Thursday, November 30, 2006

12-letter words & flag burnin': Unless, of course, the whole thing is a joke.

After many apathetic years, the letters section of the Tribune is again showing signs of becoming the entertaining, edifying spectacle it used to be during the halcyon days of “Cap” Sterling and Nola McDaniel.

Here’s an example from yesterday’s edition (note that the date, November 29, was erroneously listed as November 24 in the newspaper’s on-line archive).

Nov. 29: Reader not impressed with big words

I’d like to respond to a recent letter in the Nov. 9, 2006, edition of The Tribune referencing values.

No. 1. The lady, being from the Northeast, is trying to impress us by the use of 12-letter words? As a suggestion, if you’re writing to the average citizen, use average citizen words so that we can better understand what you are trying to say. I learned that at Penn State.

No. 2. I’m from the east and there is no question that Hoosiers and Kentuckians appreciate our past, present, future and our country’s traditional family values and our customs and our heritage better than those from the Anything Goes, It’s OK you’re OK, If it feels good do it Northeast.

Burning our flags and same sex marriage is not only against our traditions, our heritage, our customs and everything else “American,” they are also against the Bible and should be outlawed by Constitutional Amendments. Maybe you should move back to New Jersey. They’d “love” you there.

Frank Criss, Floyds Knobs

The object of Mr. Criss’s acidic lesson in value-determinant geography is the writer who previously penned this:

Nov. 9, 2006: Reader sick of values being used incorrectly

“Values, Values, Values.” I am so sick of hearing about “values.” What exactly does “values” mean? It means an abstract concept of morality. At best ambiguous, at worst, delusional.

“Hoosier values” means what? I am from New Jersey. Does that mean my “Jersey values” are better, worse or the same as “Hoosier values?” Somehow, I believe, that in some people’s eyes, they are worse.

Since, I believe that the Constitution serves to provide protection for our freedoms, the frivolity of a Constitutional Amendment to protect an institution that already allows the freedom of a man and woman to marry is ludicrous. Does that make my “values” evil?

I also don’t believe in adding a Constitutional Amendment to protect the flag from flag burning. It’s a matter of the Bill of Rights. You know the provision of freedom of speech. Like what I’m doing. Wow, I’m doing really bad in someone’s idea of “values.”

Using hot button, totally irrelevant issues to push an agenda is demagoguery. To decide for me what my “values” should be and to deride me when I don’t agree is odious.

My point is that the use and abuse of the word values is wrong and only serves to isolate people. However, since politicians are abstract, ambiguous and delusional, the word may work for them.

Karen Van Hauter, Jeffersonville.

Looking more closely, we see that Mr. Criss’s reference to “trying to impress us by the use of 12-letter words” is far funnier than he intended. The only 12-letter word to be found in Ms. Van Hauter’s letter is the noun “Constitution.” It may have seemed to him that “demagoguery” surely falls into the dreaded 12-letter classification. Properly motivated spelling bee winners know that it has only 11.

In Ms. Van Hauter’s letter, there is the adjective “Constitutional,” which has 14 letters. But wait – Holy Hypocrite, Batman! – in his response, Mr. Criss also uses the adjective “Constitutional,” and yes, it again has 14 – 14! – letters.

What’s he trying to do, impress us?

“Constitutional” must be an “average citizen” word when he uses it, but not when it is purloined by atheist pinko moral relativists.

The space and time continuum also poses certain difficulties for Mr. Criss’s, agonized, plaintive wail (I shan’t dignify it with a short, 8-letter word like “argument”), as in the case of his insistence that the Bible specifically teaches against burning an American flag that wasn’t initially sewed until 2,000 years after the Good Book was misinterpreted for the first time.

Apparently he learned these argumentation techniques in value-determinant geography while employed as a custodian at Penn State, although he is unclear on this point.

Encouragingly for the future chortle value of the Tribune’s opinion page, the November 29 missive wasn’t the first time that Mr. Criss has donned his Floyd R. Turbo hunting cap to allege, “Hoosiers and Kentuckians appreciate our past, present, future and our country’s traditional family values and our customs and our heritage better.”

He also did it on November 26, while lauding departing legislator Mike “Big Wheels” Sodrel for his win in Floyd County:

With so many Left-Wing Liberals in the district, who are unaware of our heritage, our customs, our values, our traditions and our Judeo-Christian beginnings, it looks like a brighter future for Floyd County. Yes, Sodrel lost the election, but we are apparently beginning to emerge from our dismal past when Floyd County mainly supported good ole boy Dem’s regardless of their qualifications.

That’s a fair volume of pus to ooze from one place, but I’m a glutton for punishment when it comes to the outer limits of nuttiness, so I’ll bite. This grouping of “our” – who are you speaking of, Mr. Criss?

The native born, as opposed to the infidels from New Jersey? Or maybe the properly indoctrinated ones, and not those succumbing to the dreaded virus of book learnin’?

Seems I was born and raised right here in tradition- and value-laden Floyd County. I ran in the woods, played basketball, was rejected by all known cheerleaders and watched Hee Haw. I’ve lived here in this bastion of the Judeo-Christian ethos my whole life, and today, I couldn’t disagree with you more strongly if I were Osama bin Laden, Ted Kennedy and Michael Moore, all rolled into one.

What, then, was the source of the unpatriotic, pagan, foreign contagion in my case?

Did I get it during an illicit bout of unprotected readin’?

Perhaps there can be a Constitutional (14) amendment (just 9) against that, too.

Verily, disgust is the only proper reaction. There is no populated corner of this planet that is without some measure of ignorance, and yet in no part of the civilized world is it as enduringly fashionable as right here in the good ol’ USA. Keep up the good work, Mr. Criss.

Side-splitting laughter is one fine and suitably aerobic way for me to shed pounds on my diet.

(An edited version of the preceding has been sent to the Tribune for consideration as a letter to the editor)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

World AIDS Day is Friday, December 1.

World AIDS Day is Friday, December 1.

By coincidence, the recent weeks leading to this year’s World AIDS Day have witnessed much household discussion about the AIDS pandemic, owing primarily to Mrs. Confidential’s current University of Louisville grad school class project. She’s been studying the decade of the 1980’s and analyzing attitudes at the time toward America’s gay community, both in societal and cultural terms, and specifically pertaining to her chosen career of social work.

Our many open-ended conversations about these and related topics have unexpectedly succeeded in exposing a great deal of repressed anger and indignation on my part.

Imagine that.

There are numerous references I might cite that would help explain my lingering outrage, but this guest opinion piece, published in San Francisco in 2004 on the occasion of President Reagan’s death, serves nicely.

Reagan's AIDS Legacy: Silence equals death, by Allen White.

A significant source of Reagan's support came from the newly identified religious right and the Moral Majority, a political-action group founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. AIDS became the tool, and gay men the target, for the politics of fear, hate and discrimination. Falwell said "AIDS is the wrath of God upon homosexuals." Reagan's communications director Pat Buchanan argued that AIDS is "nature's revenge on gay men."

It’s true that the phenomenon of self-serving bigotry, thinly veiled hatred and crass stupidity routinely spewing from the well-fed mouths of those imagining themselves as paragons of morality isn’t exactly new in the historical experience, but perhaps my witnessing it during impressionable youth provides a deeper, more indelible impression within the consciousness.

I can think of no single occurrence that better illustrates the mean-spirited poverty of compassion, the flaunting of insensibility and an alarming absence of basic human decency on the part of “God-fearing American Conservatives” than the reaction of Falwell, Buchanan and so many others of the bilious ilk to the advent of the AIDS pandemic during the 1980’s.

My disgust with this reaction is a very large part of why I am a humanist, why I am an atheist, why I am a liberal, why I am a contrarian, and why I am implacably opposed to whatever mystically religious or basely political forces that connive and fester in the diseased heart of such institutionalized and calculating callousness, and it is why that incredibly tired bromide about the liberalism of youth yielding to the conservatism of advancing years doesn’t apply to me and never shall.

As though to say that as one grows older, the imperatives of human and civil rights fade into an appreciation of nothing so much as money and personal comfort. Quite frankly, the notion makes me want to retch.

Gay, straight, red, pink, black, white – too many people died then, and too many suffer now. We’re a quarter century into AIDS, and there remain people – right here, in this community – who are more concerned with the haughty assertion of their own “moral” superiority than with tending to and healing the sick, and more importantly, than upholding the dignity and equality of all men and women, whether under the watchful gaze of a supreme being or that of the Blue Speckled Hungadunga.

World AIDS Day is Friday, December 1. Kindly take note. Posted by Picasa

Another Barbie for Prof. Erika ...

... looks like she forgot one (see AGING BARBIE at her FOS anonymous rant blog).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jump ball: A platform for 2007.

In a comment yesterday, SBAvanti63 wrote:

The platform for 2007 is an easy one. Bluegill mentions clean up, revitalization, preservation and economic development. Add in public safety and there's plenty with which to work, especially as it relates to the current council. The trick is finding the candidates willing to run for each seat and then funding them, as it's likely that Dem. or Rep. party funds will support incumbents over new candidates. I'm new enough to New Albany not to know who these potential candidates might be, but the neighborhood associations are certainly one place to start identifying possibilities. I suspect that some of the readers/responders to NAC would be good candidates. Is anyone willing? Now is the time to get started. It's going to take a grass-roots effort to make the sweeping changes necessary and that won't come easily.
--Posted by SBAvanti63 to NA Confidential at 11/27/2006 08:49:32 PM

Good thoughts, indeed.

Readers, assuming such candidates might be found, how does such a platform fit within the confines of the still Democratic-leaning two party system here in New Albany?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Emperor Kochert’s newly progressive anti-smoking clothes -- and their utterly striking invisibility.

The C-J’s random New Albany and Floyd County news coverage generator gyrates furiously again today, with reporter Dick Kaukas emerging from behind Door #3 to offer a solid snapshot of the city council in mid-ponder over councilman Larry Kochert’s belated decision to take part in the life of the community by means of an impending proposal to institute a smoking ban.

Smoking-ban proposal likely in New Albany; Council member gauging support, by Dick Kaukas (Courier-Journal).

The New Albany City Council probably will be asked to consider a comprehensive smoking ban in the next few months.

But Councilman Larry Kochert, who backs a ban, said he has decided not to press for an immediate vote on the issue.

"I don't see it coming up before the first of the year," he said in an interview last week. "I'd rather wait a little bit, because from what I can see right now, the support's not there" for extensive restrictions.

With the chins of our council members being rubbed raw (by the way, has Dave Ramsey taken a position on tobacco, Steve?), onlookers might be forgiven for asking CM Kochert, whose personal inclination probably lies in the general direction of the draconian, exactly what he plans to do to increase the level of “support” for extensive smoking restrictions between now and that future day when the stars blessedly align, the tea leaves adhere to form the words "I have something resembling a dream, too," and CM Kochert plunges into the smoking ban scrum.

Meanwhile, the benign indifference to everyday realities of CM Kochert and the council’s other longstanding timeservers continues to resonate in the city’s reform-proof Slumlord Protection Program, Main Street crack houses and proliferating rat populations.

NAC finds it well beyond amusing, and veering into that most un-American realm of irony, that the councilman’s touching concern for the health of citizens has not been manifested with action toward the day in, day out living conditions of those many residing in substandard properties.

Now that I've vented, see the preceding for our regularly scheduled Monday post: CM Kochert's council legacy? One clue: It won't be a smoking ordinance. Posted by Picasa

CM Kochert's council legacy? One clue: It won't be a smoking ordinance.

Regular NAC readers know that New Albany’s approaching “to ban or not to ban” smoking debate has inspired deep ambivalence on the part of the senior editor, who owns a business that may or may not feel the effects of such an action, but personally has no objection whatever to a smoke-free planet.

After all, I’m used to being put out.

For many years, smokers and non-smokers alike have been telling me to take my cigar outside, and until you’ve experienced the surreal scene, there’s really nothing like a GPC cigarette-wielding chain smoker complaining about the objectionable odor of my $15 Havana (believe it) to summarize an entire issue – and the hypocrisy therein – quite so well.

Nevertheless, I’ve been agonizing over the implications, dreading the divisiveness such discussions engender, and trying to imagine the excruciating ordeal being played out in a city council chamber that customarily digresses into bi-monthly anarchy at the incessant demand of its less luminous right-tableside time servers, among them the very councilman who’s set to propose the smoking ordinance.

But see, that’s it.

All along, the answer’s been staring me right in the face, and I failed to see it until I read Christopher Drake's Nov. 24 letter to the Tribune, reprinted below.

The answer?

We should proceed to enact the most stringent ban on public smoking ever seen in the United States, because given the city’s abysmal track record on ordinance enforcement, there’s actually no chance at all that we’ll be held to it.

In fact, you can bet your Christmas bonus check on the roulette wheel at Caesar’s … or take far better odds toward the likelihood that the same council persons supporting CM Larry Kochert’s anti-smoking ordinance will spin on a dime (your dime, that is) and begin chewing the scenery in full grandstand mode, demanding an immediate audit along with the resignation of every elected and appointed official in City Hall, if they’re so much as handed an estimated bill for enforcing a non-smoking decree.

We’ve seen them do it before, and on multiple occasions, so why would this instance be any different?

If Slippery Larry is intent on making smoking legislation the sole proactive legacy of a profoundly reactive career on the city council, then by all means permit him to do so.

He’s sure to find that the council’s tradition of impotence and non-intervention, one that he’s done so much to hone, will be a weight far too great for the current dysfunctional body to bear just to bring a personal crusade to fruition.

Meanwhile, here's Mr. Drake's letter, and it's a fine one.


Smoking-ban debate approaches

Larry Kochert has recently proposed an ordinance prohibiting smoking in public areas such as restaurants and bars.

Mr. Kochert, If you truly were in touch with your constituency in the district that you represent, I think you would find that an issue such as this ranks very low on the priorities of the citizens that you work for.

Take a good look at our city Mr. Kochert, look at the rampant spread of run-down disgraceful rental houses where the absentee landlords are able to continue this practice with little or no consequences for degrading many neighborhoods that would otherwise be nice. Take a good look at the most of the streets in the city where pot holes and patchwork repairs make one feel as if they are on an off-road adventure.

Take a close look at your own district Mr. Kochert, where Floyd County solid waste has every intention to place a hazardous waste collection facility in the middle of a residential neighborhood. In fact, I do not believe that we have had the pleasure of your attendance at any of the neighborhood association meetings, or Solid Waste District meetings championing the health, safety and well being of your district.

I understand that smoking bans are the new politically correct band wagon to be on, and there are many political kudos to be given out by anti-smoking groups.

But the reality is the City Council’s time would be more efficiently spent tackling the real negative issues plaguing not only the health of New Albany’s citizens, but their well being and sense of community.

— Christopher S. Drake, New Albany

Sunday, November 26, 2006

No better day than Sunday to be a gadfly.

The following is modified from a letter originally published in the Tribune on November 19, and as yet not archived on line.


A few weeks back, as Tribune syndicated religion columnist David Yount wrote carefully erected a straw man out of atheism before predictably and delightedly bashing it to bits, he ventured, “It is no more credible that there is no God than that God indeed exists.”

I submit that this statement is at best an example of logical sleight of hand, and at worst, downright nonsensical.

If I were to write, “It is no more credible that there is no Blue Speckled Hungadunga than that a Blue Speckled Hungadunga indeed exists,” it is quite likely that any rational person would demand an immediate definition of a Blue Speckled Hungadunga in order to proceed with the discussion.

Moreover, lacking persuasive proof for the existence of the Blue Speckled Hungadunga, there would be no need for further debate, and subsequently no need for a syndicated religion columnist to utter a statement that is at base invalid, for it assumes the existence of a conjectured entity, then uses this assumed (and as yet unproven) existence to impugn the allegedly faulty perception of those who insist in pointing to the obvious nature of the theist’s logical fallacy.

In fact, atheists don’t “believe” there is no God; rather, they are absent such a belief. As with the Blue Speckled Hungadunga, the responsibility for proving the existence of God lies with the one advancing a positive belief in the conjectured deity, not with the one who has no belief.

Atheists offer no positive claims with respect to knowledge presumed to derive from outside the realm of human experience and perception. As Yount correctly notes, some atheists go a step further and proselytize in the manner of the religionist, but it’s a very safe bet that during the past two thousand years far more people have been asked to convert to religion at the point of a bayonet, and died as a result of their refusal, than have been forcibly converted to atheism.

After all, if religious belief really remains a matter of heart and soul, isn’t it impossible to “convert” anyone to atheism? Outward symbols and pageantry are superfluous with regard to inner feeling, aren’t they?

In my experience, atheists generally just want to be left alone, and prefer that religious belief remain a matter of private conscience and not a public policy stick. We respect a separation of church and state and take such a division at face value precisely because we’ve studied history, and we know against whom that public policy stick inevitably is wielded – against us, to be sure, but far more often against other religionists who believe in their variant of the supernatural entity just as much as the ones shooting at them from a nearby trench.

The result is a sad continuation of the war, violence and strife that has accompanied religion throughout human history.

To summarize, atheism is a negation in the absence of verifiable evidence, and it is the theist who is obliged to prove that God exists – not the other way around.

With apologies to the Tribune’s youthful, periodically published “natural law” guest writer: “It is no more credible that there is a necessary higher power than such a necessary higher power does not exist.”

Friday, November 24, 2006

REWIND: Sometimes it's embarrassing to be an American.

America's frenzied pop culture vultures have dubbed today Black Friday, and analysts will be poring over sales figures and tea leaves in an effort to determine if holiday season retail sales will be sufficient to float our collective boat for another year.

Today in the local newspapers there'll be other stories just like the one linked below, from an NAC posting dated Nov. 26, 2005. Change the dates, change the names -- but Pavlov's dog salivates just as predictably.

At least this year I get (downsized) turkey sandwiches before work, courtesy of Mrs. Confidential ... and yesterday's Vietnam Kitchen meal of a rice cake/fried egg appetizer with main course of the legendary K-8 spicy noodles was simply outstanding.


Up at 4:00 a.m. -- to go shopping.

Shoppers beat sunlight to find bargains, by Kyle Lowry (New Albany Tribune).

“At 4 o’clock there were two great big lines up to the doors,” Mayfield said. “Now, there are lines around the entire store to check out. It’s pretty crazy.”

Unbelievable, but then again, materialism being the true faith of our fathers ...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving tradition?

Curmudgeons like to remind people unaccustomed to recalling ancient history that ultimately, someone had to pay for the inspiring story of the Pilgrim meal – and that “someone” was the notion of Native American culture.

I'm one of 'em. Curmudgeon, not Native American.

But apart from uncomfortable truths, a holiday built around sheer gluttony isn’t such a bad thing, even if you’re on a diet and must cut out a dessert.

Although she's a card-carrying vegetarian, Mrs. Confidential surprised me by fixing a turkey … and I’m having some of it for breakfast. She gets stuffing, cranberries and perhaps tofu of some variety. In other words, bird food. The type I've been eating for the past month.

My mother thoughtfully excused us from Tommy Lancaster duty this year, but she’ll be bringing pecan pie to accompany coffee and chit chat in the early afternoon.

I said cut out a dessert -- not all of them.

The high point of the day will follow later in the day when we motor to the South End and visit Vietnam Kitchen for the day’s real feast. I’d rather bring it home for an NBA game; sadly, none are scheduled on a Thursday filled with (yawn) football.

Of course I’m thankful: To Asian immigrants who keep their restaurants open on holidays like Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Templates, tags, levels and extreme impatience.

My overt hostility toward reactionaries and Luddites of various stripes is fueled in large measure by the knowledge that there by the grace of simple good fortune might I yet flail and wail.

Could you tell?

The simplicity of black and white is an alluring Medusa perched atop an outcropping somewhere atop a lobe, and it is one to be resisted at all costs. The world is complex and painted in shades of gray, and ambiguous with sensations of pain and pleasure wrapped together. Quite simply, you can’t go home again.

In turn, this knowledge helps to explain the motif of the moment, during which the senior editor is struggling mightily with computer technology and software that he still only tenuously understands in an effort to simultaneously reassemble the contents of the home PC following both major and minor crashes, while learning the nuances of Macromedia Dreamweaver so as to seize the skill and autonomy necessary to avoid ever again the necessity of bowing and scraping, hat in hand, before the adjacent third-grader who grasps more of web site construction than this 46-year-old adult has managed to absorb.

Though the kid might work cheap … no, the point remains a newfound recognition that to do it the way I want, I have to do it myself – and that means learning how to do it myself. So, it's back to school in a manner of speaking.

You may be seeing a spate of “rewinds” and “reruns” at NAC the next few days, and this is something I regret, as one of the ulterior motives for the blog is to compel me to write each and every day.

At the same time, although NAC’s numbers are healthy in terms of readership, the once thriving local blogosphere outside our gates has steadily contracted. Perhaps you won’t notice if I engage in some slacking this extended holiday weekend, and expend the energy instead on computer literacy, self-training and the usual work-related obligations during busy season.

Through it all, sincere thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Is the Great New Albany Smoke-Out coming down the pike?

Posted by Picasa
NAC touched briefly on this item Sunday:

Smoking ban approaches in New Albany, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

New Albany could ban smoking in all enclosed public spaces and workplaces as early as January, using a model similar to Jeffersonville’s and Louisville’s new laws.

Councilman Larry Kochert plans to propose such a law once legislators overhaul budget and staffing for the city’s two ambulances.

Cynics might suggest that the key word in this passage is “once,” and that CM Kochert's anti-smoking law might well have to wait until Doomsday to see introduction, much lass passage, given the council's chronic inability to act decisively and CM Dan Coffey's probable absence (he'll be mugging for the cameras while pushing gurneys down State Street or posing behind the wheel of an ambulance wearing a fire hat and a vintage Joe McCarthy sneer).

Council president Jeff Gahan hasn’t seen enough of the ordinance to form an opinion yet, though his “initial impression is that we may need to ... consider additional exceptions.” He declined to elaborate on what extra exceptions he’d support before the council debate begins.

“The evidence is there that secondhand smoke is harmful, and it is something that we can’t ignore, but tobacco is not an illegal substance,” Gahan said.

Campbell's article notes that none of the current sitting council members use tobacco, suggesting perhaps that in spite of previous signals to the contrary, local anti-smoking advocates view their prospects as warmer now than after the elections of 2007 usher in a shiny new class of contestants. At the same time, recalling the rancor and divisiveness inspired by the smoking issue in surrounding communities, CM Kochert's prospective push may be nothing more than a tactical trial balloon.

For more, see also: Another incremental gain for local anti-smoking advocates.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The at-large city council rumorama wheel ...

... is spinning, and today it says that Kevin Zurschmiede may be interested in the at-large seat to be vacated by Mark Seabrook at the end of the year. The Green Mouse says he was spotted in deep discussions with CM Seabrook at the last council meeting.

I'm assuming this is the same Kevin Zurschmiede who has worked for many years as a realtor, developer and property manager, and who owns the building at the northeast corner of Pearl and Market where the GOP headquarters was located during the most recent election. If so, it sounds like a good choice.

It may even be the same Kevin Zurschmiede who participated here at NAC during the early months of the blog's existence, and much to my enjoyment at the time. The last posting I can recall him contributing comments about was this one (in February, 2005):

Potpourri: NBA vs. college; how NA cooduh beenuh condenduh; Ward Churchill; and good beer writing.

Kevin, if you're still reading, perhaps you might return and let us know whether this rumor has legs?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

UPDATED: Open thread: What qualities should we expect from our city council representatives?

Sunday morning update:

It's now official: We have a Democratic primary race in the 3rd council district.

Former 3rd district councilman Maury Goldberg, who held the seat for two decades prior to declining a re-election bid in 2003, placed three paid ads in Sunday's Tribune high school basketball preview supplement. It is unclear whether Maury's New Albany Today blog will go the way of John Yarmuth's LEO column during his bid for office.

It also is not known whether the Luddite incumbent, Steve Price, will seek to hold his seat, but if so, aficionados of instant gratification now can look forward to only the smallest of entertainment gaps between the recently concluded 2006 general election and the forthcoming primary campaigns, which will decide candidates for city offices, including what shapes up to be an epic mayoral slugfest.

Meanwhile, today's Tribune news coverage is subtitled, “A World Turned Upside Down,” with underachieving council reactionary Larry Kochert announcing the advent of a smoke-free New Albany, work scheduled to begin on our portion of the Ohio River Greenway, and publisher John Tucker advancing the unfashionable but spot-on viewpoint that a casino would not be the most profitable smart growth option for downtown Jeffersonville.

If you haven't read the Tribune for a while, pick up a copy of the Sunday edition, and see just how much has changed (well, ignore the spelling goof on the front page and the slothful web updates -- I'm referring to content here).

Contrast it with today's barren and uninspired Indiana Section in the Courier-Journal, which recently seems to have settled on New Albany and Floyd County coverage by a rotating committee of disinterested reporters, and see what is possible when a local paper finally starts playing aggressively.


“After what New Albany has endured over the last four years, it will be fun to watch who New Albany choses for their new council people. I hope the cumulative I.Q. is more than 70! It takes smarts and problem solving skills to run and make decisions for a town (YOUR town, MY town).”
-Anonymous blog comment.

“You're allowed your opinion, but our family sure does like Councilman Price. Have you ever even tried working with him on an issue? His tenure is lookin' fine to us! Any others, though? We'd probably be in agreement on, ya gotta think, at least one?"
-Anonymous blog comment.

Item: After several members argued about drainage system repairs, (councilman) Donnie Blevins spoke up: “I’d like to say something, if you guys are done seeing who can pee the farthest.”
-Quoted in the Tribune.

In 2007, New Albany's city council seats will be contested. From its inception in 2004, NA Confidential has observed snippets of magic, extremities of pain, moments of statesmanlike vision, and endless hours of self-aggrandizing bilge emanating from the current aggregation, and if you've been watching this space for any length of time, you probably have a vague notion of what we're looking for in a city council representative – and which present members have come closest to the ideal.

A clue: As seated in the meeting room facing the council, look to the left and begin counting to five. Stop with the council president, who is in the middle. Those four on the right? Best change the topic.

Subject to the NA Confidential Community's usual rules for comment identity, i.e., screen names and pseudonyms are permitted so long as the senior editor knows who you are in real life, here's the chance for readers to weigh in on the question, “What qualities should we expect from our council representatives?”

Feel free to elaborate -- but let's keep it clean.

Barring an unexpected news item of significance, I'll leave this thread on the marquee until Monday afternoon.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Anyone for a viewing of "Iraq for Sale?"

It's been a year since our memorably frigid "Wal-Mart bites" movie screening at the Farmers Market in downtown New Albany. The movie's director, Robert Greenwald, has been hard at work, and his most recent cinematic muckraking exposition seems deserving of a showing -- perhaps indoors, at our meeting facility at NABC?


Iraq for Sale is the story of what happens to everyday Americans when corporations go to war. Acclaimed director Robert Greenwald (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed, and Uncovered) takes you inside the lives of soldiers, truck drivers, widows and children who have been changed forever as a result of profiteering in the reconstruction of Iraq. Iraq for Sale uncovers the connections between private corporations making a killing in Iraq and the decision makers who allow them to do so.


Here's an e-mail from the filmmakers.


Dear Brave New Supporters,

When we started in January, war profiteering was a subject that desperately needed attention. It was a story that wasn't being told and the issue cried out for exposing. And then this past Sunday November 12 the issue was front and center on page one of the New York Times and all over the news. In different and various permutations, the headlines all read that there will be hearings, there will be oversight, questions will be asked. The profiteers will be exposed.

Is amazing too strong of a word? It is a result of all your efforts. Your support of Iraq for Sale and the issue of war profiteering has been remarkable.

So, thank you to the volunteer researchers who worked in secret to get us key information.

Thank you to the thousands of screening hosts who made over 4,000 official screenings happen.

Thank you to the Patriots Against War Profiteering who donated 8,500 DVDs to libraries, schools, and military installations around the country and around the world so this film can be seen by as wide an audience as possible. Read some responses from folks who received the film, like that of Army Medic Dan Walsh who wrote to us while serving in Iraq “This stuff needs to be known by the average American."

Thank you to Senator Dorgan, his staff and the Democratic Policy Committee who hosted hearings in DC on this issue- and invited people in Iraq for Sale to participate and share their stories. You can watch video of the hearings at the DPC website.

Thank you to the elected officials like Senator Harry Reid, Senator John Kerry, and Congressman James Clyburn who used the film to call attention to the issue and the need for oversight and accountability in the war.

Thank you to all the candidates who ran for office in last week's election - like Jim Webb, who saw the film and immediately agreed to introduce it at our DC premiere and then organized over 100 screenings in Virginia- and candidates across the country like Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders who used the film in their campaigns and urged voters to choose a new path.

Thank you to the folks at UNITE HERE who hosted hundreds of screenings across the Mid-West and reached thousands of union members with the film.

Thank you to the heroes and heroines in the military, like Sergeant Jon LaCore who wrote to us after watching the film in Iraq. In his letter he said, "I'm anxious to see if a change in the House and Senate will bring about a change here in Iraq." And, looking at the Sunday paper, it looks as though he may get to see change happen.

A deep heart-felt thank you to all the families and patriots who participated in this film. Your bravery in sharing your stories has touched millions. You have brought about real change and for that we are all grateful.

And finally THANK YOU to the 3,000 of you who contributed 50 dollars or more to make the film happen. We want you to know the front page of the New York Times would not have read the way it did, if all of you had not made it possible to begin the work on the film with your generous contributions.

Each and every one of us at Brave New Films sends our great appreciation, respect and deepest thanks for an amazing job. We celebrate the critical raising of this issue, we salute those who have stepped forward to tell the story at great personal sacrifice. We grieve for those whose lives have been sacrificed to profiteering. And, we look forward to the work ahead to make sure the profiteers are stopped.

Come January we look forward to getting your ideas on what's next for Brave New Films.

Yours sincerely,

Robert, Rick, Jim, Jimmy, Sarah, Tracy, Devin, Paris, Lissette, Jesse and everyone at Brave New Films Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 17, 2006

UPDATED: City council temporarily enables the city's second ambulance.

(Update: Here's the full Tribune account of the meeting)

There was a city council meeting last night, and work commitments prevented the senior editor from attending.

The Courier-Journal appears not to have bothered, and preliminary Tribune coverage was posted at its web site this morning:

Second city ambulance to return

The New Albany City Council at Thursday night's meeting appropriated $75,000 to return the city's second ambulance to service through at least the end of the year. It should begin runs on Sunday or Monday, Mayor James Garner said.

A band-aid thus applied and further controversy only temporarily deferred, and meanwhile ...

Who wants to be a New Albany council member? GOP hears little interest in replacing Commissioner-elect Seabrook, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

Help wanted: Politically experienced Republican to join all-Democratic council just in time to run for re-election. Fluency in grants and sewers a plus.

Even considering the thin field that meets those qualifications, Floyd County’s GOP chairman is still surprised that no one yet wants Mark Seabrook’s City Council at-large seat. But he believes last week’s election results are scaring some prospects.
“There’s a pretty obvious anti-Bush trend,” James Hancock said Tuesday, referring to President George W. Bush. “People who might have considered” replacing Seabrook, an incoming Floyd County Commissioner, now are hanging back.

In his capacity as one-man party delegation, CM Seabrook indeed set the bar high, and in the vast majority of instances has served as a reality-based, straight-talking bulwark against the perpetual self-aggrandizement and shameless ward heeling of the council's Gang of Four obstructionists.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Michael Moore: "A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives."

The glow eventually will dissipate, but until it does, the opportunity to cherish pieces like this is utterly priceless. Thanks to Tom Moench for pointing me to this latest example of why I, too, love Michael Moore.


Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives

To My Conservative Brothers and Sisters,

I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's election. You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad place you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has ended with so much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You are in a funk, and I understand.

Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you. I, and the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic Congress, have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of promises that we offer you because we value you as our fellow Americans. You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound power -- and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you.

Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:

Dear Conservatives and Republicans,

I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:

1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.

2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.

3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you.

4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.

5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.

6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.

7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you.

8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.

9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.

10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.

11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world.

12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition.

I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.


Michael Moore

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sometimes the show can't -- and shouldn't -- go on.

(3:30 pm bulletin)

NABC, Rich O's & Sportstime will not be open today or tonight.

With our former employee Andrew's funeral (see below) concluded, it's obvious that no one is in any shape to work, and so we're going to close for the entire day. It will be business as usual on Thursday.

On behalf of the entire crew, we're sorry for any inconvenience, but it's simply been too emotional of a day.

NABC mourns the loss of Andrew Johnson, an employee and friend.

Over the weekend we learned that Andrew Johnson had died of injuries suffered in a tragic house fire near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He was a well liked and skilled former NABC kitchen employee who left our staff only a short time ago to move south and further his education at Middle Tennessee State University.

Speaking personally, Andrew was a good kid, a good worker, and his friends at the extended NABC family will miss him. 25? It’s simply too damned young to be taken away.

Note that NABC (pub & pizzeria) will be closed Wednesday until 6:00 p.m. so that Andrew’s friends and co-workers can attend the funeral service. Thanks for understanding.


Funeral Services for Andrew Christopher Johnson, 25, of Otisco, IN will be held on Wednesday November 15th, 2006 at 2:00 PM at the Grayson Funeral Home in Charlestown. Visitation will be on Tuesday from 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM and after 9:00 AM on Wednesday. Mr. Johnson passed away Friday November 10, 2006 in Chattanooga, TN. He is survived by his fiancée Joy Vest, his father David Johnson, mother Patreesa Timbs, brother Nathan Luker, sisters Elizabeth Brents, Angelica Brents, and Diana Rodriguez, and his grandmothers Lorene Johnson and Mary Timbs.

(Cross-posted at Potable Curmudgeon)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Who's back, and deliciously feisty for a geezer duo.

A year ago it would not have seemed possible that an album by the two remaining members of the Who would really be released in 2006, and less likely that I’d become entranced by a Pete Townshend composition these many, many years after his creative heyday. Defying all odds, both unexpected occurrences have come to pass, and gloriously so. I’m enjoying “Endless Wire” immensely.

The album’s finest moment in the pure sense of songwriting craftsmanship and lyrical content, and the object of my current fascination, is “A Man in a Purple Dress,” performed with a simple acoustic arrangement and enhanced by singer Roger Daltrey’s appropriately outraged, bilious delivery.

How dare you wear a robe to preside
How dare you cover your head to hide
Your face from God
How dare you smile from behind your beard
To hide the fact your heart's afeared,
And wave your rod
How dare you be the one to assess
Me, in this God-forsaken mess
You, a man, in a purple dress
A man in a purple dress

You are all the same
Gilded and absurd
Regal, fast to blame
Rulers by lost word
Men above men, or prats
With your high hats

You priest, you mullah so high
You pope, you wise rabbi
You're invisible to me
Like vapor from the sea

How dare you? Do you think I'll quietly go?
You are much braver than you know
For I can't die
Your staff, your stick, your special cap
They'll protect in Hell? What crap!
Believe the lie

How dare you be the one to assess
Me, in this God-forsaken mess
You, a man, in a purple dress
A man in a purple dress

When you place your frown
Between my God and prayer
However grand your crown
Or dignified your hair
Men above men, or prats
In your high hats
You priest, you mullah so high
You pope, you wise rabbi
You are invisible to me
Like vapor from the sea

I lovingly mock you noble lords
We all dress up to grant awards
I do that as well
I dare condemn your fashion sense
At least you're not astride a fence
That would not sell
But I will deliver this address
Your soul's condition don't impress
You, a man, in a purple dress
A man in a purple dress

It’s joyful balm for the anti-clerical rebel in those of us willing to question the nonsensical dictates of religious authority, but the dimensions of Pete’s spiritual side are not neglected, either. He’s no atheist, and in “God Speaks of Marty Robbins,” another acoustic gem, in the composer movingly sings of the fruits of Creation from the Creator’s vantage point:

I heard the heavens sing
Predicting Marty Robbins
I knew I'd find
Music and time
Were the perfect plan

Elsewhere on the album, perhaps “Black Widow’s Eyes” best conjures the instrumental glory of the old Who, as Zak Starkey’s drumming eerily shadows Keith Moon’s frantic rolls, and Pino Palladino offers a fine neo-Entwistle turn on bass. The “Wire & Glass” mini-opera, though uneven, nonetheless offers a kaleidoscope of vintage Who lyrical quotations, power riffs and typically unfinished Townshend ideas, and the end result is energetic and fun.

At the age of 30, Pete famously referred to himself as “a desperate old fart – but not boring!” Now he and Daltrey are in their early sixties, and as the new album’s nuances and textures strongly confirm, they’re far from boring, indeed.

That’s very good news for Who fans like me. Posted by Picasa

CM Coffey's offer to personally drive a second ambulance to be considered Thursday.

In today’s Courier-Journal, we find reporter Ben Zion Hershberg back on the New Albany beat, and 1st District councilman Dan Coffey in late-season form:

Second city ambulance could return; Council to consider New Albany plan (short shelf life for some Courier-Journal links).

A New Albany councilman hopes to get the city's second fire department ambulance back on the street through the end of the year by using revenue-sharing funds from the Caesars Indiana casino.

Dan Coffey said he plans to introduce a resolution to authorize the use of riverboat funds to keep the ambulance operating.

Going back a year or more, we see that the present “second ambulance” crisis has at its roots certain budgetary and institutional hiring issues pertaining to the city’s fire department. It’s a complicated matter that NAC does not pretend to understand completely, although at November’s first city council meeting, a consensus seems to have emerged that re-examining a moribund hiring ordinance would be the best place to start in achieving a resolution.

At any rate, such junctures offer the best moments for pausing to watch as CM Coffey leaps forward to offer a handy tourniquet for wounds that usually are of his own making, or breezily co-opting the intellectual capital of others (remember his city attorney ordinance?) for his own personal gain. He'll oppose greater remuneration for city workers today, then return in a few months to propose longevity pay reform with the Coffey brand prominently featured. Like the changing seasons, the rising price of gasoline and White Castle-borne gastrointestinal distress, the default Coffey grandstand generator is an utterly predictable and breathtakingly unsubtle facet of New Albany's political life.

Given the background of the “second ambulance” issue, CM Coffey has been on as many sides of it as a cat burglar exploring the perimeter of your house for an unlocked window, and as has been the Wizard’s persistent habit throughout two self-aggrandizing council terms, the ultimate object is not so much finding a truly workable solution to a pressing problem as it is locating the best place for a temporary bandage applied with appropriate bedside manner, i.e., middle finger raised in the direction of City Hall, by the friendly neighborhood ward heeler.

In short, it’s politics as usual from the reigning Caudillo, and the New Albany Syndrome yet again writ large – to the detriment of all, but with the 2007 electoral calendar now in play, perhaps the end times draw near for our collective embarrassment.

Monday, November 13, 2006

R.I.P.: The Swiss Cheese effect claims another downtown victim.

This is the last I’ll have to say about the St. Marks demolition issue; what’s done is done, and there are times when it’s best to move on, though not without a handful of photographic observations.

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Earlier this year NA Confidential was prepared to lead whatever charge might be mounted and sustained to keep this old building standing, primarily because there was (and remains) a vital matter of principle involved with it, if not for one important, critical, deciding factor.

The senior pastor of St. Marks, John Manzo. I've yet to meet him, but I've come to like and respect him very much.

John came to these pages several times and provided detailed explanations for his church’s actions with regard to the building at a time when the congregation’s demolition-first firebrands, who lack John’s considerable skills in rational diplomacy, were mum at best, and confrontational at worst.*

To be sure, I’ve not always agreed with John’s viewpoints, but in the end, the deep and good impression he has made (and continues to make) with his thoughts and comments swayed me, and his simple recognition that the community does has a right to be interested in decisions that impact its streetscape is much appreciated. Subsequently, we have agreed -- perhaps to me, surprisingly often -- on numerous other issues, and I've learned something from his perspective. We can agree to disagree on the demolition decision.

Now seriously, John: Many of us sincerely hope that your church elects to build something this time around. We have enough vacant lots downtown, and so far, St. Marks has been an net creator of empty space.

Thank you again for listening and reading. Good luck.

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* One of whom explained to me that the best way to regulate traffic in downtown New Albany would be to remove all the stoplights, since there's no reason to stop, anyway, and in essence proffered a view of historical preservation tantamount to Sen. McCarthy's view of Communism. I suppose that he hasn't been looking all that closely at the changing dynamic when commuting from the exurb for services at St. Marks. Willful ignorance of New Urbanism doesn't sound like an excuse to me, but then again, I grew up in Georgetown -- and have since at least tried to learn the language of the city.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

It's hard to "create solutions" when you almost never have "all" the information -- right, Cappuccino?

Amid numerous prime choices for Sunday reading in the local media, this one stands out:

So what’s it gonna be, ranger? Military man offers advice and action for newly elected officials, by Jason Thornbury (News and Tribune guest columnist).

We expect a great deal from you. We expect you to work hard. Remember that you chose this vocation and the majority of the voters chose you. Commit yourself to placing others ahead of yourself, doing the right things, creating solutions to problems, and no excuse leadership.

See the preceding post after you've read Thornbury's outstanding suggestions.

What the public didn't see. This is ...

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veterans Day, 2006: The bravery of soldiers, and the criminality of politicians.

In previous years, NAC has offered eccentric remembrances to mark the annual passage of Veterans Day, and the senior editor has provided thoughts of a more personal nature: My father, Veterans Day and good beer.

Somehow it feels different this time. It is unmistakable that the election on Tuesday was a referendum on the current conflict in Iraq, and that many more Americans than not have come to disagree at some level with the conduct of the war. Certain of these people, me among them, go a step further and remain fatally disillusioned with the illegalities and subterfuge that led the nation into Iraq. We persist in demanding accountability on the part of an administration that has publicly lied and disassembled as flagrantly and continuously as any during previous United States history.

Of course, others stand forever ready to level the accusation that speaking against war is the same as denouncing our soldiers engaged in fighting it, but this isn’t the case, and it never has been so.

There is no disrespect or absence of support for soldiers struggling to succeed and survive in a violent, unforgiving setting. At the same time, there is considerable contempt for the vapid politics of utter foolishness that are responsible for an unforgivable, deadly impasse.

The collective national cognitive dissonance engendered by the pure fact that these soldiers are dying for our right to be addicted to Middle Eastern petroleum makes their sacrifice all the more poignant – and our ongoing societal disingenuousness all the more unforgivable.

There is a hoary axiom holding that war is too important to be left to the generals, but in the case of Iraq, the libretto for Bush in Wonderland flips old wisdom on its head and suggests that in some cases, war is too important to be left to the politicians (and neo-cons). The military establishment seems to have grasped the realities of the battlefield quite vividly, only to be overruled time and again by parlor theorists with an ideological itch to scratch.

The villainous underling Uncle Rummie may have finally been dispatched to a predictably opulent retirement for those of his ilk, but his errors will continue to fester in a condition of self-inflicted infamy. We’ll be paying for them for decades to come, but he’ll do no penance and pay no penalty.

And what of terrorism?

Is terrorism a threat to us? Of course it is, and the costs of vigilance and security are being borne by all of us. But there can be no lasting solution to terrorism without a new awakening of self-examination on the part of America with respect to our place in the world, and more importantly, without a determined effort to understand the “motives, fears and capabilities” of terrorists in the context of their support networks.

The Bush regime may have enriched logistical intermediaries during the Iraq war, and crafted a fairytale vision of reality that appeals to the inherently delusional, but in the end it has failed to act in any fashion remotely worthy of the heroism and courage shown by our soldiers in the field. Those responsible for the debacle should answer for it, and yet it is unlikely that this will occur.

Once again, we’ll have to rely on the judgment of posterity for something approximating justice. It isn’t much, but we’ll take it.

These are unpleasant thoughts for Veterans Day, to be sure. I merely suggest a brief pause from college football and pre-Christmas shopping to consider them.

2005: Package Store Veterans Day.
2005: My father, Veterans Day and good beer.
2006: From the NYT: "What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat."

Friday, November 10, 2006

A remarkable week and an alternate portal.

The sun’s out, my bicycle’s finally out of the shop, the Spring Street bridge has reopened, Scribner Place is underway, Rummie and Hot Wheels are vanquished, and a smidgen of sanity seems to have been injected into America’s politics – probably only briefly, but as I wrote to several of my overseas friends who offered congratulations, we’ll take what we can get.

A fine, fine week now draws to a close.

To celebrate, I’ve thrown up a primitive portal of sorts to assist in directing those who may search for rather than the blogger URL.

Of course, this blog remains the primary NAC website and the one with complete archives, so the new site merely redirects visitors back here -- but it’s a free-standing site in its own right, and just might offer a few entertaining possibilities down the road.

Go to NA Confidential and check it out.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

City Council Wednesday: All that bile, but not a single motion to pull Scribner Place funding. Yet.

So you switched on the tube Tuesday morning, surveyed the numbers, listened to the talking heads earn their pay, and felt profound relief.

Finally, it was over. No more anger, negativity and attacks. The voters had spoken, and we could return to a semblance of normalcy.

In reality, the lull was insanely brief, and the politics of next year must be to blame.

At last evening’s first of two November city council meetings, the 2007 political campaign season was officially inaugurated amid a cornucopia of latent animosities newly unleashed, textbook examples of remarkably unsubtle posturing, cutting words harshly uttered, and alliances seemingly shifting before our very eyes.

Having won his race for County Commissioner, CM Mark Seabrook at least knows that he’ll soon be punching a ticket out of the council’s romper room, and yet his bi-monthly obligation to correct CM Dan Coffey’s and CM Steve Price’s frequent and egregious inanities meant that CM Seabrook was unable to enjoy any peace and was reduced to shaking his head in amazement – as usual.

However, of particular note was the brooding and quirky performance of CM Bill Schmidt, whose ability to spring from a catatonic state into dark malevolence and back again is reminiscent of Kurt Cobain’s violent musical (and highly amplified) modulations with Nirvana, whose classic “Territorial Pissings” might serve as the council’s unofficial anthem.

CM Schmidt’s first November outburst came during a discussion of a new packer truck for the street department, as he turned back the clock without warning to complain (“we made a damn mess of it”) about the year-old privatization of sanitation.

Moments later, CM Schmidt seized a no-look lob pass from an aggressively grandstanding CM Coffey and again attacked Mayor James Garner over funding for emergency repairs that have been declared necessary by the storm water board, repeating three times in a steadily escalating and confrontational voice that “they can’t spend a dime until they come back to us.”

It was all rather Biblical in a “you’ll be smitten” sort of way, and yet a short time after these snarls, he was laughing and joking during a brief recess.


By the way, have any readers glanced at the precinct-by-precinct vote totals from yesterday’s election?

As already noted, soon the city council will be without CM Seabrook, its lone Republican (and quite often, its lone voice of reason), who convincingly defeated Democratic Party Chairman Randy Stumler for County Commissioner.

Seabrook’s victory already has been hailed by at least one pseudonymous blogger (at Dork ‘n’ Mindy) as proof that Stumler has been punished by his party’s conservative troglodyte wing for yielding the faintest whiff of progressive inclinations, which of course is doubly ironic given that New Albany’s declared progressives also criticized him -- for not being, well, sufficiently progressive.

At any rate, Stumler’s progressive “sins” are readily tied by the drooling Luddite faction to Mayor Garner’s alleged failings, and no single group of Democrats has been as consistently uncooperative with a mayor from its own party ranks as the city council’s Gang of Four, of which a charter member is none other than CM Schmidt – whose palpable malevolence toward the mayor surely must derive from something deeply personal that goes beyond appropriations and simple politics.

Yesterday, during the course of a county-wide 54-46 defeat, Stumler won 19 of the 32 precincts that together comprise the six city council districts.

Stumler won all the precincts in CM Coffey’s 1st and in flat-earther CM Price’s 3rd, but he lost all six precincts in the 6th (CM Jeff Gahan) and dropped 4 out of 5 in the 5th (CM Bev Crump). In the 4th, where Larry Kochert, practicing master of Vitalis politics, holds supreme, Stumler won three and lost two, for a slim net advantage in total votes.

Of council districts 1 through 4, the heart of the city’s urban center, the numbers in CM Schmidt’s 2nd that are the most interesting.

There Stumler won four of six precincts, but with a net vote advantage of only seven (7) total votes. By point of comparison, albeit imperfect, Stumler’s fellow Democrat Connie Sipes carried all six precincts in the 2nd for a net advantage of 964 total votes over her opponent, Ryan Bergman.

Looking randomly at precincts throughout the city, the proportion of Stumler-to-Seabrook and Sipes-to-Bergman vote totals didn’t usually vary by more than 15% to 20% in Sipes’s favor, which makes sense given that she lives in the city and Stumler lives in the county, but in the 2nd as a whole, the ratio was completely skewed against Stumler, to the tune of several hundred percent – far more than can be fathomed by a Humanities major.

It’s all conjecture on my part, and I freely admit that the numbers are not entirely scientific and my samplings random, and it’s probably just a coincidence, but there’s one thing I know to be true: Both nationally and locally, the election yesterday was far less a referendum on Republican leadership than it was a referendum on the future, if any, of the Democratic Party.

The local party’s non-adaptable Neanderthal faction, which includes the council’s Gang of Four, perhaps was rewarded and is briefly tumescent with the results, and it may even be possible that a message was sent in the fashion suggested by Dork, but if so, it isn’t the message that the Gang and its allies thinks it is hearing, and the gratification derived stands to be short-term at best.

In Floyd County, there is a demographic long march underway, and it is absolutely no secret as to the direction it is taking the county -- and unless the Democratic Party is reinvented, and reinvented very soon, certain inexorable laws of nature are going to be very cruel to the prospects of those currently gloating over Stumler’s loss.

Local Democrats who persist in believing that their party stands for ward heeling and job-related patronage, and functions best as a refuge for ancient tribal affiliations sans reality-based brainpower, probably will be witnessing a steady erosion of their privileges.

Me? I’m not a Democrat, and yet the Democrats are my best form of protection against the return of Sodrelism. At least Stumler's good showing in the 3rd District provides hope that CM Price's Reign of Error will soon be mercifully concluded.


But, back to the council meeting last night.

Longevity pay for non-union city employees was defeated, prompting a post-meeting shouting match between a newly nuanced CM Jack Messer and the perpetually clueless CM Price, who continues to embarrass his 3rd District with statements like this: “I never hear a solution to the big picture problem.”

Somewhere grass grew as CM Coffey chewed the scenery over the issue of ambulance service, which led to corresponding arguments over hiring and pay scales, which led in turn more theatrics and finger-pointing, and you’ll have to turn to the Thursday edition of the Tribune to get the full story by the coolly impartial Eric Scott Campbell.

The meeting’s most memorable line came near the end, as a purely procedural vote flared into another rancorous reprise of the earlier ambulance scrum, and after CM Crump briefly left the room.

CM Gahan asked, “Where’d she go?”

CM Messer responded, “She just got sick.”

And Donnie Blevins added, “She remembered she had a council meeting.”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Open thread: How do you interpret the election results?

Hill and Yarmuth in, Sodrel and Northup out. Democratic control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Republican Keith Henderson the biggest vote getter in Floyd County, Democrat Connie Sipes a close second, and the GOP's Mark Seabrook a solid winner against Randy Stumler. Mills over Loop in the race for sheriff.

Subject to the usual reality-based rules of engagement ... readers, your opinions about the gist of yesterday's tallies?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

REWIND: Another NA (non-alcoholic) election day.

Don’t forget: You must have an ID to vote – and to get served.

Don't forget: If you're looking for a polling place, call the Floyd County Democratic Party at 812-207-7941.

Don't forget: When the taps finally open at 6:00 p.m., NABC's having a special promotion. Buy a signature NABC logo glass of Elector at the regular price, and keep the glass (first 50 customers).

You've forgotten, but the following first ran on May 2, 2006.


Another election day is here, and with it eleven hours of state-mandated prohibition against the sale of demon rum.

Presumably, this unwelcome vestige of an otherwise discredited social policy serves as a bulwark against the horrific possibility that unscrupulous politicos or their conniving agents might swap half-pints of Kessler (or a similarly valued slopping spree at Hugh E. Bir’s) in exchange for a poor wretch’s vote.

As there exists no commensurate prohibition against the sale of strong black coffee, chocolate-covered Krispy Kremes and hickory-smoked bacon, apparently the veiled but very real threat of breakfast-induced bribery is not worthy of the same scrutiny as that posed by the insidious grape and the grain.

If you’re hopelessly intoxicated after ingesting that half-pint of Kessler, are you really any more destructive to democracy than the perfectly sober voter who is following instructions provided by a fundamentalist preacher who has promised not temporal inebriation, but a favorable reference when the time comes to take up residence in heaven?

Monday, November 06, 2006

UPDATED: A great day for NA.

The official groundbreaking ceremony for Scribner Place was held today, and it was both well attended and appropriately upbeat. Exactly how lighthearted and positive it was can be easily grasped by a quick visit to Gina’s Letter from New Albany blog for a glimpse at an unexpected treat.

Monday evening update: Check the other usual sources (Tribune, Courier) for their takes, as well as this late piece I posted at Potable Curmudgeon.

Afterwards, a non-partisan reception took place at the Grand, reinforcing the truth that with reference to Scribner Place, political party affiliations were handily transcended. All along, it has proven to be far more difficult to mesh disparate manifestations of cultural consciousness than it has to bring Democrat and Republican together for the common good.

Cultural consciousness … well, yes, many people who worked long and hard to bring the project to fruition were there, as well as at least one whose presence suggested that the “slippery” era of Vitalis politics hasn’t yet passed us by.

Funny, but throughout the months of city council debate and the continuing effort by fellow Gang of Four inmates Coffey, Schmidt and Price to thwart the will of the community, Councilman Larry Kochert devoted precious few recorded utterances in support of Scribner Place.

Rather, the words he expended tended to take the form of deep-seated vituperation against Floyd County elected officials. CM Kochert’s attitude throughout the process was one that would lead unbiased observers to conclude that he had no great love for the concept, but was perfectly willing to hold it hostage to his dictates of his undefined grudge. Today, he sat in Bob Uecker’s “front row” seat, and for many in attendance, the massive hypocrisy emanating from the vicinity may not have seemed especially relevant.

Not here. We noticed. So should you – especially if Slippery Larry runs again.

In related news …

With the union of the YMCA, Caesar’s Foundation, LifeSpan, Floyd Memorial Hospital, New Albany and Floyd County about to be solemnized, and at precisely the moment when Pastor LaRocca intoned, “Speak now or forever hold your peace," the Third District councilman Steve Price attempted to bungee from a passing helicopter and put a stop to the ceremony, which he had previously denounced as “forcing those Frankfort Avenue people right down our Pandora’s Box.”

Unfortunately, Price’s “Sam’s Club” cord was too short, and he was thrown with visible force against the façade of Schmitt Furniture, sliding unobtrusively down the building’s side, and into a featured sale-price Ottoman on the sidewalk below.

With luck, he'll remain there until the item is delivered, but never mind; the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association represented CM Price's long-suffering district. Posted by Picasa

Scribner Place groundbreaking this morning -- BTW, has anyone seen CM Coffey lately?

It’s groundbreaking day for the Scribner Place project, and the senior editor will be there to snap a few photos. These will appear below later today.

The official ceremony takes place at 11:00 a.m. at the corner of State and Main. It was previewed yesterday in the Tribune:

Scribner Place celebration at hand; Projections: Foundation in March, steel up in May, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

After the shovels are wiped off, visible changes are expected from month to month, (redevelopment director John) Rosenbarger said. Foundation walls are due up in March, according to (the contractor) Stevens’ projections, and a steel skeleton could be in place by May.

We’ll be watching to see if Councilman Cappuccino sets up shop on the opposite corner and convenes the council’s dulcet-toned obstructionist barbershop quartet, the The Gang's Gong of Four, to sing a stirring rendition of their golden classic hit, “We Hate the Sort of People Who’ll Be Coming Here (And We Wish They’d Leave Us to Our Squalor).”

And, for the completists, another jaundiced view of Scribner Place can be found at the mist-enshrouded Fantasy Island U. by visiting the non-existent professor Denhart at Dork ‘n’ Mindy.

Don't forget that many people worked long and hard for us to arrive at this point, and they deserve thanks.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The view from elsewhere: “War tests loyalty in Bible Belt.”

Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible -- the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.
--Virginia Satir (Psychotherapist)

You would think that those who are always talking about family values would want to create an environment of permanent relationships for people of the same sex. But they're not advocating family values. They're advocating their values.
--Willie Brown (Mayor of San Francisco)

Polling is less than two days away, and living in Indiana’s 9th Congressional District means being under the microscope, with researchers both home and away eagerly spying the tea leaves.

War tests voter loyalty in Bible Belt; Social issues secondary for some conservatives, by Michael Paulson, Boston Globe (November 3, 2006). Thanks to Gina for posting this link at her blog, Letter from New Albany.

As the candidates in southern Indiana and around the nation barrel toward next Tuesday's finish line, Republicans are furiously trying to reenergize the so-called values voters, predominantly evangelical Protestants who helped propel President Bush to victory in 2004 but have since then become disenchanted with the GOP.

But concern about the war in Iraq is threatening to overwhelm the social issues. In interviews at an evangelical mega-church here Sunday, Republicans and Democrats repeatedly raised the war, even after their pastor, who had appeared at a rally with Bush the previous day, highlighted as the church's primary areas of concern two different issues: abortion and marriage.

After reading this piece, it occurs to me afresh that I, too, am a fundamentalist: I’m fundamentally opposed to mega-anything, whether it’s a multinational brewery, big box retailer or churches the size of Chinese container ports.

Apart from that not unexpected revelation, it is the surely unintended tone of Paulson’s article that fascinates me. To be sure, some will find it outrageously patronizing in the fashion of those archaic written accounts wherein the proper and civilized Anglo-Saxon treks to the bush to observe and decry the backwardness of the poverty-stricken people somehow managing to exist there – and proposing neither sanitation nor education as the presumptive cure, but a firm jolt of Christianity.

Come to think of it, the preceding scenario might have played out on Pat Robertson’s satellite network just last week.

The Globe’s reporter approaches this observation from a reverse angle in terms of religious affiliation. We here in Southern Indiana are the bizarrely primitive tribe members erecting inflammatory billboards in opposition to gays, heathens, apostates and Democrats, and constructing opulent edifices in the plush exurb to an ostensibly sanitized and casually dressed evangelism that nonetheless holds at its core a strain of naked and virulent intolerance.

As an aside, perhaps I’ll live long enough to see the day when Christian fundamentalism is able to square its idealized doctrine with the venom it otherwise spews toward those who are different, who apparently make the mistake of insisting that the Jesus of the ploughshare makes more sense than the one wielded by believers like a bloody sword.

A senseless and criminally executed war? Verily, it is the perfect place for Christian evangelicals to begin tepidly plumbing the depths of their consciences for clues as to the morality, if any, of the current regime's unaccountability. As the Globe correspondent aptly portrays, the cognitive dissonance over Iraq is growing in intensity. Perhaps focusing less on myths and more on reality would be useful.

Far from being insulted by such portrayals (real or imagined) of my community – that we are viewed as existing somewhere outside the range of blue-state civilization – I feel instead a profound sense of vindication, for in my own small way, I’ve always persisted in trying to provide an alternative view, to shine a wobbly light on inconvenient truths, and to propose that just because we’ve always done it that way, it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it.

I will continue doing so, because life is far too short for exclusion, persecution and regression to be passed off as the norm -- and it is simply ignoble to flee from a challenge. Achievement and empowerment come from progressively expanding and bolstering the perimeter of human experience and self-confidence, not by contracting and attacking it.

Leaves are waiting. Have a marvelous autumnal pre-election Sunday.

Another sign 'o' the campaign times ...

... and a whole new take on "street spam," but just a few months too early, oui?

Actually, no. It isn't too early.

If you think the current election campaign is wild and wooly, the riotous local 2007 apple bob begins no later than 6:01 p.m. on Tuesday, and perhaps earlier if one or more hopefuls decide to use his or her two minutes of Scribner Place groundbreaking ceremony speaking time (or the post-fete, longneck-strewn bartop at Hugh E's) to make an announcement of intentions.

At any rate, NAC's decision to publish this shocking photo is not to be construed as an endorsement.

Chances are you already know that.

Geez, whatever happened to the one-time candidate and visionary Verle Huffman, and his proposal to return square dancing to downtown New Albany?

Photo credit: The senior editor claims the candid shot as his own, as snapped during the recently concluded Harvest Homecoming booth days in downtown New Albany.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Join the senior editor at the Scribner Place groundbreaking on Monday morning, Nov. 6.

The official groundbreaking ceremony for New Albany's Scribner Place redevelopment project will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Monday morning, November 6 at the corner of State and Main.

Following the ceremony (I’m guessing circa noon), there will be a “taste of New Albany” lunch and reception at the Grand Convention Center at 138 E. Market, with food and nibbles from New Albany restaurants, and a cash bar (with at least one beer from New Albany’s only brewery). The public is invited.

Readers are invited to consider what all this means to us as a community.

Posterity will identify many reasons to judge the legacy of the Scribner Place project, which NAC initially opposed on the grounds that it was not sufficiently comprehensive to reverse decades of institutional neglect in downtown New Albany. We were thinking of something more in keeping with the Marshall Plan in postwar Europe.

Thankful instead that the process of personal growth continues throughout one’s life, we have since come to see the Scribner Place project as a demographically astute and uncommonly cost-effective partnership between public and private concerns (dare we say, a “win-win”?), and one that offers numerous benefits to just the sort of visitor, investor and resident most needed if the revitalization of downtown New Albany is to succeed.

It is true that the bedraggled and increasingly irrelevant supply-side economists of the wasted Reagan years surely will continue to stir when their Coulter-inspired Viagra wears off, and to bray their remarkably dull objections to the notion of local government investing in redevelopment projects like Scribner Place.

As those who fancy a “progressive” pint and prefer the social contract as a means of civilizing mankind’s fundamental brutishness, we at NAC heartily disagree. If in fact this is “our” government, then it follows that the Scribner Place project represents investment in our selves, and in the heart of a city that sorely needs it.

The Scribner Place project has been preceded by private investment, and in its wake, the project will increase the rate of private investment. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and no one connected with the project has ever depicted it as a panacea, and yet as presently calibrated, it is difficult to imagine better bang for the available bucks.

It is lamentable, yet in the end perhaps understandable, that as the conceptual essence of the Scribner Place project became more clear over time, it dramatically exposed to public view the petty vindictiveness of a minority of less capable local political non-luminaries.

Their ultimately unsuccessful rearguard action against the urban renewal symbolized by Scribner Place – their largely self-serving and petty political charade characterized by efforts to interject populist culture war into a simple funding equation -- illustrated to all of us the hurdles of retrograde consciousness that must be transcended by those for whom a vision borne of faith in education is the starting point for defining success and progress.

No one doubts that much heavy lifting is ahead.

On Monday morning, look at the buildings on Main Street that face south, toward the Ohio River that nurtured New Albany in the city’s youth – those days when people actually could -- and you’ll plainly see dozens of windowless views of the emerging Scribner Place development.

Previously in this space, we commended Lambert Distributing for exposing the company’s long shrouded upper-floor panes to the light of day. As Scribner Place takes shape, there will be ever greater incentive for other building owners right across the street to do the same by taking down the sheet metal and the plywood and reopening their spaces not just to the light and the reflection of Scribner Place, but to the outside world that New Albany so often has seemingly refused to acknowledge.

The skeptics are about to be proven wrong. See you on Monday … and kudos to Mayor Garner for staying the course on Scribner Place.