Archive for the 'Hoosier lore' Category

What budget crisis?

November 21, 2008

This is never, ever going to end, is it?

The Indiana House will once again invite clergy members and other guests to give opening prayers before legislative work begins, a tradition that had been halted temporarily because of a lawsuit challenging the practice.

A U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled last year that taxpayers who sued over the prayers did not have the legal standing. So on Tuesday, as lawmakers gathered for an organization day at the Statehouse before the January session begins, the House started its business with a prayer from the Rev. Matthew Barnes of Indianapolis.

[. . .]

The ACLU of Indiana, which represented the taxpayers in the previous lawsuit, says it could bring another lawsuit if sectarian prayers continue in the General Assembly.

I’ve heard all the arguments from both sides so often I can recite them in my sleep, and I’ve written about the issue until I’m sick to death of it. You can choose whichever side you think is the most right if you want to keep playing that game, but the fact is that whether prayers are said or not and what kind and who says them do not matter to Hoosiers’ real lives one whit. So whichever side just walks away and says, “We have more important things to do, so we’re not doing this anymore,” will win our undying gratitude.

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The bum’s rush

November 20, 2008

You’re doing a lousy job, so never mind waiting for the regular election. You’re outta here!

GARY — Local lawmakers are promising to push legislation empowering voters to remove officials from office in the middle of their terms.

State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said he’s responding to constituents, who want a way to force Gary Mayor Rudy Clay out of office.

On first hearing, the suggestion seems a reasonable way to make politicians pay attention, and there would be a feeling of power if we knew we could throw the bums out at a moment’s notice. But it also seems like a guarantee of chaotic government, rule of the slight of the moment. The normal election schedule seems like a good enough recall mechanism that probably shouldn’t be messed with.

Don’t need yer stinkin’ edjemuhcation

November 20, 2008

Even if they don’t go to jail over the truancy, these parents probably deserve a little time for sheer stupidity:

A rural Richmond couple is facing a possible jail term for refusing to obey state truancy laws.

The case involves the alleged failure of Eli and Stephanie Collins, 3398 N. Salisbury Road, No. 44, to make their child go to school.

[. . .]

The child enrolled Aug. 19 and was withdrawn Oct. 3. In that time the child was absent 12 days. Further investigation revealed that the child had 87½ days of absence during two years in the Richmond Community Schools system and was tardy 60 times, according to the affidavit of probable cause in the case.

During a four-year period, the child changed schools 15 times, the affidavit said.

Indiana’s laws on home schooling are so lax and forgiving that we might as well not have any. All this couple had to do was inform the superintendent that they were home schooling their child. Then they could have done whatever they wanted to, or nothing at all. It seems almost unfair to punish them.

We don’t need home-schooling laws as strict and unreasonable as those in a few states, but they could use some tightening. But most of the home schoolers I know — and they range from the political left to the right — are very conscientious about their children’s education. So maybe I’m advocating a solution in search of a problem.

Check it out

November 20, 2008

I can understand people having strong objections to consolidating school districts or combining city and county governments. There is a sense that government will get so big and complicated that the ordinary citizen’s concerns will get overlooked. But consolidating libraries at the county level — having a county library system with numerous branches instead of a county library and several city libraries — seems like a logical move to me. The last two places I lived — in LaPorte County and here — have consolidated their libraries, and as a result have better services, more materials and better value for the taxpayers. But many members of the Indiana library community don’t see it that way:

Since December 2007, when the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform issued a report on streamlining local government, many library leaders expressed wariness about the report’s call to reorganize library systems by county and to ensure that unserved residents get service. Many librarians suggest that giving up local control for a “one size fits all” strategy is wrong, with some of the most vociferous blogging at Save Our Small Public Libraries.

[. . .]

The Indiana Library Federation has expressed caution, stating that, it “supports legislation that will provide additional options for unserved areas to be afforded libraries.” However, it also “supports a thorough evaluation of the cost-savings of the recommendations and an approach that allows each library and or library district input into the determination as to what is the best approach for it and its patrons. The Federation encourages legislation that allows for local variations in public libraries.”

It’s natural for the librarians to want local control and the ability to respond to the specific needs and desires of their patrons. But everything I’ve seen in LaPorte and Allen counties indicates that those libraries’ patrons are being well taken care of, and I don’t know why it would be any different for other counties that might come under the commission’s recommendations.

Libraries are facing enormous challenges right now, and might find it harder and harder to justify continued taxpayer support. The Internet and the digital revolution have eaten away at many of the libraries’ core functions. People can do far better research themselves and in much quicker time than by relying on the library. Why check out a video and face the hassle of returning it when you can just download it? Libraries are going to have to rethink their basic missions — perhaps more strongly emphasizing the gathering-place function, for example. Consolidating at the county level might turn out to be part of the answer for them, not a threat to overcome.

Fenceless in Madison

November 20, 2008

This Associated Press story about a certain problem at the Madison Correctional Facility has a wonderfully understated line — “A fenceless prison presents some security problems.” Gee, do ya think?

The Madison Correctional Facility announced Wednesday it’s putting up a fence because joggers, bicyclists and even parents pushing baby strollers inadvertently enter the grounds of the minimum-security women’s prison.

“The facility has made several efforts to reduce this type of traffic through the facility by increasing signage, adding a landscape berm and sections of wrought-iron fencing around the perimeter,” a prison statement said. “Still people often venture unknowingly into the middle of the correctional facility while leaving their vehicles unlocked.”

Keeping civilians off the prison grounds is a bigger problem than one might think.

Of course, there’s prison, and then there’s prison. A minimum-security facility for women is not exactly what you’d use to scare little kids. When I lived in Michigan City, we all knew exactly where the prison was, and nobody jogged or biked within a mile of the place. The Madison facility even sounds kinda friendly, doesn’t it, perhaps even a job-creating, economic-development tool? If Harrison Square keeps falling apart, maybe we should consider something like that.

BE GODS, By God!

November 19, 2008

UPDATE to “The God trap” post:

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles commissioner today backed off its denial of a woman’s request for a personalized license plate reading “BE GODS.”

The decision resulted from a lawsuit filed this week by Liz Ferris, who had that same plate on her car for eight or nine years but forgot to renew it on time for 2008. When she submitted a new personalized plate application, the BMV denied her request because of a recent policy change banning any references to religion or a deity on new personalized plates.

That policy took effect in November 2007, just after the renewal deadline passed for Ferris. Commissioner Ron Stiver said in a statement released today that the BMV would give Ferris a new plate bearing her old message — which she intended to mean “Be God’s” or “belong to God.”

[. . .]

But Stiver’s statement defended the policy, saying Ferris would get a pass under a grandfather rule that allows renewals of existing plates even if they run afoul of the policy change.

God has been grandfathered in! How patriarchal.

We’re ahead — so far

November 19, 2008

First, I saw this story:

A chilly, mostly dry day helped this year’s four-day deer cull at the Indiana Dunes State Park get off to a good start, according to property manager Brandt Baughman.

[. . .]

Indiana Dunes is one of 17 state parks selected by Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists for organized deer reduction hunts to protect sensitive species of plants.

Then I saw this one:

Since 2003, deer-vehicle accidents in Indiana are up 25 percent compared with 15 percent for the rest of the nation, according to State Farm Insurance, which used insurance claims to come up with its statistics. One in 129 Indiana drivers was likely to collide with a deer between July 1, 2007, and June 30 – the 11th-highest rate in the nation, according to State Farm.

They’re paying attention, I tell you, and they’re mad as hell. They won’t quite culling our herd until the score is at least even.

The God trap

November 19, 2008

Boy, do I feel silly. Yesterday, I did a post about the suit against Indiana’s “In God We Trust” license plates being tossed. I said it didn’t seem like a big deal to me, and in the discussion thread I went back and forth with Doug and Alex, essentially putting myself out on a limb defending the state, a dangerous position to find oneself in. Now the state has gone and sawed that limb off:

For years, Liz Ferris saw her personalized license plate — BE GODS — as a quiet declaration of faith, a shorthand message urging people to “belong to God.”

But now the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles says there’s no place for God on personalized plates.

[. . .]

The BMV, which approved Ferris’ license plate eight or nine years ago, now is rejecting her message, saying that it violates a new policy that bars any reference to religion or a deity on personalized plates, a policy she says violates her First Amendment rights.

[. . .]

A BMV policy committee reviewing personalized license plate rules in December 2007 opted to make all religious and deity references off-limits, said Dennis Rosebrough, the agency’s spokesman.

“If you permit one,” he said, “you have to permit all. We believe the better judgment is to not have any references to deity.”

The committee aimed to streamline and clarify regulations. The BMV views such plates as a limited public forum and bars all references to religion, politics, gender and sexual orientation.

There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference in the sentiments “In God We Trust” and “BE GODS,” is there? So what the state is saying that it can sponsor a religious sentiment on the license plates, but an individual can’t express the same religious sentiment as a vanity plate. If the state were actually trying to show it wanted to put the state’s imprimatur on certain religious observances, it couldn’t do a better job than this. Maybe Doug is right that we need to go back to one boring plate that just identifies one’s vehicle. Anything more, and the state either has to let anything or start deciding who can put what on the plates. It takes the simple task of taxing people for the privilege of driving and turns it into a complicated bureaucratic mess that just invites lawsuites. Maybe we should all be libertarian on this one — simplify, simplify.

Flags of our hotheads

November 19, 2008

Remember Greg Townsend, the Decatur hothead who flew the American flag upside down outside his tire shop in protest of Barack Obama’s win? He has come to the attention of James Taranto, who compiles Best of the Web for The Wall Street Journal. Tranto is not persuaded by Townsend’s argument that he was flying a “distress signal” as described in statutes governing the flag:

This is an improper use of the flag. As one USA Flag Site contributor notes, Section 8(a) of the U.S. Flag Code states: “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”

Even if one grants Townsend’s claim that legal abortion and the bailout pose a danger to life and property, they clearly do not represent an extreme danger but an ordinary one–one that predates (and in the case of abortion, predates by more than 35 years) the election of Barack Obama. Further, a lawful election is not an occasion for “dire distress,” and no one seeing Townsend’s upside-down flag is in a position to save the lives or property he believes are in jeopardy.

Greg Townsend is not signaling distress, merely expressing an opinion. The U.S. Constitution guarantees his right to do so, including by misusing the flag. If burning the flag is protected by the First Amendment, surely so is the lesser insult of displaying it improperly.

It is disrespectful of the flag, but so is using it in advertising and putting it on T-shirts, if to a lesser degree. It’s no more a constitutional crisis than putting “In God We Trust” on license plates. I wouldn’t patronize Townsend’s tire shop even if I lived in Decatur, and I doubt I would like talking to him. He claims to be a patriot and probably is, but he doesn’t really understand what patriotism means. That flag is the symbol of everything this country stands for, including the peaceful transfer of power he finds so distasteful this time around. Don’t mess with the flag.

A pointless exercise

November 18, 2008

Gary’s police department is having budget problems and can’t keep the same size force. So officers are turning on each other.

A group of city dwellers who filed a lawsuit demanding termination for all nonresidents will argue their case before Lake Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Arredondo next month.

“It is a fact that Gary City Ordinance 5881 … requires police officers to live within the corporate boundaries of the City of Gary or lose their employment,” a court document states.

I’m not sure why the case is still alive, exactly. That city ordinance is trumped by legislation from the General Assembly, which, in its infinite wisdom, carved out separate residency requirements for public safety employees. They are allowed to live either in the county of employment or any contiguous county. I don’t agree with that. Public employees are different from private-sector employees, and they all should be required to live in the same jurisdictions as the taxpayers who pay their salaries. And they should at least all be subject to the same rules, whether we like them or not. But the state did what it did, and a city can’t supersede its dictates.

God be with you

November 18, 2008

You may now keep God with you on your car trips, which, considering the skill and attentiveness level of Indiana drivers, is probably a good thing:

Hoosier drivers don’t have to pay extra to sport In God We Trust license plates, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

In a unanimous decision, the three-judge panel upheld the General Assembly’s 2006 decision to exempt the newly created plate from the $15 administrative fee Indiana charges on most specialty plates.

The suit was brought by an Allen County resident who had to pay extra fees for his Environmental Trust specialty plate and contended that “In God We Trust” is a “private religious message” that should also be subject to extra fees. That seems like a tricky argument to make, since the message is our national motto and can be found on the money we carry around every day (well, good days). If you haven’t been coerced out your Godless ways by now, the license plate probably won’t pull you in, either. Another hair the ACLU couldn’t split!

Home rule, up in smoke

November 18, 2008

Our editorial today remarks on the inevitability (though not necessarily the desirability) of a statewide public smoking ban, because of rather than in spite of the 36 counties or communities that already have smoke-free ordinances of some kind:

But the ironic truth is that the more local smoking ordinances there are, the more likely there will eventually be a statewide ban.

[. . .]

The increase in local bans makes people more familiar with the concept and lessens opposition.

[. . .]

Local control” is still the best operating principle – it assumes that communities know what is best for their residents. But it is not exactly the norm. That is especially true in Indiana, where every ounce of home rule for cities and counties is given up by the state only grudgingly.

But the trend everywhere is bigger and more uniform and more central. States are more powerful at the expense of cities and counties, and the federal government looms over states. As of last month, 29 states, along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have smoke-free laws in effect. So don’t count out the possibility that there will be a nationwide smoke-free law sometime in the future.

Sure enough, The Richmond Palladium-Item also has an editorial today, saying that “Smoking ban deserves uniform action.”

Persuasive arguments have been waged here and elsewhere, for example, as to whether a private club is deserving of the same privacy protections of an individual’s home, or whether such a club would fall under the broad umbrella of “public places.”

For any anti-smoking effort to survive statewide it is going to have to be relatively simple and very fair, and that can be a tall order, as local governments wrestling with anti-smoking ordinances have discovered.

But how can a state law be both “simple” and also take into account such complexities as the fact that some communities might want to exempt private clubs and some might not? I suppose the law could set a minimum set of rules, which communities would be allowed to exceed in toughness. But that wouldn’t be much different from what we already have, except that no jurisdiction would be allowed the option of having no rules at all. What does it matter to those of in Fort Wayne or to the pooh-bahs in Indianapolis if folks in, say, Spencer County want to accompany their brain-cell-killing excursions with a little smoke? Home rule, it’s a beautiful thing.

The real deal

November 18, 2008

From Wikipedia:

The saying “Do not drink the Kool-Aid” now commonly refers to the Jonestown tragedy, meaning “Do not trust any group you find to be a little on the kooky side,” or “Whatever they tell you, do not believe it too strongly.” Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly is known for using the term in this manner.

Having “drunk the Kool-Aid” also refers to being a strong or fervent believer in a particular philosophy or mission — wholeheartedly or blindly believing in its virtues.

Kind of disheartening that such an infamous expression has Indiana roots. The Indianapolis Star has an interesting 30th anniversary story about Jonestown exploring the memories of a Hoosier couple who lost 20 extended-family members to Jim Jones’ madness. The couple recall a lot of details of Jones’ change from someone who just seemed to be preaching the truth as he saw it:

In a Peoples Temple bathroom, June discovered a box of chicken livers that looked amazingly like the “cancers” that Jones would pull from the mouths of sick people cured at healing services.

“I kept saying to myself to keep quiet,” she recalls. “I didn’t want to be a doubting Thomas.”

Then there were Jones’ incessant morning phone calls to issue what June called his daily “orders.” He wanted Gene to do things such as change light bulbs in the church, fix his car or tweak the choir practice to suit his needs. The calls became an irritant to June, who had three kids in diapers at the time. “I got disgusted with him,” she said.

Scary stuff. In the overheated world of political rhetoric, this or that group of political adherents is sometimes said to be “drinking the Kool Aid” by blindly following a charismatic leader (Obamamanicas being the latest group). It just takes a peek at the real deal to show how exaggerated such claims are.

In the spirit

November 18, 2008

You think times are tough for City Hall in Fort Wayne? Just imagine how they felt in LaPorte, which is so economically stressed that the city decided it couldn’t hang Chrismas lights downtown this year. But then:

The mayor says local contractors Monday morning offered to fix the electrical receptacles for free and have been repairing the 30 to 40 that need to be repaired.

[. . .]

The mayor says these are difficult times and they’ve been operating without money for over a year. But fortunately in these difficult times people have come forward to help and get them back their Christmas lights.

“It’s fantastic. I think it was a shame, but I thank those who came to our defense. LaPorte is good at that,” said LaPorte resident Merle Prozil.

I know some will decry the privatization of another vital service that government should be providing. It’s surprising, now that I think about it, that nobody has yet sued a city government for paying for Christmas decorations.  Oh, wait. I’ll bet they’re really just “winter holiday” decorations. What was I thinking of?

Civic lesson

November 18, 2008

We might not like the bailout of the Detroit Three, but we know it’s necessary, don’t we? It’s impossible to make money building cars in America these days. Oh, wait:

With the domestic automotive industry teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, Monday’s grand opening of Honda Motor Co.’s Civic assembly plant in Greensburg was a dream come true for this town of 12,000 and for a state that has been hit hard by manufacturing job losses similar to those faced by Michigan.

[. . .]

Earlier this year, as high gas prices decimated automotive sales for the Detroit Three, sales of the Civic, a car that has been a symbol of fuel economy and reliability since 1973, soared. So on Monday, as Honda celebrated the opening of its $550-million, nonunion plant, capable of producing 200,000 vehicles annually, the contrast between the healthy Asian automaker and its ailing domestic rivals caused workers and politicians alike to welcome the arrival of Honda.

Since 1999, the number of automotive workers employed in Indiana has declined from 105,100 in 1999 to 81,200 in 2007. And even though the starting hourly wage at the plant is $18.41, or roughly $10 less than an average Detroit Three worker, demand for these jobs was off the charts.

Holy cow — sounds like they make cars people want. What a concept. And, yes, it’s too bad about those salaries, the workers having to accept a mere $18.41 per hour. But, though it’s $10 less than what the average Detroit Three worker gets, guess what else it is: $18.41 more than nothing.

Hard time

November 18, 2008

You know, you just try to do what you can, make the best of a bad situation, then along comes The Man and shuts you down:

Undaunted by a concrete wall separating their respective cellblocks, male and female inmates took advantage of a design flaw in an Indiana jail to engage in late-night sexual trysts. The Greene County inmates–three men and three women–pried open metal security tiles in the ceiling of their respective dormitory-style housing units to gain access to the adjoining cellblock, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Circuit Court.

Go check out the story at The Smoking Gun and take a look at the six mug shots. You’ve heard that the girls all get prettier at closing time? Apparently, both men and women become more attractive if you’re locked up with them.

Honk, honk!

November 17, 2008

You’ll be glad to know Indiana isn’t being left behind in the great cultural battle of the moment:

SOUTH BEND — Every time a car honked, they cheered. A group of about 20 people stood at the corner of Main Street and Jefferson Boulevard in downtown South Bend on Saturday, waving signs in support of same-sex marriage.

Wow, 20 people — that’s some rally. Honk if you love gays, then let’s go burn a Mormon church!

The number probably reflects an acknowledgement of reality by the gay and lesbian community — none of them are ever going to be married legally unless they leave the state to do it. The General Assembly will never act on same-sex marriage, unless it’s to introduce another bill to ban it in the state constitution. A judge isn’t likely to impose it, and if that ever did happen, the state Supreme Court would probably overturn it. Barring something startling from the U.S. Supreme Court, Indiana will be one of the last states in the union to abandon “marriage between one man and one woman.”

I’ve never understood the “take to the streets” mentality — the right to peaceably assemble has to be one of the most overrated rights in the Constitution. When I was a young’un, I was frequently asked to march in protest of the Vietnam War, and my reaction was, “Are you nuts?” Honk if you love peace, then let’s burn a draft card! The war wouldn’t end, and I’d be exhausted. I did sign a petition or two, though, if some enterprising blograker wants to dig them up and embarrass me.

The system did it

November 17, 2008

By now, should be used to bad parents offering lame excuses for their failure and neglect. Still, some are so outrageous that we can’t help but be repelled:

INDIANAPOLIS – A northern Indiana woman who left her 8-year-old son at a Nebraska hospital under that state’s safe haven law says she did so because she doesn’t trust Indiana’s child welfare system.

Stephanie Mote, 30, told Fort Wayne television station WANE in a Friday interview that she doesn’t trust the system in Indiana based on her own experience as a child.

“I took him there where I knew he would be safe because I didn’t trust the welfare system in Indiana and I didn’t want him to go through what I went through when I was growing up through the welfare system in Indiana,” she said. “So I felt like it would be the best thing to do would be to take him there where he would be safe.”

Almost every story about this incident has a variation on the same headline — “Woman explains why she left son in Nebraska” — but of course there’s no real explanation possible. A friend of hers is even quoted as saying she didn’t abandon her son — “She just wanted to get him help.” Right. She didn’t turn him out here because there would have been legal consequences. She took him all the way to Nebraska because a glitch in that state’s law would give her immunity, but she didn’t abandon her son? She offers the alleged failures of Indiana’s child welfare system as an excuse for why she can’t be a decent mother? She has knowledge of how good Nebraska’s system is?

This is either one of the most telling examples of denial on record or a woman so used to just saying anything that she expects us to believe anything. Her son is back with Indiana officials, which is, unfortunately, probably the best place for him.

No, not this time

November 17, 2008

Boy, couldn’t see this one coming, huh?

Bankruptcy. Red ink. Painful shakeout.

Those terms, normally associated with old-line manufacturing, now are popping up to describe what was seen just three years ago as a sure bet for Indiana: high-tech ethanol plants.

Ethanol producers across the Midwest are being squeezed by falling prices, tight credit, overbuilding and the volatile market for corn. As a result, many have seen their profits shrink and their stock prices fall. Several have slid into bankruptcy and have scrapped deals and projects.

Some of the problems with ethanol were foreseeable (we’re messing with the food supply to fix the fuel supply, after all) and some were not (the financial collapse is hurting everyone). But it was certainly a risk, one that would not even have been possible to take without government subsidies. Why am I scared about the auto bailout? Not because government screws up just about everything it touches. Because people who should know better just keep thinking maybe next time government will get it right. Like a bunch of damn Cubs fans.

Better off dead

November 17, 2008

What is it about James Dean? He came and went, phhht. And yet:

FAIRMOUNT — James Dean just won’t go away. Even though the young movie actor died 53 years ago after making only three motion pictures, still the James Dean legend goes on and on.

Sorry to break it to all these earnest scribes, but James Dean went away a long time ago. The only thing that won’t die is the pathetic attempt to keep his “legend” status alive. Never has there been such a thin resume — our need for teenage “rebels” is not exactly at its zenith, and being “forever young” only has so much mileage in it. Had Dean lived, he probably would have made several dubious career choices, starred in a few bad Westerns in Italy and Spain, ended up in a treacly TV series and, now, approaching 80, be doing Viagra commercials.

Mixed drinks

November 17, 2008

Support continues to grow, slowly but steadily, to allow grocery and liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sunday. The Indianapolis Star and WTHR (Channel 13) recently commissioned a poll on the subject:

The poll showed 46 percent of Hoosiers support changing that law, while 45 percent favor keeping it. Nine percent were undecided.

That shows a slight change from two years ago, when a poll conducted by The Star found that 50 percent of Hoosiers favored the Sunday ban and 43 percent opposed it.

I’m with those who think the Sunday ban is just a remnant of our old blue laws for which there is little justification today; Indiana is one of about 15 states still clinging to the ban. Some of the strongest opposition to lifting the ban comes from package store owners, who are glad they don’t have to open on Sundays now to stay competitive.

But a good political rule of thumb is that if people are evenly divided on an issue, it’s best to stay with the current law. At least there are known sets of protagonists whose arguments we already know. That rule should be thrown out if current law creates a real hardship for some people or violates some fundamental right, but that isn’t the case here.

On a first-name basis

November 17, 2008

The Journal Gazette does a typical “life is tough in the shadows when you fear being rounded up any minute” heart-tugger:

Pilar can turn on her radio or television and hear Spanish broadcasts. At most specialty grocery stores or Mexican taquería , she can pick up a local Spanish-language newspaper.

But for Pilar and her counterparts in northeast Indiana’s community of illegal Hispanic immigrants, nothing beats good, old-fashioned chisme  – gossip.

“Everyone gossips,” Pilar said in Spanish. (Because of her immigration status, The Journal Gazette is using only her first name.)

I wonder if the JG would pull that “first names only” stunt if this were a bank robber or a burglar. As a matter of fact, would law enforcement let them get away with it, or would some reporter be hauled in front of a grand jury? Says a lot about where we are on this issue, doesn’t it? It’s like the old littering laws, but on a much grander scale. The law is routinely ignored by everybody, but everybody knows it’s there and can be called upon on the whims of the powers that be. Really reinforces a respect for the law, doesn’t it?

Here’s a plan

November 14, 2008

Some good advice for Republicans:

Expel your base or retreat into an echo chamber: If those choices seem dispiriting, Republicans can take heart. They’re the same false alternatives that the Democrats allegedly faced four years ago. Then a politician who hadn’t fallen behind the bipartisan Iraq war — but, unlike Howard Dean, actually wanted to be president — came out of nowhere to beat his party’s establishment and take the White House.

There’s a lesson there. If I were a Republican, I’d ignore the inane Palin debate and start looking around for a politician who had the good sense to break with the bipartisan consensus and oppose the bailout bill before it passed. Then I’d start planning an insurgency.

Mike Pence in 2012! Your insurgency awaits.

Methed-up hunting season

November 14, 2008

Perils of the modern age:

The start of Indiana’s firearm deer season is this weekend, and authorities are warning hunters not to touch the remains of meth labs that they may find in the woods. Indiana State Police say containers used to cook meth may look harmless, but could contain dangerous chemicals or explode.

“Hey, Earl, watch me shoot that bottle!”

Nearly back to normal

November 13, 2008

Hanover Central High School comes to its senses:

A northwest Indiana high school is relaxing its ban on purses.

The Hanover School Board raised the ire of female students and their parents at Hanover Central High School in Cedar Lake when it imposed the ban earlier this year.

The school board voted unanimously this week to allow girls to carry strapless handbags that are not larger than 9 by 7 inches and no more than 3 inches deep. They will also allow pencil cases and pouches of similar size.

I dunno, though. 9 by 7 by 3 inches doesn’t seem nearly big enough for the crap most females want to carry around.