Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Are Israeli Settlements Really Such a Problem? A Primer

In discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process (or lack thereof), one of the things that has been getting much attention recently is the issue of settlements. I don’t want to go into a lengthy, drawn-out history lesson or argument about whether Israel did this or the Palestinians did that. But I do want to make a few brief (well, at least by my standards…) comments on the whole issue of settlements.

First, I don’t think that construction of settlements in the West Bank is a very good idea. However, note that I say that from the perspective of an American supporter of Israel and not from the perspective of an Israeli. I think that the existence of settlements may make an eventual peace deal harder (though not impossible) to achieve.

That said, I think that it is important to remember several things and to draw several important distinctions. First, there are really about five kinds of “settlements” and two of those don’t bother me at all. I suspect that most Americans, when they hear the term “settlement” are picturing one of the numerous hilltop enclaves, often consisting of nothing more than a few trailers, erected by far-right or orthodox Israelis.The Israeli government has done a decent (though not perfect) job of dismantling and removing these hilltop settlements from time to time. Another type of settlement involves the creation of a Jewish village or neighborhood in or near Arab villages or towns that don’t otherwise have a Jewish population (or which had a Jewish population until massacred or driven out by Palestinians; Hebron, for example). The third type of settlement is the frontier-style farming community. Then there are the much larger “settlements” which are really, in essence, suburbs of Jerusalem. The most well-known of these is Ma’ale Adumim which has a population of over 30,000. Think Noblesville and Indianapolis for a decent comparison. Finally, there are actual neighborhoods of Jerusalem (like Gilo) that are technically settlements.

So, for example, this week the Obama administration criticized Israel for additional construction planned in Gilo. It is important to understand that what is being planned is not a new village in the middle of nowhere but rather expansion of an existing Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. Furthermore, one thing to note is that this area is often referred to as “Arab East Jerusalem” or “Palestinian Jerusalem” but those terms are meaningless. Jerusalem existed as a single city with a majority Jewish population until 1948. From 1948 to 1967, the city was divided in two with Jordan (not “Palestine”) holding the eastern half of the city (and refusing to permit Jews entry). Finally, in 1967 when Israel captured the eastern part of Jerusalem from Jordan and following Jordan’s decision to enter the Six Day War, the city was again reunited. (Similarly, Gaza, which was supposed to be part of the Arab state in the 1948 partition plan, was captured and occupied by Egypt in 1948.) To call the eastern part of Jerusalem (which includes the Old City) “Arab East Jerusalem” is to pre-determine the outcome of one of the most difficult parts of a final peace treaty.

It is also critical to remember how small Israel really is (8,522 square miles; compare that to Indiana’s 36,418 square miles) and that much of it (nearly 50%) is desert. While some settlements are constructed with political or religious motives, others are built simply because people need a place to live!

Some suggest that the settlements in and around Jerusalem are nothing more than a “land grab” by Israel. However, that argument is belied by the fact that in previous peace negotiations (including the 2000 Camp David and Taba negotiations from which Yasser Arafat walked away), Israel offered to cede portions of Israel outside the West Bank or Gaza to the new Palestinian state in exchange for the areas to be ceded to Israel due to the presence of settlements. (Of course, Israeli Arabs wanted no part of having their citizenship transferred from Israel to the a new Palestinian state…)

Furthermore, ask yourself this question: Why is it that we all seem to expect that a component of any final peace deal will require Jews living in the areas that become part of an independent Palestine to leave their homes and move back to Israel yet we have no expectation at all that Palestinians living in Israel (who make up over 20% of the Israeli population) would be expected, let alone forced, to leave their homes and move to the new Palestinian state?

And don’t be fooled by recent pronouncements from some in the Palestinian Authority that Jews living in the settlements would be welcome to stay in an independent Palestine. First, if the Palestinian Authority was serious about this, then why would a cessation of settlement activity by a pre-condition to peace negotiations? After all, if Israeli settlers would be “welcome” in a Palestinian state, why not encourage the continued growth of settlements and the economic prosperity that they bring. Second, do you think many Jews would feel safe (let alone comfortable) living in a newly independent Palestinian state? Would the rule of law really apply and would Jews really be treated as equal citizens with the right to practice their chosen religion? Finally, don’t forget what happened shortly after Israel forcibly removed settlers from Gaza. Palestinians promptly destroyed $14 million worth of greenhouses that had been erected in Gaza by Israelis and left for the Palestinians to use.

One other thing to think about when you hear someone criticize Israeli settlement practices: Why don’t we hear corresponding criticism of the failure of the Palestinian authority to build settlements. Between the West Bank and Gaza, there are still twenty-seven official refugee camps housing approximately 688,000 “refugees”! Why haven’t Palestinian authorities built their own farming villages, neighborhoods, suburbs, and other living accommodations for these people instead of leaving them to rot in refugee camps? For that matter, why hasn’t the rest of the Arab world -- which is supposedly so concerned with the plight of the Palestinians and so opposed to Israeli “expansion” -- done anything to help build Palestinian infrastructure (whether physical infrastructure or the infrastructure of a functioning government)?

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I don’t think that continued construction of Israeli settlements (and here I really mean true settlements, not the suburbs and neighborhoods in and around Jerusalem) is a good idea and will, in all likelihood, make peace more difficult. But I don’t understand why settlements should be a pre-condition to negotiations; after all, aren’t settlements and settlers precisely one of the issues to be addressed in negotiations?

The Palestinians need to stop finding reasons not to make peace. If they want Peace, all they need to do is show up at the negotiating table and start talking (of course the cessation of terrorist activity and an end to incitement would be nice steps, too).

Update: Shortly after completing this post (but before it went live), I came across the following from Sarah Palin's interview with Barbara Walters:
I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead.
Does Sarah Palin know something that I don't? Or is she just hoping that Jews will flock back to Israel so that end times prophecies she appears to believe in will come true?


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Prayer for Obama: When Hate Invokes the Bible

Apparently over the last few weeks, a new slogan has been gaining some momentum among those opposed to President Obama. The slogan has been used as an email signature and on hats, buttons, shirts, and bumper stickers:

lets_all_pray_for_obama_bumper_sticker-p128174371548093129tmn6_210On its face, this looks like a pretty nice sentiment. That is until we read what Psalm 109:8 says ("I’m using the King James Bible; I doubt those responsible for the sentiments expressed by this bumper sticker read the Hebrew Bible):

Let his days be few; and let another take his office

Um. OK. Not terribly nice, but I guess it isn’t much different than the bumper stickers that said 1/20/2009 referring to the day that President George W. Bush’s successor would be inaugurated (and, hence, President Bush’s term in office would end). I mean, it looks like this is simply a prayer that President Obama serves a single term; after all, nobody would pray for President Obama to die, right? Well, no (remember the videos of the Arizona pastor praying for President Obama’s death…).

Unfortunately, this prayer is not quite so benign; the quotation from Psalms takes on a much different, and much more dangerous connotation, when read in conjunction with the lines that follow:

8Let his days be few; and let another take his office.

9Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.

10Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.

11Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.

12Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.

13Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.

14Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.

Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow? Sorry, but that sounds like people are praying for President Obama to die, maybe even praying for his assassination. If you see someone with one of these bumper stickers or hats, ask them how they can in good conscience, no matter whether they agree with President Obama’s policies or not, pray for his death and for his daughters to become fatherless vagabonds. Ask them how they could ever utter such wishes for anyone. Then ask them what could possibly make them hate anybody so much. Heck, while your at it, ask ’em What Would Jesus Do?

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why Competition Across State Lines May Not Really Be Such a Great Idea

One of the oft-repeated ideas in the current healthcare debate is that Americans should have the right to shop for health insurance across state lines. The argument is usually framed in terms of increased competition that will bring prices down and increase the quality of insurance packages available. And after all, who wouldn’t be in favor of increased competition?

Well, this is one of those issues that sounds great in a sound bite, but if you dig just a little bit below the surface, you will recognize some real problems and why this idea may not be so great after all.

Right now, insurance companies are regulated in the states in which they provide insurance. Thus, if you are a resident of Indiana, your insurance is provided by an insurer licensed by the Indiana Department of Insurance. Here is how Carol Cutter, the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance describes the Department’s role:

The purpose of the Indiana Department of Insurance is to protect Hoosiers as they purchase and use insurance products to keep their assets and their families from loss or harm. Consumers may need assistance with certain claim situations or just help in understanding how their policies work.  Our other primary obligation is to monitor the financial solvency of the insurance companies domiciled in Indiana so that the legal promises made in insurance policies are honored. To these ends, our Department staff is committed to providing exceptional customer service for both our consumers and our companies, and to maintain a fair and objective viewpoint as we examine each issue and circumstance within our jurisdiction.

I presume that other states have their own insurance departments that (again presumably) see their role in similar terms.

Now think about corporations for a minute. Have you ever noticed how many corporations are domiciled in Delaware? According to the Delaware Division of Corporations “More than 50% of all publicly-traded companies in the United States including 63% of the Fortune 500 have chosen Delaware as their legal home.” Why is that? After all, Delaware doesn’t have any large cities. The reason is simple: Delaware’s legislature made a conscious decision to enact laws that were seen as favorable to corporations (and in particular to corporate management, often at the expense of shareholders). Similarly, Delaware enacted less restrictive interest laws in order to make Delaware an attractive state of domicile for banks. At the end of the 19th Century, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York engaged in a race to attract corporate businesses. But when it comes to the protections given to shareholders, some might think of that race as a race to the bottom.

And that is what interstate insurance competition would lead to: A race to the bottom. States, in particular states with smaller populations or less homegrown industry, would be encouraged (don’t forget the strength of insurance lobbies) to enact laws that would be more favorable to the insurance companies. Those companies could then be domiciled in those states and offer their insurance packages across state lines into states with more rigorous consumer protection standards, greater solvency requirements, or more items that must be covered (mental  health or cancer screening, for example). So suddenly you, an Indiana resident, might be buying insurance from a company that the Indiana Department of Insurance has little or no ability to regulate but which is, instead, regulated by another state that has made the decision to lessen consumer safeguards to “drum up business”.

Let me offer one concrete example of how this might work and how it could impact a consumer. In Indiana, courts have ruled that when interpreting an insurance contract, any ambiguity is to be strictly construed against the insurer. (See, e.g., Cinergy Corp. v. Associated Elec. & Gas, 865 N.E.2d 571 (Ind. 2007)). In other words, if there is an ambiguity about what something means in an insurance policy, an Indiana Court will read that policy in a way that favors the insured rather than the insurance company. The basic reason for this presumption goes to unequal bargaining power and the fact that the insurance company drafted the policy and had the best opportunity to craft precise language. Insurance contracts (like most well-drafted contracts) include a “choice of law” provision, in which the parties agree as to which state’s laws will govern interpretation of the contract. Usually the chosen state will be the state that is the home (or principal place of business) one of the parties. So think how appealing it would be for an insurer to choose as its home or principal place of business a state that adopted the opposite presumption; that is, a presumption in favor of the insurer (as opposed to the insured). Or imagine how appealing it would be to an insurer to be domiciled in a state that does not require insurance policies to provide mental health coverage or cancer screenings to be included.

Don’t think for a moment that I’m just making up this worry or that the idea had never crossed the minds of those advocating for interstate insurance competition. The Republican healthcare reform bill [pdf], which does allow for interstate competition (and which also, by the way, does nothing to prevent insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions…) requires that the fine print of an insurance policy include the following language (emphasis added):


(See page 130.) Have you ever read the fine print of your insurance policy? Did you understand it?

Essentially, those who propose allowing interstate competition for health insurance packages already recognize that states may engage in a regulatory race to the bottom to encourage insurers to become domiciled in their state (think fees and taxes, not to mention the possibility of jobs).

Oh, one more thing about that Republican bill. When it comes to which state an insurance company could choose for “headquarters”, the bill specifically includes Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands (see page 121-122). Just imagine having to travel to Guam, American Samoa, or the Northern Mariana Islands to engage in litigation with your insurer! (Most contracts include a choice of jurisdiction and venue as well; so long as one of the parties is domiciled or has a principal place of business in that “state”, most courts will recognize and enforce that choice of jurisdiction and venue.)

I’m sure that there are many, many other issues to consider in the debate about whether it is a good idea to allow for interstate competition in health insurance plans. But be sure to recognize that there is a downside to what, on its face, sounds like a great idea.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

How Do We Respond?

Last week, I posted a photo of this banner that was prominently displayed at Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s anti-healthcare reform (and anti-government, anti-Obama, etc.) “press conference” rally at the Capitol:

1If you can’t read the words or make out the image, it says, “National Socialist Health Care Dachau, Germany – 1945” above a photo of a pile of naked bodies.

Think for a second about the comparison being drawn: President Obama’s efforts to extend healthcare coverage to millions of uninsured Americans is being directly compared to the genocide committed by Nazi Germany.

Here is another sign that was displayed at the gathering (and remember, unlike the 9/12 rallies with 70,000 participants [or millions as Fox and the right like to suggest], last week’s rally drew a paltry 3,000 or so):

Nope, no anti-Semitism in that poster (and note that the the family’s name is Rothschilds; if you’re going to hate them, you could at least spell the name right…). Oh, and out of curiosity. If President Obama is a secret Muslim, why would he be taking orders from Jewish financiers?

After my previous post was uploaded, I learned that Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) was one of the speakers at the tea party. Why does this matter? Well, Rep. Cantor is the Republican whip (second-highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives) and he is the only Jewish Republican in Congress (presuming for the sake of argument that Joe Lieberman isn’t really a Republican…). So what did Rep. Cantor have to say about the banner suggesting that the Holocaust is a fair comparison for healthcare reform? Nothing. His spokesperson said simply that the sign was “inappropriate”. And when interviewed and asked specifically about Rush Limbaugh’s comparisons of President Obama to Hitler (the comments were made back in August; Rep. Cantor did not respond to them until now), all that Rep. Cantor could only bring himself to say:

Do I condone the mention of Hitler in any discussion about politics. No, I don’t, because obviously that is something that conjures up images that frankly are not, I think, very helpful.

Here’s the video:

Note that when asked specifically if Limbaugh’s comment was “inappropriate”, Rep. Cantor is unable to simply say, “yes”, let alone come forth with a strong condemnation of Limbaugh’s hate-filled rhetoric.

And, for the record, other Republican members of Congress at the rally, including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), have yet to condemn these signs or the messages that they convey.

So let’s compare Rep. Cantor’s views with those of another Jewish member of Congress, Rep. Steve Israel (D-New York):

Here’s what David Harris, President of the National Jewish Democratic Council had to say:

Today’s G.O.P. “Tea Party” on Capitol Hill opposing health insurance reform invoked disgusting Holocaust imagery and outright anti-Semitism. Top Republican Party leaders including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) stood before a crowd that included a banner protesting health care reform and displaying corpses from the Holocaust. Yet another sign charged that “Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds” [sic]. Such vile invocations of Nazi and Holocaust rhetoric have been condemned in recent weeks by rabbinic movements, The Interfaith Alliance, and The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants.

The time has come for Boehner, Cantor, Pence and other G.O.P. leaders—especially those who were present today—to condemn these disgusting comparisons and anti-Semitism. They must tell their base once and for all to cut out this despicable pattern of Holocaust imagery and rhetoric.

Norman Podhoretz recently wrote Why Are Jews Liberals? In his book, Podhoretz asks why Jews have aligned themselves with the Democratic party rather than with Republicans. Perhaps the refusal of Republican leaders, including Jewish Republican leaders, to take a strong stand and condemn the use of Nazi and anti-Semitic rhetoric might have just a little, tiny bit to do with it? Perhaps it might have something to do with the fact that the Republican party is willing not only to accept those who espouse hate, but actually allow them to influence or even dictate policy. And perhaps, just perhaps, it has something to do with a party that views truth and intellectual honesty as mere options.

Update September 17, 2010: Tried to fix a broken image link.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

We Live in a Truly Sick Society (update)

As I mentioned when I updated my earlier post about the comments on the website of The Indianapolis Star regarding the attack on Rep. Ed Delaney, I decided to see what kinds of comments were left on the websites of the local TV stations. Here is a delightful sampling of the opinions of some of the members of our community (I’ve reformatted the posts into single paragraphs):

First from WISH-TV (CBS affiliate):

space1999: I don't want to sound negative, but in a peaceful country, its tough to get abused everyday by the lawmakers who do nothing except shop and spend money, so you might see more of this, in a revolution, you see a lot of this action as we go to football games and talk stocks in dockers while overseas our kids get murdered fighting for this. Its one thing to fight for land and food, but its another to fight for a football game and a stock.

Ready: That's right, .... We...... you ... me ... and everyone else has let this once great country go to hell . We're all just sitting around looking at each other, doing NOTHING . Think it's time for a civil war ? Can't wait much longer or we'll have no chance of recovering .

Guest: Dems cleaning up the mess again, funny how short our memories really are. Ever since Mr. Clinton, a Democrat I do believe, passed a bill that said, every american should have the right to own their own house. Well, as we can all tell by the high foreclosure rates they shouldn't be allowed. Takes about a good 4-5 years at least to default on a home which just happen to be during a Republican term. Good thing Obama is promising "change" all he has brought is another messed up blackman's checkbook.

revolutionisnear: If your a serviceman you should be ashamed you walked the democratic line. Dems have never supported our troops they have always condemed them. This country is on its way to a 2nd revolution because politicians on both sides are stealing from americans and americans are tired of it so you might want to start accepting that. From one serviceman to another

dude: i'd say this is just one of many such attacks in the mos to come. americans of all parties are feedup with politicans. liberalism is a cancer in america that must be stopped. the 2.3 million protestors who went to DC to protest obama recently shows americans have joined hands to fight this adminstrations war against american values. every poll out there says its going to be the end of liberals up for reelection reguardly of why party their in. time to stand up and fight for america, its worth saving from these dem liberals we got in their now. and if its a repub liberal which there are a few, throw them out too. CONSERVATIVES ROCK !!!!!! Palin 2012 [Comment: I like how Dude manages to inflate the inflated estimates of the size of the 9/12 tea parties up to 2.3 million; right-wingers inflated the number to 1-1.7 million; the actual number appears to be about 70,000.]

dave: Delaney is a punk who deserved a beating. Dont all politicians?

dave: ALL politicians need their ***es beat! Mendenhall did a good job on this one. Multiple fractures of the orbital socket - NICE! Mr. Delaney will be fine and eventually go back to his nice big house and rubbing elbows with the hoity toiters during a nice big expensive lunch. If i got jacked up somewhere like out on the Monon Trail and was in the hospital for days - id lose my job.

lisa: Well, let's hear the whole story about the lawsuit. Is it ok for someone with clout and $ to bankrupt a family and force a woman to work 15 hours a day to feed 2 little ones. That is worse than a couple broken bones and bruises. Those will heal, this family will never heal. Is he proud as a person and senator to say what he did to this family and put it on his record that is the kind of person he is?? What goes around comes around, he should have waited til life caught up with the senator - he would eventually suffer. Now this poor family has to suffer even more because of this senator who claims he is for helping people. WHy didn't he consider this family as humans instead of going after them/destroying them? Obviously he has no conscous just a goat with no face. All for lining his greedy pockets like the majority of politicians

Whack-a-mole: great comment. There is saying, "Never mess with a man's family or money". I do not feel bad for the senator because he went after both. I am also dissapointed in the self righteous comments from the upperclass individuals. Wait till you are in desperate times and we will see how high up in the air your nose sticks


Now let’s see what people had to say on the website for WRTV (ABC affiliate):

Obvious: I am just saying that an older man in the front seat of a car, parked in a secluded place, with a younger man (wearing a wig) sitting in the passenger seat?  Sounds like more was going on than real estate advice.

Obvious: I'm not arguing that the "vendetta" is behind the beating, but maybe, just maybe the initial reason for the "hook-up" was less than honorable.

Heyyyy: A red wig... a PT Cruiser... a secluded area? One of two words come to mind. "Weird" is one of them. You guess what the other one is.

Guest: The property was locked and sealed and sold at auction and the state kept the money....... ......hellllllllllo...........that would be enough to make me want to hurt the guy after 26 years. Just another story of the politicians in this town doing wrong to people and getting away with it.

Union Buster: maybe this slim bag lawyer had whats coming to him

Mr Conservative: Lawyers killing lawyers... there is a god...

rocko: Just another scumbag attorney getting what he deserves!

Craig: I can't wait to hear how this turns out. Another politician caught!

Guest: This was an indecent act of sex in the park that went wrong

Next there is WTHR (NBC affiliate) which has far fewer comments (the comment feature appears to be more difficult to use):

Guest: Now get the guy a good lawyer and show that representative/lawyer what it feels like to have some slime attorney drag him through the legal process.

Finally, WXIN (the Fox affiliate) has far fewer articles on the attack and those articles don’t appear to have a comment feature enabled.

One final note: Apparently, the attacker’s family has set up a website where they are soliciting money for a legal defense fund. I’m not going to link to the site because I don’t think they deserve the publicity. It is interesting to note, however, that on the legal defense fund page, there is absolutely no reference to Rep. Delaney. The page thanks people for their prayers and best wishes for the attacker but apparently his friends and family couldn’t be bothered to extend their own prayers and best wishes to Rep. Delaney. Classy.

Anyway, take another moment to remember that the posts that I’ve copied reflect a viewpoint within our community. Hopefully, that viewpoint is simply a loud, obnoxious minority. But I think that we need to be alert that their may be more people who have such venom and that the current political rhetoric (witness the tea parties) may be emboldening them to action and not just words.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tea Party Idiots Are Back ... and Just as Vile

I don't have time for a full discussion of today's tea party protest (or is that a "press conference" as Republican staffers were apparently told to day) organized by none other than Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minnesota). But I did want to take a brief moment to post photos of a sign being prominently displayed in front of the Capitol today:

And a close-up:

The misguided or hate-filled mind that would create and carry that sign is what rational Americans have to fight against.

Oh, and did you hear the joke about the Republican healthcare reform proposal? You know, the bill that doesn’t stop insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and that would, by 2019, only reduce the number of people without health insurance by 3 million. Oops. Sorry. That wasn’t a joke. But it sure sounds like one.

[Update: I tried to correct a typo on this post and now, for some reason, the date of the post has changed from November 5, 2009, to March 16, 2010. I'll try to fix that.]

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

IN Touch: Mean-Spirited Comments or We Live in a Truly Sick Society

My twelfth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. As I've said previously, I'm going to keep re-posting those entries here (at least until someone from the Star asks me to stop). Go ahead and visit the post on the IN Touch site, anyway.

In the past, I've complained about editing when posts have made it into the print edition of The Indianapolis Star and even some of the online versions. However, this time, the editing problems are much worse than usual: The last several paragraphs, including my conclusion, have all been deleted without explanation. I don't know if it was intentional or an error. I've written to the editorial staff to ask that this be corrected, but so far I haven't heard anything (and the edited version is still online). I'm going to reprint my entire post in the format that I wrote it. I'll indicate where the post on the the IN Touch blog stops.

Before diving into the post, I thought that it was worth giving those of my readers not from the Indianapolis area a brief bit of background about the incident at the heart of this post. On Saturday morning, Ed Delaney, an attorney and first term Democratic Representative in the Indiana General Assembly (his wife is a major player in Indiana Democratic politics), went to an Indianapolis suburb, apparently to meet a potential new client who wanted Delaney to look at some property the "client" was interested in acquiring. It turns out that the potential client was another attorney, Augustus Mendenhall, who has apparently been harboring a grudge against Delaney since approximately 1983 (yes, you read that right, 1983) when Delaney was peripherally involved in litigation against Mendenhall's father. Back then, Indianapolis' prosecutor (and future mayor) Stephen Goldsmith, was going after porn shops in the city. Delaney represented a major developer that was apparently upset about a porn shop near its shopping mall. Goldsmith sued Mendenhall's father who owned the property where the porn shop was located and eventually succeeded in closing the porn shop (and seizing Mendenhall's property), but the prosecution was overzealous and was partially overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court (the seizure of property was the issue). Mendenhall sued Goldsmith, but lost. That is obviously a very abridged version of the story (and is taken from bits and pieces that I've read; I haven't done any real research into the back story).

So, with that as background, here is my IN Touch post:
By now, I’m sure that most of us have heard about the attack on Rep. Ed Delaney. Others who know Ed better than I do have and will continue to write about the kind of person he is, the service that he has provided to the community, and the senselessness of the attack. Instead, I want to focus attention on some of the comments posted on the website of The Indianapolis Star in response to the attack on Rep. Delaney. Take a moment and read these comments and then ponder what those comments say about the state of our society.

no2bama666: a liberal anti american politican, and being an attorney, hmmm, sounds like a double header beating this one's tush haha. well you live a life of hurting other ppl, an one day its your turn to be hurt, his day finally came.

acyl72: It is unfortunate that this moron could not even maintain his gun properly. Otherwise we'd be rid of one more crooked politician. If they won't go for term limits maybe we could use a more permanent form of term limit.

taytertott: What is the problem? One crook fighting another crook. Looks as if this may be an eye opener to some of these rude lawyers, and politicians. Your not safe even from your own. Now think about that when you treat some one from the street like crap. Sorry this man is hurt but Karma has a way of rearing it's head. Once again politicians interfering where they don't belong.

scooterbug300: [Delaney] was the slime ball attorney for a greedy developer who used his money to buy Goldsmith to drive out a business he did not want near his mall.

MB451645: So, if you shoot a police officer in the head, some scumbag lawyer uses the intent to kill defense. If you punch out a scumbag liberal Democrat piece of dung, it's attempted murder? We're in big trouble.

[this is where the post ends on the Star's website]

no2bama666: seems pretty obivious de laney was dirty and did something crooked. de laney didn't get charged with anything, but he doesn't have a good history behind him. he may have gotten off very light for what he did to this man's father. there are times a good beating is the only way to balance things out even if it is illegal. lots of things are illegal and we all break laws everyday.

cabinetguy: I can think of several politicians that need the same treatment, the entire system needs an attitude adjustment to say the least.

katldy73: Politicians think they are untouchable. Well they aren't. Your actions always have consequences.

Jennevieve67: I hope he hires the most savvy attorney he can find and I hope this attorney beats this political power hungry man at his own game. Sometimes you can push to hard and then someone pushes back. I think the wrong man is in jail....

CombatSoldie: Nice thing about this story is that everyone involved is an over educated democrat. Mendenhall is a law school grad who is a practicing lawyer. He is upset over DeLaney (D, husband of Ann) was the attorney (working for the Simon Mall, btw they are democrats, very rich ones) would not allow a porn shop. Too bad more democrats will not do the same type of attacks. It would clean up Indiana.

I worry that these sorts of comments are, in part, the result of the general nature of uncivil discourse that we’ve been watching in the political arena; or perhaps, the uncivil discourse is the product of a society that tolerates comments like these. But we, as responsible citizens, need to stand up and say enough is enough. Thankfully, for each of these horrible comments posted on the Star’s website, a number of other comments critical of these viewpoints were also posted. So perhaps all hope for civility is not lost.
I think that losing those last few comments, not to mention my conclusion, really lessens the impact of the post.

Since submitting my post to the Star yesterday, I've continued to follow some of the comment threads. Here are two more that caught my attention:
rebts: masses too stupid so we take their porn away because we know what is good for them, dems think masses are too stupid and therefore violence will happen to them... maybe since he was a dem he thought he should be able to do anything and it would be OK because he was a dem..but the other dem thought the same thing and then violence happened, yeah,...correlation..

combatsoldie: The masses will use violence when speech is silenced. These days the elite dems believe that the masses are too stupid and have to ruled.
Do these comments represent just a small, fringe element of society or are they indicative of a much wider problem?

Update (Nov. 6, 2009)

Here are a few more comments posted on the website for The Indianapolis Star:
icecis: Politician's lie WAYYY more than lawyers do......While politicians are not Kissing babies in their momma's arms, the minute mom turns their back, their stealing the kid's Lollipop. I believed every word Aug said in the Partly shown video of his statement after arrest. I sympathize with the pain of the Victim at his Age, and how terrifying it must have been for him and family...Delaney was in the hospital less than 48 hours though. Still not excused....Aug is going to do time, but if he gets Attempted Murder and 110 years in seriously moving out of the U.S. IM done with corruption in this country and good people and families getting screwed because people cant tell the truth and do the RIGHT thing. If that had happened 20 years ago, this would have never happened. Delaney, Id be at church this weekend praying Dateline doesnt get hold of this story and doing some footwork and be thankful that newscasters in this City dont have alot of Gusto for "intriguing" stories.

icecis: There's corruption in the governement. This story is alot more than the news. Ever think some of the news might be a little corrupted too and obviously ....the news for all purposes are going to take the victims side, as they should.......but Delaney sureeeeee likes that camera right now............Still not excusing the act of weakness mendenhall had and the terrible beating.....but Delaney aint a saint here, he's lying and exxagerrating thru his teeth and eating it up for the camera. I sound cruel?? Yah. maybe. Corruption is everywhere. Corruption is in the news too, to sell votes and papers. WE aint hearing it all folks. Aug, Id trust you with my kids any day of the week. My boy's middle name is yours and you've always been my hero, .......and his too. Hang in there.

lastrep: Democrats are lauding the jamming as a life saving event while on the way to escort unborn babies to their death.

LifeLongIndyMan: I wonder how many of these tea-bagging bible belters are saying to themselves "Man.. the one time God has to jam a gun it's a democrat and a lawyer.. dagnabit.."
These comments got me curious, so I decided to see what kind of comments were left on the websites for the local TV stations. If possible, those comments are even worse. I'll post a follow-up with some of that vile insanity soon.


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Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Do Colts Fans Boo Injured Players?

In recent years fans of the Indianapolis Colts have developed a bit of a reputation for being "low class" (or other less charitable phrases). The reputation is undeserved and is the product of a crowd that knows and understands the game reacting in a way that to those who don't know and understand the game -- and in particular, don't know and understand the way the Colts play the game -- seems wrong. Do Colts fans boo injured players? Yes, but only some of the time. And it is an understanding of the when and why Colts fans boo an injury that explains why Colts fans aren't really being "low class" at all.

The first thing that must be understood is how the Colts offense plays the game. Unlike almost all other teams, the Colts don't go into a huddle between plays. When one play ends, the offense walks right up to the line of scrimmage and gets ready for the next play. The Colts are able to do this effectively because their quarterback, Peyton Manning, is so good at what he does. Using the "no huddle" offense provides the Colts with several advantages. First, it allows the team to get into a rhythm from play to play to play. That is part of the reason that the Colts are so successful in marching straight down the field so often. In addition, by using the no huddle offense the Colts are able to keep the defense from making player substitutions that might be appropriate given the down and distance situation in the game. If the defense has to rely upon the "wrong" player being in the game in a particular situation, then that is an advantage for the Colts. Furthermore, the no huddle offense can be physically exhausting on a defense and, if the defense is exhausted, it should be easier for the offense to have success. Finally, the Colts have become quite adept at being ready to run the next play very, very quickly and catching the other team with too many players on the field (while making substitutions) or being out of position. Sometimes, the defense get penalized; sometimes the defense will call a timeout; and sometimes the defense will fake an injury. And that is when Colts fans boo.

If you watch a Colts game carefully, you will note that Colts fans don't boo when member of the opposing team's offense or special teams is injured. And Colts fans don't boo when there is an obvious real  injury. For that matter, Colts fans almost never boo when a defensive player stays down immediately after a play. But when a defensive player gets up after a play, walks back into his team's huddle, looks over to the sidelines, and then takes a knee or "falls" to the ground, we know what we're seeing. The strategy of faking an injury was perfected by the New England Patriots (and Willie McGinest in particular in a December 2003 game when New England was out of timeouts).

The next time that you watch a Colts game, here a few things to notice about "injuries" that the other team may incur:
  • The "injury" rarely affects one of the defense's top players;
  • The "injury" usually happens just before a 3rd down play;
  • The "injury" usually happens right after a big play or right before a critical play;
  • The "injury" is almost always described as a cramp;
  • The "injured" player usually sits out one or two plays and then returns;
  • Frequently the coach or defensive coordinator of the other team will be seen smiling or laughing on the sidelines while the "injury" is being attended to; and
  • Sometimes two players are "injured" at the same time, but remarkably one of them is able to continue while the other has to come out of the game for a play or two.
True fans of football never want to see a player injured. But fans of the game also don't want a team to take advantage of the care that is taken to prevent injuries to be used as a tool. In reality, what is going on is that Colts fans are booing the coach of the other team for having so little respect for the game. Colts fans aren't booing the injured player or the injury; we are booing the other team for resorting to a lie in order to try to stop our offense.


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