.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

NBC & The Olympics

We haven't had cable TV for at least 4 years (I'm too lazy to suss out how long exactly), but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying sports viewing online. Many games are streamed, and I watch some of these.

The Olympics is being streamed, but for a charge. That's where you lose me, NBC. I don't care enough about the Olympics to pay to watch. Link: interesting CNN article on #NBC Fail.

If I paid for premium cable, then I could stream live free of charge. Well, that's $1,200/year I save. Trust me- the Olympics isn't worth it to me.

It's curious. Comcast owns NBC. It does not own ESPN, but I can stream a host of Major League Baseball games, and college football games on ESPN, as the website says, "courtesy of your internet provider". I guess NBC & Comcast are gambling that the interest is great enough for folks like me to leap over the cost hurdle. Alas.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bye Bye, Indy Star

I know I've been a chicken little on this before, but it sure looks like the Indianapolis Star is putting the finishing touches on ending its existence. From their soon not-to-be-seen-by-me website:
Full Access digital-only subscriptions are available for $12 a month, only 40 cents a day. Beginning Sept. 1, we will limit access to news and information content consumed through our website, smartphones and tablets. Nonsubscribers still will be able to read up to 20 stories a month on before needing to subscribe.

Nothing has changed since 2009. The content the Star originates is not very good. They barely cover local government. Their columnists are shills for idiotic projects such as light rail.

Any media source has to deliver something unique. The Star is just like every other daily newspaper left in the US in one key way: The Sports Section is top notch. Everything else? A soup of AP/NYT/WaPo copy you can get anywhere, and thin, irregular coverage of everything else.

So, first they sell the building, then they announce a plan that will drive users away in huge numbers, and hurt their ability to sell ads for the online property. $12/month? I wouldn't pay $12/year for the Star's unique content.

Be sure to click the article and go to the comments. I have never seen the Star respond to comments, but in this case, they sent the cavalry. It just reeks of desperation.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bob Babbitt Passes

You may have heard of the passing of Bob Babbitt, the legendary bass guitar player who had the enormous task of filling James Jamerson's shoes at the Motown hit factory. From the NY Times:

James Jamerson was the label’s primary bassist in those years, but Mr. Babbitt provided the bass lines for numerous Motown hits, including Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” the Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion,” Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” and Edwin Starr’s “War.” He later recorded with Barry Manilow, the Spinners, Alice Cooper and many others.

Neither Jamerson nor Babbitt were household names. That was the deal when you were a studio musician. Fortunately, Bob lived long enough to get the recognition he deserved. Sadly, Jamerson did not. From the Detroit Free Press:

Like many studio musicians of the era, Babbitt wasn’t always publicly acknowledged for his work. It wasn’t uncommon for Babbitt’s role to be omitted — or even actively hidden — on record credits.

He told the Free Press in 2003 that his Scorpion was “actually the rhythm section on the first Funkadelic album (in 1970) at Tera Shirma studios, but George (Clinton) gave credit to his band at that time.”

Like his fellow Funk Brothers, Babbitt at last got wider attention via the 2002 documentary “Standing in the Shadows of Motown,” which chronicled the group’s work behind the scenes.
Bob played on more than 200 Top 40 hits. Roll up the Beatles, Elvis, and Michael Jackson, and Bob Babbitt still played on more.

But I knew him as my cousin. His mother and my grandmother were sisters, making him my 1st cousin, once removed. When I was a kid, my mom would tell me about the great musician, our cousin Bob, who was on loads of gold records, and whose bands played the black clubs in the industrial Midwest- Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, etc. It was positively otherworldly for my mom.

I recall talking bass with him once at a rare family reunion. I was 17 or 18, and playing punk rock bass. The nerve of me, right? He spoke about the gypsy music his mother loved. Bob's mom was "Aunt Margaret" to me, but Margaret Kreinar to a radio audience in Pittsburgh, who listened to her Hungarian language radio show that played plenty of gypsy music. He shared what a big influence it was to him in guiding him to what some referred to as 'black music'- jazz, blues, and early rock 'n' roll. He found that the rhythms and fluid grooves were similar. He fit in perfectly at Motown, despite being the white guy.

Once the film came out to give the Funk Brothers their due, gigs followed. Real showcase gigs, not some rib burnoff in Iowa, or the 250 capacity clubs I favor, but class venues. I loved that for Bob. I loved even more that my mom could see him play live with some regularity.

I am grateful to have known him. Wish I knew him better. So happy he got the recognition he and the Funk Brothers deserved, and that he got to enjoy his last days outside that obscurity.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Price Of Getting Sick

In my late May hospital stay, I got bored as any recovering patient might, so I turned on the TV and geeked out on Storage Wars.

Can you believe I got a bill for this? $23.50 for watching TV?

I don't object to paying for what I use. I rather insist on it. But, I was in some state of delirium when I arrived and signed the documents. I don't remember any verbal or printed disclosure about any costs for watching TV.

I may have been bored, but I am cheap. Ame brought me a book and my laptop. Given clear notification, this cheapskate would have done without Storage Wars and used the diversions I had instead of the exceptionally overpriced one. The cable TV available to me at home via Comcast goes $100/month, or about 3 bucks a day. I watched on one day, so $23.50? That's BS.

Lucky me, this is the tip of the iceberg. The other bills are going to be rolling in. Can't wait.

Now I'm not going to start calling for socialized medicine just because I feel like I was taken advantage of on the TV viewing. For $23.50, the heaviest my objection will be is this blog post and an 'UP YOURS!' to Good Samaritan Hospital. Maybe a letter to the hospital. Caveat Emptor, as always. If there is a next time, you can bet the TV will not be switched on.

Friday, July 20, 2012

NBA Goes Bush League

The NBA will be the first of the four major North American sports to cave and put corporate advertising on their jerseys. From ESPN:

Come fall, it's highly likely you'll see a small 2-inch-by-2-inch sponsorship patch stitched on the shoulder of your favorite player's game jersey.

"I think it's likely that we'll do something, implement something, some sort of plan for the fall," NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said. "I think it's fair to say that our teams were excited about the opportunity and think there is potentially a big opportunity in the marketplace to put a two-by-two patch on the shoulder of our jerseys."

Well, sure. It should fetch a LOT of money.
"Our view is we think, on an aggregate basis, league-wide, our 30 teams could generate in total $100 million by selling that patch on jerseys, per season," Silver said.
And, I have to believe the other sports will quickly follow. It's probably amazing the NBA held off this long, when you consider how difficult it is to see the clothing at all on a NASCAR driver, or European soccer player.

I collect hockey jerseys. Part of it is that when I play recreational hockey, I enjoy wearing an NHL jersey & socks. It's as close as I'm ever going to look like an actual hockey player. I have a few minor league jerseys that do have logo patches on them. They are my least favorite. They appear cluttered and cheap to me.

Once you get past aesthetics, it's difficult to find a rationale against jersey sponsorships. Shorter contracts and increased player movement have given more weight than ever to the Seinfeldian notion that NBA jerseys are just laundry, vessels that carry the true product -- the collective talents of the guys playing the games, jamming the ball, blocking the shots, draining the 3s. If a corporate logo doesn't compromise those skills and actually strengthens the fortunes of the league, then it's an idea that should be carried to fruition.
I've worn my share of t-shirts in my life to get the concept of the walking billboard, but they aren't 'just laundry' if you've laid out $200 for a jersey. I like to promote my team. It doesn't mean I like to also promote that team's corporate sponsors. If you want me, as the wearer of licensed sports apparel to embrace a logo on the jersey, then reduce the price of the jersey, and I won't object so stridently.

The fans are always the last consideration.

I Loves Me Some Conventional Wisdom

The usual saw is that Libertarian candidates 'steal votes' from Republican candidates.

First of all, no candidate steals votes unless they are engaged in voter fraud. A candidate will better compete for votes than others. So, my Republican friends, if you think Ls draw from Rs, you may consider that Ls just do a better job of winning over people who really mean it about smaller government.

But this news from New Mexico Watchdog:
Here are the numbers in the question PPP asked when it included Johnson’s name with Obama and Romney:
Another interesting aspect?
A lot of Republicans have worried that a serious Johnson candidacy would hurt Romney more than Obama but in this particular poll, Johnson pulls down Obama’s numbers from 42 percent to 38 and, as Jensen points out, Johnson “gets 24 percent of the independent vote, and a lot of his support is coming from more Democratic leaning independents.”
Those results echo what Johnson has told reporters this summer — that his presence in the race doesn’t necessarily hurt Romney and appeals to voters who are so turned off by both Democrats and Republicans that a large number of these disaffected voters wouldn’t have voted anyway.
This cuts both ways. I find Democrats cheering on Libertarian candidates, because they perceive Libertarians as opposites of Greens or Democrats, and thinking back Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000? Well, they like to think of Libertarians 'Nadering' Republicans.

Awesome! Keep thinking that way! Those usually Democratic voters who really, really want expanded civil liberties and reduced foreign intervention? They haven't gotten what they want, and they aren't going to in a 2nd Obama term. They know that. The only person running for president who will be on the ballot in their state will likely be Gary Johnson.

Terry Michael, former Press Secretary for the Democratic Party, is supporting Johnson.

I don’t intend to change my registration. I’m still a Democrat. But I’m a small “l” libertarian Democrat, who wants to teach fellow Democrats that 21st century libertarians are not a bunch of selfish, Ayn Rand-style, greedy capitalists. Among the three issue frames of politics—economy, social, and foreign—most rank-and-file Democrats share much in common with modern libertarians. Most libertarians want to keep government out of our bedrooms, away from our bodies, and out of the backyards of the rest of the world. On the economy, while we are for limited spending, taxes, and regulation, we favor free markets—not oligarchic capitalism that uses government to re-distribute tax revenue to the military-industrial-congressional-media complex, the behemoth pharmaceutical companies, or other lobbyists along Washington’s K Street who seek benefits from government and regulations that put competitors at disadvantage.

Why would I abandon the candidate for whom I had great hopes for change in 2008, a president from my own home state of Illinois, Barack Obama? In fact, I even made a libertarian case for Obama in 2008 at—which turned out to be hoping against nothing but hope.

For me, that hope turned to despair when President Obama ramped up another hideous elective war, putting tens of thousands of young men and women in harm’s way in Afghanistan; rammed through a taxpayer and deficit-funded corporate welfare program for drug and insurance companies, in the guise of health care reform; and reneged on promises to slow prosecutions in the assault on personal freedom, the violence-creating neo-Prohibition known as the war on drugs.

Obama has had 3+ years to make his case in action. Alas. I do not believe Terry Michael will act alone. I am hoping against hope that many left-of-center voters will look past team and squarely at policy.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Campaign Season In Full Swing

Lately, I find that I've been blogging more at the Hamilton County Libertarian site than here. That's ok. The Season is definitely upon us, and much is happening.

If you are interested in what the Libertarian Party is up to in Hamilton County, the sources you need to follow now through the election are:

Hamilton County LP Blog
Hamilton County Libertarians Facebook Page
Indiana For Gary Johnson Facebook Page

If you have an interest in volunteering with any of the Libertarian campaigns in Indiana, email me and I'll set you up!

I'll now return me to my regularly unscheduled sporadic blogging.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

4 Years Later, McCain Begs Again

Can you believe I got another beg letter from John McCain? Apparently, this is what I get for having sent Ron Paul 50 bucks in 2007. Oh, Kole! You donated to a Republican! Let this be a lesson to me.

This one is every bit as hilarious and insulting as the one he sent four years ago. The guffaws start right at the top of Pg 1 of the bulky letter:

I know that every election is important and has consequences, but there have been few times in our nation's history when the political stakes have been higher than they are right now.

Our way of life - the very freedoms, liberty and security - that so many generations of Americans worked to build and fought to protect could all be destroyed if Barack Obama wins reelection. (emphasis as in the letter)

Bwwaaaaahahahahaha! That's a laff riot! McCain, a destroyer of liberty calls out Obama? That's rich!

This Romney-Obama matchup looks exactly like McCain-Obama to me. Two statists, pick one. I'm completely, utterly alienated by both Romney & Obama. To send McCain as the messenger to me? Well, I guess if Obama sent a letter to me from Bernie Sanders, it would be on par.

Now, if only I could fit a brick inside the postage paid return envelope to the Republican National Committee.

Monday, July 09, 2012

No Waste, Huh?

One of the recurring snappy comebacks of the last 3-4 years has been, "There's no waste/fat to cut". Color me unimpressed. From Money/CNN:

Overpayments are a rampant problem in the unemployment insurance system. The federal government and states overpaid an estimated $14 billion in benefits in fiscal 2011, or roughly 11% of all the jobless benefits paid out, according to reports from the U.S. Labor Department.

Of the states, Indiana was the worst offender, making more improper payments than it did correct ones.

So, there's waste. Get over it. Find it, root it out, cut it.

And yes- let's examine our so-called essentials and see if there aren't things that the market could do more efficiently than government. That's waste, too.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Our Inept LNC

The National Libertarian Party issued a statement about the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare, and made the interesting argument that the best thing we can do is get divided government.

Not once did it tout its' own candidate, Gary Johnson.

Look carefully. You won't see the words 'Gary' or 'Johnson', not together or in any form, in the entire press release.

Supreme Court Obamacare Decision Highlights Why a President Romney Would be More Dangerous than President Obama
A President Mitt Romney would not undo ObamaCare. He’d make it permanent.

The Supreme Court Ruling on ObamaCare does not matter. It will make little difference to America in the short run, and no difference in the long run.

Why? Because almost all elected Republicans and Democrats are Big Government politicians – in all things – including health care. After this Supreme Court decision, they will get back to work expanding government involvement in all things – especially health care.

One thing could make things worse. Electing Republican Mitt Romney President.


Republicans fiercely oppose, and often defeat Democratic Party attempts to massively expand government involvement in Health Care – such as HillaryCare.

But Democrats usually vote for Republican Party legislation to massively expand government’s role in Health Care.

Republican President George Bush’s $1.1 Trillion Government Prescription Drug Program was voted into law by Republicans and Democrats.

Republican Governor Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts state government expansion into Massachusetts health care – RomneyCare – was voted into law by both Republicans and Democrats. With virtually no resistance.

A Republican-controlled House of Representatives and US Senate would oppose Democratic President Barack Obama’s health care proposals.

But a Republican majority House of Representatives and US Senate would support and vote for a Republican President Mitt Romney’s Big Government health care proposals. And most Democrats in the House and Senate would, too.

What Republican Governor Romney did to Massachusetts’ health care, a Republican President Romney would do to America’s health care.

A President Mitt Romney would not undo ObamaCare. He’d make it permanent.

A first-term President Mitt Romney would be far more dangerous to small business, the private sector, and taxpayers than a lame-duck President Obama – no matter what the Supreme Court decided.

Hey dummies! Don't call for the status quo. We have a candidate!!! What say you promote him? Hell- mention him, even?!

Update: I brought this to the attention of an LNC member via email, in a very cordial exchange. I'm sure it helped that I left out the 'inept' adjective. The wind-up is that the press releases are the domain of Executive Director Carla Howell. The LNC Chair has some input on them, but the LNC members themselves do not. To the credit of the LNC, they are being mindful not to be micromanagers of the ED. At the same time, a political party MUST, MUST, MUST promote its candidates. I was told this would be a topic for discussion within the LNC. I hope that takes place soon.

Two Things That Go Miserably Together

Yuck. If you dislike heat and running, there's nothing quite like hitting it at 8am when it's only 80 degrees outside.

On the upside, even while feeling like I would suffocate, I got my mile down to 8:35. It's getting to be time to stretch it to two-mile runs.

Face Palm On Ruling

No, the face palm didn't happen because the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. I expected that. It isn't even that Chief Justice Roberts - the Bush nominee - wrote the majority opinion. I'm not a Bush apologist, so that doesn't sting me. It's that Mitt Romney's fundraising got a major boost in the wake of the decision. From ABC:

In the hours after the Supreme Court ruling, Romney aides were quick to tout a spike in fundraising. According to the campaign, more than $300,000 rolled into the Romney Victory Fund within the first 90 minutes after the ruling. A spokeswoman said the money was raised "organically" and not through a specific fundraising plea.

The staggering ignorance of that caused the face palm. Ok, sure, Republicans are pissed at the ruling. But to support Romney? The architect of Romneycare?

Listen, Republicans. When liberals say that you guys are stupid, and I get evidence like this, I'm joining the choir in alto basso.

Here's part of Gary Johnson's statement on the ruling:

“Whether the Court chooses to call the individual mandate a tax or anything else, allowing it to stand is a truly disturbing decision. The idea that government can require an individual to buy something simply because that individual exists and breathes in America is an incredible blow to the bedrock principles of freedom and liberty. It must be repealed, and Congress needs to get about doing so today."

 Romney may make some noises about how wrong the decision was, but he doesn't have a leg to stand on. I only hope that people who oppose the ruling look at the track records, not just the rhetoric of the moment, and back the candidate who has been consistent in opposition. I can hope, right?

Update: It's now $4.6 million worth of stoopid over at the Romney camp. It makes me want to puke in my soup.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An Encouraging Conflict

I love it when events emerge that brings a group of people to the point of challenging long-held, knee-jerk beliefs.

To this end, I've been watching the growing movement regarding food. While it certainly spans the political spectrum, I'm watching how it affects the left in particular, for the left tends to automatically demand regulation and zoning, insisting on limits on producer freedom in the name of safety and health.

But now people are wanting raw milk. Now they are wanting to grow food in the front yard instead of lawns. Now they want to have some chickens in their suburban backyards. They want these things often in the name of health, wanting to avoid the hormones often put into animals, or the pesticides in food. Or, they want to eliminate transportation and make food more green. Regulations and zoning are thwarting these desires in many areas.

For instance, selling raw milk in Indiana is illegal. If you want it, you can invest in 'cow shares', break the law, or go without. A Detroit area woman's story about facing jail for starting a garden in her front yard was big news last year.

Keeping chickens is coming into vogue. Zoning permits it in Indy, but not in Fishers where I live.

In speaking with local gardeners I am friends with in Fishers, several would like to raise chickens and/or garden in the front yard. They know the zoning is against them. In all likelihood, some will just break the law, while others will shrug with some disappointment and not raise the chickens or put rows of heirloom tomatoes out front. Eggs to all of your neighbors is an excellent form of 'hush money', I hear told.

My interest lies in seeing if those who want to be the law-abiding folks will press for elimination of zoning, changes to zoning, or variances. My hope is for elimination of zoning. I find that nothing tops talking with your neighbors with simple conversations to find if what you want to do would upset them. Now, we apply for permits, and don't talk to the neighbors. I prefer the former. These are the people you have to live with, not some plan reviewer in the Town building.

I suspect that we'll see tweaks in zoning, for the most part. My mother-in-law lives in uber-liberal Cleveland Heights, Ohio and was delighted at the their zoning changes, which cover everything from the food items to production of solar or wind energy on the home property. I'd accept this as a step in the right direction, but would prefer to see zoning eliminated, my home is my castle, screw the nanny state, and all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On The Other Hand, Fishers

Lest anyone conclude I've made up my mind on the Fishers city vote, I'll now look at the other side of the argument.

City Yes PAC has been advancing the cause of making Fishers a City from the beginning of this latest push to do so. They list five issues on their website:

1. Elect Your Mayor. Every other community in Indiana gets to elect the City executive. As one of the largest communities in Indiana, Fishers should have this basic democratic right.

I completely agree, but this was one of the specific questions of law the lawsuit inexplicably lost on. I thought it was our strongest point. Alas. If the vote for a city wins, the popular vote of the mayor will NOT happen. The Council will then select the mayor. I can't get excited about that.

2. Council Districts. As a City, Fishers would have real district representation, with 6 districts representing their neighborhoods, plus 3 at-large seats.

Again, as Fishers won the lawsuit, I don't see this happening. If they vote for city wins, the voter gets to choose between the Fishers 'hybrid city' and nothing, as I understand it.

I've understood this from the beginning to be the heart and soul of the reason Fishers Democrats want the City form. Currently, all seats on council are elected at-large, which is a sham, for it favors the dominant party. It makes challengers not only win their district, but the entire municipality, which makes campaigning vastly more expensive, and virtually impossible for Democrats or Libertarians to win. It has resulted in very few General Election challenges for Council seats, and very unaccountable Council members.

I could get excited for this change, but again, as I understand it, when Fishers won the suit, they won the ability to present their form of city on the ballot at the exclusion of all others, including that described on this point. Please- someone correct me if I am wrong.

3. Accountability. With an elected Mayor and real district representation, the government of Fishers would be more accountable to the voters.

As shown in my previous post, this has not been the experience in the other similarly Republican dominated cities that were towns not too long ago, Westfield and Carmel. The mayors there are exceptionally unaccountable. The councils have effectively been rubber stamps for the mayors. There are occasionally oppositional members of council, but nothing even approaching effective opposition to provide genuine checks and balances.

Now, I can take the long view, and try to convince myself that over time, as areas urbanize they tend to move to the left, and Dems could win some seats in time. However, if the 'hybrid city' wins at the ballot box, the checks and balances hoped for by real districts aren't any more possible than they are now, reducing this to a nice talking point, and not really viable. Again- correct me if I'm wrong on the form of city that will appear on the ballot in November.

4. Checks and Balance. As a City, the Mayor would have veto power over unwise council actions. With enough votes, the Council can override the veto. This separation of powers is completely absent in Town government.

Completely agree, and this is the one point that keeps me from advocating for defeat of the Yes/No question. The Town Council currently acts as both legislative and executive, utterly lacking checks and balances. This may be the only positive thing that would come out of any vote in favor of the city form. See my concerns above in Points 2 & 3, though, for the real life play out for the next 30 years. The best we can hope for there is one-party factionalism to provide real checks and balances, which isn't really all that exciting.

5. Economic Development. An elected Mayor is the leader of the City and can negotiate with businesses who wish to locate here. The Mayor is the leader for economic development, something we currently lack.

Again, referring back to my previous post, this is exactly what I fear most. I don't want a Mayor Brainard for Fishers. I don't want pet projects that we will subsidize forever. I don't want politically businesses getting tax abatements while the unconnected pay full freight. We're better off for lacking a Mayor on these points.

So, clearly, I'm not sold on the other side, either.

When I joined the lawsuit, I was the odd man, as both Joe Weingarten and Glenn Brown were very much in favor of the city form of government, while my interests were different. I signed the City Yes petition not because I was sold on the city form, but because I believed the people of Fishers had the right to settle the question at the ballot box, and that the Town Council wasn't going to advance the question unless a valid petition went forward. It's all about representative government to me.

Unfortunately, we lost in court and are now left with two very weak choices, in my opinion. I'm open to suggestion from anyone who wishes to make the case for either side, provided you don't lead with "You're wrong". You'll push me to the other side with that.