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Saturday, March 31, 2007 
stop the amendment

This fundraising appeal has been suspended.

Attorneys for the AVA have raised concerns over whether this activity would jeopardize our 501(c)(3) status since this could be considered political lobbying.

We are continuing to work with other organizations to find a way to implement this action. All funds already raised will be given to another organization that will implement this plan or it will be refunded to the donors.

We apologize for any confusion or misunderstandings.

Thursday, March 29, 2007 
god warriors: keepin' it sharp
bilerico's jen jorczak was reading yesterday's star story about tuesday's pro-SJR-7 rally when she noticed a familiar face. the scowling girl waving the flag in the star photo looked an awful lot like the scowling girl that nuvo photographed at a different rally back in 2004.

like jen, i suspected that this was no coincidence, and something more was going on here. i could be way off base, but i suspect that 17-year-old girls don't just spontaneously decide to become rabid religious protesters. they're groomed to be that way. so i set out to do some googling.

the star photo caption lists the girl as la'share sharp (now 20) of crawfordsville, so i plugged that into google and immediately found this courier-journal article, which features yet another photo of the girl... also from tuesday's rally. it's not surprising that multiple photographers would focus on this girl, as she clearly tries to draw attention to herself: as bil points out, in the nuvo photograph she's actually trying to block a pro-gay marriage protestor from view.

the courier-journal also includes a quote from a 17-year-old crawfordsville kid named "praise sharp", a student at "day star christian academy", who i suspected was snarling girl's sister. this gave me some more search terms to try out, and i discovered that praise, "la shar", and another sharp girl won 2nd prize for their "novelty group" at the 2005 youth talents contest at the state fair. more on that in a minute.

at that point i had to step away from the computer for awhile, but as i had not gotten to the bottom of the story, i eventually came back for more googling. like i said on bilerico, "i'm not really interested in La'Shar (i've come to the conclusion this is the proper spelling) or her sisters. they're just confused kids." it was apparent that someone had groomed la'shar to be a god warrior, and presumably went to all these protests with her, and i wanted to know who it was.

i found a 2002 journal-review article about the girl, but i wasn't about to pay $5 to access it. (later i realized i could read it here.) then i struck pay dirt: a profile on la'shar:

Sharp is the daughter of Larry and Sharon Sharp. She is a freshman at Indiana Bible College, studying theology and international studies. She plans on moving to a secular university eventually where she will major in politics and criminal justice. After obtaining a bachelor degree, Sharp plans on attending law school. She was valedictorian at Daystar Christian Academy in May of 2005.

now we're getting somewhere. first, the name: larry + sharon = la'shar. (which i suspect is pronounced "la cher", which would explain the spelling confusion).

second, who's larry sharp? he's the pastor of the "united pentecostals" in crawfordsville. and who's sharon sharp? she's "teacher at the church's private Christian school Day Star Academy". note that it says "teacher", not "a teacher", suggesting that sharon is the only teacher at the school. so perhaps it's not surprising that la'shar was valedictorian there. (a photo of larry & sharon is available by going here and either selecting "sharp" for pastor or "crawfordsville" for city.)

ironically, here is the lead sentence of the journal-review article where i learned all this:

Community members seeking an all-inclusive church should make their way to United Pentecostals at the corner of Walnut and Pike streets.

right... they're so "all-inclusive" that they regularly drive down to indy to vociferously protest against gay marriage.

so the church and school are part of the united pentecostal church international (as is indiana bible college). according to wikipedia, the UPCI believes that not only do people need to be "born again" to achieve salvation, they must speak in tongues as well. yes, speaking in tongues is not optional (sez wikipedia). they also have some strict rules regarding dress and behavior:

The UPCI holds that salvation is accomplished by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and not by works (Titus 3:5). The UPCI teaches a code of conduct based upon what it believes to be scriptural teaching, although detractors allege that many of these beliefs are mandated by church officials. The UPCI professes holiness standards as a privilege and that obedience to those standards is for the benefit of the individual. This includes beliefs that women should not cut their hair and should wear dresses or skirts, not pants, according to a scriptural mandate to "Not wear that which pertaineth to a man" (Deuteronomy 22:5) and "adorn [yourself] in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety" (1 Timothy 2:8-10). Men and women alike are discouraged from wearing jewelry, scripturally "gold, or pearls, or costly array" (1 Timothy 2:8-10).

One contested holiness viewpoint in the UPCI involves ownership of a television set. Licensed UPCI ministers are not allowed to have televisions in their homes. This view has been passed down to the local congregations through the ministers, who frown on their membership possessing televisions. In the same vein, many ministers do not want their constituency attending movies or going to movie theaters. These teachings vary from church to church.

Here are some quotations taken from the UPCI minsters manual, 1995 revision:

"We wholeheartedly disapprove of our people indulging in any activities which are not conducive to good Christianity and Godly living, such as theaters, dances, mixed bathing, women cutting their hair, make-up, any apparel that immodestly exposes the body, all worldly sports and amusements, and unwholesome radio programs and music. Furthermore, because of the display of all these evils on television, we disapprove of any of our people having television sets in their homes. We admonish all of our people to refrain from any of these practices in the interest of spiritual progress and the soon coming of the Lord for His church."[3]

"We disapprove of school students attending shows, dances, dancing classes, theatres, engaging in school activities against their religious scruples, and wearing gymnasium clothes which immodestly expose the body. We disapprove of school students being forced to take coeducational classes which involve boys and girls being mixed together in swimming, calisthenics, baseball, and other mixed athletics while clothed in ungodly attire which immodestly exposes the body. We disapprove of school students being forced to take any classes in which, under the guise of health classes, sex education is taught coeducationally or films or lectures are given that promote amoral or unnatural behavior. We disapprove of school students being forced to be taught by or listen to those who promote or advocate sexual activity of any kind other than that within the bonds of the marriage relationship of husband and wife."[4]

so some ministers are more liberal than others regarding whether worshippers are allowed to own televisions, go to movies, and so forth. one suspects that rev. sharp might be liberal on this issue, considering that there's a tv in the school, and he allows his daughters to perform in a "novelty group", whatever the heck that is. but either way, he doesn't have a tv in his home. what kind of life do his children live, with their father as their pastor, their mother as their teacher, and little secular entertainment? these kids have never experienced the outside world. the UPCI is all they've ever known. no wonder they protest so ferociously: the outside world, with its secular mass media and pants-wearing lesbians, must be terrifying.

i can't find much else on larry or sharon (the journal review article is about the school and a food bank they also run). but you can bet your bottom dollar that one or both of them (probably both) have been driving the protest train, dragging their daughters with them to protests but staying in the background, while they groom kids like la'shar to take up the front line.

update: fixed the link to the photo of larry & sharon. you need to go to the indiana UPCI website and either select "sharp" for pastor or select "crawfordsville" for city.

you want really annoying crap?
brand new animals within animals video, from the upcoming release parts is parts, due out this april:

lots of glitched-out satellite tv footage, so if you're into that kind of thing, check it out. note: this is not safe for work as it has a few brief clips of pixellated nudity.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 
sanjaya is magic
traditionally, i have only watched the early stages of american idol—generally just the auditions, so i can see all those bizarre outsider auditions from delusional folks who think they can sing but clearly can't. that stuff is fun; the final 12 nonsense, not so much. but this year, i'm still watching, for whatever reason. (i could blame it on the girlfriend, but i'll be nice.)

sometime in the last week, i went from passively wondering when sanjaya malakar would be voted off to actively rooting for him to stay in. probably had something to do with my conversion. in terms of pure singing ability, sanjaya is probably the worst contestant left on the show, but VFTW helped me come to terms with the that sanjaya is by far one of the most interesting and entertaining contestants up there, precisely because he doesn't have "what it takes" to be a conventional AI star. and as such, he definitely deserves to stay in the competition longer than perenially-dull contestants like haley scarnato, who has nothing going for her but sex appeal, or phil stacey, who doesn't even have that.

not just that, but his continued presence in the competition really seems to piss some people off, which just reaffirms my commitment to keeping him there. the sanjaya buzz is so loud that today, there's not only an AP story about him, but two stories in usa today about how civilization as we know it would end if sanjaya manages to win it all. which is just silly. for one thing, AI is as popular as ever, despite taylor hicks winning last year, which demonstrates that the quality of one year's winner doesn't affect the next season's ratings. for another, even if AI were suddenly canceled, life would go on. and finally, there's no chance sanjaya will truly win. his constituency—consisting of tweenage girls who love his unthreatening good looks, asians and indians voting for him because he's the only asian, and VFTW devotees—is just not big enough. he might get into the top 6 or so, but there's no way he'd win if it were down to just him and, say, melinda doolittle.

so before last night's broadcast, i'd already decided that this week, for the first time ever, i would pick up the phone and vote... for sanjaya malakar. my decision was reaffirmed when i watched the show and saw sanjaya's hair. his trademark floptop locks are one of the keys to his charm, and this week he took his hair to the next level—literally—by tying it up into what has been dubbed a "faux-hawk". that alone was enough to keep him on. so i eagerly picked up the phone and started dialing. by the time voting was over at 11pm, i'd probably voted for the kid a couple hundred times.

if is to be believed, sanjaya is once again safe this week, and either haley and chris sligh are most likely to be voted off. while neither of those two would be mourned too heavily, anyone other than sanjaya leaving will result in another week of sanjaya madness, with the haters becoming increasingly rabid (and throwing out increasingly more racist, homophobic, or transphobic invective) and sanjaya fans like me eagerly awaiting his next performance. i didn't know if sanjaya would be able to top last week's performance of "you really got me", but he did this week with the faux-hawk. what could he possibly do next week to top that? i'm dying to find out.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 
hiller: guiltier than ever
bradley hiller is back in the news, with a new felony conviction to go with the two he already has.

first, some history:

Hiller was executive director of the [Indiana Senate Majority Campaign Committee] from January 2001 through November 2003. The committee is responsible for providing campaign support for Republicans running for State Senator. As executive director, Hiller was responsible for providing fundraising and campaign support for these elections.

According to the probable cause affidavit, suspicions about Hiller's handling of the committee's checkbook arose when he was succeeded by Esther Schneider as executive director in November 2003. She found little supporting documentation for checks written on the account. The committee hired London White Group to perform an audit of their accounts.

esther schneider herself got into a heap of trouble later down the line, when she was briefly appointed to head the hoosier lottery. this might just be a coincidence.

According to the audit, 109 of the 490 checks written on the account between January 2000 and January 2004 were payable to Hiller. Investigators found at least eight different occasions where expenditures listed on the committee campaign report with checks written on the organization's checking account. Those checks would be listed on the campaign report as payable to vendors. However, the checking account would show the corresponding check as being may payable to Hiller.

oops, what a naughty boy! in 2005, hiller pled guilty to two class d felonies, theft and filing a fraudulent report, and was sentenced to a year in the joint and 6 months' house arrest. he actually served 6 months in prison; i don't know if he did the home detention.

but at the same time he was embezzling from the senate campaign committee, he was also a consultant with bose treacy associates, and was appointed to the indiana election commission. bose still has its proud press release on his appointment up on their site, two years after his first conviction:

BoseTreacy Associates LLC is pleased to announce that public affairs consultant Bradley Hiller has been appointed to the Indiana Election Commission.

Hiller has a wide range of experience in politics. Most recently, he served as the executive director for the Senate Majority Campaign Committee for three years. In that function, Hiller was responsible for overseeing all Republican state senate campaigns, managing the finances, administering public relations activities, recruiting candidates for election, creating and implementing campaign plans, fundraising, and other administrative tasks. He also served as a consultant for Republican senators on various legislative matters.

Hiller earned a bachelor's and master's degree from Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind. While he was in school, he held an internship with the Indiana House of Representatives.

Based in Indianapolis, Ind., BoseTreacy Associates is a full service public affairs and association management firm offering more than 100 years combined experience to affect the decisions of government-at the local, state, national and international levels. Offering services in government relations, public affairs consulting, lobbying and association management, BoseTreacy is an active member of The Advocacy Group (TAG), an international network that allows clients to obtain professional assistance throughout the United States and other countries.

i'd think bose would want to remove any reference to hiller from their site, especially now that hiller has pled guilty again to crimes that happened while he was working for them. from today's star:

A former state Republican fundraiser pleaded guilty this afternoon in Marion Superior Court to his second felony case.

technically, this is his third felony conviction, not his second, but i suppose you could lump the first two together as beind the same "case" if you so choose. moving on...

Bradley R. Hiller, 34, has agreed to repay $7,836 to the Hoosier Beverage Association, for which he was a public affairs consultant in 2004 when he signed someone else's name on an unauthorized check, among other accusations.

Today, Hiller pleaded guilty to forgery. But he might not return to prison. His plea agreement limits the sentence to three years or less, all of it suspendable when Judge Grant Hawkins sentences him Friday.

Theft and corrupt business influence charges will be dismissed.

After learning of the earlier case, the beverage association -- then called the Indiana Soft Drink Association -- scoured the books of a political action committee that Hiller had organized as a consultant with Bose Treacy Associates.

"The defendant had access to the checkbook of the association," deputy prosecutor Rom Byron said. In one instance, Hiller wrote a check for $2,700 to the Senate fundraising committee in order to cover up missing money from his other thefts.

i almost feel bad for the guy. his career was surely destroyed by his previous convictions in 2005: no law firm would hire him after those, and a g. gordon liddy-style resurrection was unlikely since the gop probably wouldn't look kindly upon that whole embezzling from them thing. then he gets out of the big house, and the prosecutor slams him again for other stuff he did before he got arrested the first time! these aren't even new crimes; even if prison somehow rehabilitated hiller, transmogrifying him into an honest, decent human being, a fat lot of good it does him if he's still being tried for his past crimes.

still, i don't feel that bad for him: a corrupt lobbyist and gop fundraiser.

Sunday, March 25, 2007 
van bokkelen: the loyalest bushie
since i haven't noticed any other hoosier bloggers picking up on the "voter fraud" angle of the us attorney scandal, i suppose i should link to this mclatchy piece that josh marshall & friends have been hyping.

Since 2005, McClatchy Newspapers has found, Bush has appointed at least three U.S. attorneys who had worked in the Justice Department's civil rights division when it was rolling back longstanding voting-rights policies aimed at protecting predominantly poor, minority voters.

Another newly installed U.S. attorney, Tim Griffin in Little Rock, Ark., was accused of participating in efforts to suppress Democratic votes in Florida during the 2004 presidential election while he was a research director for the Republican National Committee. He's denied any wrongdoing.

griffin is also a former aide to karl rove.

The department's civil rights division, for example, supported a Georgia voter identification law that a court later said discriminated against poor, minority voters. It also declined to oppose an unusual Texas redistricting plan that helped expand the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. That plan was partially reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Frank DiMarino, a former federal prosecutor who served six U.S. attorneys in Florida and Georgia during an 18-year Justice Department career, said that too much emphasis on voter fraud investigations "smacks of trying to use prosecutorial power to investigate and potentially indict political enemies."

Several former voting rights lawyers, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of antagonizing the administration, said the division's political appointees reversed the recommendations of career lawyers in key cases and transferred or drove out most of the unit's veteran attorneys.

Bradley Schlozman, who was the civil rights division's deputy chief, agreed in 2005 to reverse the career staff's recommendations to challenge a Georgia law that would have required voters to pay $20 for photo IDs and in some cases travel as far as 30 miles to obtain the ID card.

A federal judge threw out the Georgia law, calling it an unconstitutional, Jim Crow-era poll tax.

In an interview, Schlozman, who was named interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City in November 2005, said he merely affirmed a subordinate's decision to overturn the career staff's recommendations.

schlozman did his part to advance an atrocious voter id law in georgia, and he was rewarded with a job as a us attorney. so what happened to those who didn't toe the party line regarding "voter fraud"?

Bush administration officials have said that no single reason led to the firings of the eight U.S. attorneys. But two of those who were forced to resign said they thought they might have been punished for failing to prosecute Democrats prior to the 2006 congressional elections or for not vigorously pursuing Republican allegations of voter irregularities in Washington state and New Mexico.

Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias of New Mexico has said he thought that "the voter fraud issue was the foundation" for his firing and that complaints about his failure to pursue corruption matters involving Democrats were "the icing on the cake."

John McKay, the ousted U.S. attorney for western Washington state, looked into allegations of voter fraud against Democrats during the hotly contested governor's race in 2004. He said that later, when top Bush aides interviewed him for a federal judgeship, he was asked to respond to criticism of his inquiry in which no charges were brought. He didn't get the judgeship.

so attorneys who didn't indict democrats on trumped-up charges of voter fraud were fired and replaced with party flacks who could get the job done, like griffin and schlozman.

it all makes me wonder what happened behind the scenes before indiana's awful voter id bill got passed.

incidentally, us attorney susan brooks of the southern district of indiana (which includes indianapolis) hasn't indicted anyone for voter fraud, much to the dismay of rabid julia-haters who are convinced that busloads of black voters cruise the city rigging elections for democrats. but we can assume brooks is a "loyal bushie", considering that she's vice chair of the AG's advisory committee.

on the other hand, us attorney joseph van bokkelen, of the northern district of indiana, has been quite busy. not only has lake county had prosecuting voter fraud cases aplenty but also van bokkelen has been indicting democrats by the handful:

If allegations by ousted prosecutors and Democratic congressional leaders are true, and White House officials fired U.S. attorneys for not pursuing corruption cases against Democratic politicians, Joseph Van Bokkelen is a popular man in Washington.

Conventional wisdom in local political circles is that public corruption largely remains constant from year to year, but that indictments for public corruption vary depending on whether the top federal prosecutor in the Northern District was appointed by a Republican or a Democrat.

That suspicion seems to be borne out in recent congressional hearings, in which former U.S. attorneys have said they were pressured by Republican leaders to lay off prosecuting GOP officials, and to time the indictments of Democrats to coincide with elections.

The probe has led to the White House itself, as Bush adviser Karl Rove and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have been implicated in the scandal.

Van Bokkelen's wide-ranging corruption probe, Operation Restore Public Integrity, has nabbed more than 50 public officials since he was appointed by Bush in 2001, according to Justice Department statistics. Nearly all were against officials in Democratic strongholds in Lake County, where Republican officeholders are few and far between.

with a record like that, van bokkelen could be the next attorney general once gonzales finally resigns.

update: i spoke too soon! mere seconds after clicking "publish", i find this, courtesy of the indiana law blog:

The White House nominated U.S. Attorney Joseph Van Bokkelen Tuesday to the federal judgeship in Hammond that Rudy Lozano plans to vacate this summer.

Van Bokkelen, the region's top federal prosecutor for the past five years, was among the first round of judicial nominations submitted by President Bush to the new Democratic-led Senate.

The Senate must give its consent before Van Bokkelen can take the post.

"I think we begin a new Congress with a clean slate," said Andy Fisher, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., who recommended Van Bokkelen for the job. "We'll work very closely with the members of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate members to get the nomination through."

the pattern is clear: van bokkelen was the poster boy for indicting democrats, so he is rewarded with a judicial appointment. i wonder how smoothly his nomination will go through now, in light of recent developments at DoJ.

Saturday, March 24, 2007 
it hasn't been a good week to be governor mitch daniels.

first came the ivytech humiliation. mitch wanted to hook his buddy carol d'amico up with a job as new president of ivytech, but five of his own appointees turned against him:

Though Daniels appointed nine of the 14 trustees on the Ivy Tech Community College board, he didn't get what he wanted when the board picked a new president earlier this week.

Five of his appointees joined Thursday with five holdovers to elect Anderson businessman Thomas J. Snyder as the new college president.

Daniels had preferred Carol D'Amico, the college's executive vice president, with whom he has long ties. In fact, Snyder had been told by aides to Daniels that he wasn't the governor's choice.

After D'Amico was snubbed by the selection committee in a process that outraged some trustees, aides and others close to the governor quietly but persistently campaigned behind the scenes for a do-over. They were snubbed, too.

and if that wasn't enough shame for the week, then today, the daniels administration turned the traditional friday-afternoon bad-news dump up to 11, actually waiting until saturday before announcing that the guv has decided to abandon his latest toll-road plans. that's right: plans for the "commerce connector" and illiana expressway are dead... at least for now. the legislature wasn't going to let him repeat his shenanigans from last year, when he leased off the indiana toll road before anyone could blink. this time, he was forced to hold public hearings to gauge opinion on his new proposed toll roads, and—surprise!—public opinion was overwhelmingly negative.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 
dungy's sweet embrace
last night was colts coach tony dungy's much-criticized appearance at a benefit for the indiana family institute. glbt advocates were upset that dungy would help raise money for IFI, a far-right group that has been notoriously anti-gay, among other things. (while dungy naturally has the right to say and believe whatever he chooses, helping raise money for an alleged hate group is a different matter altogether.)

before yesterday, the colts organization had done a good job of shielding dungy himself from the "gay" angle of the story, and the whole deal probably would have bubbled over... but then, dungy decided to make his feelings known:

Colts coach Tony Dungy said he knows some people would prefer him to steer clear of the gay marriage debate, but he used a speech Tuesday night to clearly stake out his position.

Dungy told more than 700 people at the Indiana Family Institute's banquet that he agrees with that organization's position supporting a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

"I appreciate the stance they're taking, and I embrace that stance," Dungy said.

Local and national gay-rights organizations had criticized Dungy for accepting the invitation to appear at the banquet. The institute, affiliated with Focus on the Family, has been one of the leading supporters of the marriage amendment.

"IFI is saying what the Lord says," Dungy said. "You can take that and make your decision on which way you want to be. I'm on the Lord's side."

if IFI is really "saying what the lord says", then let's take a look at what the IFI is saying, so as to make sure we don't upset the lord.

IFI sez: jesus would discriminate against gays (emphasis mine):

The truth is that homosexual activists across the country are carrying out an organized plan to force all 50 states to recognize same-sex "marriage" through judicial fiat. Constitutional amendments are the best solution to this problem and these activists are none to happy that state after state has approved these amendments. This is unacceptable to them, but not because they really want to marry someone of the same sex. Rather, they rightly see the success of these amendments as a step backwards in their broader vision of societal acceptance and support of homosexuality.

gays don't deserve societal acceptance, so sayeth the lord!

IFI sez: gays are dangerous!

The enemies of SJR 7 are far more dangerous than the media and even most Christians realize. They not only want to destroy marriage and create a society free from any and all sexual boundaries, they will spare no effort to attain their ultimate goal of silencing all those who oppose them. You need only look at Canada and Sweden for the logical conclusion of their "this is our right" mentality. In those countries, citizens who speak out against the homosexual agenda are being charged with "hate speech" crimes and threatened with fines and jail time.

so sayeth the lord!

IFI sez: atheists exist!

There are two categories in which all of mankind falls:

1) Those who believe in God
2) Those who do not believe in God.

Sure, some people believe God is polytheistic, deistic, etc. but they believe that some form of a Divine Creator exists. Others are not outright atheists; they may be agnostic or just maintain that they have no opinion on the subject. However, in reality, we all live our lives based on our answer to this, the most basic of questions: Does God exist?

at this point, please pause to meditate over the phrase: "some people believe God is polytheistic".

now you may continue:

Obviously, one could write novels on this topic and still only graze the surface. What does this have to do with the Supreme Court? My point is that because all men fit somewhere within these two categories, the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Ten Commandments (McCreary County, Kentucky v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky) is ridiculous at best and governmental establishment of the non-belief in God, at worst...

either you believe in something or you don't, and that's all that matters, so sayeth the lord! so i'm sure god, dungy, and the IFI would be happy to start placing large korans and upanishads all over the public square, since it doesn't matter whether you believe in a deistic or polytheistic god, so long as you aren't one of those outright atheists.

the lord is also in favor of covenant marriage. who knew?

at any rate, dungy has now hitched his wagon to the IFI. he could've gotten away with speaking before them if his speech had remained apolitical, but instead he explicitly chose to endorse their views. he can say that he and the IFI are "not trying to downgrade anyone else", but the IFI proudly admits that marriage amendments are "a step backwards in [glbt] broader vision of societal acceptance and support of homosexuality". sounds like a downgrade to me.

update: bil browning and gary welsh are naturally upset by dungy's comments. bigblueshoe at stampedeblue is upset that dungy, who represents the colts as well as the city of indianapolis, would take any stand (let alone this one) on such a controversial issue. rishawn biddle has lost esteem for dungy. steph plans to burn all her colts gear. and of course, the sports blogs and glbt blogs are all over this: see google blogsearch and technorati.

Friday, March 16, 2007 
irish vs irish
i suppose if notre dame wants to be a dick about enforcing its copyright to the fightin' irish leprechaun logo, fine... but why do it days before st patrick's day? that's just un-irish-like.

Parents and coaches at Cathedral High School have been told they must stop using the leprechaun logo.

According to an e-mail to parents, officials at Notre Dame University are taking a strict line on enforcing their copyright of the leprechaun.

The e-mail said Cathedral officials did not like the decision, but flaunting it could land the school in court.

The nearly 90-year-old Catholic school at Emerson and 56th streets has the same blue and gold school colors as Notre Dame and, like Notre Dame's, school teams are known as the "Irish."

in the star's talkback comments, several commenters are suggesting that notre dame is wrong to tell cathedral to stop using the logo, arguing that notre dame actually appropriated the leprechaun and the name "fightin' irish" from cathedral. and they might have a point, if this was a real 2005 indy star story:

The University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish . . . Terriers?
The small, curly-haired dog might be one of the most recognizable images in sports -- instead of the brawling leprechaun -- if it weren't for Cathedral High School.

While many high school athletic programs adopt logos or nicknames from colleges, it is possible Notre Dame borrowed its nickname from the Indianapolis school.

The schools were closely linked in the 1920s and '30s as the Brothers of Holy Cross provided the facility and staff for both institutions. Cathedral has traced its use of Fighting Irish to 1920. Notre Dame used an Irish terrier for its symbol and the nicknames Catholics during the 19th century and Ramblers in the early 1920s, according to the school's Web site.

"(The Fighting Irish) started at Cathedral," said Chris Kaufman, Cathedral's director of marketing and communications. "The brothers, being at both schools, carried the idea to Notre Dame."

unfortunately, even if this is true, it wouldn't help cathedral in this case. as the 2005 story concludes:

Cathedral has used a leprechaun as its logo since its inception, but Notre Dame developed the current well-known version, named it the school's official mascot in 1965 and trademarked it. Cathedral uses the logo for decorative purposes -- it also wears similar football uniforms to Notre Dame with dark blue jerseys and gold helmets -- but can't sell any merchandise with the leprechaun.

at issue here is the 1965 ted drake design. regardless of whether notre dame has the moral or artistic right to prevent its once-sister school from using the logo, notre dame does own the trademark and legally can urinate in the face of anyone who uses it without ND's permission. still, it seems like a rotten thing to do to your fellow irishmen mere days before st paddy's. at least let the cathedral alums get their green beer on before hitting 'em with the bad news.

(full disclosure: i went to cathedral, and marketing director chris kaufman was in my class.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 
mike jezierski cuts and runs
in what is becoming quite an old and familiar story, sir hailstone has deleted his blog again, as jen points out in the comments. longtime readers might recall that hailstone previously deleted his blog last november, perhaps to hide all the outlandish things he wrote before last year's election. but not much later he started blogging again, eventually putting out a "bounty" on jen wagner and all kinds of other nonsense.

frankly, i was amazed he kept the blog up as long as he did this time. after all, he's trying to set up a new online identity as mike jezierski, candidate for city council; the vulgar, combative "sir hailstone" persona is best forgotten if jezierski has any dreams of being elected.

unfortunately, he's finding it not so easy to run from his past. "hailstone" was a "proud freeper"; a regular at rabid rightwing website free republic. witness "michael jezierski"'s introductory freeper post:

OK FReepers, a friend of mine pointed out this site to me, I've wondered what the heck Sean Hannity was referring to when he would say "FReepers".

I'm Mike Jezierski and I'm a diehard Republican living in Indianapolis, and I've had ENOUGH of the games and shenanigans the Democrat majority of the City-County Council and the Mayor's Office have imposed on the fine citizens of Indianapolis.

This will be my first attempt at an elected office, and some ask "What business does a political newbie have in running for office in the 12th largest city in the United States?" My answer is simple.


that all-caps line is in "font size=7", which is something like 36-point. it's big.

anyway, note the first line: "hey d00ds, i never been on this freeper page before... hannity r00lz!!!!!~~~~ONEONE!!" (rough paraphrase). unfortunately, the first comment is this: "This poster is also know as sir hailstone, who posts on the Hannity thread. I thought you all would like to read this."

busted! eventually hailstone/jezierski turns up again and explains that he's "Not intending to "sock puppet" just wanting the name out there." but if he wasn't trying to distance himself from his old persona, what was the point of pretending he'd never been to the site before?

still, no matter how much he might deny that part of himself, hailstone is still inside him. the mike jezierski campaign blog lacks the name-calling, the childish images, and the rants about pelosi being a commie that dominated the old hailstone blog. but it still has its share of nutty posts, and his manifesto is borderline incomprehensible.

so an anonymous commenter over at advance indiana said that "Laura McPhee wrote something in Nuvo today that credits both [Gary Welsh] and Bil Browning for the Eric Miller stuff". since i was one of the bloggers who criticized mcphee last week for her lack of citation, i wanted to read it, so i headed over to the nuvo site to find it (it's here).

but while over there, i couldn't help but notice this letter to the editor:

I read your write-up of the Ten Commandments-hating, fag-loving promoter, Anita Bowser (shit be upon her) (News, "Remembering Our Favorite Rabble-Rousers," March 7-14). She may have been nice, personable, whatever. She was a servant of Satan and I have no room for pity on her soul. No doubt, she is currently roasting in the Abyss of Eternal Damnation where she rightfully belongs!

She was a clueless demagogue spreading disinformation through her tenure as a professor, to inculcate (READ: brainwash) students into pro-fag, anti-American, anti-Christian philosophy.

I'd personally like to urinate on her grave, and while I'm at it, in your face!
James M. Baker

immediately followed by this comment by "anonymous 2" (spelling corrected):

James, Sometimes you just have to ask yourself "Whose face would Jesus urinate on?"

words to live by.

p.s. i suspect the phrase "shit be upon you" will work its way into my vocabulary.

breaking the law
i was cruising by doug's place this morning and was disappointed to find a link to this tim zank rant in his "news of interest" box. not disappointed in tim zank, mind you—i don't expect much from him—but disappointed in doug for seemingly endorsing the post. zank's biddle-esque rant contains no links to anything (so if you don't know the story already, you won't learn it from zank), little factual information, and lots of childish name-calling.

zank's central argument is that US attorneys are employed "at will", so there's nothing wrong with bush firing a few, and that clinton did the same thing so nyah-nyah-nyah. also, zank really hates chuck schumer for some reason.

let's address the second part first. of course, the "they did it too!" argument isn't a good excuse to do something unethical. just because your opponent is willing to cross the line, that doesn't mean you should as well. but that's irrelevant, because naturally clinton did not do the same thing:

The Bush administration and its defenders like to point out that President Bush isn't the first president to fire U.S. attorneys and replace them with loyalists.

While that's true, the current case is different. Mass firings of U.S. attorneys are fairly common when a new president takes office, but not in a second-term administration. Prosecutors are usually appointed for four-year terms, but they are usually allowed to stay on the job if the president who appointed them is re-elected.

Even as they planned mass firings by the Bush White House, Justice Department officials acknowledged it would be unusual for the president to oust his own appointees. Although Bill Clinton ordered the wholesale removal of U.S. attorneys when he took office to remove Republican holdovers, his replacement appointees stayed for his second term.

Ronald Reagan also kept his appointees for his second term.

the washington post explains why the difference is significant (emphasis mine):

Although Bush and President Bill Clinton each dismissed nearly all U.S. attorneys upon taking office, legal experts and former prosecutors say the firing of a large number of prosecutors in the middle of a term appears to be unprecedented and threatens the independence of prosecutors.

so what bushco did is unusual and unprecedented. but was it illegal, and if so, why?

zank is right about one (and only one) thing: bush had the power to fire the attorneys at any time. so that in itself isn't a big deal. but like any bush scandal, it doesn't stop there; it starts there.

so the bush white house developed a plan to fire US attorneys who weren't toeing the line closely enough. that was unprecedented and probably unethical, but in itself perhaps not illegal. but you know what's a felony? lying to congress. and AG gonzales lied to congress repeatedly about these firings. let's read what chuck schumer, that "asshole" with a microphone, had to say about this:

Here are some of the falsehoods we've been told that are now unraveling.

First, we were told that the seven of the eight U.S. attorneys were fired for performance reasons.

It now turns out this was a falsehood, as the glowing performance evaluations attest.

Second, we were told by the attorney general that he would, quote, "never, ever make a change for political reasons."

It now turns out that this was a falsehood, as all the evidence makes clear that this purge was based purely on politics, to punish prosecutors who were perceived to be too light on Democrats or too tough on Republicans.

Third, we were told by the attorney general that this was just an overblown personnel matter.

It now turns out that far from being a low-level personnel matter, this was a longstanding plan to exact political vendettas or to make political pay-offs.

Fourth, we were told that the White House was not really involved in the plan to fire U.S. attorneys. This, too, turns out to be false.

Harriet Miers was one of the masterminds of this plan, as demonstrated by numerous e-mails made public today. She communicated extensively with Kyle Sampson about the firings of the U.S. attorneys. In fact, she originally wanted to fire and replace the top prosecutors in all 93 districts across the country.

Fifth, we were told that Karl Rove had no involvement in getting his protege appointed U.S. attorney in Arkansas.

In fact, here is a letter from the Department of Justice. Quote: "The department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin."

It now turns out that this was a falsehood, as demonstrated by Mr. Sampson's own e-mail. Quote: "Getting him, Griffin, appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, et cetera.

Sixth, we were told to change the Patriot Act was an innocent attempt to fix a legal loophole, not a cynical strategy to bypass the Senate's role in serving as a check and balance.

It was Senator Feinstein who discovered that issue. She'll talk more about it.

So there has been misleading statement after misleading statement -- deliberate misleading statements. And we haven't gotten to the bottom of this yet, but believe me, we will pursue it.

pompous asshole or no, it kinda sounds like schumer has a point to me. of course, zank doesn't bother linking to schumer's statements, so if you only read zank's post, you wouldn't know what this is all about. (gonzales admits that "mistakes were made" but claims that the DoJ is just so big that he didn't know about any of the wrongdoing going on, or that his testimony before congress was a pack of lies.)

so is this another case of the coverup becoming the crime, where the original act was not in itself illegal, but crimes were committed while trying to cover it up? if gonzales had come out on day one and said, "yeah, we fired 'em for purely political reasons, so what?" would that have prevented the scandal? well, not necessarily. josh marshall explains:

First, we now know -- or at least the White House is trying to tell us -- that they considered firing all the US Attorneys at the beginning of Bush's second term. That would have been unprecedented but not an abuse of power in itself. The issue here is why these US Attorneys were fired and the fact that the White House intended to replace them with US Attorneys not confirmed by the senate. We now have abundant evidence that they were fired for not sufficiently politicizing their offices, for not indicting enough Democrats on bogus charges or for too aggressively going after Republicans. (Remember, Carol Lam is still the big story here.) We also now know that the top leadership of the Justice Department lied both to the public and to Congress about why the firing took place. As an added bonus we know the whole plan was hatched at the White House with the direct involvement of the president.

The issue here is why these US Attorneys were fired -- a) because they weren't pursuing a GOP agenda of indicting Democrats, that's a miscarriage of justice, and b) because they lied to Congress about why it happened.

carol lam was the prosecutor who brought down duke cunningham... and seemed to be on the verge of bringing down other powerful republicans as well. as josh says, "for most White Houses, a US attorney involved in such a politically charged and ground-breaking corruption probe would have been untouchable, even if she'd run her office like a madhouse and was offering free twinkies to every illegal who made it across the border." yet lam was fired... obviously because of her investigation into high-profile republicans.

similarly, david iglesias was fired presumably because he wouldn't go after enough democrats (or go after them fast enough), and wouldn't waste his time investigating bogus "voter fraud" complaints.

i'm no lawyer, so i can't tell you exactly what laws those actions break (josh calls it miscarriage of justice), but it sure as hell sounds illegal. and if not that, it's undeniably unethical. so how is it that chuck schumer is the bad guy in all this?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 
US attorney scandal about "voter fraud"
you've probably heard about the burgeoning scandal at the US attorney's office. the bush administration recently fired eight US attorneys (federal prosecutors) because they weren't toeing the republican line closely enough, and tried to replace them with unqualified party hacks. when people noticed, the administration gave a dozen conflicting explanations.

then we found out that members of congress were involved: rep heather wilson and sen pete domenici of new mexico had both complained that their local attorney, david iglesias, wasn't working fast enough... because wilson was in a tough re-election battle and was hoping iglesias would indict her opponent. then we learned karl rove was involved.

now we learn that president bush was personally involved:

Last October, President Bush spoke with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday. Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, was among the politicians who complained directly to the president, according to an administration official.

josh marshall explains:

There's a sub-issue emerging in the canned US Attorneys scandal: the apparently central role of Republican claims of voter fraud and prosecutors unwillingness to bring indictments emerging from such alleged wrongdoing. Very longtime readers of this site will remember that this used to be something of a hobby horse of mine. And it's not surprising that it is now emerging as a key part of this story. The very short version of this story is that Republicans habitually make claims about voter fraud. But the charges are almost invariably bogus. And in most if not every case the claims are little more than stalking horses for voter suppression efforts. That may sound like a blanket charge. But I've reported on and written about this issue at great length. And there's simply no denying the truth of it. So this becomes a critical backdrop to understanding what happened in some of these cases. Why didn't the prosecutors pursue indictments when GOP operatives started yakking about voter fraud? Almost certainly because there just wasn't any evidence for it.

opponents of indiana's recent voter id law have been saying this forever: there's just no evidence that voter fraud happens on any real scale, and when it does, it generally involves absentee ballots and the like. other problems, such as paperless, hackable voting machines, are a much bigger threat to our electoral system.

but i'm getting sidetracked. josh continues:

As has happened so many times in the last six years, the maximal version of this story -- which seemed logical six weeks ago but which I couldn't get myself to believe -- turns out to be true. Indeed, it's worse. We now know that Gonzales, McNulty and Moschella each lied to Congress. We know that the purge was a plan that began at the White House -- and it was overseen by two of President Bush's closest lieutenants in Washington -- Miers and Gonzales. Sampson is the second resignation. There will certainly be more.

And remember this key point: The 'document dump' is meant to get bad news out of the way fast. But it's always a hedge. It never includes the really bad stuff. And if you're not in deep crisis mode, ya' never do it on a Monday.

josh believes that alberto gonzalez and senator domenici are both likely to resign over this scandal. gonzalez's chief of staff, kyle sampson, already resigned today.

don't hate the player
vain, no-talent-havin' dr dre wannabe...

Thursday, March 08, 2007 
rishawn steps up to the ol' dirty bastard
at first i wondered what was behind rishawn biddle's recent diatribe against ol' dirty bastard. odb's paternity problems don't sound much different from, say, james brown's, and rishawn doesn't demonstrate that he actually "gets" or knows anything about odb. (does odb really represent "that being Black is to be ignorant, a vagrant and uneducated"? after all, this is a member of the wu-tang clan we're talking about; they're not quite public enemy, but they're hardly NWA.) and i know rishawn isn't upset about odb's promiscuity, because i've read the infamous luke ford interview in which rishawn discusses the size of his black book (not little) and how many women he beds (more than six in 2001 alone), though presumably rishawn wears he a condom when he's knockin' all those boots so as to avoid paternity suits.

then it all became clear in rishawn's next post. the real target of his attacks was not big baby jesus or the wu (who, as they say, ain't nothin' to fuck with), but local columnist and radio host amos brown. and what do you know... rishawn refuses to mention amos by name!

you might recall that in last month's feud with gary welsh, rishawn confessed that there were three local pundits "whose lack of class, dearth of civility and unwillingness to deal reasonably" was so severe that he simply will not mention their names when he blogs about them. (of course, this practice only punishes his own readers, who are left to puzzle out wtf he's talking about if they don't know already, but let's ignore that for now.)

at the time, he confessed that advance indiana's gary welsh is one of The Three Who Must Not Be Named On Expresso. and while he never directly admitted as much, it's clear that the second is jen wagner of tdw. but this left the question of who is the third? i initially guessed that it was steph mineart, but rishawn set me straight in the comments here.

i think we now have our answer. the third person who's so classless, uncivil, and unreasonable that rishawn can't bring himself to utter his name (and strangely can't bring himself to just ignore either) is none other than amos brown. oh, and unsurprisingly, rishawn insists in the expresso comments that "For yours truly, [my feud with amos] isn't personal. For others, it is." because for rishawn, just like EPMD, it's always business, never personal. it's just that all his critics happen to have grudges against him, you see.

let's look at that list again: amos brown, jen wagner, and gary welsh. two are democrats; one is republican, but really socially progressive (which you'd think rishawn would dig because he's supposedly a libertarian). all three are, like rishawn himself, from "minority" groups that are now or recently fought civil rights battles. (jen is female; rishawn and amos are black; gary is gay.)

now let's look at who's not on that list: socially conservative republicans. where are the eric millers? where are the mike jezierskis, the jocelyn-tandys, or the john sorgs? there are no right-wingers on rishawn's list of bad actors: gary has his partisan failings, but he's actually quite moderate on most issues, and very liberal on gay-related and civil rights issues. do you think that's a coincidence? does rishawn think there is nobody on the right who's as uncivil and unreasonable as jen, gary, or amos? or do you think there's something else going on?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007 
klan values
gary welsh is going to love this week's issue of nuvo, because laura mcphee's profile of eric miller and advance america tracks quite closely to what gary has been saying on his blog for some time.

in particular, the article points out the deep similarities between miller (and his supporters) and the ku klux klan of the 1920s, back when the klan ran indiana. you might recall that gary first made this observation, leading to last month's flamewar between gary and the star's rishawn biddle: rishawn thought the klan comparisons went way too far, because miller and his supporters (presumably) aren't out there burning crosses and lynching folks. but unfortunately for rishawn, there was a lot more to the klan of the '20s than hangings and hate crimes:

It is a part of our cultural history that we don’t like to discuss much, nor do we much like to acknowledge any ancestral resemblance. To point out similarities in contemporary religious expression or belief borders on blasphemy, and analogies to contemporary events are nearly always dismissed as hyperbole.

But the truth is that during its 1920s heyday, the Ku Klux Klan numbered over 5 million members nationwide, by some estimates more than 10 million — all of them white, Protestant, fiercely religious and fiercely patriotic.

Unlike its earlier incarnation in the post-Civil War era, however, this time the KKK was not primarily a rural and Southern phenomenon, and its popularity was evident in cities across America, none more so than Indianapolis.

Some branches of the Klan notoriously resorted to violence during this period, particularly in violent crimes against black communities and individuals. But an equally dangerous aspect of the Klan’s power in Indiana came from a blend of religious and patriotic duty that fueled local politics.

Founded in 1920, the Indiana chapter of the KKK quickly became the largest and most powerful branch of the Klan in the country. By 1924, more than 40 percent of white males in Indianapolis claimed membership, as did one in every three white men in the state, and the Klan accurately and proudly boasted control of the mayor and governor’s offices, the Indiana General Assembly and the Indianapolis City Council almost exclusively in the form of the Republican candidates they backed.

During the 1920s, the mainstream embrace of the Ku Klux Klan was also demonstrated in churches throughout the state, as Protestant clergy were often the most ardent Klan supporters in each community.

In Indianapolis, the Rev. William Forney Harris of the Grand Avenue Methodist Church was not atypical when he encouraged Klan membership among his congregation in 1922, preaching that these were times of "moral decay," and as such, "any organization that stands for decency and order ought not to be shunned."

"Kinship of race, belief, spirit, character and purpose" were the basis for membership in the KKK, and the role model for Klansmen was "their Criterion of Character Jesus Christ." Additionally, the 1925 manual commands, "Klansmen are to be examples of pure patriotism."

it's a long piece; as they say, read the whole thing. it's a really strong piece; my only complaint about it is that it repeats the canard that americans are "split 50/50" between republicans and democrats (which, if it was ever true, was only really true about voters, not all americans).

gary should also appreciate the fact that the article also mentions the hypocrisy of SJR-7 sponsor, senator brandt hershman, who, as gary and other gay activists highlighted in january, claims to be pro-life but whose ex-wife says he personally drove her to an abortion clinic and insisted she have an abortion in 1997. all in all, the article reuses so many of gary's arguments that you'd think he was a source... of course, he and his blog are not cited.

update: gary is understandably annoyed that mcphee didn't credit him in her article, considering it's rather obvious that much of it was appropriated from his blog. as he says in the comments at bilerico: "I'm stunned she would do this to me. I expected more from her."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 
libby libby libby guilty guilty guilty
lewis "scooter" libby, former chief of staff to vp cheney, has been found guilty on four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. back in 2003, libby was involved in leaking the name of valerie plame, a covert CIA agent, in order to punish her husband, joe wilson, for his criticism of the intelligence that led to the invasion of iraq. but as is often the case, it's not the crime that gets you, but the coverup: libby was convicted not of leaking plame's name, but of impeding the investigation into who did.

The former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney sat expressionless as the verdict was read in a packed Washington courtroom. He was acquitted of just one of five counts in the probe and faces a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Defense attorney Theodore Wells said Libby would seek a new trial, and if denied, would appeal the conviction.

part of scooter's defense during the trial was that he was being scapegoated to protect karl rove. there's probably a lot of truth to that, and some of the jurors agreed:
One juror, Denis Collins, said many jurors felt that other officials who leaked Plame's name to reporters, such as senior White House aide Karl Rove, should have been on trial instead.

"There was a tremendous amount of sympathy for Mr. Libby on the jury," Collins told reporters. "It was said a number of times, "What are we doing with this guy here? Where's Rove, where's -- you know, where are these other guys?"

there was not enough sympathy, however, to find libby innocent.

things now look quite bad for cheney, whose former #2 is now a convicted felon (and presumably, cheney instructed libby to commit those felonies), though the investigation is over, so cheney himself won't land in jail. not that cheney had a good public image to begin with. there's speculation that cheney could resign (and just as much skepticism; this is the bush white house we're talking about, and they're not known for accountability). and bush naturally has the power to pardon libby if he so chooses, not that it would be a good idea politically.

Thursday, March 01, 2007 
potential band name

we left the tv on fox after are you smarter than a fifth grader? and got to hear brian wilkes use this wonderful, magical word not once, but twice over the course of the broadcast. the first time he said it, i had to rewind the dvr just so i could hear him say it again...

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