Saturday, March 10, 2012

'Real Fans' Are Overrated

I think Colts fans are perfectly justified in being unhappy with the huge wave of cuts- Peyton Manning, most notably, and now Addai, Clark, Brackett, Bullitt, and Painter.

Ok, most Colts fans are good with the cutting of Curtis Painter. But WRs Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon are also likely done here, and Dwight Freeney is on the trading block. If you were a fan, was it because you just love the blue jerseys and the horseshoe helmet, or was it because you identified with likeable players that made long careers here?

So, if the likeable players are gone, what's to be excited about? Rah-rah blue jersey? Rah-rah Irsay's team?

And, is the fan anything more than a sucker if expected to buy tickets and go to games where the odds are great that the team is not only going to lose, but look bad doing it? I think 'sucker' is just the right term.

So, when someone suggests that you aren't a 'real fan' if you have quickly lost interest in this team, let them know that they are just a 'sucker', and that you aren't the kind of fool who knowingly flushes good time and/or money down the sewer in accepting frustration where entertainment should be.

I'll give Colts GM Ryan Grigson this: When he cleans house, he CLEANS HOUSE.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Meet-Up With Rupert

I remember my reaction when I first heard that Rupert Boneham had an interest in seeking the Libertarian nomination for Indiana Governor. I thought, "Oh, great. A reality show TV star. We work so hard, so long to be taken seriously, and we'll be cast as a joke party." He had no prior involvement in politics, but he is instantly recognizable by many thanks to his appearances on the show "Survivor".

The thought of the publicity he could bring to the Libertarian Party looked like a plus. People who would otherwise not be checking out the LP now would, and that's great. But what about his policy positions? If you see a tie-dyed tank top on a man everywhere he goes, is it because that's how he's come to brand himself, or is it that he's a bit of a pothead? Does he know anything about libertarian philosophy or policy solutions?

The Hamilton County LP hosted its monthly Meet-Up last night, and Rupert spoke for about 15 minutes. The biggest issue for Rupert? Getting government out of charities. He went on to detail how state and federal agencies have interfered with the business of his charity, Rupert's Kids, draining it of money and time, replacing those things with nothing. He works with troubled youth, with the intention of setting them up with life skills, including vocational trades. He speaks knowingly, and with passion for the kids in his programs. He observed over time that private charity succeeds when it moves kids out of their programs and into the adult workforce. Government charity has the effect of keeping people in the system, and vastly less functional.

Some libertarians may not be as excited to hear him talk about education, where he takes a destinational approach rather than directional. He spoke about eliminating some administration, moving education away from the state and back into local control, eliminating I-Step, and increasing vocational training and life skills training. He doesn't sound like Murray Rothbard, but rather Milton Friedman.

But on the whole, Rupert groks libertarianism far more than I expected at the onset. And, he's a great spokesman in this setting at least, being about 20 people. People in the restaurant kept coming over, and eventually he went over to sit with a table of fans that waited for him to end his presentation to us. People took a real interest in everything he said.

I like to reserve judgment on endorsing candidates until I've seen them in many situations. He's got the interpersonal down. Of course he has TV down. I'd love to see him on a bigger stage, and would love to hear him on the radio with a host that is less than friendly, to see how he performs. After all, the governor's candidates are standard bearers for the parties. They do public debates, and have to hold their own, while putting across a distinct message, and in our case, one that represents libertarian values.

As to the political mechanics, there were a lot of grumbles within libertarian circles several months ago about the idea of Rupert as standard bearer for the LPIN. At the same time, those grumbling haven't stepped forward to run themselves, nor have they recruited a candidate to advance a different platform. I don't know what this represents, whether it's a concession of some sort or laziness. It's disappointing because I really like contested conventions. It's good for the organization to have competing viewpoints make their cases, with the best articulated winning the day. Grumbling and muttering doesn't accomplish anything in particular. The phenomenon of one believing they have a superior outlook and then sandbagging it is most peculiar to me.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Partisan Misogyny

I don't go out of my way to condemn foul language. I use a bit of it myself. It's probably mostly beneath me, a weakness, but it often makes a point to use an expletive in order to drive a point home. And, call me small minded, but sometimes I just get a giggle out of using a cuss word. The crudity just sums up certain absurdities too well.

I certainly don't get too worked up about entertainers who use salty language in the political arena. Rush Limbaugh infamously called Sandra Fluke a 'slut'. In fairly swift response, Limbaugh's defenders have been reminding the world that Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a 'dumb twat' and a 'cunt', many to say, "See! Your guy is worse!"

I don't go for partisan shading on this. Both Limbaugh and Maher did exactly the same thing. They used misogynist language regarding a particular woman.

I don't go for condemnations of them, because I don't play the, "I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!" card on language. I'm too big a fan of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and free expression to do so. Sure, it's guttural. Sure, it's offensive to some. The individuals who were targeted perhaps have a slander case. That's up to them.

But some people do go for condemnations. That's fine. I'll take you at your word if you're saying that you are in favor of a more civil discourse.

So, if you are, kindly be consistent. Please don't make moral equivalencies that say, "Well! Limbaugh is a political pundit, but Maher is a comedian!" Sorry, they're both entertainers at the end of the day, and contributors to the public discourse. Please don't say, "Sandra Fluke is a private citizen, but Sarah Palin is a public figure!" Really! Do public figures cease to be women? I had no idea.

And, if you're a member of Congress, the cognitive dissonance should be this visible, and it should hurt to be so transparently partisan.

I know it's all a political football, but really. If you want to be taken seriously about your outrage on Limbaugh (or Maher, for that matter), or your claims in favor of the civil discourse, you have to be consistent. Read Congresswoman Schakowsky's strong statement against Limbaugh's comments and see if you can find anything that would suggest excusing what Maher said.

The country is so absurdly partisan at this point. I have marveled recently at the ability of the left to turn a blind eye to so many of the things they complained about with Bush (eroding civil liberties, foreign wars, indefinite detention, borrow & spend). Before that (well, and after too), I was marveling at the ability of the right to ignore the things they complained about the left while backing those on the right doing those very things (bailouts, borrow & spend, growing the size & scope of government). There's more to politics than team. My party right or wrong is the sure path to wrong.

We need people to hold their own side to the high road. It doesn't happen fast by shaming the other side. That only breeds defensiveness and short term apologies designed more as damage control than introspection.

Update: Reason had already written something similar.

I just keep thinking about the 'public figure' argument. Yeah, right. As though it would be a-ok to call Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton these things, you know, because they are public figures. I can't get over the lame. I'd love it if we were as intent on consistency within our own camps as we are on the gotchas for the other camps.

Wait, Projections Fell Short?

Get outta here! A government entity overprojected revenues? Underestimated the gloriousness of its new ways? That never happens! From the Indy Star:

The first year of Indianapolis' 50-year parking meter lease brought doubled rates in some areas as a tradeoff for a wholesale upgrade of equipment and the convenience of paying by credit card or smartphone.

Was it worth it?

New financial data provided by the city shows its share of revenue from the vendor in 2011 -- nearly $1.4 million, or 30 percent -- fell well short of the city's own projection of $2.1 million.

And the city didn't end up seeing the full amount: After the vendor subtracted $286,000 in charges to compensate for the city closing metered spaces, often for RebuildIndy road construction work, the city pocketed $1.1 million.

The vendor, ParkIndy -- a trio of local and national companies led by Dallas-based ACS, a Xerox company -- kept more than $3.5 million.

But most of the city's share was profit, and Mayor Greg Ballard, whose office hatched the deal before it was signed in late 2010, touts the privatized system as a success story that will only get stronger.

Ok, I was kidding. Inflating the projections is what always happens. It sells the thing. After the reality sets in, you can't undo it, because a contract is in place. The future is always painted as a rosier picture.

I was pleased with the reporting on the opposition.

Democrats weren't the only skeptics of the city's deal with ParkIndy.

Some privatization experts questioned the 50-year length, prompting the addition of an opt-out clause for the city every 10 years. But that option comes with a fee, starting at nearly $20 million and decreasing over time.

Mahern was among vocal critics who noted many large cities have modernized their meters by borrowing or striking shorter-term contracts.

"We should have just worked with a vendor to provide us the service for a fee," he said, "rather than granting somebody an equity stake for what is a basic service."

Just like the toll road, this deal was way too long. Both should have been for 5-10 years, tops. It's too hard to predict the financial picture 10 years down the road, let alone 50. 2061 is a long time to wait to learn if the city sold out cheap. But, eager to get money into the city coffers because revenues are down and spending is sacrosanct, and probably to be seen at least a little like Mitch Daniels, Mayor Ballard got this rushed along.

I'm a huge fan of privatization of services, but deals like this smack of desperation and haste, and tend to give needless fuel to the critics of privatization who would dismiss the practice out of hand.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Limbaugh Shows The Swiftness Of Market Discipline

Some people prefer government to be a watchdog and enforcer rather than market discipline. I like the latter, and the Rush Limbaugh episode shows how devastatingly effective markets can be. From the Business Insider:
According to a series of advertisers' Twitter and Facebook statements, at least 20 different sponsors have now pulled their spots from Rush Limbaugh's radio show.

In case you're new to the kerfuffle—welcome out of hibernation!—advertisers began dropping like flies after Limbaugh called a Georgetown law student and women's rights activist a "slut" and a "prostitute" for supporting healthcare coverage for contraception.

Sleep Number and The Sleep Train, both mattress suppliers, were the first two advertisers to pull their ads Friday, and the numbers have grown tenfold since then.

Limbaugh gave a faux apology, and has since stuck to his guns. All well and good in the world of free speech. He can carry on and exercise his right, but it's going to be a much less lucrative gig for him if he does. He isn't winning for losing here. He's lost two radio station affiliates and probably isn't done losing stations or advertisers.

Imagine if, instead, government had stepped in and censored his remarks. Limbaugh would have been made the victim by many, and not incorrectly, in a 'two wrongs don't make a right' kind of way. Nope- the market is taking care of this just fine, no government regulation necessary, thank you very much.

$28 Million Is A Lot Of Money

Even to Colts owner and billionaire Jim Irsay. So, the team will cut Manning tomorrow. From ESPN:
Sources close to the team told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that the announcement will come at a news conference in Indianapolis on Wednesday with both Manning and owner Jim Irsay in attendance.

The decision to pass on the $28 million bonus owed Manning and not to pick up the four remaining years on his contract means Manning will become a free agent, and sources told Mortensen that he intends to continue to play.
This is no surprise. When the team stunk just enough to line up for the #1 pick, and there is an NFL-ready quarterback in Andrew Luck lined up to be made the #1 pick, saving the $28 million is a bonus, really. If they stayed with Manning, the Colts might not have picked Luck, rolling the dice on Manning's health. Even if Manning proves healthy, putting Luck on the bench might not be the best thing for him- even if a year with a clipboard in hand worked out pretty well for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
My pic of Peyton Manning huddling up during his last game in a Colts uniform, a playoff game against the NY Jets, January 2011.

We'll hear a lot of buzzing about loyalty here in Indiana for the next several weeks. I have mixed feelings. Only one of my favorite sports heroes (Steve Largent) played his entire career with one team. I was greatly disappointed when my favorite hockey player, Owen Nolan, was traded from my favorite team, the San Jose Sharks. But I understood it, as the Sharks got a #1 pick, a player who had been a #1 pick, and another player who immediately became the Sharks' new captain.

In this case, Irsay saves $28 million. I got the impression he would have cut Manning to save $28,000. Irsay simply wasn't going to be the kind of owner who paid that kind of money just to display loyalty over money.

Monday, March 05, 2012

No Jury Duty For Kole

It's funny- I think I'm one of only two people I know who would genuinely want to serve jury duty. Jury duty is a great punch line, or an irritating way to miss a few days at work to most people, but I really want to do it.

Maybe that's why I get bounced. I had a 'Notice of Jury Service' issued to me for Federal Jury Service earlier this year. I filled out the questionnaire and then did not receive the summons. I seem to go through these motions at least once a year.

I don't know what makes me an objectionable prospective juror. I have no doubt that I got bounced in the past for being the Libertarian Party's County Chair, or for being a candidate for office. This time, my guess is the rejection is thanks to my lawsuit against the Town of Fishers. Is it that the attorneys want citizens that are disengaged politically? Maybe I'm going to have to make more sports entries here.