Tuesday, March 20

Olio: There's A Surprise, Vol. MMMCCCVI Edition

• Mitch "My Five Favorite Authors are Ayn Rand" Daniels' second-biggest gift to untold future generations of Hoosiers is the Rockport Coal Gasification plant deal, in which "we" agree to buy $7 billion in natural gas from Leucadia, and the insider holding company (but I repeat myself) agrees to build a plant the market has no need for. Two things we should about Leucadia. First, its market cap is about $8 billion, and its total assets around $9.3 billion, so we might as well have just bought the whole shebang if it was such a great fucking deal. Of course that's not the way the Free Market works.

The second is that its point man in Indiana is Mark Lubbers, the ultimate Indiana Republican fixer. This takes me back to the days when his boy Mitch Roob was an IBM insider, just before the Daniels administration bought a billion-dollars worth of failure for the Family and Social Services Administration, Mitch Roob, executive director. It's great having an economic genius like Daniels for governor; he can get you so many great deals just from knowing the right people.

Anyway, golly, we voted, or "voted", Leucadia a bunch of tax breaks, back when the Indiana General Assembly was doing all it could to make Mitch Daniels a viable Presidential candidate, because assuming all the business risk for the venture didn't quite make it profitable enough.

And now, four years later the thing's still sitting on the drawing board, cost overruns have nearly doubled the price of the plant (a Daniels specialty; he practiced on the Iraq War, and jumped in on the construction of the new Football Barn just in time to lose the emergency operating fund under the cushions), and the price of natural gas--the locus of the "$4 billion in savings" future Hoosiers would receive, minus, probably, a few incidental fees owed to the resellers--has continued to plummet. Who knew? asks the man who, when his last big multi-generation scheme, the peddling of the Indiana Toll Road, didn't earn the interest he'd already spent because the bond markets tanked, asked "Who knew?"

When the World's Third-Worst State Legislature™, which now has no further use for Daniels, and has spent the last two sessions pre-ingratiating itself with Choirboy Mike Pence, balked on continuing to help fund the boondoggle it helped create three years ago, Daniels pretty much announced he'd continue the tax breaks anyway, by the Indiana equivalent of a Bush signing statement.

It's actually gonna work out fine, though, as Lubbers points out:
Lubbers said the gas industry is about to undergo a huge consolidation, with 10 large companies dominating the market. That will end the long slide in natural gas prices, as big players get more pricing power.

"That will bring enormous stability to the price for natural gas," Lubbers said. "When that happens, this project and this contract will be great for Indiana consumers."

The Free Market. Solving Problems Rational People Don't Even Have. ™

• Speaking of the General Assembly, now Indiana's most exclusive psych ward for sufferers of religious mania, there was a big flap during the "short" session this year over a state specialty license plate going to the Indiana Youth Group, a support group for gay and lesbian teenagers. Our wise counsellors tried to yank the permission, tried to end the incontinent granting of specialty plates which had been created by, I've got it here somewhere…oh, the Indiana General Assembly, then saw those efforts fail. The short session--we used to have a biennial Legislature, just in case anyone tries to tell you that things are better nowadays--is generally not the time for Maximum Insanity, but, y'know, the End Times are upon us. So when this one failed the spokesmen for the One True Religion weren't satisfied to Wait Til Next Year, since they may've been Raptured by then; they pulled strings at the BMV, which discovered that the Indiana Youth Group had shockingly offered lower-numbered plates to donors, a clear breech of the public decorum engaged in only by Nazis, and every other organization with specialty plates.

So, now, the group's plate has been yanked, along with that of 4-H and the Greenways Foundation, a couple of other violators who got caught in the desire to make this seem fair.

The effort also exposed the criminal intents of now-former BMV spokesman Graig Lubsen, who maliciously told a reporter last week that the cancellation of the group's contract came after someone from the Indiana Senate contacted the BMV about it. Because, of course, there's no way that sort of thing goes on.

Don't the idiot progeny of Idiot Senator James Imhofe have an obligation to die of heat stroke now or something?

• I ♥ Charles Pierce, who, while I've been out enjoying the impending climatic doom of human civilization--on thirty-year-old bicycles--does something I wish I'd done: object to the pre-defense tone of the coverage of Robert Bales in the land of My Lai. Meanwhile, loc. cit., Scott Raab remembers the shameless railroading of John Demjanjuk in the land of Operation Paperclip.

Sins of the Fathers. I'm too young to know, really know, how much of the Red Scare was due to genuine fear. Obviously a lot was ginned-up political gamesmanship, the most successful American political con-game of the century. But I can say this: the publication of the evidence of the Son My massacres--not the publication of the Pentagon Papers, which required reading--was the high point of public honesty about the war, or anything else, probably; by the time Richard Nixon was elected a half-year later the blame had been reassigned to the dirty hippies of Chicago. Two years later, and one day after Calley's life sentence for being the American military's worst mass murderer, Nixon commuted Calley's sentence to three years in his room.

After a moment of shock when Life published the pictures,

the public exploded in outrage that we were criticizing an American soldier. A war which had been politicized for five years, a conflict which had been lied about for more than a decade, and one as redolent of racism as the Birmingham Transit Company had reached the pinnacle of facile cold-bloodedness, of the sort of thing we accused our enemies of, the sort of thing we'd fought the Nazis for.

Happy Talk News was not far behind.

•Speaking of which, it's been interesting, by which I mean "about as nauseating as usual", to watch local coverage of the Peyton Manning saga. Manning single-handedly took the franchise from 1-15 to one of the most valuable sports franchises on the globe. If you think "single-handedly" is an exaggeration, take a look at what they did last year without him.

There's a fucking Children's Hospital here named for him, Mandrake.

Then he senselessly gets older, and gets injured, requiring a slow rehab. And, meanwhile, giving the Colts the opportunity to draft Andrew Luck, the Next Payton Manning. So Jim "Lucky in Owning Shit, Unlucky in I.Q." Irsay cuts him loose.

This was partly due to the structure of Manning's deal, and largely due to the cap rules of the NFL, the folks for whom we built a billion-dollar barn which was a half-billion dollar barn before Mitch Daniels rescued the project. Manning's deal crushed the Colts' cap room, not this year but the next. Though, again, that happened because of the deal Irsay negotiated in the first place.

Anyway, the man cuts the Jesus of Football, a guy without whom Irsay is making his own hillbilly heroin and sewing his own atrocious suits, and the universal local media response is "Well, it's a business."

Fuck you. So's shooting Afghanis. I'm not saying the Colts should've kept Manning. I'm not saying Irsay was just trying to get out from under a $28 million payout he owed Manning this year. But if it's "just business" to cut a guy who meant everything to you for more than a decade, then what fucking meaning is there in anything, other than profit? The value of everything is now determined by who has the most expansive free bar in the media tent. Rick Santorum, take note.


Sator Arepo said...

"But if it's "just business" to cut a guy who meant everything to you for more than a decade, then what fucking meaning is there in anything, other than profit?"

Ha ha h...oh, wait.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Rick Santorum, take note.

Frothy Ricky's Happy Hour!

All Foamy Drinks 2 for 1.

baldheadeddork said...

Slow clap.

Dean Booth said...

Re: Red Scare. I thought you'd appreciate that only 1/4 of the OMG letters McCarthy received were about the Reds. Three-quarters were about the gays.

The Reactionary Mind

John of Indiana said...

Jimmy's just following in his daddy's footsteps, who, if I remember, rewarded one of his pre-Dungey coaches who took his company one fucked-up call away from the Stuporbowl by shit-canning him.

R. Porrofatto said...

Three-quarters were about the gays.

Those were the ones he had Roy Cohn answer.

Anonymous said...

Minor niggle (because it bugs me so much) - Afghanis is the currency, Afghans are the people