now listening
shared items
...more shared items

11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003

12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004

01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004

02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004

03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004

04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004

05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004

06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004

07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004

08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004

09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004

10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004

11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004

12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005

01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005

02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005

03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005

04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005

05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005

06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005

07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005

08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005

09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005

10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005

11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005

12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006

01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006

02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006

03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006

04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006

05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006

06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006

07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006

08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006

09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006

10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006

11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006

12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007

01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007

02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007

03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007

04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007

05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007

06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007

07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007

08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007

09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007

10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007

11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007

12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008

01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008

02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008

03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008

04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008

05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008

06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008

07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008

08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008

09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008

10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008

11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008

12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009

01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009

02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009

03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009

04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009

05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009

06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009

07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009

08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009

09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009

10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009

11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009

12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010

01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010

02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010

03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010

Monday, August 31, 2009 
it is now illegal to stand on a street corner holding a sign in indianapolis
way to go, jerks.

star ed board begs for a bad bill
the city's latest panhandling proposal—or i should say, the city's proposed ban on holding signs at intersections—goes up for a vote tonight. the indy star ed board, unsurprisingly, is in favor. also unsurprisingly, their editorial in favor of the ban is weak and unconvincing, and either ignores or brushes aside the many arguments against the proposal.

to begin, they wave away accusations of classism by noting that the head of wheeler mission has spoken in favor of the proposal. this is rhetorically equivalent to i'm not racist: i have a black friend, except in this case the friend isn't even black, but just happens to work with black folks. sorry, but even if we assume that the (unnamed) mission head isn't motivated by classism, that doesn't automatically absolve councillor mcquillen or other supporters.

next, the editorial moves on to the "public safety" argument:

It's not only that aggressive panhandlers occasionally pose a threat to motorists. The ordinance also would stop a common but dangerous practice in which church groups, youth sports teams and others raise money by walking through traffic at busy intersections.

let's take this a sentence at a time, shall we? aggressive panhandlers "pose a threat"? how so, exactly? this is probably a veiled reference to the woman who claimed she was carjacked by a panhandler, but that's not really a panhandling problem—it's a carjacking problem. the proposal won't stop carjackings: it will only inspire carjackers to find some other scam. instead of holding signs, they'll pretend to have a flat tire, or something else.

furthermore, aggressive panhandling is already illegal under the previous panhandling bill that was passed last year! likewise, the "dangerous practice" of walking through traffic is also already illegal under a law that was passed years ago! why do we need a new law when the existing laws aren't being enforced?

what about concerns—discussed on this blog at great length—that the proposal unfairly restricts speech rights of many other groups in addition to panhandlers? those concerns are also brushed aside without a thought:

It's not that council member Michael McQuillen, the sponsor of the ordinance, has anything against Little League teams, any more than he's trying to hurt the homeless. It's simply that the middle of a public street or highway isn't the proper venue to raise money for charities, no matter how worthy the cause.

even if we accept this claim without debate, it still doesn't hold water. okay, fundraising "in the middle of the street" is bad. that covers the nonprofit volunteers who stand on the median accepting donations. but what about the live-sign holder standing on the corner, advertising $5 domino's pizzas? or the person in the statue of liberty costume advertising tax services? they're not walking in traffic or taking donations, but they too would be banned from holding signs near intersections. (some may even lose their jobs.) what about the abortion protesters who seem to peacefully assemble downtown every week or so? what about buskers and other street performers, who freely share their art in exchange for the occasional tip? what about kids holding a car wash for their church group? where are they supposed to advertise their service if not by the side of the street? all of these people would be affected by the ordinance. does any reasonable person believe that they're a public safety menace?

and we haven't even mentioned the problem of selective enforcement.

ultimately, the ed board (and other ordinance supporters) fail to ask themselves the most basic question that should be considered before passing a ban on behavior: do we really need a new law, or can we get the same result by simply enforcing the laws we already have?

the language of the bill is online here (pdf link). i can only hope that the council will come to their senses and vote against it... but with the council dominated by republicans, i don't have much faith in that happening.

Friday, August 28, 2009 
gerry mann deletes blog... but it's still in the cache
local right-winger gerry mann got into a much-blogged-about exchange with rep andré carson recently. mann was soon revealed to be a blogger, who'd written, among other things, that obama is "not only a Marxist and a crook; he is also a raciest (sic)".

today, the blog is gone, as an embarrassed mann is apparently trying to erase his tracks. but google has a cache, which—for now at least—still has his writings available for view. for example, here's a screencap of his controversial post titled "what's obama's problem?" (click for a larger version):

pretty incendiary stuff.

p.s. while we're on the subject of blog deletions, i was curious to discover recently that hoosiersforfairtaxation has gone invite-only. this struck me as odd, considering how melyssa always loved to gloat about how much traffic she got. i can't say i'll miss it, though.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 
panhandling issue too complicated for tully
in today's column, matt tully laments that the issues surrounding the city's latest proposed panhandling ordinance are "complicated", but fails to adequately explain just why this is so.

the column's most grievous flaw is that it fails to acknowledge the role of classism in the debate—and classism is at the very heart of the proposed ordinance. let there be no doubt: the whole point of the proposal is that panhandlers, who are poor and, more importantly, look poor, make a certain segment of the population uncomfortable. people like councilor mike mcquillen are so disgusted by these disheveled panhandlers that they're willing to strip away everyone's right to stand on a street corner holding a sign.

perhaps the reason tully doesn't acknowledge the role of classism in the debate is because of his own classism: he says that arguments for the ordinance are "compelling" and agrees with ICVA CEO don welsh that panhandlers have a "profound and negative impact on the image of Indianapolis." or perhaps he naively believes that the bill isn't classist because it "does not solely target panhandlers" and applies to "kids selling car washes, people holding political or going-out-of-business signs, and more". of course, the only reason it applies to those folks is because it has to in order to pass constitutional muster (and even then, it could still be struck down as unconstitutional once the inevitable lawsuits hit the courts). if this were truly about public safety and not about dirty panhandlers, we wouldn't still be calling it a panhandling ordinance.

no, the bill is clearly about panhandlers, and everyone else who'd be affected is just collateral damage. even tully can't be bothered to spend more than a sentence discussing the kids' car washes, church fundraisers, and live sign holders who'd be restricted from advertising their wares. of course, a complete listing of everyone who'd be unjustly branded a panhandler by this ordinance would be so long that it would take up tully's entire column, and new examples are coming to light all the time. (one of the column's commenters—insert standard disclaimer about the vileness of indy star comments section here—points out that buskers and street performers would also be affected, which hadn't occurred to me, but makes perfect sense.)

the column isn't a complete wash, though. it has a couple good passages... even if those passages are just quotes from other people:

Timothy Maguire, who serves as chairman of the Marion County Libertarian Party, walked to the podium. He pointed to an existing law that allows police to go after aggressive panhandlers.

"Why is it that whenever the laws on the books are not being enforced, the knee-jerk reaction is to create new laws that won't accomplish anything?" Maguire asked, adding: "Do you just need to admit that we don't like looking at panhandlers?"

quite. the law is clear that panhandlers aren't even supposed to speak to passersby unless spoken to first. but even standing there quietly is too much, apparently.

in the end, tully concludes that "[i]t's a reasonable issue" and "worth debating". but he never quite explains what's so reasonable about it. he never examines the arguments of the bill's sponsors; he only agrees with them, as if it's self-evident that those filthy panhandlers don't belong on our street corners, as if the mere act of holding a sign makes someone a menace to public safety.

the issues are complicated, all right. apparently, they're not only too complicated for republicans on the council, but they're too complicated for political columnists, as well.

last chance to talk chappaquiddick
shorter gary welsh: i'd like to take the opportunity of senator ted kennedy's death to ignore his five decades in politics and instead discuss an auto accident that happened 40 years ago.

Monday, August 24, 2009 
first, they came for the hot-n-ready pizza guy
yesterday, i wondered whether the indianapolis city-county council is really so scared of panhandlers that it's ready to take away speech rights from church groups, pizza parlors, and community car washes. apparently, as far as the public safety committee is concerned, the answer is yes:

The vote was 5-1 in favor of the proposal, with Councilwoman Mary Moriarty Adams, a Democrat, voting against it.

The ordinance, sponsored by Republican Michael McQuillen, would make it a violation of city code to stand within 50 feet of a stoplight or a stop sign on a public right of way while soliciting, advertising, selling a product or talking to someone in a vehicle.

The measure would strengthen an existing panhandling ordinance that prohibits asking people for money orally or by street performance, though McQuillen pointed out the new ordinance also would apply to activities such as church fundraisers and teenagers' car washes. Violation of the ordinance would be punishable by a fine.

yes, the council has figured out that in order for their precious panhandling bill to be constitutional, it must apply to all commercial speech—from the black muslims selling incense to the firefighters collecting charitable donations to the kid in the cow costume in front of chick-fil-a. and as it turns out, five members of the public safety committee are cool with that.

as if i haven't been harping on about it ad nauseam, in my neighborhood, a lot of businesses these days have kids in front waving signs in a desperate plea for business. it's tacky, and a lousy after-school job to be sure, but a threat to public safety? not in my neighborhood, at least. i have to wonder whether the owners and managers of these businesses even know that this ordinance would affect them.

the bill is scheduled for a full council vote next monday. while i'd like to think it won't pass, i don't exactly have faith in the republican-led council to do the right thing—barring an outcry from local fast-food joints, tax preparers, and non-profit groups.

Sunday, August 23, 2009 
signs, signs, everywhere signs
the lead item in today's behind closed doors column is about how mayor greg "end of country-club politics" ballard has received free memberships to all the city's snootiest country clubs. it's recommended reading, but i don't have much to add.

instead, i'd like to focus on the final item in the column:

A panhandling ordinance that's been hotly debated in city hall has gotten some help from its Facebook friends.

Councilman Mike McQuillen, a Republican who sponsored an ordinance to ban people from holding signs within 50 feet of traffic lights or stop signs, has started a Facebook group called "Indy, Stop the Panhandling!" As of Friday, the group had drawn about 280 members in support of the ordinance, which goes back to the council's public safety committee Monday for public input.

"These are people I've never heard of," McQuillen said of the members. "I thought a few of my friends would join."

now, those 280 fans seemingly include everyone in mcquillen's family, as well as a number of people who are active in local republican politics (ryan vaughn, theresa lubbers, lincoln plowman, mike jezierski, murray clark, ernie shearer, bart mcatee... and those are just some of the names i recognize off the top of my head), but let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that most of them are just normal facebookers.

The Facebook page also serves as a forum for discussion. People have posted comments offering support ("Go, Michael, go!"), while others have questioned the need for another law to address the problem.

now this part isn't so impressive. the group's wall currently has a whopping 15 comments. five of them are from mcquillen himself. another is from someone in florida, who states, "I wish someone would start this n key west". and two of them suggest we don't need another panhandling law. so calling the page "a forum for discussion" might be technically accurate, but let's not get carried away.

the star goes on to note that "[s]ome council members oppose the ordinance because they feel it's classist or inhibits free speech", and yes, the ordinance is both of those things. but arguably most important, the proposal's classism makes it unconstitutional.

the entire point of the proposal is to restrict free speech rights of a specific class of people—panhandlers. but first amendment law says you can't do that! prior restraints must be content-neutral and apply to everyone. so to pass constitutional muster, a law that makes it illegal to "hold or display any sign or placard intended to solicit food, work, or other assistance" would need to apply not only to panhandlers, but to the guy standing in front of little caesar's hawking hot-n-ready pizza, the person in the cow suit in front of chick-fil-a, the people advertising liquidation sales at whatever big-box store is closing down this month, the black muslims on 38th street selling incense, the folks collecting money for muscular dystrophy, and even the scantily-clad high-schoolers holding a car wash for their church.

mcquillen and other ordinance-supporters claim that the proposal is about public safety, but let's be honest. this proposal, like past panhandling proposals, is about the privileged feeling uncomfortable around those people. unfortunately for them, the first amendment says you can't pass a prior restraint that only applies to those people. are we really so frightened of panhandlers that we're willing to interfere with community car washes and hot-n-ready pizzas?

Saturday, August 22, 2009 
give me liberty, even if it means more deaths
oh, the things i do for you, my audience. this week, i subjected myself to watching indiana week in review, and i did it all for you.

the quality of actual political debate on the show leaves something to be desired. for example, the IWIR panel discussed recent protests in richmond over changes in school dress codes... and did so without even mentioning what people were complaining about! (among the complaints you didn't hear about: that the dress code is far too restrictive, such showing collarbone will get your kid suspended; that the school district didn't work with local retailers to ensure that acceptable clothes were available; that many parents had already bought their kids school clothes before learning that said clothes were unacceptable; and so on.) how can you cover a protest without discussing the protesters' complaints? (the answer: poorly.)

but the reason i watched was for the coverage of the governor's recent statements on motorcycle helmet safety, which host jim shella told us were "misundersood".

so what was the alleged misunderstanding? apparently, some people interpreted mitch's comments as being against wearing helmets altogether, when he is only opposed to a mandatory helmet law. (mitch himself wears a helmet, and has been photographed wearing it many a time, so clearly he's not against wearing them, but anyway...)

i did learn one thing from IWIR: that mitch wrote a letter to the editor, which was published with no fanfare on wednesday. here is mitch's published letter, in its entirety:

As I expected when I saw it, a misstatement in The Star on Aug. 16 has caused confusion. When asked about a law to force people to wear motorcycle helmets, I said (tape available) that I always wear one and encourage everyone to do so. The headline writer wrote that I said bikers should "use their heads, not cover them." That is the reverse of my constant advice and example.

Another government mandate of behavior, especially where the data are very inconclusive that it would matter, is a totally different question from urging people to take a reasonable precaution. There are many dubious behaviors that we stop short of ordering people to change by force of law, and in a free country that's as it should be.

okay, fine, so mitch encourages people to wear helmets. good for him. but he is still blatantly lying when he says "the data is inconclusive" about mandatory helmet laws. the data is crystal clear: mandatory helmet laws save lives. here are some more statistics from an NHTSA fact sheet:
  • When Florida repealed its universal rider motorcycle helmet law in 2002, there were 40 percent more motorcyclists admitted to hospitals for treatment in the 30 months immediately following the helmet law change compared to the 30 months just before the law change (4,986 versus 3,567).
  • After the first year of the enactment of universal helmet use laws, the following reductions of motorcycle fatalities occurred: Oregon, 33 percent; Nebraska, 32 percent; Texas, 23 percent; Washington State, 15 percent; California, 37 percent; and Maryland, 20 percent.
  • Helmet use decreased following the changes in helmet laws in Arkansas and Texas. In the first full year following repeal of the law, fatalities in Arkansas increased by 21 percent, compared with the fatality rate in the last full year under the universal use law. In Texas, operator fatalities increased by 31 percent compared with the previous year when the universal helmet law was in place.
  • The 1998 universal helmet law repeal in Kentucky and the 1999 repeal in Louisiana produced similar effects to those experienced by Arkansas and Texas. Observed helmet use dropped from nearly full compliance under the universal law to about 50 percent without the law. Motorcyclist fatalities increased by over 50 percent in Kentucky and over 100 percent in Louisiana. Injuries also increased substantially in both States (48 percent in Louisiana and 34 percent in Kentucky). The rates of fatalities and injuries per registered motorcycle increased in both States following the helmet law repeals.

incidentally, indiana does have a law on the books requiring helmet use, but it only applies to riders under age 18. here's what NHTSA has to say about such laws:
  • Data on crashes in States where only minors are required to wear helmets show that fewer than 40 percent of the fatally-injured minors wear helmets even though the law requires them to do so. Helmet laws that govern only minors are difficult to enforce.
  • Helmet use laws governing all motorcycle riders (universal helmet laws) significantly increase helmet use and are easily enforced because of riders’ high visibility.
  • On September 11, 2007, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that States that do not have universal helmet use laws enact them, and that all States require motorcyclists to use FMVSS 218-compliant motorcycle helmets while riding (operating), or as a passenger on any motorcycle.

care to hazard a guess on whether anyone on the IWIR panel mentioned any of this?

if you guessed no, then congratulations! the entire discussion lasted at most 90 seconds. first, shella mentioned poor misunderstood mitch's letter to the editor, and that mitch is in favor of wearing helmets, but against a mandatory helmet law. shella went on to suggest that "you could never get a law passed" requiring motorcycle helmets in indiana. then democratic flack ann delaney wondered whether mitch is in favor of mandatory seat belt laws. finally, republican flack toby mcclamroch reiterated the correctness of mitch's position, stating that helmets are good because "motorcycles are dangerous." (really, toby? you don't say!) with that, the discussion—and the whole program—were over. the two journalists on the panel weren't given a chance to respond—not that i imagine they would've had much to say. it didn't seem like anyone on the show had bothered to do any research; no actual facts were discussed at any time during the 30-minute program, only conventional wisdom.

truly, a shameful effort all around. the governor lies, repeatedly, to the press about motorcycle helmet safety, and nobody in the local media—nobody at the indy star, and nobody on indiana week in review—makes even a token effort to confirm whether his statements are true.

how is the public supposed to know the truth when the media refuses to fact-check what politicans say, when people like mitch daniels are allowed to lie with impunity, knowing that nobody in the media will call them out on it? our political discourse is thoroughly broken.

Friday, August 21, 2009 
please don't let me be misunderstood
typically, watching indiana week in review—a show in which two political hacks and three business-friendly journalists get all wonky about the week's news—isn't my idea of fun. but this week, i may need to tune in:

Topics to be discussed on Indiana Week in Review today:

Evan Bayh's voting record. Is there a shift to the right this year?

Cap and Trade opponents rally in Indianapolis

Baron Hill's Tele-town hall plans

André Carson's lack of town hall plans

Dress Code protest at Richmond High School

Mitch Daniels' misunderstood remarks about motorcycle helmet use

emphasis mine. note the framing here: poor misunderstood mitch! all he did was claim that helmets aren't that important for motorcycle safety! never mind that his remarks were plainly, demonstrably false—he's just misunderstood! and this is the frame being advanced not by IWR's resident republican hack, but by the show's host and moderator, jim shella!

to refresh your memory, since i haven't seen this discussed much outside of this blog or a brief mention by doghouse riley—here are the remarks in question:

Asked, though, if those fatalities might be lessened with a mandatory helmet law, Daniels said that "honestly, the data says that's not the key -- that really the key is practicing motorcycle safety and people on four wheels being a little more attentive. That's what will make the difference, just as seat belts have made a difference."

of course, the data says precisely the opposite. numerous studies have shown that:
  • motorcycle helmets save lives and help prevent serious injury
  • mandatory helmet laws encourage more people to wear helmets, thus
  • mandatory helmet laws save lives

in fact, studies have shown that wearing a helmet is the #1 most important factor in surviving motorcycle crashes. anyone who tells you otherwise is lying, plain and simple.

in my previous post on the subject, i wondered why the indy star let mitch get away with such blatant falsehoods. why didn't someone at the star spend five minutes on the NHTSA site, like i did, finding the actual data? after all, when someone tells me something i know is provably false, my reaction is to prove it false, not to simply repeat the false assertion without challenging it. they didn't even bother getting a quote from a motorcycle helmet proponent to counter mitch's claims, which is what usually passes for "balance" these days.

but shella is taking things one step further. if the governor says something that, on its face, seems to be false, shella assumes that the governor must have been misunderstood! because gosh and golly, it's not like a politician would ever lie about something like that.

there are so many ways shella could've phrase that line. here are some examples, any one of which would have been more accurate:
  • Mitch Daniels' recent remarks about motorcycle helmet use
  • Mitch Daniels' controversial remarks about motorcycle helmet use
  • Mitch Daniels' misunderstanding about motorcycle helmet use
  • Mitch Daniels' misinformed remarks about motorcycle helmet use
  • Mitch Daniels' blatant lies about motorcycle helmet use
  • Mitch Daniels' second-degree burns after his pants spontaneously combusted while lying about motorcycle helmet use

that shella instead chose "misunderstood" is telling: shella is more interested in covering for the governor than in getting to the truth about motorcycle helmet safety.

it should be interesting to see how they try to spin this one on IWR. i'm also curious to see whether anyone other than ann delaney (IWR's token democrat) bothers pointing out the truth. i'm not holding my breath on that one.

Sunday, August 16, 2009 
motorcycle helmet safety: mitch vs the data
governor mitch daniels is quoted in today's behind closed doors column, and as is often the case, what he said turns out to be transparently false.

daniels, a motorcyclist himself, was asked about helmet safety:

Asked, though, if those fatalities might be lessened with a mandatory helmet law, Daniels said that "honestly, the data says that's not the key -- that really the key is practicing motorcycle safety and people on four wheels being a little more attentive. That's what will make the difference, just as seat belts have made a difference."

you'd think the comparison to seat belts—a safety device designed to protect riders in event of crash, and one which is required by indiana law—would work in favor of motorcycle helmets, but let's ignore the logic and look directly at the data.

for example, here's the abstract (pdf) of an NHTSA study titled Motorcycle Helmet Effectiveness Revisited:

This report looks at the measurement of how effective motorcycle helmets are in preventing fatalities in motorcycle crashes. Based on a comparison of crashes involving motorcycles with two occupants, at least one of whom was killed, the method uses data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to estimate helmet effectiveness. Technological changes over the past 15 years have led to improvements in helmet design and materials. Recalculating the effectiveness of helmets in preventing fatalities, using more recent data, shows that helmets have indeed improved in this respect. The effectiveness of helmets has increased from 29 percent in 1982 through 1987 to 37 percent over the years 1993 through 2002. The significance of this improvement is that over the same period, helmets have saved the lives of 7,808 riders. The potential number of lives saved over the period is even higher, at 11,915. Unfortunately, the declining rate of helmet use among motorcyclists has contributed to rising numbers of rider fatalities despite the improved life saving qualities of helmets.

here's more from a 2008 NHTSA fact sheet (pdf):

  • Head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.
    An unhelmeted motorcyclist is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury and 15 percent more likely to suffer a nonfatal injury than a helmeted motorcyclist when involved in a crash.
  • NHTSA estimates that motorcycle helmets reduce the likelihood of a crash fatality by 37 percent.
  • A Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System (CODES) study found that motorcycle helmets are 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries and that unhelmeted motorcyclists involved in crashes were three times more likely to suffer brain injuries than those wearing helmets.
  • A study conducted at the University of Southern California, which analyzed 3,600 traffic crash reports covering motorcycle crashes, concluded that wearing helmets was the single most important factor in surviving motorcycle crashes.

in other words, the data plainly shows that motorcyclists who are wearing a helmet are much more likely to survive a crash, and much less likely to be seriously injured. other studies show that people are more likely to wear helmets in states with mandatory helmet laws. more people wearing helmets means fewer fatalities and injuries.

so why is mitch daniels lying about the data? and why did the indy star not call him out on it? this information wasn't exactly difficult to find (though i admit the NHTSA site is slow as hell today). this isn't just some political lie, like when mitch says he didn't raise taxes even though he actually did. this is a life-or-death issue, and mitch's lies could convince impressionable hoosiers to endanger themselves by not wearing a helmet. so why does the star let him get away with it?

Monday, August 10, 2009 
the freedom to ask for money
council-member kent smith to the indy star, re: the latest anti-panhandling bill:

"In no way are we looking to stop people from freedom of speech," Smith said. "We need to restrict that ability of people walking up to ask for money in an intersection."

apparently kent smith doesn't think asking for money is a form of speech.

if you're wondering, the bill was tabled and sent back so the public safety committee could work on that whole blatant unconstitutionality thing. here's hoping it won't come back, but i imagine it will.

also at tonight's meeting, the republican majority—who were swept into power in an anti-tax frenzy in 2007—swallowed their pride and obediently voted for a tax increase to fund the CIB. the democrats on the council were more than happy to sit back on this one and let the republicans, many of whom had signed no-tax-increase pledges, hang themselves on their own hypocrisy. one republican, christine scales, voted against. one democrat, jackie nytes, crossed over to ensure that the bill passed. &ara;

Sunday, August 09, 2009 
intense, emotional and often irrational
in his column today, tully gets in a dig at gary welsh:

[I]t also was an example of the intense, emotional and often irrational reaction to all things Obama.

One local blogger, for instance, could fill a book (though not a very good one) with his many entries railing on the goofy presidential birth certificate issue. And my voice mail fills with messages you wouldn't want your mother to hear each time I dare write Obama's name.

let's see... "intense, emotional and often irrational". yeah, that description fits gary pretty accurately. but something else that's well-known about gary is that he can't stand criticism. even mild criticism drives him up the wall and causes him to lash out, often with comic effect. so as you might imagine, being criticized in the star has gary fuming. he whines:

I have performed countless hours of legal research in my spare time and devoted many posts over the past year trying to inform the readers of this blog what the real issue is about so people can understand what Tully wants to reduce to "goofy presidential birth certificate." People approach me on the street and e-mail me constantly thanking me for better informing me on this issue so they understand what's its all about. They are angry at guys like Tully in the mainstream media who only mention it in the most derisive way without putting context to it or making any effort to explain the issue.

ah, so gary is simply a hard-working blogger, working to inform people that if you read the constitution while wearing logic-impairing goggles, you can come to absurd conclusions. all he's doing is explaining the controversy! but of course, this description doesn't really match what gary has actually written.

in his most recent birther post, posted on friday—yes, he still posts birther stuff multiple times a week—gary warned of "the real danger that the United States will cease to exist as a constitutional republic".

the birther post before that, two days earler, is riddled with supposed "evidence" that obama's COLB is a forgery, and lavishes praise on pamela geller, a prominent proponent of the born-in-kenya theory.

three days before that he was gleefully quoting at length from an NRO article that referred to obama as a "marxist" and suggested, among other things, that obama is indeed a muslim, that he was to blame for genocide in kenya, and that "the real reason Obama doesn't want the original birth certificate released" is that it would show that his name isn't actually barack obama. (this, despite simultaneously acknowledging that the information on the COLB "is identical to that in the state's records, the so-called vault copy". gary isn't worried about consistency here.)

two days before that he was complaining that his oh-so-reasonable constitutional argument was being lumped together with those crazy birthers who say obama was born in kenya. (hey gary, maybe the reason you get lumped in with those people is that you continue to promote them on your blog?) in that post, he also claimed that "the reason someone like Matt Tully doesn't have the stomach to stick his neck out on an issue like this" is because tully doesn't want to accused of racial bigotry—as gary is regularly—and not because tully thinks the "issue" is laughable.

all that in just the past two weeks! believe me, i could keep going—gary welsh is totally obsessed with his irrational loathing of our first black president. and he eagerly latches on to every negative story about obama he hears—even the ones he claims not to believe, like the idea that obama was born in kenya. (i'm sure you all remember when gary was flogging the story about obama having coked-up limousine sex with a white felon named larry sinclair. he doesn't talk about that so much anymore; the birther stuff gets him more page views.)

gary tries to present himself as a lonely truth-teller, one of the few brave souls willing to admit that the emperor has no clothes. in reality, he's more like a paparazzo, pointing his camera up the emperor's robes in hopes of snapping a photo of imperial undies. but unlike paparazzi, who harass and annoy for a paycheck, gary does it out of pure spite, because like rush limbaugh, he wants obama to fail. and he rationalizes it all by formulating conspiracy theories about why the objects of his hate deserve it: obama is a deceiver, a non-citizen, on the DL, corrupt, secretly smoking cigarettes despite having said he quit.

it's a shame, really, because gary's a fairly intelligent guy and capable of doing good work. but he's also vain, paranoid, and incapable of admitting mistakes, and that tarnishes what could be a really good blog. the result is a blog that's half-rational and half-crackpot—and therefore impossible to take seriously.

gary complains about ad-hominem attacks being used against him, but people wouldn't use them so much if he didn't make it so easy. after all, this is the guy who believed that julia carson practiced voodoo. it's damn hard to take someone like that seriously.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009 
marsh bugged by viral coupon
marsh on facebook, july 28:

At Marsh, we want our loyal fans, customers and employees to be rewarded. You have all done a fantastic job at sharing our posts and telling your friends. Simply take advantage of this $10 Marsh Coupon at your local Marsh or O'Malia's location on your order of $10 or more (excluding tax). This coupon is limited to once per fan between now and August 8, 2009. Some exclusions apply. See coupon for further details. Don't be afraid to SHARE.. Marsh would love to see more shoppers become fans!!

marsh on facebook, july 30:

Marsh wants to thank all of our fans, friends and shoppers for making our first facebook coupon offer a huge success!! We will continue to offer more coupons and deals "just for fans" moving forward. If you weren't able to take advantage of the offer this time, just "BECOME A FAN" and look for your updates. Marsh, More Ways to Save Than Ever Before!

marsh on facebook, july 31:

Dear Marsh Fans and guests.. We recently offered a coupon for our facebook fans of Marsh. Unfortunately this offer has been widely distributed in an unauthorized manner throughout our marketing area. Due to the vast numbers of inappropriately transmitted and replicated copies of this offer, we will no longer be able to accept these coupons in our stores. Our sincerest apology for any inconvenience this has caused.

marsh on facebook, august 3:

We at Marsh recently stuck our toe in the water to try this whole social media thing. Unfortunately we ended up stubbing it. Our recent $10 coupon offer on Facebook has instead left us red in the face and many of our loyal customers angry. Rightfully so. For that we are truly sorry. Needless to say, we're learning. Imperative to say, we're sorry. - The Marsh Facebook Team

now, marsh intended this coupon only for their facebook fans, and that's fair. in fact it's generous—become a fan, get a $10 coupon. the problem is five little words: "Don't be afraid to SHARE.."

the lesson here is that you shouldn't put something on the internet and ask people to share it if you don't in fact want them to share it.

Powered by Blogger hosted by Sensory Research