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Thursday, November 29, 2007 
julia versus the blogs
yesterday, the indy star's token leftist columnist dan carpenter made a dig at the anti-julia blogs:

"Absolutely," Sarge Visher replied near the end of an overwhelming Monday at the workplace he runs, U.S. Rep. Julia Carson's home office on Fall Creek Parkway.

"The response we're getting to her situation is not what the blogs have been dishing up. These are nice people."

Weblogs, decidedly mixed and often vicious when it comes to treatment of his boss and friend, barely existed when she asked him to manage her first try for Congress back in 1996. The often-anonymous, increasingly influential gossip mills make a strong case that social change is not always progressive; and that makes for deep irony when they're aimed at Julia Carson.

indeed. yet ruth holladay objects:

But since Dan Carpenter in the Star yesterday referred to the "often vicious" treatment Rep. Carson received from bloggers, I feel a tiny obligation to enter the fray.

The blogs were in fact the only early and consistent truth-tellers about Carson's repeated health problems. The blogs addressed concerns, which now we know were valid, that she was extremely unwell. Before there were blogs, it was readers who called the Star, demanding coverage of the fact that Carson missed, at various times, so many votes in Congress. It was readers who got that story out in the open, not the Star's Washington bureau.

If the blogs were vicious, it was, perhaps, only because they were trying to do the job the Star should have done.

like clockwork, ruth's comments showed up in a post at antijulia, where gary exhorts that "Carpenter would have fit right in with the reporters in the 1960s who covered up all the Kennedy scandals in the name of protecting Camelot."

now, i appreciate ruth's impulse to jump in and defend bloggers against criticism from mainstream media figures, but i have to wonder whether ruth has ever actually read the blogs that she's so quick to defend.

the anti-julia blogs routinely call her racist nicknames like "bag lady" and "ghetto queen". they insist that julia is the head of some corrupt, nefarious organization they call "the ghetto mafia", which they claim routinely took part in felonious activity such as widespread voter fraud.

even now, as julia presumably lays dying in hospice care, they continue to impugn her honor and integrity. and don't even get me started on the absurd rumor they're still trying to spread that andre carson is the illegitimate love child of julia and andy jacobs. or that julia practices voodoo. or the rumor about julia stealing some dude's wallet.

these are vile, hateful people who have relentlessly used every attack they can think of against julia, even after they've been debunked. to say that the blogs have been "decidedly mixed and often vicious" about julia is putting it lightly.

perhaps blogs were the first ones to question the congresswoman's health. as they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 
september eleven mentality: a video mashup

i was thinking about sampling or remixing this excellent montage by tpm even before wfmu created a contest for it. but the opportunity to win a bunch of wfmu swag was too much to resist. my initial attempts weren't going anywhere, until i came up with the idea for this video mashup. enjoy.

update: forgot to add a direct link to the youtube video in case the embedding code doesn't work for some readers.

Sunday, November 25, 2007 
julia has cancer
the big news today, even overshadowing the governor's horrible poll numbers, is the revelation that julia carson has terminal lung cancer. she released this statement yesterday:

In the late summer of 2007, Congress granted me a leave of absence because of my leg infection. My wonderful doctor cured the leg, and I went into rehabilitation, planning to be back in Washington shortly.

Then the second shoe fell -- heavily. My doctor discovered lung cancer. It had gone into remission years before, but it was back with a terminal vengeance.

Therefore, I take this occasion to express my loving and literally eternal gratitude to my friends, including family, constituents and colleagues, who have given me so much love, support and trust. God bless our beloved country.

as tully writes, julia's life was a real american success story: she rose from poverty to a seat in congress, where she was beloved by many of her constituents.

but as much as she is adored, there is a vocal minority that despises her and calls her racist names and other vile garbage at every opportunity. unsurprisingly, these scum are out in full force on the star's talkback forums.

i haven't had much to say about julia's health since she first went into the hospital a couple months back, primarily because i didn't know what was up and i wasn't going to give the julia haters any further ammunition. i know how these things work: whenever a media figure or liberal blogger writes so much as a single sentence that's critical of julia, that sentences ends up quoted, in isolation and out of context, somewhere like advance indiana. it wouldn't matter if everything else in the piece was glowing praise: the haters would latch onto that one critical sentence. and while AI generally prefers to ignore me, i wasn't going to give anyone the chance to use my words for another anti-julia attack.

now that the truth is out, i wish julia the best and hope she can live out her final days in relative peace. one component of this is that yes, she should resign her congressional post. i don't begrudge a dying woman her privacy for keeping her cancer a secret until now, but now that she's gone public with her illness, she should take the next step and resign with dignity. the district deserves someone strong and healthy in that seat, fighting to represent us in congress. and perhaps just as important, julia deserves her rest. she's had a long, successful career, and she's earned a break. terminal cancer is enough to deal with; she doesn't need the stress of politics on top of that.

Thursday, November 22, 2007 

only one lolcolt this week. if you don't like it, make some yourself! you're lucky i'm still making 'em at all!

happy thanksgiving, everyone. we can go back to the partisan bickering tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007 
why property tax repeal won't work
hat tip tdw, this one paragraph from the fort wayne journal-gazette says it all:

Hoosiers are most likely best served by a reasonable mix of various taxes and user fees, and that mix may well be out of balance. Data compiled by the Federation of Tax Administrators shows that in 2005, 35.8 percent of Indiana's state and local revenue came from property taxes, above the national average of 30.6 percent – and that number has likely risen since 2005.

emphasis mine. more than a third of the state's income comes from property taxes. that's an enormous amount of money, and a huge chunk of the budget.

if we repeal or even modestly trim back property taxes, we have to do something to offset the lost revenue: either cut spending, raise other taxes, or both. the legislature is not going to cut a third of its budget this year. ain't gonna happen. which leaves raising other taxes: the ones that are named most often are sales and income taxes. yet some in the legislature are reluctant to raise the sales tax by even one percent, because that would make indiana's sales tax higher than neighboring states. they definitely won't want to raise it 2-3% or more.

whatever taxes you raise, you're going to end up with "winners and losers", as niki kelly says. niki did the math, looking at the daniels and kenley plans for cutting property taxes (not repealing, just cutting), and discovered that she'll actually pay more taxes under both plans. multiply the numbers in niki's article by about 3 to get a glimpse of what would happen if property taxes were repealed. retirees living on fixed incomes might make out pretty well, and the people who live in half-million dollar houses on meridian street might be a bit better off, but those of us who work and buy stuff would be hit pretty badly.

so in a way it's good that mayor-elect ballard is backing away from his promise to support repeal. other than eric miller, he was the state's highest-profile proponent of repeal, and if he now realizes it's impossible then hopefully the whole "repeal movement" will die down. (i've been getting a lot of guff over at abdul's place for pointing out ballard's flip-flop. most of them just tell me i'm stupid, which is pretty typical over there, but one of them calls me "stAllidiot!", which i quite like. they seem to believe that ballard hasn't flip-flopped and actually will lobby for repeal in the future. i guess we'll have to wait and see on that one.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 
ballard: my first broken promise
the indy star mentioned it first. then the accidental mayor blog was the first to draw attention to it. then, state dem party chair dan parker put out a press release. mayor-elect ballard has already flip-flopped on property taxes, only a week after being elected, and before he even takes office.

the abduls of the world can hem and haw and say that ballard hasn't really changed his position here. but he has. here is the promise, directly from the property taxes page of his campaign site:

1. Lobby the state legislature to pass a constitutional amendment eliminating property taxes in Indiana. I believe that with the current makeup of the legislature, 35-40% of legislators approve of such a measure.

2. Failing a state constitutional amendment, I will find an acceptable mix of taxes within Marion County to greatly reduce the influence of property taxes in Indianapolis. This will help bring the middle class back to Indianapolis, increasing the overall tax base and reducing the tax burden on the poor.

pretty simple, huh? basic, straightforward language, right? in order to keep this promise, ballard doesn't need to actually get property taxes repealed. all he has to do to keep this promise is lobby the legislature for a constitutional amendment. then, when that fails, he can go on to find another solution.

has ballard lobbied for an amendment? no. will he? apparently not, if he now supports the governor's plan. so if he promised to do X, has not done X, and has no intention of doing X, then there's no other way to look at it: he's broken a campaign promise. and he isn't even in office yet!

it would've been such an easy promise to keep! after all, candidate ballard had to know that the mayor has no power to actually do anything about property taxes. all he had to do was some token lobbying, then when it inevitably failed he could get behind the mitch daniels plan. easy as pie, campaign promise kept. but no, he couldn't even do that. he can't even be bothered to respond to questions about his flip-floppery.

not that i'm surprised. property tax repeal for indiana truly is a radical, fringe idea, and ballard's support for it was one of many reasons that i and people like me never took him seriously as a candidate. it's the kind of thing that sounds nice as a one-sentence poll question—hey, do you want to pay less taxes?—but like i said over at doug's place, just about everyone who's actually looked at the numbers know it's not feasible. property taxes bring in billions of dollars that fund our schools and other important stuff. you can't just get rid of them without doing something major to offset all that lost revenue, like massive increases to sales and income taxes, which would do plenty damage on their own.

the only question is: will the tax protesters now turn on the mayor-elect, their once-hero?

oh, and one more question: when will someone create

Sunday, November 18, 2007 
lolcolts face the music

another week, another edition of lolcolts. i can has victory over kansas city this week?


Friday, November 16, 2007 
i get mail... about doctor octagon ii
remember way back in january 2006 when i wrote about dr octagon ii? no?

dr octagon ii was a fake record, a bootleg in the true meaning of the word. some shady operators knew that rapper kool keith had been talking about doing a sequel to his highly successful dr octagon record from the mid-90s, so they got their hands on some kool keith recordings and rushed it to the market under the title "dr octagon ii".

at the time, i blogged about the record, linking to a fan alert (now deleted), quoting this passage:

The album has been bootleged by 101 Distribution, in association with Real Talk Records and 33rd Street Records. The album has already been shipped and is in stores as of October 12th. It cannot be recalled. The album features 2 demos, 2 Clayborne Family tracks, and 6 INCOMPLETE tracks from the upcoming 7th Veil album. The cover of the album features Kool Keith standing in front of an Escalade, which he is not even down with. 101 Distribution, Real Talk, and 33rd Street are being sued for this release. According to Jacky Jasper, the official bootlegger is Michael Kinbrew (a.k.a. Scoobie) and his partner Damon Evans. Supposedely, these two have stolen records from Kurrupt and had false negotiation agreements with Kel of "Kenan and Kel" (Nickelodeon). has already recalled the album. Some albums have slipped through the cracks and made it into stores.

i thought the story was pretty much over when the real dr octagon sequel came out five months later, which i loved. but apparently not, because this morning i received this email:

hi stallio,

we came across this link on your site and wanted to speak to you about the validity of its details. 101 did not release the Kool Keith Dr. Octogon Returns bootleg. the fact is, micheal kimbrew sold the title to 33rd Street/ Bayside after we verified the album was not official. while it is true 101 did talk with michael kimbrew just out of sheer interest, tracking the barcode with soundscan will prove no connection between 101 distribution, damon evans and this title or any of the parties you mention in your report.

would it be possible to update this information. it's simply not true.

kind regards,
Damon Evans
Executive Director,

so there you have it. damon evans of 101 distribution officially denies having anything to do with the bootleg. i of course have no idea who put it out; i was simply quoting from a page on

Thursday, November 15, 2007 
meet the new rishawn biddle
tdw notes that rishawn biddle has found someone new willing to pay for his prose: the american spectator! no word on whether this is a one-time thing or a new regular gig, nor is there any word on whether rishawn was hired in ignorance of, in spite of, or because of the controversy surrounding him. (considering the spectator's contributor list i wouldn't be surprised if the answer is "because of".)

his spectator byline mentions that he's "the proprietor of," and what do you know, rishawn has a new blog titled "dropout nation". education has always been a pet issue for rishawn, so this is probably a good fit for him: having a themed blog will keep him focused so he'll be less likely to get into any real trouble. there's not much there yet but i'm sure it'll pick up steam soon, as rishawn is known to be verbose.

furthermore, while rishawn let the eponymous expire and turn into a spam farm long ago, i see that he has another personal domain: there's not much to this site either, just a splash page with a photo of a homeless man (why, rishawn, why?) and PDFs of some old star editorials he wrote. the page's frame-based, clumsy design leads me to suspect that it was an old site he had lying around, and he's just using it to host his email, but he might decide to update it sometime.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 
entropy, death, and rebirth
one of the lingering questions in the local blogosphere is "what now?" before the election, some of the city's highest-profile right-wing blogs had the express function of ranting frothily about the peterson administration and his fellow democrats. now that peterson is out and republicans control the city-county council, what happens to those blogs?

indy undercover seems to have no purpose if republicans control city government (unless the FOP turns on ballard and the council), and the blog may be shut down. or it might continue on as a ballard-boosting law-enforcement blog and simply shut down its controversial comments section. if the blog dies, the mystery surrounding the identity of its author "joe friday" will likely die with it.

in contrast, the fringe "bart lies" site brought about its own obsolescence by using such a specific name. that site will surely die, though if the site's second splash page is any indication those folks will be teaming up with the "fair tax" folks, who promise they aren't going away. once they fail to get property taxes repealed, they plan to move on to harrassing local school boards.

meanwhile, sir hailstone is taking a break. presumably he intends to return to blogging, but we all know that in the blogging world "taking a break" sometimes means "no new posts for months if ever". hailstone's "digital farmers" blog has been getting a lot of kudos from other right-wing bloggers recently for his role in the ballardosphere. this may be a surprise to longtime readers, who might remember him from his failed primary campaign, his multiple blog purges to remove embarrassing material, and that time he put out a "hit" for gossip about "that tdw bitch".

as the anti-bart blogs die off, new species of blogs are being born. the wave of the future is the anti-ballard blog. at least two such blogs have been spotted in the wild. one is keep indy honest. there isn't much to this blog yet other than righteous anger and two single-paragraph posts. another, the wonderfully named accidental mayor, is a bit more substantial, with a suprising amount of quality content considering it's only been up for four days. the accidental mayor blog feels like a marion-county-focused taking down words, but that might just be because they're both typepad blogs with similar designs. at any rate, it's off to a promising start.

and speaking of TDW, a few trolls on various blogs have been suggesting that that TDW would die off following this year's election failures. don't believe it. as TDW has repeatedly pointed out, she works for the state party, not the county democrats, and overall democrats did pretty well in indiana this year.

Sunday, November 11, 2007 

another game day, another batch of lolcolts! (for last week's lolcolts click here.)


Saturday, November 10, 2007 
is the ballard honeymoon over?
candidate greg ballard was a cipher, an enigma. the people who voted for him didn't know much more about him than they knew about noob saibot. so now that ballard is our mayor-elect, there have been two primary fears about what kind of administration he's going to build.

right-wingers and ballard supporters have feared that ballard might stack his administration with establishment republicans and longtime party hacks, effectively selling out the grassroots political revolution they were convinced they'd been a part of. meanwhile, democrats and progressives feared that he'd load up his staff with the types of fringe characters who were ballard's most-vocal online supporters—in other words, we were afraid of an entire administration full of "bart lies" types.

mayor-elect ballard has now named his transition team, and if the names there are any indication, he plans to do both.

the list is chock full of GOP insiders, and gary welsh for one is ticked off about it. for one thing, the transition team includes both marion county prosecutor carl brizzi and former US attorney susan brooks. gary supported brizzi in last year's election, but these days he doesn't care for either brizzi or brooks, because they never prosecuted marion county democrats for alleged corruption. beyond that, the team contains two partners from the law firm ice miller, which has close ties to outgoing mayor peterson. and there are also two partners from barnes & thornburg, another high-powered law firm that donated $20,000 to peterson's re-election. (barnes & thornburg has also been in the news in the past couple years because two of its attorneys have had to resign because of their ties to disgraced lobbyist jack abramoff.)

at the same time, ballard appointed darla y williams to be his liason with the peterson administration. in addition to having the most hideously incoherent blog layout i've ever seen, darla is well-known as someone who has a long-standing personal grudge against mayor peterson, and whose past job performance has been questionable at best. she's the type of person who's prone to go off on long-winded rants about the "ghetto mafia". in other words, appointing her to be the liason to the peterson administration, where she will have to work day-in day-out with mayor peterson and his aides for the next two months, is like extending an enormous middle finger. it's like appointing miss ann or sir hailstone—both of whom seem to be big darla williams fans. you couldn't pick someone who would be more overtly hostile if you tried.

both gary and jen at tdw speculate that the more experienced members of the transition team will deal with the darla problem soon enough. and there are signs that it might have already happened: wilson notes that darla's name mysteriously doesn't appear in this morning's star article about the transition team. one can only hope that ballard has already cut her loose.

Thursday, November 08, 2007 
check out these awesome sandwich bags i found
i probably should've bought some. i mean, who couldn't use some awesome sandwich bags?

was biddle's contract violated?
ruth holladay reports that the newspaper guild is investigating rishawn biddle's firing. apparently the guild's contract with the star was not followed:

A Star insider notes that management "completely ignored the due process outlined in the union contract... They have to inform the Guild in writing whenever they terminate someone, and they didn't even bother to do that."

apparently the star didn't send that written notification to the guild about biddle's firing until two days later.

ruth also has a public statement from rishawn, but it doesn't have much that we don't already know: rishawn regrets what he wrote and is no longer with the star.

but the most interesting tidbit on ruth's blog is this:

FYI, sources inside the newsroom speculate that Dennis Ryerson and Barbara Henry are untouchable in this matter, and Tim Swarens will also survive. Apparently, this is not the only blog-related fiasco to occur at 307 N. Penn, but in other cases, the "mistakes" were made by non-employees -- you know, those freelancers -- and caught before they went online.

ruth speculates that these prior blog "mistakes" were made by freelancers—the star pays a lot of freelance reporters and editors who are thus technically not "employees". but if i had to guess, my money would be on the problems occurring over at INtouch, the star's "random folks we picked up off the street" blog. the standard of conversation there has always been far lower than at expresso, and as i've pointed out before on this blog, rishawn biddle was not the first person to have been "deleted" from the star blogs. the first i know of was jocelyn tandy-adande. and considering the kinds of garbage that was in her edited posts, i can only imagine what didn't get through.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 
who is greg ballard?
the link on the star front page says it all: who is greg ballard?

he's just won the indianapolis mayoral election, and yet after months of campaigning i really have no clue who the guy is other than that he's an ex-marine and he's Not-Bart-Peterson. apparently that was enough for some 77,000+ naptown residents.

mayor peterson is perhaps the first major victim of the property tax crisis. he didn't cause the problem; the governor and the legislature are the primary culprits there (and are surely quaking in their boots now that they've witnessed the fall of so many incumbents today). but the mayor and the city-county council weren't proactive enough about preventing property taxes from going up, and so they went way up for some unlucky souls. in the end, the GOP did a better job motivating their people to get to the polls.

i sincerely hope that greg ballard is everything his supporters say he is, because we're now stuck with the guy for four years. he certainly never demonstrated to me that he was a legitimate candidate; his own party never really took him that seriously. so here's hoping that he manages to put together a competent staff and some kind of coherent plan. it's easy to stand around proclaiming that "we can do better", but now that he actually has the job, we'll see how well he does.

update: the fact that democrats seem to be doing well in other parts of the state further demonstrates that the GOP wins in marion county are primarily about anger over property taxes, not some sort of major republican resurgence.

Monday, November 05, 2007 
don't be like ballard: vote
it didn't seem right to post anything non–colts-related yesterday, especially after that close loss at the end. but it's a new day: the day before the election.

the hot rumor circulating the blogs this weekend is true: greg ballard did not vote back in 2003. the man wants to be mayor, but four years ago he couldn't even be arsed with voting for mayor. that really shows a commitment to the city and its problems, don't you think? i guess we'll see how many of his supporters decide to emulate their hero by staying home tomorrow, and how many one-up their man and actually vote.

but let me say this, my fellow hoosiers: if you're smart enough and plugged-in enough to be reading this blog, you should definitely get out there and vote. if for no other reason, do it so that when you run for future office, future wilson allens won't be able to dig up your voting record and leak it to the press.

in other happenings...

star editor dennis ryerson printed a column about the rishawn biddle situation. there's not much new in the column; even the apparent refusal to refer to biddle by name is not new. and while it addresses complaints about biddle's firing, it does not address the most important questions. namely, rishawn's ramblings apparently did not have to go through an editor before they got posted to expresso, as other star blogs do. why not? and how much responsibility does the star share for creating the environment where rishawn could post whatever nonsense he wanted without a filter, and for hiring an editorial writer who had previously been fired for shoddy work?

also, abdul has a post titled was rishawn wrong? if anything, abdul's post demonstrates exactly what was wrong about rishawn's post, as abdul is able to make pretty much the same argument as rishawn did, but without being offensive or pulling out his thesaurus of 19th century racial slurs.

in answer to abdul's question, i again have to say yes. black politicians face far more scrutiny than white politicians do, simply because they're black. there are tons of non-black politicians in indiana who behave horribly, but people don't group them together and wonder whether, for example, white politicians in lawrence reinforce stereotypes of white people as being rich, amoral, stuck-up assholes. plus, the fact that abdul himself can off the top of his head list a half-dozen black marion-county democrats who he has no problems with suggests that there isn't anything uniquely bad about black politicians or even marion county black politicians; there are simply fewer of them than white politicians and they get far more scrutiny.

beyond that, the rishawn saga has pretty much boiled over. it did hit the AP wire and a few national blogs, but for the most part didn't get a lot of national attention, and locally everyone has gone back to talking about the election. so things could've gone a lot worse for rishawn, but he's probably not breathing any sighs of relief, either.

update: i almost forgot... i wanted to mention the parallels between what i was saying about about black politicians facing more scrutiny and the recent national discussion about whether hillary clinton "played the gender card" recently. (of course, it doesn't matter whether hillary did play such a card, only whether the media decides she did, which they apparently have. but that's an unrelated point.)

black politicians face far more scrutiny than whites, but they can't easily acknowledge this in public or they get accused of playing the race card. similarly, part of the animus against hillary clearly is that she is a female, but she can't really come out and say that without the media freaking out. read garance's tapped post about what she calls "the secondary conversation" for more.

Saturday, November 03, 2007 

my fellow hoosiers, i have a vision. that vision can be summed up with one word: lolcolts.

in an ideal world, the internet would be full of lolcolts. the good news is that this ideal world can become a reality. but i can't do it by myself!

that's where you come in. go out there and make more lolcolts. i have given you a first example above, based on a photo by aj macht. if you need inspiration, go here and then go here. maybe open each site in a separate tag and toggle between them; i don't know. however you do it, go out there and make more lolcolts!

update: here's another to make sure you're on the right track:

thanks to mike for spreading the meme.

2nd update: you can view all my lolcolts posts by clicking the "lolcolts" label below.


Thursday, November 01, 2007 
biddle story hits fox news/AP wire
the job market for rishawn biddle just got harder, as news of his firing has now hit the AP wire, including

INDIANAPOLIS — The editor of The Indianapolis Star publicly apologized Thursday for what he and community leaders considered racially offensive comments posted by an editorial writer on one of the newspaper's blogs.

Editorial columnist RiShawn Biddle's posting on the online discussion board criticized City-County Council President Monroe Gray, who, like Biddle, is black. The blog, titled "Expresso," referred to Gray and other city Democrats using language that both the Star's editor and elected officials called offensive and unacceptable.

The language has since been removed from the site, and Editor Dennis Ryerson said at a news conference at Martin Luther King Jr. Park that the writer was no longer with the paper. Ryerson declined to say whether the writer was fired or resigned.

the story has now gone national, virtually ensuring that rishawn's name will pop up in dozens if not hundreds of newspapers and news sites across the country (and the net) tomorrow.

on the bright side, the offending post has finally been deleted from the star's servers, where it remained hidden but readable for some 30 hours after ostensibly being "removed".

update: see also romenesko at poynteronline.

2nd update: matthew felling writes this insightful post for cbs's public eye blog.

a candidacy denied
south carolina democrats have determined that they will keep stephen colbert off the ballot:

This essentially means that Colbert’s short lived White House run in the Palmetto State will come to an end, because he has said that he would not try to be placed on the Republican Party primary ballot.

The state party's executive council met this afternoon in Columbia to decide which Democratic candidates met the criteria to be placed on the ballot. To be placed on the South Carolina ballot a candidate must demonstrate national viability as well as campaign in the state.

Colbert, who officially filed papers to get on the ballot this morning, lost a roll call vote, 13-3.

Meanwhile, presidential long shots, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, made the cut.

colbert was actually polling higher than kucinich and gravel. 0% doesn't seem all that viable to me.

biddle reactions from across the web
today mayor peterson, state rep william crawford, and other local politicians staged a press conference about the rishawn biddle controversy, which forced the indy star to actually report on the story. note however that the story carefully avoids mentioning rishawn by name:

The criticism of the newspaper stemmed from an editorial columnist's online discussion board posting, known as a blog, that criticized City-County Council President Monroe Gray.

The blog referred to Gray and other city Democrats using language that both the Star's editor and elected officials called offensive and unacceptable.

Dennis Ryerson, editor of the Star, said he ordered the posting removed as soon as he became aware of it and apologized on behalf of the paper.

He said the employee who posted the comments is no longer employed by the paper and that the comments did not follow the paper's standards.

"I want the Star to be, like the mayor said of the city, a model of civility," Ryerson said. "The Internet should be a center of electronic dialogue, not diatribe."

of course, the post was "removed" from expresso but remains on the server even today.

gary welsh's reaction to the press conference is predictable. to gary, everything is evidence of an all-encompassing antidemocratic conspiracy by "the carson machine", and this is no exception. in garyzarro world, biddle was fired for daring to criticize the Powers-That-Be, not for throwing around racially offensive language like "coonery". never mind that just yesterday gary admitted that the post in question remained offensive even after the "zip coon" part was removed.

ruth holladay asks whether biddle deserved to be fired, suggesting that ryerson and the star share a large part of the blame for creating an environment where biddle could post such nonsense without an editor's approval. to be sure, this incident is embarrassing for ryerson: not only does the star have trouble keeping racist, offensive comments off its talkback pages, but it can't even prevent its own employees from posting offensive material.

doug thinks rishawn's firing "[s]eems like a bit of a loss" because rishawn "seemed like a nice enough guy". while i'm sure that in his actual day-to-day personal life rishawn is nice enough, i always thought that he came off as a bit of an arrogant, condescending twit in his online posting and debating.

abdul thinks there's a bit of a double standard going, because democrats weren't equally up in arms when city-county council attorney aaron haith referred to abdul as "the grandson of willie lynch". there may be some validity to this, but then again, the two acts are hardly in the same league. as i said in the comments at tdw, haith made a spontaneous, one-sentence, offensive remark. rishawn, in contrast, wrote a nine-paragraph screed that was loaded with offensive language, which he went back and edited four times and yet is still offensive. haith's mistake was arguably a crime of passion done in the heat of the moment; biddle's was clearly premeditated, and directed toward the public. hell, rishawn was so proud of his race-baiting garbage that he sent out an email bragging about it. i have to wonder whether any of this would've even happened if he hadn't sent out that email.

and besides, by complaining about his own incident and not condemning biddle, abdul is being just as partisan and hypocritical as he complains the other side is being. it cuts both ways, chief.

melyssa aka miss ann, as usual, uses this as an opportunity to talk about herself. she is still ranting about how an IFD chief allegedly called her a "bull dyke" months ago. i say "allegedly" because, unlike abdul's complaint, there is no actual evidence that this ever happened. melyssa herself didn't even overhear the comment; some dude said it happened, so that is enough for her to post about it on 20 different blogs for months on end. personally, i have no reason to believe what some dude said, and i am immediately skeptical of any claims that arise from the "bart lies" crowd. but if it actually did happen, then she's right, that's disgusting and worthy of condemnation.

indy undercover unsurprisingly jumps at the chance to complain about "democraps". indyu's argument is the same as abdul's (only not as well-written), but the post is interesting in that the commenters are actually more offensive than rishawn's original post: one of them even makes zip coon jokes. that's classy!

various anonymous commenters at various right-leaning blogs defend rishawn on free-speech grounds, which of course doesn't really apply. rishawn is more than welcome to restart his old blogspot blog and do nothing but reprint lyrics from hair for all anyone cares. but the indy star has no obligation to give him blog space on their servers for his ramblings, nor to cut him a paycheck for doing so. plenty of us are out here blogging for free on our own time—in fact, i really need to finish up this entry and get back to work myself.

that's all the coverage of the issue i've seen online, aside from tdw and other things i've linked to in previous posts. but with this morning's press conference, i wouldn't be surprised if this story sticks around for another news cycle or two.

update: gary welsh is now demanding ryerson's resignation because ryerson attended this morning's press conference. it seems reasonable to me that the editor of the paper might want to appear at a press conference attacking his newspaper, in order to defend himself. but to gary it's an outrage!

2nd update:luke ford (who conducted the infamous "little black book" interview) picks up on rishawn's firing and writes:

I knew RiShawn when he lived in Los Angeles and interviewed him Feb. 25, 2003.

I once wrote that he was the only darkie in a room of pale faces (at a panel at AFI). He reproved me for the word "darkie." He said it was racist. I removed the word.

Biddle worked at Forbes. He was fired when his notes couldn't substantiate one of his stories (quotes). He went to the Los Angeles Business Journal and then to the Indianapolis Star as an editorial writer.

ford also quotes from this column by richard prince about rishawn's firing.

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