Friday, October 31, 2008

Open thread: Pre-election odds, ends and tangents.

Granted, it’s absurd that yard signs are the preferred unit of currency of local politics, but that’s the way it is in primitive societies like America.

My household is not immune.

There are four signs in our front yard, three of them touting Republican candidates (Clere, Click and Summers), and that’s positively surreal by my previous standards of voting against all Republicans as a matter of dogma. Sometimes I’m not sure that it’s really me any longer. Perhaps another actor has been signed to play me, and I didn’t get the memo.

Of course, the number four is offered in the assumption that the much-abused second Barack Obama placard has survived another night. By now, I fully expected to see it hanging from a tree somewhere, with the perpetrator feigning ignorance of any racial context.

That’s the way it is in places that value NASCAR over educational achievement.

Conversely, maybe I’m just too hungover to be doing this today, but fortunately for you, I’ll persist.

My question to you: Which candidate has the most illegally placed yard signs? Based on my own unscientific survey, I’m guessing Dr. Knable, the Democratic candidate for Coroner. I’m not sure if I’ve seen one of hers placed legally. I could be wrong, and if so, I’m sure someone will correct me. Just make sure to use your real name, and be civil about it. Loutishness may be encouraged at McCain/Palin rallies, but not here.

Below are links to the past week’s open threads. Today’s the day for whatever’s left over, up to and including their man Mitch’s re-enthronement, public instruction (does it really exist if rubes don’t know the history of lynching?), attorneys general, whether we need two assessors or one – or another number to be determined by a random spin of Fortuna’s wheel.

Open thread: In the 9th, Hill vs. Sodrel IV enlivened by the Libertarian.

Open thread: Cochran defends his House District 72 seat against Clere.

Open thread: County offices up for grabs include Treasurer, Recorder, Coroner and Surveyor.

Open thread: Elections for County Council (at-large) ... and is it relevant for us to know who the candidates support for President?

Open thread: Elections for County Commissioners.

Open thread: Elections for Floyd County Superior Court 2 & 3.

So much for homework.

Don't forget NAC’s election night super sweepstakes. It’s free, and you may enter as often as you like. The winner gets to attend a city council meeting.

If you finish second, you must attend two of them.

Did anyone catch the color of the hair on that dog?

More humorous political reality.

Photo credit ... not sure. It was sent to me by a friend. If you know the point of origin, send it and credit will be given.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Open thread: In the 9th, Hill vs. Sodrel IV enlivened by the Libertarian.

Only a handful of days remain until the conclusion of a seemingly endless political campaign that surely must have started in 2002 … and, in fact, did.

That’s when Mike Sodrel challenged Baron Hill for the first time, and lost, setting the stage for a successful rematch, then another loss, and now a fourth effort. In the end, there have been enough sequels to embarrass even Rocky Balboa.

Considering the Libertarian candidate Eric Schansberg's second 9th district bid, my personal 9th district electoral strategy remains as it was in 2006, when I gleefully paraphrased Abraham Lincoln:

"If I could vote for Hill to beat Sodrel I would do it and if I could vote for Schansberg to beat Sodrel I would do it and if I could leave all of them alone and skip the election to beat Sodrel I would do that. The thing is to beat Sodrel.”

Two recent NAC articles considered a few of the angles:

Indiana's 9th district contest: A million miles on a set of retreads? Are you kidding?

Schansberg: " ... Nose-holders in both parties now have an option which would allow them to sleep better at night."

Granted, we may already have beaten this one to death, but comments are welcomed just in case.

ELECTION Q&A: U.S. Congress 9th District (New Albany Tribune)

Baron Hill for Congress (D - incumbent)
Mike Sodrel for Congress (R)
Eric Schansberg for Congress (L)

Open thread: Cochran defends his House District 72 seat against Clere.

NAC devoted three postings earlier this month to the District 72 (Indiana House of Representatives) race between incumbent Bill Cochran (D) and challenger Ed Clere (R).

Courier confuses chronology in otherwise solid preview of the Cochran vs. Clere District 72 house race.

Open thread: Cochran vs. Clere, District 72.

Clere: "I am interested in substance, and no postcard can change that."

I’ve found Cochran’s case for incumbency eerily similar to Mitch McConnell’s in the latter's bid to carry on as Senator from Kentucky in spite of being joined at the hip with George W. Bush. Paraphrased, it goes something like this:

I’ve been here so long, and I have accrued so much influence, you’d be foolish to turn me out.

Perhaps, but if that’s the case, why do we even bother having elections?

How did Cochran get elected in the first place?

It seems to me that the local Democratic machine venerates Cochran as an elder political statesman of sorts, and I fully understand that bringing home the bacon, and a three-decade long winning streak, have ways of guaranteeing the respect of your fellow practitioners.

At the same time, I’ve listened in vain for quite some time, waiting forlornly for Cochran to take positions on the local issues that we debate on a regular basis here at NAC. That the incumbent is a master of the art of re-election is obvious, but what I’d like to see is a system that doesn’t depend on the personal intervention of a 34-year political veteran to accomplish something.

What does he really think about our civic problems, ranging from slumlords to the continued starvation of local government by state and federal entities? Occasional smatterings of philosophy and theory would be a welcomed development, and Clere has provided them, both in words and his actions within the community.

At this point in time, there are other questions of a tactical political nature (think: timing) that should be asked, but I don’t need to ask them aloud to justify voting for Clere. He’s smart, civic-minded and willing to engage in give and take.

ELECTION Q&A: Indiana House - District 72 (New Albany Tribune)

Open thread: County offices up for grabs include Treasurer, Recorder, Coroner and Surveyor.

The pre-election saga continues as we look at the local races on next week’s ballot.

pants-down editorial board still hasn’t been able to reach consensus on how many hallucinogenic drugs it would take to envision Sarah Palin in the Oval Office, so we're randomly tossing out these local contests for discussion.

Previous entries are ...

Open thread: Elections for County Council (at-large) ... and is it relevant for us to know who the candidates support for President?

Open thread: Elections for County Commissioners.

Open thread: Elections for Floyd County Superior Court 2 & 3.

First up today are the remaining county offices, in no particular order: Treasurer, Recorder, Coroner and Surveyor. As before, the Tribune's hard work is more than sufficient to set the table. The newspaper’s questions and answers are extensive, and there’s much to be digested. To avoid the senior editor's initial confusion, know that the current Treasurer's running for Recorder, and the current Recorder is running for Treasurer.

That was easy, wasn't it? All I know for sure at this juncture is that I'll be voting for John Click for Coroner, because it's never a good idea to annoy the person who cares for your teeth, although I'm not sure how far the analogy should be extended ... nah, never mind.

ELECTION Q&A: Floyd County Treasurer
Linda Berger (R)
Betty Buechler (D)

ELECTION Q&A: Floyd County Recorder
Darlene McCoy (D)
Lois Endris (R)

ELECTION Q&A: Floyd County Coroner
Leslie Knable (D)
John Click (R)

ELECTION Q&A: Floyd County Surveyor
Bill Gibson (R - incumbent)
Thomas Boofter (D)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Open thread: Elections for County Council (at-large) ... and is it relevant for us to know who the candidates support for President?

For the past few days, we’ve been considering local election matchups. Yesterday, readers even struck a nerve, but more about that in a moment.

pants-down editorial board hasn’t been able to agree on a place and time to drink the amount of progressive beer necessary to reach firm election conclusions or make endorsements. We’ve been way too preoccupied poring over ancient texts by Marx and Engels looking for Barack Obama’s fingerprints.

Consequently, we're randomly tossing out local contests for discussion, and today, the races for County Council, at-large. The Tribune's hard work is more than sufficient to set the table. The newspaper’s questions and answers are extensive, and there’s much to be digested.

ELECTION Q&A 2008: Floyd County Council At-Large

Speaking personally, I’ll not be voting for Ted Heavrin even though the man ran one hell of a meeting during his previous tenure as council president. It’s because Heavrin was rejected by Democratic Party primary voters in 2006, then restored to power by being appointed by the party in 2008 to fill Randy Stumler’s vacated county council seat and the seek a new term. This blatant reversal of the electorate’s will was an indication that the party’s traditional Luddite instincts haven’t been purged entirely. See: Don't forget to cut the cards (August 12, 2008).

Also, neither Heavrin nor perennial candidate Harry Harbison (R) returned their Tribune questionnaires in time. That’s two down in a “vote for three” scenario, with the remaining hopefuls being Brad Striegel and Carol Shope (Democrats, with Shope an incumbent), and Larry Summers and Dana Fendley (Republicans, with Fendley the incumbent).

Prompted by Bluegill, NAC’s ever insightful readership uncovered a suitable political vein during yesterday’s discussion of the County Commissioner, and it is one better pursued today. Here’s the unedited transcript of the exchange.


bluegill said...
I wonder for whom each candidate is voting for President. The difference in the choices is striking and their choice could be very revealing in terms of their vision and judgment.

Were it not for just a couple of candidates in relatively benign positions, I'd seriously be considering voting straight ticket for the first time- something I usually caution against.

edward parish said...
I wonder for whom each candidate is voting for President. The difference in the choices is striking and their choice could be very revealing in terms of their vision and judgment.

Were it not for just a couple of candidates in relatively benign positions, I'd seriously be considering voting straight ticket for the first time- something I usually caution against."

I have never voted a straight pull. Why should it matter Jeff how a candidate for any office aligns themselves with the office of US President? It is all about local very small town politics that matters and hopefully nothing more. Word....

bluegill said...
Why should it matter Jeff how a candidate for any office aligns themselves with the office of US President?

It would tell me something about their worldview, Ed, and I would hope provide some insight into how they approach government and what they want the U.S., regardless of which slice, to look like.

Under current circumstances, a vote for McCain/Palin would show a lack of judgment that I'd have a difficult time overlooking in the polling booth.

ecology warrior said...
i disagree bluegill who you are voting for president sometimes is a vote against the other guy not a vote for who you are voting for, there will be clinton democrats voting McCain as a protest to obama

edward parish said...
Each person has his or her vote, not by party equality. When, will this area/nation see through old school ways of voting? I vote for the person, not the party. Many of "my(1950's)" age group does the same; get the drift dude?...Give some of us, a small bit of chance of thinking on our own, instead of thinking we are braindead on politics. Only so many of ones suggestions actually sink in.

Think.....For mega change.

The New Albanian said...
there will be clinton democrats voting McCain as a protest to obama

Which is precisely Bluegill's point. A "Clinton Democrat" voting for John McCain is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders. If that's not an indication of something ...

bluegill said...
As I mentioned, I generally agree that voting straight ticket equates to a lack of thinking. I'm not voting straight ticket.

But, with so little to separate most local candidates in terms of actual stated goals or ideology, I just keep getting the Palin question shoved through my head.

Do I really want to support anyone's ascendancy to power who would consciously put her in a position to be President? It's certainly not the judgment I'm looking for.

Bayernfan said...
Voting for person over party nationally doesn't make sense to me at all. A national candidate is going to help push a party's ideas through and will agree, most of the time, with those ideas. Party matters little in local elections, which is why there may be Republicans I will consider voting for. I understand Jeff's contention, the 'Palin Effect' works on me as well. I'll try to put that aside as I head into the voting booth on Tuesday next as I vote for local offices.

The New Albanian said...
Permit me to note that given the public utterances of Dana Fendley (for McCain) and the enormous McCain/Palin sign in Larry Summers's front yard, tomorrow's county councl thread might benefit from more discussion as to national ticket preferences.

Is Ted Heavrin going for Obama?

Larry M. Summers said...
I might add that that sign was stolen. I was going to wait until tomorrow when someone attacked my Presidential vote to defend myself; however, I must state that I am not voting for McCain because he is perfect.

I am voting for McCain because I believe he is less flawed than Obama. I am only supporting the least, I my humble opinion, flawed candidate.

Barrack Obama is the master of saying nothing and making it sound like he is masterfully changing the world. I have looked at his record and it does not match his rhetoric.

As for what I would like to do, my support for a Presidential candidate does not change the policies that I will work on during my term on the County Council. We need new leadership. We cannot recycle the ideas of the previous council and hope that we will get a new result.

Is that not the definition of insanity?

"Insanity: the belief that one can get different results by doing the same thing." -Albert Einstein.

bluegill said...
I keep reading all the conservative pundits' scenarios of what will happen if Obama is elected. My general response to their "what if" lists is "Boy, I hope so."

Larry obviously feels differently. That's fine. It just means that I need to find someone else to vote for on the local level because he apparently doesn't represent my views.

Larry M. Summers said...
There is nothing that I can do on the local level to implement the socialist agenda.

Whether I vote for Obama or McCain, I simply cannot institute socialism like a Democratic super majority in both houses of congress and the white house could.

bluegill said...
My point, proven.

Marcey said...
I am so sick of the "socialist" rhetoric. Obama is not a "socialist", he is a democrat.

Giving tax cuts to the middle class has been a democratic policy for many years. The reason for this is because the middle class has always been the majority in this country and when the majority has more money in their pockets the spend. When the majority of your population is spending it stimulates your economy. When you stimulate the economy then you have a strong economy. If we continue to over tax the working class of this country you will push them closer and closer to the poverty line and the economy will continue to tank. Now if you still think that is a socialist policy, lets talk about Sarah Palin giving every resident in Alaska dividends from the oil company.

Ecology Warrior, I was a Clinton supporter in the Primary and if someone was supporting Sen. Clinton because of her positions on Health Care, the economy, the war, etc., etc. etc., there is no way in hell they can tell me that McCain is a better substitute for Sen. Clinton. McCain and Palin are the polar opposites of Hillary Clinton and in my mind the only reason they are supporting them is because of "sour grapes".

Larry M. Summers said...
Obama's policy of raising taxes on the wealthy to give money to individuals not currently paying taxes is income redistribution (i.e. Socialism). To say that that is not socialism is to stick ones head in the sand.

The Bookseller said...
Larry, I don't dismiss your doubts. To say you don't have doubts would be insane.

But if the difference between capitalism and socialism is the difference between a marginal tax rate of 35% and 39.6% for that portion of ordinary income above $250,000 a year is absurd.

As one who wishes you well, may I suggest that you already have 100% of the McCain voters. Oughtn't you be courting Obama voters now?

Bayernfan said...
Larry, your words are a bit disappointing to me. Not that I expected you to vote for Obama, we had that discussion. It's just that you've picked up the rhetoric of calling Obama a socialist which McCain/Palin and the RNC are using to try and scare people into voting Republican because it's become obvious their ideas aren't working, the constant references to Bill Ayers hasn't worked so now we move into the "Obama is a socialist/communist/Marxist" phase. I remember the Reps saying the same thing about Bill Clinton as well.I thought you were a little more level headed than that.

Larry M. Summers said...
I understand why people are voting for Obama. He seems to have the country's best interest at heart. I do not believe he is secretly trying to hurt this country.

I do not want people not to vote for Obama just because of something I said. I just wanted to give you a couple reasons I am not voting for Obama.

The main problem I have is that someone would dismiss me without regard to the changes that I have proposed just because I do not support the same Presidential candidate as them. That seems absurd.

Larry M. Summers said...
Throughout this election, I have done my best to seek out the people with whom other Republican candidates have not spoken. As far as I know, I have been the only candidate, Republican or Democratic, that has put his/her neck on the line just to discuss issues with you.

I have continued to come here even when I have been attacked for whom I am voting for President. If I were not the precinct committeeman for New Albany 5, I probably would only have my signs in front of my house; nevertheless, I offered my services, and I must not shirk my duties.

Is it difficult to discuss national issues with which we may not agree and that I will not be working on at a local level? Yes. Is it fair that other local candidates, Democratic ones included, do not discuss why they are voting for whom they are voting while I am required to defend my positions? I wouldn't say that it was unfair; however, I would hope that others would step up to the plate.

Alas, I have been pretty much the only one in the fray on a regular basis.

B.W. Smith said...
Here's a sweeping statement for Wednesday:

To say that Obama is a socialist is to say that our income tax system (pay in brackets according to income), the purpose of which is to theoretically keep too much wealth from concentrating at the top, is socialism. That's absurd and shows a fundamental misunderstandnig of American history and economic theory. If you listen to the ENTIRE Joe the Plumber clip, Obama's comments about redistributing wealth are in the context of comparing flat tax to progressive income tax, which makes complete sense.

But, as they sharply pointed out on SNL, you can't expect folks to understand nuance when plumbers make more than teachers.


Here are the nuts and bolts:

ELECTION Q&A 2008: Floyd County Council At-Large

Dana Fendley (R)
Harry Harbison (R)
Larry Summers (R)

Ted Heavrin (D)
Brad Striegel (D)
Carol Shope (D)

A closing and a blessing in today's C-J.

Two article in today's C-J merit the attention of New Albanians.

Speakeasy will close with a party
Lori Tharp will party tonight like she is not out of money or work. She will live up the last hours of her dream.

Cardinal Ritter center is blessed in New Albany
Nearly 100 people gathered yesterday under the rafters of what will be a multipurpose room as Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein blessed the Cardinal Ritter Birthplace Community Center in New Albany.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NBA's back; senior editor happy.

The World Series is in limbo, awaiting a break in the weather. That’s okay. In the gym, everything’s toasty. Accompanied by a bottle of wine, I’m watching the Celtics begin their title defense against the Cavaliers.

That’s right. Tonight is the tip-off for the 2008-09 NBA season, and that’s almost as much a relief as George W. Bush’s impending departure. As I’ve noted previously, my preferences run to professional sports, as these are mercifully absent the institutional hypocrisy of “amateur” games that pretend not to be about money when they obviously are about money, but hey -- to each his or her own. I fully realize that most readers will be living and dying with local university basketball teams, and that’s fine.

Temperamentally, the NBA’s just better for me. Basketball may have started in the sticks, but now it is thoroughly cosmopolitan – the urban game, fast moving, athletic but strategic. For my money, NBA players are the finest athletes in the world in terms of the strength, speed, stamina and finesse required at such a high level of performance.

I’ll be watching this season to see how the consistency of Elton Brand transforms the Sixers, whether the aging Spurs have another championship run in them, and if LeBron James finally has the supporting cast necessary for playoff success. Is New Orleans for real? Will the youthful Blazers fill the expected void as Golden State and Denver fade from contention?

Jingoists will note that America’s run of disappointment in international basketball competition ended during this year’s Olympics, but the international cultural diversification of the NBA surely will proceed. As one unaffected by the inanity of thoughtless patriotism (nor, for that matter, by the thoughtful variety, too), there can be nothing but good to come from the ever escalating global popularity of basketball.

Contrary to the prejudices of those who never watch the league, and the admittedly infuriating tendency of network television to focus on individual match ups, the NBA isn’t just about individuals.

Balance, teamwork, defense and coaching systems are necessary to build the winning squads, just as in other levels of play. San Antonio perhaps has been the best example of this for a decade or more. More recently, Boston’s title resulted from three superstars sharing the ball and embracing a team concept. It helps to have a plan, but even when the plan breaks down, the entertainment possibilities afforded by the NBA are endless.

I’ll be watching on a regular basis, and will report back next year when the playoffs start. After all, there’s no sense in waiting for March for madness to begin.

Open thread: Elections for County Commissioners.

The election’s almost here, and yesterday we began to consider the local races.

As noted, NAC’s pants-down editorial board hasn’t undertaken a detailed consideration of anything, much less the candidates. We’ve been far too busy monitoring our Obama yard signs to prevent them being stolen by Roveing gangs of brown shirts.

So, we're randomly tossing out local contests for discussion, and today, the two races for County Commissioner.

The Tribune's hard work is more than sufficient to set the table. The newspaper’s questions and answers are extensive. There’s much to chew on, including the candidates’ views on the Kernan-Shepard commission local government streamlining recommendations, options for a new Youth Shelter, how to increase revenues, and public safety.

I’m no handicapper, but for my money, the more interesting of the two races is District 2, where the Democratic incumbent Freiberger is challenged by the Republican Party chairman Matthews, with the dean of county potty policemen hoping to be a spoiler. It is the latter, George Mouser, who provides the single best quote of this campaign courtesy of the Tribune:


“Only once; many years ago I paid a fine of $50 or less, for ‘putting fear’ in one or more trespassers on my property. In view of my timid disposition this was a ridiculous decision by the judge.”

Huzzah. Any thoughts?

ELECTION Q&A: Floyd County Commissioner - District 2

Charles Freiberger (D)
Dave Matthews (R)
George Mouser (Independent)

ELECTION Q&A: Floyd County Commissioner - District 3

Steve Bush (R)
Dennis Roudenbush (D)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Open thread: Elections for Floyd County Superior Court 2 & 3.

The election’s only a week away, and it’s time to consider the local races. NAC’s pants-down editorial board hasn’t undertaken a detailed consideration of the candidates, which is to say there hasn’t been the chance to set aside three hours for beer, pizza and politics. For now, we're throwing out local contests randomly for discussion, and using the Tribune's hard work to set the table. Thanks, guys.

First up, the two contested judicial races. In the new Floyd Superior 3 ...

Attorneys battle to become judge of new Floyd County court, by Matt Thacker (News and Tribune).

Two New Albany attorneys are facing off to become the first judge of the newly created Floyd County Superior Court No. 3. The campaigns have focused on what type of experience is most important for a judge.

Republican Rick Fox, 53, boasts 21 years of experience in the courtroom and has represented various agencies at different levels of government. Democrat Maria Granger, 53, says she already has judicial experience as a Supreme Court Hearing Officer and taught Business Law at Indiana University Southeast.

Fox has accused Granger of not having enough jury trial experience.“I’ve tried criminal and civil jury trials as well as have had many cases in the Indiana Court of Appeals,” Fox said. “I think that distinguishes my record from (Granger’s) record.”

Granger said that she has tried about 10 cases before a jury, but also manages more than 600 cases per year as Hearing Officer.

Earlier today at Freedom of Speech, Granger repeated a statement that first drew attention here during last spring’s primary, and that Fox references above:

I am also the only candidate in this race who has fought crime for more than five years and prosecuted hundreds of cases before judges and juries.

Perhaps our resident legal minds can help make sense of this lingering oddity. What constitutes a case before a judge and jury, and how many has she really tried?

ELECTION Q & A 2008: Floyd Superior Court 3
Maria Granger for Judge (Superior III)
Rick Fox for Judge (Superior III)

The other contested judicial race is Superior 2, pitting Glenn Hancock (D) and Chris Lane (R).

ELECTION Q&A 2008: Floyd Superior Court 2
Glenn Hancock for Judge (Superior II)
Chris Lane for Judge (Superior II)

Susan Orth (D) is unopposed in Superior I: Susan Orth for Judge (Superior I).

Please post your thoughts, subject to the usual identification policy.

It's a thinking man's game ... and country, for that matter.

After listening to Patti LaBelle brutalize "The Star Spangled Banner" last night prior to Game 4 lf the World Series in Philly, I got to wondering how the tradition originated.

Why do we play the national anthem before a sporting event, and not (for instance) prior to opening the doors at the pub?

Is it just because the pub is socialist?

Why indulge in an overt display of nationalism in order to sanction the throwing of a football or the shooting of a basket?

The explanation I eventually on-line found strikes me as plausible.

The Sports Song of Patriotism, by Richard C. Crepeau.

First, it is important to note that there was no official national anthem until the 1930s. During World War I, however, President Wilson declared the "Star Spangled Banner" the unofficial national anthem, and the intense display of public patriotism during this period led to it being played on many public occasions.

It is generally accepted that its first appearance during a sporting event was the
1918 World Series. To demonstrate major league patriotism, baseball teams had the players march in formation during pre-game military drills while carrying bats on their shoulders. During the seventh-inning stretch of game one, when the band spontaneously began to play the "Star Spangled Banner," the Cubs and Red Sox players stood at attention facing the centerfield flag pole. The crowd sang along and applauded when the singing ended.

Given this reaction in Chicago, the "Star Spangled Banner" was played during the seventh-inning stretch for the next two games. When the Series moved to Boston, the great theatrical Red Sox owner Harry Frazee pumped up the show biz: He brought in a band, and the song was played before the start of each game.

When the war ended, the song continued to be played, but only on special occasions when a band was present — such as opening day, special holidays or the World Series. On opening day in Washington, D.C., it was played before the president of the United States, and local politicians in other cities learned to participate in the

The "Star Spangled Banner" was finally declared the official national anthem in 1931. Even though by 1934 some ballparks had public address systems, it still was not played at every game. The coming of war in the late 1930s changed all of that. During the 1939-40 National Hockey League season, the Canadian anthem was played at games in Canadian cities as Canada was already at war. Then the practice spread to Madison Square Garden and from there it was transferred from hockey to baseball.

In 1940, with the fighting underway in earnest and America becoming more conscious of the possibility of war, there was increased talk of the need to hear the national anthem before all baseball games. This was suggested by
The Sporting News in June, while at the same time the president of the International League called for the anthem to be played in U.S. league cities, as was already being done in Canadian cities. By 1941, the practice of playing the anthem before sporting events had achieved nearly universal status. At some games the pledge of allegiance was added, and, by 1941, "I Am an American Day" became a feature at major league parks.

It would be nice to say that all of this was due to pure patriotic expressi
on, but of course much of it was created by PR-conscious owners who wanted to make sure that no one would question the patriotism of athletes who played games during World War II while others went off to serve their country. Four years of war, followed by the Cold War and the emergence of the American Empire, solidified the practice and made it into a national ritual.

I began this essay by noting that Patti LaBelle brutalized the national anthem last evening. By this observation, I’m not implying that she did a grave disservice to the song in the sense of treading atop a revered symbol of Americanism. Rather, I believe she fouled it musically. For me, that’s enough. It’s equally hard for me to imagine a serviceable version of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” played with accordion and spoons … though Weird Al’s probably done it.

Since September 11, 2001, another ritual has come into fashion in baseball. The seventh inning stretch, once defined by Harry Caray’s boisterous version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (arguably baseball’s real national anthem) is now taken up more often than not by another standing observance as “God Bless America” is performed.

Is it necessary to bring devotion into the seventh inning stretch? Why must there be a God to “bless” America? But a better question is this: If you require people to participate in a ritual so that they’re reminded of an event, aren’t you trivializing the event?

I’d venture to say that for current generations of living Americans, the events of September 11 are an indelible memory. To be sure, someday that memory will fade, just as the memory of slavery has disappeared from the rear view window of far too many conservative apologists. Either way, is being required to listen to a song during a baseball game do anything at all to explain what actually happened, and what it means?

At this point, a reader somewhere is asking, “What – don’t you love your country?”

Depends on what you mean by “love.”

I don’t use the word “love” to describe my thoughts about a country into which I was serendipitously deposited by the fickle finger of fate. My personal attachment to the concept of the USA as a nation has been conducted in a cerebral way for more years than I care to remember, and not in terms of blind allegiance.

That’s because my teachers actually succeeded in convincing me that to be an American bears an intimate connection with an intellectual process, not an emotional one. A philosophy of governance came first, and it is a rational undertaking that incorporates thoughts, ideals and the historical record, not misty eyes, the fevered thumping of a chest or identification with a piece of cloth.

To me, all of this matters because of conscience. A brief survey of history reveals that soldiers on all sides consistently march off to war in the patriotic belief that God is on their side, and when one considers the catastrophic results of war, it should be obvious that this equation is irreparably skewed, as is any other pertaining to the abstract entity of nationhood, especially as such abstractions come from the heart and not the head.

My views in this context aren’t popular. At the same time, I wouldn’t legislate these rituals out of existence. My job is to persuade you.

That’s the very essence of being American, isn’t it?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tribune columnist Johnson's "heart condition" belongs on the religion page.

Why does the Tribune’s local guest columnist Richard Johnson receive editorial page placement for pieces that amount to religious sermons?

It seems to me that the newspaper should relocate the prison pastor’s testimonials to the weekly religion page, where they’d be more at home. After all, in the past, Johnson has explicitly rejected church-state separation when it comes to issues of crime and punishment.

Moreover, not since the mercifully concluded heyday of bizarrely outdated Tribune syndicated columnist Dr. George Crane, he of the relentlessly right-wing Worry Clinic and unintentionally hilarious frequent references to “boudoir cheesecake,” has there been anything on the Tribune’s editorial page to compare to Johnson’s oft-repeated “heart condition” analogy, which effectively mocks any contemporary explanation of criminal behavior that does not spring from the pages of an ancient scroll.

JOHNSON: The truth is out there, by RICHARD JOHNSON, Local Columnist (October 19, 2008)

If you have been reading my column for a while, you may remember that not long ago, I wrote about the root cause of crime. As a follower of Christ and a minister of the gospel, I believe that the cause of crime is a universal heart condition that the Bible calls sin.

From my perspective, the inner process that leads someone to break the law looks something like this; first, if our hearts are wrong, we will harbor evil. Next, the presence of evil in our hearts will affect our thinking; we will rehearse, or plan evil. Finally, because our hearts are wrong, and our thinking is wrong, our behavior will be influenced; we will commit a crime.

I'm a longtime proponent of fair and balanced, even before the television network started abusing the phrase, so just for the fun of it I searched for a non-Biblical explanation for crime.

Throughout history people have tried to explain what causes abnormal social behavior, including crime. Efforts to control "bad" behavior go back to ancient Babylon's Code of Hammurabi some 3,700 years ago. Later in the seventeenth century European colonists in North America considered crime and sin the same thing. They believed evil spirits possessed those who did not conform to social norms or follow rules. To maintain social order in the settlements, persons who exhibited antisocial behavior had to be dealt with swiftly and often harshly.

By the twenty-first century criminologists looked to a wide range of factors to explain why a person would commit crimes. These included biological, psychological, social, and economic factors. Usually a combination of these factors is behind a person who commits a crime.

"Sin" isn't required to make sense of this explanation. As I've noted previously, the concept of sin is undoubtedly a religious construct. Without sin’s purely conditional aspect of disobedience to God’s “word” – according to whatever “God” means within the framework of a specific religious worldview – the concept of sin is just about meaningless. Johnson assumes the truth of the religious construct, subtly linking it to social science as though the latter must spring from the former. Shine a spotlight on the veracity of the religious construct, and the argument crumbles.

In fairness, Johnson’s column today makes more sense, but only barely.

Crime is a family affair, and the business is being handed down from one generation to the next.

In my opinion, the redefinition of marriage, and the breakdown of the traditional family unit, are making our crime problem worse.

Alas, Johnson can’t get through 900 words without including a plug for the handbook of his particular religious perspective.

“We took the Bible out of our schools, and now our prisons are full!”

I’d like to see him prove this assertion … on the religion page, where his thinly veiled evangelical tracts truly belong.

It isn't fascism if we do it.

She’s coming to Jeffersonville on Wednesday, and if that sort of kink appeals to you, make plans to attend the rally. The beer will be light, the oratory bitter, and jackboots are optional.

Campaign donations? Probably mandatory.

I can’t go, because I have a date to read the phonebook. Meanwhile …

Palin: 'I Don't Know' If Abortion Clinic Bombers Are Terrorists, from the Daily Kos, as relayed by

The buffoonish nature of Sarah Palin's vice presidential candidacy has mostly been a disaster for the McCain-Palin campaign, but it is has delivered at least one benefit: her foibles have helped obscure the true nature of her right-wing extremism.

But now, Sarah Palin's self-destructive behavior is threatening to expose even that. In an interview broadcast yesterday on NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams
asked Palin whether she felt abortion clinic bombers were terrorists.

Amazingly, she said that she didn't know. MSNBC
reports (emphasis added):

Palin resisted the suggestion that if Ayers was a "domestic terrorist" -- a standard line in her campaign addresses -- then so were conservative religious activists who bombed abortion clinics.

"I don't know if you're going to use the word 'terrorist' there," she said.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Will we get our cut? Or better yet, will we make it count?

(Originally published by Lloyd Wimp at his View from the Highway blog.)


This past Monday (October 20), along with John Miller and Pat Woosley of NA Community Housing, I had the pleasure of attending a live teleconferenced seminar sponsored by the Federal Reserve System entitled Confronting the Neighborhood Impacts of Foreclosure.

The local venue for this all day event was held at the Louisville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Others in attendance from Corydon, Louisville, and elsewhere who deal with housing issues in one way or another in their respective locales.

The panel consisted of Mayors and Housing Department officials from cities around the country, Federal Reserve Board Members, representatives from NeighborWorks America, National Housing Institute, National Community Stabilization Trust, JP Morgan Chase, and Enterprise Community Partners to name a few.

The presentation centered around the small portion ($3.92 Billion) of the $700 Billion that has been set aside to be deal with foreclosure issues at the local level and how best to utilize those limited funds. It is information that any city government could find useful in these trying times.

While most of the legal and financial jargon was well above my pay grade, I found a much of what was presented to be germane to our own local conversation.

There were numerous examples of how municipalities from other states have successfully dealt with such financial crises of the past three decades, instances brought on by plant closings, which led to job losses and a decline in population followed by deterioration of housing stock in what were once thriving neighborhoods.

Such things as increased code enforcement, city/county owned land banks, greenfields, small neighborhood parks, urban agriculture, mixed use properties, and much more were sited as successful ways to deal with vacant and abandoned property.

The folks who had initiated these programs in their own communities suggested a variety of ways to tweak them to fit in cities of all sizes in all states in order for them to get the biggest bang for the bucks available.

Does it mean that an adjustment in thinking will be required ? Yes, but it also means that we do not have to reinvent the wheel. Templates are available to any who choose to look at them.

Click on this link and you will find access to Power Point © presentations from previous sessions in this series. This particular meeting should be available there within the next few days.

Other links of interest include:

NeighborWorks America

Enterprise Community Partners

Housing Partnership Network

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Genesee County Land Bank

Friday, October 24, 2008

Final "Big Band Dance and Concert" next Wednesday at Speakeasy ... then, lights out.

The following was forwarded to me moments ago.


Another Closing ... But With A Difference (The Speakeasy, New Albany)

Sadly the list of businesses closing, particularly restaurants, seems to grow everyday. In most cases they tend to go out of business with only a few hours notice. But here’s something different:

The Speakeasy, a restaurant, music club in downtown New Albany is closing. With a music policy of five nights a week for almost two years now, The Speakeasy was totally unique in that every Wednesday night dancers could come and dance to a 17 piece big band … mostly young to middle age dancers dancing to a big band of mostly young to middle age players. The Speakeasy was perhaps the ONLY place in America where you could dance to a full size Big band whose regular tune list included foxtrots, waltz, swing, jive, cha-cha, mambo’s, beguines, salsa, and yes, even tango’s. What a concept … just like the old days … but driven primarily by younger folks. The Speakeasy came close to making it but was ultimately brought down by the economy.

Here’s the pitch: Unlike other establishments skulking away in the night with little or no notice, The Speakeasy is going to throw one last Big Band Dance and Concert next Wednesday with the theme of “Party Like It’s 1929”. Appropriate? Very!

Lori Tharp, proprietor, singer, pianist would gladly make herself available to publicize the event. It’s the story of people with a very unique dream, a totally unique product who came this close and like the recently departed Jazz Factory … will go out with a bang. And, who knows, maybe an investor angel will hear the story and ride in at the last moment.

Contact me right away if you think this might be noteworthy … pardon the pun. And come party with us next Wednesday night. 225 State St, New Albany. Doors open at 5pm. First come – first served. Brad Tharp, trumpeter – bandleader will have the big band roaring by 8pm

Thanks …Terry Armstrong

Front Row Promotions, Inc.

Open thread: Speakeasy will close on Wednesday, October 29.

I regret announcing this, but multiple sources today indicate that the Speakeasy is closing effective Wednesday, October 29 (Sunday, October 26 for food).

This means a number of things, but at the moment, I'm too busy to contemplate them. Readers, you are invited to discuss.

"The NAUEA does not condone and fully rejects the recent comments of a New Albany businessman as represented in the Chicago Tribune."

The senior editor is a member of the UEA board and made the motion to release the following statement as written by the executive director. Board member and 3rd district councilman Steve Price seconded, and the ensuing vote was unanimous. I deeply appreciate that, Steve.


Enterprise Zone Reacts to Comments

The New Albany Urban Enterprise Association issues the following statement:

"The New Albany Urban Enterprise Association is a non-discriminatory economic development organization whose mission is to improve the physical, business, residential and socio-economic environment of the New Albany Urban Enterprise Zone. We do this through collaborative public-private partnerships that strive to improve the common good and reciprocity of the community.

The NAUEA does not condone and fully rejects the recent comments of a New Albany businessman as represented in the Chicago Tribune of October 18, 2008 pertaining to presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The NAUEA is an open and inclusive organization that values the inherent worth, the talents, and potential of our community.

Adopted by the Board of Directors of the New Albany Urban Enterprise Zone Association on October 23, 2008"

From jaw-dropping YMCA sightings to belated C-J findings, it's been that kind of week.

Last evening the Confidentials dropped in on One Southern Indiana’s “5 o Clock Network” monthly kibbitzorama, which took place at the gleaming new YMCA on Main Street. It was my first chance to glimpse the interior, and not only is the facility a bona fide knockout, it’s enough to make a person wonder how it could have taken so long for the city to spend $20 million of someone else’s money to assist in bringing the YMCA’s own fundraising effort to fruition.

(Like Radar O‘Reilly once said, “Wait for it.”)

In a week already filled to the brim with strange incongruities, not the least of which has been the trognonymous testimony of every Internet-emboldened coward in the city's existence in support of a nationally quoted local racist, you can imagine how strange it was to enter the sparkling YMCA lobby and find none other than former co-councilpersons Bill and Anna Schmidt in attendance.

Did I mention my intention to attend a church service this weekend?

I’ve picked an excerpt from one blog entry to briefly illustrate why this sighting is enough to raise eyebrows, crack unprotected mirrors and send area pots and kettles on the trail of tears to Birdseye. Dude, pass the garlic.


From July 4, 2006: Passing notes during class, and other Monday post-mortems.

As many readers already know, the latest challenge to the Scribner Place project on the part of New Albany’s rogue council faction went down in fully deserved flames on Monday evening.

Our own All4Word provided sterling NAC coverage of the meeting: He wears a “K” on his chest, but it doesn’t mean “strikeout.”

Randy reported here:
For the record: Voting to kill Scribner Place were CM’s Coffey (District 1), Schmidt (District 2), and Price (District 3). All other members in attendance voted against any notion of killing the project and creating a lasting stain on the name of New Albany.

Note yet again – perhaps for the final time – that three of the four council members representing the city’s historic core of business and residential areas joined together to support CM Bill Schmidt’s cowardly resolution to renege on the city’s commitment to Scribner Place, in effect openly opposing a downtown revitalization effort that would greatly benefit their own districts, and by extension, the entire city.

No matter how many times it happens, such self-defeating behavior persists in defying rational explanation, but in the end, these are the patently unrepresentative and simply tragic depths to which these three overmatched politicians have plummeted in response to inner demons characterized by consistent, spasmodic, and knee-jerk opposition to change, revitalization and reform.

Don’t we deserve better?


Well, we’ve gotten better in the limited sense of the YMCA project finally being completed, and as a bonus Schmidt, who worked tirelessly against it, was summarily displaced in last year’s election. My mentioning all this no doubt will inspire the foam-flecked anonymites to rail anew on whichever blog that still accepts submissions in cyber-crayon, but seeing as their time is passing so quickly, it no longer really matters.

Life’s too short to suffer hypocrites, don’t you think?


With reference to our recently well documented antebellum attitudinal deficiencies, the Louisville Courier-Journal finally located the David Ward story. The question is, where did they get it?

Sparks fly after Floyd man's racial comment on election; New Albany man opposes Obama, by Dick Kaukas.

A comment by a New Albany antiques dealer, who was quoted in a Chicago Tribune story as saying he would vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain "mainly because he's not black," has set off a flurry of local criticism.

Kaukas duly noted commendable statements issued by Democratic Party Chairwoman Marcey Wisman and New Albany’s Mayor Doug England.

England, a Democrat, added, "Through our actions as well as our words, the entire local community should repudiate this type of ignorance and intolerance."

Later yesterday, England said in an interview that he was acting on his own, responding to a remark that he considered "racist," and was not simply reacting to requests from a blogger.

A blogger? Here in New Albany?

While I find it odd that the reporter Kaukas felt obliged to make references to blogs and bloggers without identifying them, I’ve only been an official journalist since Wednesday evening. Can't we just publicly give credit where credit’s due?

Freedom of Speech?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Albany and Carnegie Center Featured in “Slavery in the Ohio River Valley in the 19th Century” Bus Tour.

For those unaware of the particular aspect of American history that makes recent topics important, take note of this press release ... and read a book, or something. After all, it there any valid reason why New Albany's de facto civic motto remains "Ignorance is always acceptable as an excuse"?


New Albany and Carnegie Center Featured in “Slavery in the Ohio River Valley in the 19th Century” Bus Tour

Saturday October 25, 9:30 am-3:30 pm

$45 per person (box lunch included)

As part of Farmington Historic Plantation’s “Three Weeks at Farmington” slate of programs celebrating the Lincoln Bicentennial, the Carnegie Center is among the stops included on a bus tour titled “Slavery in the Ohio River Valley in the 19th Century.” This regional bus tour will explore the institution of slavery in the Ohio River Valley and the history of the Underground Railroad in the area. The tour begins and ends in Louisville at Farmington Historic Plantation. The route includes stops at the Portland Wharf Park and Squire Earick House in Portland before crossing the river into New Albany for stops at the 2nd Baptist Church and the Carnegie Center for Art and History.

Key participants include author Pam Peters, historian Pen Bogert, and Dr. Blaine Hudson, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisville. These three individuals each played a role in the development of the Carnegie Center’s award-winning exhibit “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad in the Indiana and Kentucky Borderland.” Excerpts of the program will be shown during the bus tour’s stop at the Carnegie Center.

The bus tour is scheduled for Saturday October 25 from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. The cost is $45 per person, which includes a box lunch served on the front porch of the Squire Earick house. The tour begins and ends at Farmington Historic Plantation located at 3033 Bardstown Road in Louisville. Participants can leave their vehicles parked in Farmington’s parking lot during the bus tour. Walking is required of participants during the bus tour, including walking up steps. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting Farmington Historic Plantation at 452-9920.

The Carnegie Center for Art and History, a department of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, is a contemporary art gallery and history museum that offers a full schedule of changing exhibitions and other educational programs. The Carnegie Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am-5:30 pm, and is located at 201 East Spring Street in historic downtown New Albany, Indiana. The Carnegie Center for Art and History is fully accessible. Admission is free.

Visit for more information on exhibits, events, and classes.

I suppose this means that the trogonymous blogging Erika is a … "yellow" journalist?

The senior editor was privy to a stunning revelation on Wednesday evening.

Are bloggers really journalists?

Based on last night’s presentation at New Albany’s Destinations Booksellers by media lawyer extraordinaire John Tate, it’s a question we all need to ask ourselves ...

… What was the takeaway? According to Tate, there’s every reason in the world for you, if you blog, to a) think of yourself as a journalist, b) refer to yourself as a journalist, and c) conform to a system of standards and ethics that is consistent with journalism.

Now, if I could only figure out a way to make it pay …

Clere: "I am interested in substance, and no postcard can change that."

Ed Clere just sent this, so let's move the discussion to this updated posting.


When I looked at yesterday’s mail, I winced. I had no prior knowledge of the postcard featuring a dirty, knife-wielding hand, and my immediate reaction was visceral. I’m sure that was the intent. The piece was conceived, produced and paid for by an arm of the Indiana Republican Party, and I did not know it was coming until it arrived in my mailbox.

I have been trying to run a positive campaign. Anyone who has heard me talk will agree that my focus is on what I would do, not on what Bill Cochran has or hasn’t done. A particular 1994 vote (the subject of the mailer), whether right or wrong, is of little relevance to me or any other reader of this blog. We are concerned about the future, and we vote based on substantive information, not scare tactics.

Far too many voters, however, vote based on misinformation and exaggerated, out-of-context claims. Our discourse is reduced to sound bites and colorful postcards that inflame rather than inform. In August, I challenged Bill Cochran to a series of debates, and he declined. The vacuum that remains is filled with assumptions, prejudices, “name recognition” and, yes, postcards.

I have contacted the state party and expressed my concerns about the mail piece. I don’t know what else, if anything, may be on the way. I hope any future pieces will focus on me and what I hope to accomplish in Indianapolis. I can’t guarantee they will.

I was a reader of this blog long before I was a candidate for state representative, and I can guarantee that I will continue to read it and to weigh and value the opinions of all. I am interested in substance, and no postcard can change that.

Ed Clere
812-987-4333 (cell)

Open thread: Cochran vs. Clere, District 72.

On Tuesday, NAC briefly considered the District 72 race, pitting longtime Democratic incumbent Bill Cochran against Republican challenger Ed Clere.

Courier confuses chronology in otherwise solid preview of the Cochran vs. Clere District 72 house race.

I’m getting a strong sense that several readers want to discuss this a bit further, so here’s the chance. My voting preference remains with Clere, but at the same time, I’m glad that El Bastard posted this comment last night.

I recently received a flier in my mailbox (one of many) from the Indiana House Republican Campaign Committee which helped me decide to vote against Cochran's opponent. The flier depicts a filthy hand gripping a switchblade, and reads "Bill Cochran voted against increasing the penalty for cult and ritualistic child abusers." The flier purports this to be "HB 1335 (roll call 80) 1994." A quick search of the internet reveals only a marriage bill named HB 1335. However, this isn't the point. The point is that I'm pissed off by the GOP's fear-mongering in this case. This alleged bill is dated 14 years ago, and most educated people regard ritual abuse to be little more than a myth. Unless Clere speaks up and denounces these scare tactics, I'm voting for Cochran.

Larry Summers answered:

Ed did not know anything about the literature that was sent out by the party prior to being notified by people like me.

In fact, months ago he was told that the party was going to focus on other political races rather than his. It has been a surprise to me, someone that has followed his campaign very closely, that the state has even changed course.

Thanks, Larry, and I understand the propaganda’s off-premise source, but I’m with El Bastard on this point. Our household has received at least three different versions of the flier in question, and speaking personally, I find them abhorrent in the same appeal-to-utter-stupidity manner of the antique dealer’s casual racism. Surely there’s a higher plane of discussion as pertains to this interesting race, particularly from those who attended the face-to-face at S. Ellen Jones on Tuesday.

Experience vs. new ideas? Discussion, anyone?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mayor Doug England: "The entire local community should repudiate this type of ignorance and intolerance."

This just in from Mayor England:


“David Ward’s reported statement (Chicago Tribune, Oct. 18, 2008) that he is voting for Presidential candidate John McCain ‘mainly because he’s not black,’ is both regrettable and embarrassing. It speaks to latent racism that still permeates certain elements of American society. Through our actions as well as our words, the entire local community should repudiate this type of ignorance and intolerance,” Mayor Doug England said today.

Cheers to the New Albany Tribune: “We owe it to our community to educate not only ourselves but those around us.”

The Tribune joins GOP chairman Dave Matthews in standing against ignorance. Among media outlets to date, both LEO's Fat Lip blog and The Ville Voice blog have also weighed in.


TRIBUNE CHEERS & JEERS: October 22, 2008

... to uneducated voters letting ignorance guide their decision. David Ward, a New Albany businessman, was quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying that despite being a registered Democrat, he will vote for John McCain for president “mainly because he’s not black.” (When The Tribune asked if the story correctly quoted him, Mr. Ward said “No Comment” and hung up the phone.) It’s the double-edged sword of democracy that makes sure everyone has a right to vote no matter how primitive their opinions are. Yes, it’s a free country. Not all of us will agree, but at least pick an issue that’s relevant! Will a biracial man in the White House really have that much of an impact on Ward’s antique business in Southern Indiana? Ward must think so, because he’s willing to toss aside economics, health care and any other serious issues. Voters like this man are among the same ones that read all of their Spam e-mail or listen to bar room gossip when evaluating the next leader of the free world. Jeers to those of us that support that practice or contribute to ignorance. We owe it to our community to educate not only ourselves but those around us.

Dave Matthews: Republican foundational ideals include equality for all regardless of race, creed, age, sex or national origin.

As in the past, Floyd County GOP Chairman Dave Matthews has responded promptly and concisely following yesterday's appeal for our governing and economic development entities to unite against racism in our community: In it together?


Thanks for your email requesting my comments. Ultimately, I think blogs like yours will become the avenue through which we will be able to actually conduct a dialogue on issues like race, religion and politics. Keep the discussion going.

When I became the Floyd County Republican Party chairman, I inherited a lot of materials that have been used through the years. One of the most useful is a brochure titled, "I Am a Rebublican Because." Both Republican and Democrat Parties continue to fluctuate from political ideals to adapt to social changes and, sadly sometimes, just to win votes. As a bit of an idealist, however, I like to try to draw us back to the foundational ideals that we drift from all too often.

With regard to the recent "race" issue brought out by one of our local New Albanians in this year's political election, let me quote from this brochure to let you know ... at least ideally ... what Republicans believe.

"I am a Republican because I believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, age, sex or national origin." Additionally, "I am a Republican because I believe that good government is based on the individual and that each person's ability, dignity, freedom and responsibility must be honored and recognized."

I am thankful that I now have a counterpart in the Democrat Party who can speak up and eloquently express many views that we can agree on. Obviously, the above quotes open up serious topics of discussion for future political debate ... not least of which would include the impact of race on this election, generational points of view and everyone's first ammendment rights to free speech.

In the end, I must recommend to all Floyd County residents that, just like all other elections, they need to be educated on the candidates, know what they believe and propose and vote for whom they think is the best man or woman for the job. I hope that will include lots of Republicans.

Sincerely yours,

Dave Matthews
Chairman, Floyd County Republican Party
Candidate, Floyd County Commissioner

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In it together?

Earlier this afternoon, I decided to act unilaterally and e-mailed the following message to City Hall, New Albany Common Council, Floyd County Commissioners, Floyd County Council, the Floyd County Republican Party, One Southern Indiana, Develop New Albany and the Urban Enterprise Association.

I asked each to take the opportunity afforded by the weekend's civic unpleasantness to make public statements against racism in the community.

In an effort to observe some semblance of protocol, the message was addressed to the president or chief executive officer of each entity. If there is no response, the next round of forwards will be addressed to members, i.e., individual council persons, board embers and the like. Readers, feel free to make your own contacts or to reinforce these.

As you already know, Floyd County Democratic Party chairwoman Marcey Wisman took the lead in denouncing racism in our community; read her statement here. In addition, I’m pleased to note that Mayor Doug England and One Southern Indiana CEO Michael Dalby have already indicated to me that statements will be forthcoming.

Debbie Farmer, president of Develop New Albany, submitted a personal note that will be appended to the comments section of this posting, and she gave me permission to forward my original plea to DNA’s board. Finally, there is an Urban Enterprise Association meeting this morning, and the chance to discuss the issue with my fellow board members.

Why am I trying so hard to keep this issue on the front burner? Simple. As a city, New Albany has a long and unfortunate history of refusing to look itself in the mirror. It's why we have the reputation we do, and the reputation we have isn't always all that favorable -- an impression reinforced by the Main Street antique dealer whose comments will be Googled forever by people the world over. As usual, my co-editor Bluegill wrote it best:

As regrettable as it is, the overarching problem isn't that a particular person in New Albany is racist. It's that a Main Street business owner, someone you'd think, even if racist, would be able to muster some kind of diplomacy out of concern for his business if nothing else, felt comfortable enough in his environment - our environment - to proclaim his racism to a national audience with little fear of negative consequence. That comfort level, whether representative of a majority or minority, deserves attention.

To knowingly mix metaphors, when the snowball is pushed downhill, wouldn't you rather it be gathering critical mass on the right, not the wrong, side of history? I would. Here's the text, edited only to omit the previously published statement by Marcey Wisman.


Good afternoon. You’re receiving this e-mail owing to your holding a local leadership position or being a media representative.

Let’s not mince words.

Can there be anything more injurious to our collective efforts to attract residents and businesses to New Albany and Floyd County – to make this a better place to live, for all the right reasons – than the lingering taint of racism?

As many of you should already know, on Saturday, in an article about the unexpected relevance of the presidential election in Indiana, the Chicago Tribune revealed that a small business owner in New Albany confided to the newspaper’s visiting reporter a firm intention to vote Republican in the upcoming presidential election. Why would this self-described registered Democrat vote for McCain rather than his own party's nominee, Barack Obama?The exact quote: “Mainly because he's not black.”

In troubled economic times, comments like this disseminated throughout the United States are precisely the last thing New Albany and Floyd County needs.

We’re small, and we couldn’t possibly be expected to have the answers to a global economic crisis, but when it comes to refuting racism, the answer is clear. An unambiguous, united front against racism isn’t a choice at this juncture. It is an obligation. Partisanship is irrelevant. Racism isn’t a Democratic or a Republican problem, it’s an American problem.

City Clerk and Democratic Party Chairwoman Marcey Wisman has already risen eloquently and forcefully to this challenge.

Can we expect statements from City Hall, New Albany Common Council, Floyd County Commissioners, Floyd County Council and the Republican Party?

Isn’t it just as reasonable to expect that economic development entities like One Southern Indiana, Develop New Albany and the Urban Enterprise Association would want to join in making their positions on the abhorrent nature of racism equally as clear?

Food for thought, don’t you think? Rest assured … the community eagerly awaits these expressions of principle.

Roger A. Baylor
NA Confidential blog
New Albanian Brewing Company

(in the original mailing, Marcey’s statement was reprinted here)

Courier confuses chronology in otherwise solid preview of the Cochran vs. Clere District 72 house race.

Late note: The two candidates for the Indiana House of Representatives District 72 seat will appear together tonight at the monthly meeting of the S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association. The meeting is at 6:30 at S. Ellen Jones Elementary School. Incumbent Democrat Bill Cochran and his challenger, Republican Ed Clere, will each have 10 minutes to speak, and attendees will have a chance to meet the candidates and ask questions.


Aside from a slight problem with numbers adding up (see below), the C–J’s preview of Indiana’s District 72 race pretty much touches the relevant bases.

Challenger Ed Clere says that new ideas (and new faces) are good.

Longtime incumbent Bill Cochran points to his record as a cautious functionary.

If that doesn’t summarize the American political conundrum, I can’t think of a better example. We pound fists on the barroom table, demanding term limits, and then rush to vote for a legislator who won his first primary when Richard Nixon was still abusing his office. I certainly don’t blame Cochran for stressing his experience, and he has a valid point that such savvy is quite useful to his district.

At the same time, I’m unaware of any instance of Cochran taking a substantive (palpable?) position on local New Albanian affairs to the extent that Ed Clere has, both in words and in deeds.

Furthermore, wouldn't it be better not to need "fixers" in government? With a functional, professional bureaucracy and the equitable application of rule of law (did Dan Coffey just shudder?), elected officials might have the latitude do be more like statesmen and less like janitors.

Indeed, change is the only constant in life, and it requires adjustments ... like the cognitive dissonance that comes from knowing that you’ll be voting for more Republicans than Democrats this time out.

Political newcomer challenging Cochran for House seat; Race boils down to new ideas vs. experience, by Lesley Stedman Weidenbener.

INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the state's longest-serving lawmakers is facing a challenge from a political newcomer 25 years his junior.

State Rep. Bill Cochran, D-New Albany, was first elected to represent District 72 in 1974, the year Jeffersonville real estate agent Ed Clere was born.

But while Cochran, 59, maintains that experience has been essential to making sure the district gets its fair share of the state's budget, Clere, 34, believes the region needs some fresh ideas and energy.

"We need representation that is in touch with the people of District 72 and Southern Indiana at large," said Clere, who lives in New Albany and owns Dragonfly Realty. "We need representation and leadership focused on the future."

Cochran argued just the opposite, saying that "a new voice doesn't get heard too well in Indianapolis."

"I have the networking I've made over the years. I have friends all over the state and at state agencies that can be contacted for various constituent problems," Cochran said. "A phone call to them can help constituents having problems with licensing, permits and other problems."

Did you catch the error?

Wikipedia has this to say about Bill Cochran's DOB: August 25, 1934 (1934-08-25) (age 74).

Just for the sake of accuracy, this makes the 74-year-old Cochran 40 years Clere's senior, not 25.

Marcey Wisman: "Mr. Ward’s comments do not represent the beliefs of the people of the Floyd County Democratic Party."

I asked the question yesterday:

Will New Albany's elected officials, its political leaders, its civic organizations and business community, and it's citizenry respond constructively to what amounts as shame and embarrassment on a national scale, and not just denounce the idiocy of racism and the idiots who perpetuate it, but conduct the life of the city in such a manner as to kill racism at the roots?

Floyd County Democratic Party chairwoman (and City Clerk) Marcey Wisman wasted no time in responding. I believe you will agree with me that this powerful and impassioned statement sets the bar at a high level, indeed.


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” for me, as a Democrat, the opening quote from Dickens book “A Tale of Two Cities” best describes the 2008 presidential election.

I have been a part of what will be remembered as one of the most historical elections in America. It is something that I will be proud to sit and tell my grandchildren about; the year we (the Democrats) had a female and a black man running in the Primary. The year that we set records on voter registration and actual number of voters at the polls. However, it is also the year that I have seen the absolute worst side of people come out. It is the year the monster of racism and bigotry came out of the darkness into the light and threatened to divide not just our party but the nation. This division has been eating at me. I lie awake at night and wonder what I can do to make this right? As the chairwoman of the local Democratic Party, how can I eradicate this monster from my little part of the nation? I have worried myself to the point that I can no longer contain my anger and my frustration with the individuals, especially those in my own party, who think it, is okay to say “I’m not voting for Senator Obama because he is black.”

My friends and loved ones have told me to let it go, that I can’t change stupidity, that it is a generational thing, but I can no longer make excuses for people like David Ward, who owns an antique store here in New Albany at the corner of Bank and Main who had no problem telling a reporter from the Chicago Tribune that he is a “Democrat”, but he is “voting for McCain because he isn’t black”. Mr. Ward, Shame on You! Also, to those of you who think it is acceptable to tell me that you will not vote for Senator Obama because “he is a N****r”, what makes you think this is all right? Is it because I am white like you? If so, I may be white, but I am nothing like you. That word is disgusting, ugly and hurtful and it will no longer be tolerated in my presence.

I found a quote from Robert Kennedy that I want all of you to think about. He said “But suppose God is black? What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?” Mr. Ward and all of you like him, how do you justify your racism?

To those of you who claim you are Democrats, but say you can’t vote for Senator Obama because he is a black man, are you sure you are Democrats? If you look up the platform of the National Democratic Party under the issue of Civil Rights it says “We believe in the essential American ideal that we are not constrained by the circumstances of birth but can make of our lives what we will. Unfortunately, for too many, that ideal is not a reality. We have more work to do. Democrats will fight to end discrimination based on race, sex, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and disability in every corner of our country, because that's the America we believe in.”

I want everyone to know the Floyd County Democratic Party does not condone racism. In fact, we hold firm to the Democratic Platform that we “will fight to end discrimination”. Therefore, Mr. Ward and others like him, as members of the Democratic Party you are called to fight the ignorance of discrimination, not perpetuate the hatred that has been taught to you and that you are no doubt teaching to your children.

I struggled with whether or not I should write this letter knowing that I will anger many people in my community, and again I was reminded of a quote of Robert Kennedy who said “It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” I realized that despite what backlash I might face for expressing my feelings on this issue and calling out Mr. Ward and others like him, it is important to let the people who read the story in the Chicago Tribune know that Mr. Ward’s comments do not represent the beliefs of the people of the Floyd County Democratic Party.

I know that I may not be able to change the hearts and minds of racists, but I can hope that by openly expressing my condemnation of racism I will send out a ripple that will give others the courage to stand up and they too will say “I will not stand for this anymore”. I will continue to fight to see that the Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is fully realized because I, too, want to “live in a world where a man is not judged by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character”. In this world that I, and other like minded Democrats, dream of, Mr. Ward, you, and others like you, have been judged and you have been found to lack the character of a true Democrat.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Casual racism" in New Albany: Frozen in the tail lights of history, or capable of learning and growing?

On Saturday, in an article about the unexpected relevance of the presidential election in Indiana, the Chicago Tribune revealed that a small business owner in New Albany confided to the newspaper’s visiting reporter a firm, “culturally conservative” intention to vote for John McCain.

Why would this registered Democrat vote for McCain rather than his own party's nominee, Barack Obama?

“Mainly because he's not black.”

Naturally, several of us took the time on Sunday to express our aversion to this sentiment, among them our own Bluegill, whose comments on a Chicagoland blog prompted a record number of weekend visits and page views at NAC.

" ... While the local embarrassment is undeniable, Mr. Ward DOES NOT represent New Albany."

New Albany's famous! We're a disaster area! Instead of Joe the Plumber, we have David the Racist!

I spent much time on Sunday thinking about this most recent manifestation of my city's enduringly antebellum worldview, and in the end, what continues to strike me about the antique (dealer) David Ward’s statement is the matter-of-fact nonchalance with which he offered it. Might the very casualness of the sentiment be the key to why decent, intelligent New Albanians (outnumbered or otherwise) must speak as one against it?

Accordingly, last evening I found this explanation of what I'd been ineffectually groping toward.

Casual Expressions of Racism (at the Booman Tribune blog)

It must be an intoxicating and fearful time to be a black political junkie. I assume this because it appears that Barack Obama is poised to become the next president of the United States, but, at the same time, a political junkie is forced to confront one racist attack after another. Try to read an article about Obama's efforts to
win Indiana, and you get subjected to this:

For others, like David Ward, who runs an antique shop with his wife in New Albany, the issue is race. Ward, a registered Democrat, said he will vote for McCain "mainly because he's not black."

Blam!! Out of nowhere, it's like a sock to the stomach. Try to read
Sean Quinn's account of his travels in Western Pennsylvania, and you get this:

So a canvasser goes to a woman's door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, has to ask her husband who she's voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, "We're votin' for the n***er!" Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: "We're voting for the n***er."

Perhaps this also is the key to understanding why the GOP’s grudging rejection of overt, racist violence at its rallies rings false and disingenuous. It’s remarkably simple for people who view themselves as upstanding, ordinary folk to denounce the racist violence one can see, while tacitly condoning the unchallenged, everyday prejudice that undoubtedly motivates the overtly violent expressions uttered in the relative safety of a crowd.

But make no mistake: Both are repugnant. One reader comment at the Booman Tribune eloquently addresses the prevailing attitude hereabouts in our fabled "heartland." Bold text emphasis is mine.

Re: Casual Expressions of Racism

This is how I feel. I figured out in High School that racism was still alive and well in the country, no matter how many folks kept trying to tell me otherwise. It's pretty damn blatant in most of the "Heartland" once you put yourself in a mindset where you're willing to acknowledge it.

In fact, here in the "heartland" the only folks I know who deny that racism is an issue anymore are all young white conservatives. Those guys are the ones who I see having a traumatic eye-opening experience as they are beginning to realize the underbelly of the party that they never "signed up for".

Maybe it's different on the coasts, but at least in my experience midwestern liberals don't have many delusions about racism being a non-issue in this country. And most of us were expecting this to happen when Obama announced he was running.

A heavily indebted friend of mine once concluded that it he didn’t take the bills out of his mailbox, he wouldn’t be responsible for paying them. He eventually learned that it isn't true, and I'd suggest that the same phenomenon applies to lives unexamined.

As Bluegill recently reminded one youthful conservative reader recently, the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia would be a fine place to start expanding one's horizons about the lingering legacy of the stain of racism on the American social fabric.

Such research into first causes may irrevocably damage a few all too rosy preconceived notions, something the entire city of New Albany might seek to accomplish, too, and that's why the truly instructive part comes now.

Bloggers have taken the lead on a weekend when others are closed. Will New Albany's elected officials, its political leaders, its civic organizations and business community, and it's citizenry respond constructively to what amounts as shame and embarrassment on a national scale, and not just denounce the idiocy of racism and the idiots who perpetuate it, but conduct the life of the city in such a manner as to kill racism at the roots?

Or, do we do what we've always done, and sweep it under an already overcrowded rug?

Will there ever be progress in New Albany if we don't at least try to erase this stain?