Saturday, February 9

Back Home Again

I'M DEAD tired. I'm so tired I can't remember to whom I've told the story of the hospital Cardiology Dietician visiting my dad last week. Was it you? Two of our relatives happened to be there at the time, and the woman started her spiel, Low Sodium, No Ham, Don't Trust 'Healthy' Labels, and when she got around to saying--too nicely, I thought--that there was basically nothing whatsoever a person could eat in any American "restaurant" anyone has ever heard of and expect to remain alive any longer than it took to pay the check, he and the other two said, in unison--I swear--"What about Jimmy John's?"

Right. Jimmy John's, which couldn't remain in business if it paid its employees a living wage--and the mizzable ingrates who don't like it should borrow seed money from their own fathers and shut up--is the one shining exception.  "No, not Jimmy John's," she said, smiling with preternatural patience.

Anyway, let me see if I can summon enough energy to give y'all a quick update on The State of Indiana:

Mike Pence is a washout.

I think that about does it.

The Choirboy has spent the first month of his administration--in fairness, it's just three weeks, but, also in fairness, he seemed unaware when he took the oath of office that it was actually starting--reacting. And not the good sort of reacting, either. First, the General Assembly--in Indiana, off-election years host the "long" session of the legislature, where they undertake to fuck over the citizenry on budgetary matters, in the hope that no one will remember it on election day--this generally works--pretty much told him his 10% Tax Cut campaign pledge wasn't gonna fly. (If anything, Pence seemed relieved, though it had to be what everyone expected all along, and I still say that John Gregg, the Democrat who nearly beat him, should'a come out the next day and upped the ante to 20, then smiled like the Buddha when the Press called him irresponsible.)

The problem here is not that Hoosiers are going to suddenly start holding politicians to their word. No, the problem for Pence is that he appears to've missed the experience of one Mitchell Elias "Scooter" Daniels, who likewise tried to cross his first (also Republican controlled) legislature (with his "Tax Surcharge to wipe out the Deficit " proposal). For about fifteen minutes. Then he ran around front and pretended he'd been leading the parade all along. You wanna tell the Indiana General Assembly what to do your RV better be full of cash. In non-consecutive, small denominations.

In fact, about half of Pence's headline-generatin' so far has involved agreeing to investigate the Daniels administration and its henchmen. There's the coal gasification swindle, which the General Assembly has suddenly discovered now that Daniels is gone. Pence has agreed to reinstate the Commerce Department, evidently in an effort to oversee the public (expense)-private (dealing) Indiana Economic Development Corporation Mitch replaced it with in order to improve conductivity, and which was most recently caught shielding the criminal behavior of one of its Chinese contacts. Then last week the previous autumn's story of a Department of Transportation bigwig, and his extended family, cleaning up on land sales for the half-built and wholly unnecessary I-69 project--the centerpiece of Daniels' "Sell the Toll Road and Inject the Proceeds into the Indiana Economy One Republican at a Time, So I Can Run for President" project--got new legs when someone leaked some of the sale prices. Those are kept secret under Indiana law.

That "possible appearance of a conflict of interest, or, say, numerous felonies", was, by the way, cleared at the time by the Inspector General Daniels had created to root out other administration's corruption (and which, thanks to a tip, did manage to nab an office worker who swiped someone's creamer from the break room fridge during the O'Bannon administration). As a result of the publicity, Pence has ordered the same guy to investigate again.

Otherwise The Choirboy is barely part of the process so far. He was also forced to admit, early, that he wasn't risking any skin on the white evangelical storyline anymore, punting on the Anti-Marriage Equality amendment the legislature must pass a second time, either this year or next, before it goes to the voters.

It's a long way to the end of the Session, and Jesus is ubiquitous, so we'll wait and see. In the meantime it's irresponsible not to speculate as to what, exactly, might've chastened the Republican party, which has a supermajority in both houses now to go along with its superior understanding of everything, and yet has remained cautious. Was it Pence's narrow victory in a big Republican year? The defeat of Superintendent of De-Publicking Public Instruction Tony Bennett? The clear rejection of Richard Mourdock's rape-y rectitude? An eye toward Republican prospects down the road?

At any rate, the Anti-Homo amendment is the first big casualty, officially tabled for the year this Thursday by House Speaker Brian Bosma, on the grounds that the Supreme Court is addressing the constitutionality of such bans this session, and it's only prudent to hear 'em out first.

Yes, this is this first time the question of Constitutionality has ever entered into social-issue legislatin' in the state, and Yes, that's the same House Speaker Brian Bosma who shuffled a quarter-million bucks towards a crony law firm to conduct the pre-doomed appeal of a court decision that he couldn't open every legislative day by invoking his Lord and Savior from the pulpit podium. I guess there's a distinction between established precedent and prudently holding off to give the Court a listen which I'm somehow missing.

Of course this is just the sort of thing the seasoned observer of Hoosier politics has grown accustomed to thanks to Mitch Daniels: the yawning tear in the fabric of reality between explanations and the thing being explained. (Asked, while he was still governor, about the state reportedly paying as much as four times fair market value for land to build that highway we didn't need, Daniels noted that "the project was under budget".) And it still works. Asked whether polls showing that Hoosiers seem to be moving, along with the rest of the nation, to acceptance of marriage equality, Bosma suggested that his own, double-plus secret and Biblically-inerrant poll numbers said otherwise. Which probably means that Dick Lugar's old polling firm is still finding business.

The funniest thing so far in all this was the take of the Indianapolis Star's (Motto: No, Really, We're Still Here) political reporter Matt Tully: praising Bosma for "evolving" (his choice, not mine) into "a voice of reason" (his choice, not mine), and giving Bosma the opportunity to chalk it all up to "mission trips to the devastated nation of Haiti, and watching his children grow up".

God works in wondrous ways, all right. Why, it was just a couple years back when Bosma hailed an Appeals Court decision upholding Indiana's "defense of marriage" act, saying it "made marriage safe again." Guess maybe He wanted Bosma's conversion to seem doubly convincing to Matt Tully.

Or maybe it's just that kids grow up so fast these days.


heydave said...

Like a chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.


Anonymous said...

Dieticians are bullshit. They don't recognize that carbohydrates (sugar) are the real culprit in the diets of most people.