Tuesday, March 30, 2010

if it's anti-andre carson, this must be AI

advance indiana's gary welsh was away from the blogging scene for weeks while he struggled with a near-fatal bout of pneumonia. fortunately, he's back now... and making the same old mistakes.

gary has earned of a reputation as a carson-hater. he's demonstrated time and again that he'll eagerly print just about anything critical of the carson clan, with little regard for whether it's true. so when someone on the right-wing american thinker blog posted an entry claiming that andre carson had made up the story about tea partiers yelling racial slurs at him last week, it was destined to show up at advance indiana.

this "thoughtful" analysis consisted of watching at least four youtube videos and reading at least two or three blog posts. but surprisingly, this turned out to be an insufficient amount of research, leading to some major factual errors that gary unthinkingly repeats.

when rep carson was being heckled, he was walking next to his fellow black congressman john lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement. but because initial reports on the incident didn't include a full quote from lewis, this is taken to mean that lewis never confirmed that it happened. inconveniently, lewis made this statement to the hill:

Asked if racial epithets were yelled at him, Lewis responded, "Yes, but it's OK. I've heard this before in the '60s. A lot of this is just downright hate."

likewise, reps james clyburn and emanuel cleaver were involved in a second incident, where cleaver was allegedly spat at by a protester. initial reports only had quotes from cleaver, not clyburn. therefore, according to gary, "Lewis and Clyburn never made no claims of the N-word being uttered." however, it turns out that clyburn did make yes claims... to the wrong blog! stupid clyburn!

But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s.

"It was absolutely shocking to me," Clyburn said, in response to a question from the Huffington Post. "Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where fifty years ago as of last Monday... I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins... And quite frankly I heard some things today I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus."

in short, all four men—two of whom were civil rights leaders in the '60s—are judged to be liars. why? because in 2010, folks just don't use racial slurs like that anymore! no, seriously, that is the conclusion of the american thinker piece, which gary approvingly quotes. indeed, the very thought that someone might yell the n-word at a congressman "is so at odds with the reality of America circa 2010 that it undermines the credibility of any media person who reported it with a straight face"!

poor gary. he's only recently returned to blogging, and he's already reporting clearly false information. this was bad enough that i actually tried leaving a comment on his blog, though we'll have to see if my comment ever makes it out of moderation. (he also has a reputation for being unable to tolerate criticism.)

update: i knew it was a waste of time leaving at comment at AI, and sure enough, my comment hasn't been approved. but the comment thread is still worth a read, thanks to gary's comments about representative carson being "raised to hate white peope" and melyssa's rejoinder that "I do believe Andre Carson is as racist as they come."

Monday, March 22, 2010

health care passes house

i got a little despondent a couple months ago when it looked like health care reform was going to fail again. at the time, it was clear that democrats had the power to pass reform; they just seemed to lack the will to do it, which was seriously depressing.

but eventually, they got their acts together, and now health care reform is on its way to becoming law. the house has passed the senate bill, and the senate looks certain to pass a reconciliation bill fixing some of the flaws in the senate bill. the final reform package isn't perfect, but there's a lot of good stuff in there.

like millions of americans, this isn't some abstract policy debate for me. my wife has a pre-existing condition. as such, we've always known that if disaster struck and she found herself unemployed for more than a few weeks, she would lose her health insurance and would be unable to buy more. now, we can sleep a little easier. (we have to make it four more years before those provisions kick in, but that's still a major improvement.)

with the passage of health care reform, congressional democrats may have saved themselves from annihilation. yes, they'll probably lose a few seats come november, but things will likely work out much better than they would've otherwise. people will come to forget the acrimony of this debate, but they'll remember the results: democrats passed major legislation that ensures people who need it will get health care.

it may be raining outside, but the future looks a little brighter.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

teabaggers yell racial slurs at andre carson

welcome to post-racial america!

Tea partiers and other anti-health care activists are known to get rowdy, but today's protest on Capitol Hill--the day before the House is set to vote on historic health care legislation--went beyond the usual chanting and controversial signs, and veered into ugly bigotry and intimidation.

Civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and fellow Congressional Black Caucus member Andre Carson (D-IN) related a particularly jarring encounter with a large crowd of protesters screaming "kill the bill"... and punctuating their chants with the word "nigger."

Standing next to Lewis, emerging from a Democratic caucus meeting with President Obama, Carson said people in the crowd yelled, "kill the bill and then the N-word" several times, while he and Lewis were exiting the Canon House office building.

"People have been just downright mean," Lewis added.

And that wasn't an isolated incident. Early this afternoon, standing outside a Democratic whip meeting in the Longworth House office building, I watched Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) make his way out the door, en route to the neighboring Rayburn building. As he rounded the corner toward the exit, wading through a huge crowd of tea partiers and other health care protesters, an elderly white man screamed "Barney, you faggot"--a line that caused dozens of his confederates to erupt in laughter.

keep it classy, tea party!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

looking for news? keep on looking.

starting today, the indianapolis star is crippling its web site. the new policy: front-page stories will be embargoed from the web site for 48 hours, as will the columnists. that's right: if you go to indystar.com, you won't be shown the news that the star deems most important. (this week, it's yet another story about hazing at carmel high school and yet another tully column about manual high school. yay, high school!)

if you've been paying attention to the star in the past few years, you'll know that the print edition has been getting progressively crappier, with a shrinking trim size and shorter page count (the only thing that's gotten bigger is the font size). in contrast, the star has routinely been putting "extra" content online that wouldn't fit in between the ads on the print edition.

so why would anyone want to subscribe? apparently this is a question the management has been struggling with for a while, and the answer they came up with is that readers should be forced to subscribe (to the print edition!) if they want timely content.

in the age of blogs and the 24-hour news cycle, this is absurd. people want fast, easy access to the news. they want to be able to share news articles with their friends. and yes, they want to be able to leave offensive racist, sexist, and homophobic comments on stories about how minorities are ruining america, liberals are idiotic scum, and so forth. they can do those things easily with a web site. not so much with a printed newspaper that comes to their door only once a day.

someone in management decided that subscription revenue was more important than web traffic or online revenue. i can appreciate their conundrum—newspaper revenues are dropping and the parent company demands unreasonable profits. but i'll be shocked if this results in a significant increase in subscribers. i sure as hell won't be subscribing.

so the hunt is on: we need better online sources for local news! i'll admit; i've been lazy when it comes to finding other feeds to follow. not anymore!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

does this count as a tax increase?

are you unhappy that the propsed deal to sell the city's water and sewer utilities would allow citizens energy group to raise rates with no oversight from the city?

if so, you should talk to mayor ballard, because to him that's the whole point:

There are those who believe one reason Indianapolis is selling its water and sewer systems to Citizens Energy Group is so the utility can do something that elected officials have often lacked the courage to do: raise rates.

To those folks, Mayor Greg Ballard has a message: You're pretty much right -- and it's the right thing to do.

Ballard officially announced Wednesday the city is selling the utilities to Citizens for $1.9 billion.

What that means for ratepayers is that Citizens' board of directors -- and not local elected officials accountable to Indianapolis voters -- will make decisions on when to seek rate hikes from the state and by how much.

first off, it sure is odd that a mayor who campaigned on transparency and accountability would deliberately want to make the city's utilities less accountable... and do so in a closed-door deal, no less!

second, if the mayor thinks this will give him political cover when rates go up, he's sorely mistaken. voters will remember who was responsible for selling these utilities and stripping away the city's oversight. in 2007, candidate ballard would've called this a tax increase, and so will ballard's opponents come 2011.

ballard's argument is that politicians are too cowardly to raise rates as much as they need to be raised. of course, the brave thing to do would be to suck it up and raise rates yourself. then he could say, "i did what needed to be done; i did what past administrations were too afraid to do." instead, when rates go up, the mayor will just shrug his shoulders and say, "i didn't do it!"

but hey, at least we can fix some potholes, am i right?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

phase one complete

hoo boy... i predicted that the layout would get wonky but forgot that all relative links would break (including my stylesheet and all background images!) so the blog was nigh-illegible for an hour or so there.

migration is now complete, and the blog is up & running at the new URL: blog.animalswithinanimals.com. the layout will change again as i try to build a modified version of this design using the new blogger layouts. in the end (fingers crossed) everything should look much the same as it did, only the sidebar will likely be significantly rearranged.

update: all comments seem to have disappeared and some comment pages appear to have been broken during migration. don't take it personally. there's not much i can do about that; here's hoping blogger identifies and fixes the problem.

2nd update: comments appear to be back online.

this blog may break

as you may have heard, blogger is eliminating support for ftp publishing. since stAllio!'s way is currently published via blogger ftp, that means i need to change my setup.

you may be thinking that this is perfect opportunity to switch to a different blog provider, and you'd have a point. however, over the years i've built multiple web sites for other people using blogger ftp, so i need to know the new blogger systems work for their benefit.

as such, stAllio!'s way will soon migrate to blogger hosting, most likely in the new few hours. as such, you may notice the following changes:
  • the URLs for the blog and its feed will both change—a redirect will be posted but you'll want to change your bookmarks.
  • the blog layout may get all wonky as i switch over the new blogger layouts. (this isn't required, but if i'm migrating anyway then what the hell, right?)
  • i may get inspired and design all new blog graphics. (this will happen eventually, but as i have other ongoing projects, i'll probably wait a bit.)
  • some links may break, though they should redirect to the new location.

i've already migrated the AWIA news blog (and updated its graphics), which was relatively painless, so i predict this will go smoothly. but, you know, do not adjust your set. we control the horizontal and the vertical, and all that.

transparency in local government?

when mayor ballard talked about transparency in local government, he must've been referring to the powerpoints he'd use to present his closed-door dealings:

The city is close to selling its water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy Group in a $1.9 billion deal that leaders say would minimize future rate increases and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to improve roads, bridges and sidewalks.

Today, Indianapolis officials will give details of a nonbinding agreement between the city and Citizens, a public charitable trust that provides gas, steam and chilled water. Under the proposed terms, Citizens would pay Indianapolis nearly $2 billion for the two utilities, which now are owned by the city and run by private operators.

Citizens would acquire Indianapolis' water and sewer utilities and have full control over their operations. It also would become responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in capital improvement projects to be completed in coming years.

City officials touted the benefits of the plan, but some are concerned about the arrangement, which would limit the city's oversight of two integral utilities.

Under the new setup, no local elected officials or their appointees would be responsible for approving or suggesting rate increases. Instead, it would be left up to Citizens' board of directors, who are not accountable to Indianapolis voters, to decide when to seek rate increases and how big they should be. Final say on rate increases would be in the hands of state utility regulators who are appointed by the governor.

so he wants to sell our water & sewers to a utility company, giving up any semblance of oversight, and in exchange we'll get to fill some potholes.

it should be noted that when democrats on the city-county council asked about rumors of a water deal, they were repeatedly told no deal was in the works. transparency!

Friday, March 05, 2010

a little too prescient?

when i predicted that the new let's-all-bring-weapons-to-work bill would lead to an increase in workplace shootings, even i didn't think it would start happening quite so soon... the governor hasn't even signed the bill into law yet!

PORTAGE, Ind. -- Police say an Indiana Department of Workforce Development auditor who had just received a poor job review shot at co-workers at the agency's office in Portage.

No one was hurt.

Police in Portage, about 10 miles east of Gary, aren't identifying the worker until formal charges are filed.

Sgt. Keith Hughes says the 60-year-old man became upset during his job review and told his supervisor he needed to go to his car. After he retrieved a shotgun, a manager locked the front door and ordered the other 15 employees to the rear of the office.

Police say the man fired one shot at the front door and another inside the office as his co-workers fled. They say he surrendered at gunpoint to officers while trying to reload.

now if you'll excuse me, i'm going to rush off to vegas while i'm on a roll...

shoot-your-boss bill passes

i don't often agree with chambers of commerce, be they US, indiana, or wherever. seeing as how their primary purpose is to support big business over the interests of the little guy, i generally find them to be horribly, even selfishly wrong on most issues. in fact, you could even say that on a typical day, i'd probably be pleased to hear that the state legislature was willing to openly defy the indiana chamber.

but dear god, why would they pick this issue?

Most Hoosiers could take a gun to work as long as the weapon is stored out of sight in a locked vehicle, under legislation enacted Thursday to the delight of gun-rights advocates and the alarm of Indiana businesses.

At least 12 other states, including Kentucky, have passed similar legislation.

House Bill 1065, which passed the House 74-20 and the Senate 41-9, now goes to Gov. Mitch Daniels for his signature.

the business community unanimously and vigorously opposed this bill because like me, they know it will only be a matter of time before someone gets killed, and they don't want their asses to get shot up. i don't want them to get their asses shot up either, which makes this a rare issue we agree on.

workplace shootings happen. just three weeks ago, a university of alabama professor killed three of her colleagues after being denied tenure. two months ago, an employee at a st louis power plant went on a shooting spree, killing three and wounding five before turning his guns on himself. in 2008, a man in henderson kentucky (just miles from the indiana state line) killed himself and five others after an argument with his boss. but rather than pass a bill that might protect hoosiers from being slaughtered at work, the legislature has passed a bill that will make going on a murderous rampage easier. how could they think this is a good idea?

there's still a chance the governor could veto the bill, but don't hold your breath on that one. so it looks like our only hope to stop the madness is the inevitable court challenge by local businesses that don't want to get shot by their employees. it's sad that it has to come to this, but at least it's better than the alternative.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

ballard's continuing war against the city's homeless

at first, we were told it was just about panhandlers. mayor ballard announced that he wanted "to get them out of Downtown so that citizens and visitors don't have to look at it." when criticized for this dehumanizing attitude toward the homeless, ballard scoffed and said panhandling was a "scam". (never mind the studies showing that most panhandlers are indeed homeless.) eventually, the mayor got what he wanted: a "pahandling bill" that made it illegal to stand near a street corner while holding a sign. how's that bill working out, anyway?

but the city's homeless came back into the news recently, as word spread of a homeless camp under the davidson street bridge downtown. the mayor sprung into action:

Mayor Greg Ballard took a look at the shantytown under a bridge on Davidson Street on Friday, and a decision followed.

Get them out and lock the place up.

ah, the return of the i-don't-want-to-look-at-them policy. homeless people are upsetting the neighbors? then get them outta there! problem solved.

of course, if the goal was to get those people help, then closing the camp was a clear failure:

Shiny metal fence posts have replaced dome-shaped tents at a former homeless encampment on the fringe of Downtown.

Now the question remains: Where have the homeless gone?

Agencies and social service teams asked by the city to reach out to the so-called "bridge people" who had taken up residence under the Davidson Street railroad bridge could not persuade the homeless to move into shelters.

"Not a single one of those individuals went into shelters Monday night," said Michael Hurst, program director for the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention.

Hurst said all of them went to a "safe place," such as a viaduct on Pine Street, which is a few blocks from Davidson Street, or to other alleyways and doorways in the city.

"They all kind of scattered and went," Hurst said.

so we spent $10 grand on a fence, and in return all we get is a more-spread-out homeless population?

the ballard administration immediately disavowed all responsibility for their failure:

"If an individual makes a choice to sleep on the street despite all the help the city and homeless shelters and advocacy groups have offered to them, there's little the city can do," said Robert Vane, Ballard's chief of staff. "All we can do is offer."

well, that and bust up their camps so the streets are so inhospitable that they all hop a bus to cincinnati, that is.

but it could be worse. for one thing, the city could go with abdul's hare-brained idea to just throw the city's homeless into the nuthouse. i didn't think it was possible to top abdul's previous statement that "Someone whould get a giant broom and sweep them all away! [sic]" in terms of heartlessness or thoughtlessness (how are we going to pay for 3,000 new mental patients?), but there you go. it's funny how the people who talk most loudly about individual freedom and personal responsibility are often the ones who are most upset when the homeless decide that living on the streets is more comfortable than living in a shelter.

as the saying goes, the law forbids the poor and rich alike from sleeping under bridges.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

fool me once, shame on you. fool me 17 times...

how many times do your projections need to be off before you realize that you're doing it wrong?

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana's budget situation worsened again in February when tax receipts fell below expectations for the 17th consecutive month.

State revenue is now $895 million less through the first eight months of the fiscal year than lawmakers thought when they wrote the two-year spending plan. It's also 10.5 percent below the same period last year, a time when lawmakers hoped the numbers couldn't worsen.

the cynic in me wonders whether projections have been intentionally too high, in order to make the governor look better: mitch balanced the budget somehow—what a genius! what a bold leader he is, managing us so well in these hard times!

it would seem the state's monthly tax projections are as untrustworthy as our list of economic successes.

Monday, March 01, 2010

"in real life" t-shirt now on sale!

it took a while, but my first printed threadless design is now on sale!

In Real Life - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

this one was actually a collaboration with a finnish artist named marika mattila. when i came up with the idea, i knew it needed to be done right in order to work. the art style needed to be fairly realistic, but i didn't want it to just be a shopped photo, because stuff like that often doesn't score well on threadless.

realism isn't exactly my strong point, so i started looking for someone to collaborate with, and marika volunteered. i checked out her past stuff and could tell right away that she had the drawing chops necessary to pull off the concept. a few drafts later and the rest is history!

i used a bit of the prize money to buy myself a little something—a wacom tablet! i've been using the tablet for a few days now, and already i can spot a big difference in my illustration. plus, it's fun!

my next goal is to get a solo print, but i'll probably still do collaborations from time to time, when i have an idea that i feel could be better executed by someone else.