Wednesday, August 19

Indiana: The Crossroads Of Clust*r F**k

• Brave Indiana blogger St. Allio! notices diminutive Indiana Governor Mitch "Lone Wolf" Daniels, motorcycle enthusiast (which this blog never mentions, for the same reason that Batting Practice Home Runs is not a career stat), babbling incoherently in the manner of the high school girl trying to land a blind date for her ugly cousin:
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."

and proceeds, unfairly, I thought, to contrast it with facts.

What we find amusing, apart from the lil' tike's constant public exhibitions of his enjoyment of external crotch power (which we don't mention here), is how Big Brain, Tiny Feet has a lifetime pass to gargle crowd-pleasing libertoonian inanities at every opportunity and have them portrayed as the product of His Enormous Cranial Capacity for Ratiocination. It's positively Reaganesque, assuming there's anything positive about Reagan.

• Meanwhile, the second half of the Bonzai Governor's plan to raffle off state assets and claim the profits as evidence of his Miraculous Intellectual Agility is joining the first in the Proverbial Toilet, with nearly identical--if wholly predictable--PR results.

You might recall, god help you, that Australian-based Macquarie Group Ltd., and a Spanish consortium, paid Mitch $3.8 billion upfront for a several-lifetimes lease on the Indiana Toll Road, and that they, like the state's anticipated interest revenue on all that booty, were victims of the global recession Daniels had single-handedly paved the way for at OMB.* This has led to rampant speculation that the asset would be sold, except in the Daniels' PR office, which suggested, for about ten minutes, anyway, that this meant We'd Get The Road Back while keeping all the money. Enormous Cerebrum Power!

Either somebody put the ki-bosh on that one toot sweet, or the local media's lost sight of the story in all the excitement over what they're deep-frying at this year's State Fair (pizza, doughballs, Twinkies, more doughballs, fettucini Alfredo, last year's leftover doughballs, and 2-inch squares of Brooks or Dunn stage underwear); at some point, after the Daniels/ Jindal juggernaut sweeps 47 states in 2012, we'll start hearing about what the lawsuits are costing us, though this will somehow be the Democrat's fault.

Couple that with the showpiece of What We Needed The Money For, and I don't mean Handing $95 Million Reward Money to the Carmel City Government (Motto: Still No Indictments!) so it could build ~$80 million dollars of unneeded roundabouts for ~$165 million, but the unneeded I-69 extension from Evansville to Indianapolis, which we've been fighting over for almost forty years without anyone dying from its absence. (I say "unneeded", but, in fairness, if you lived in Evansville, or Indianapolis, any quicker way out of town might be so attractive as to blind you to other realities. Like, fer instance, that there's already a way to get there, albeit one which doesn't have the potential of eliminating any more farmland, wetlands, or personal dwellings, also known as "Job Creation".) Sadly it was the previous, "Democratic", administration which finally greenlighted the plan, which just goes to show that you might as well just give up and become a lawyer. But it was Mitch's Mighty Mental Abilities which thunk-up the fast-track funding.

Except that now it turns out the first leg, from Evansville to Crane, Indiana, or, rather, the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, aka the single military installation in Indiana our sinecured Senate delegation hasn't been able to oversee the complete dismantling of quite yet, is, uh, a little out of money. And, well, it's actually $500 million in the hole, even without the assistance of Carmel mayor Jim Brainard.

Which has led the Daniels PR division of the Department of Transportation to reply, look, we didn't actually say the budget would actually build the actual road; we just said it would build the road in the event that we already owned all the property, had done all the studies, and had the blueprints ready. Which we didn't. And which is the "Democrats" fault.

And which, it turns out, was a really spirited attempt, considering that their own numbers show a $120-$190 million shortfall in construction costs alone, in 2010 dollars.

And at this point, were I a gambling man, I'd say it was even money whether Mitch Daniels was running for President in 2012, or running from the law. But this is America, where it's possible to do both, maybe even mandatory, and this is one reason why I'm not a gambling man. One thing I am sure of, though, is that it's a lot tougher to fake your own death while piloting your Harley than your private plane.

• Meanwhile, word comes that the Town of Beech Grove, which is one of those previously incorporated Marion County towns where they get to vote for my mayor and I don't get to vote for theirs, is joining several other Indiana localities in considering dropping school bus service in order to balance the budget they've been left with by the Education Governor. The news, predictably, has brought howls of protest, frequently from the very people whose howling protests about their property taxes led to the problem in the first place. Which reminds me:

• The folks in Fishers, Indiana, which is where the people in Carmel house their middle managers, junior accountants, and extra strip malls, have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a light rail system which would, coincidentally, run from Fishers, Indiana, to downtown Indianapolis, benefitting, theoretically, theoretical people from Fishers, Indiana and next to no one else. That is, 67% of respondents told pollsters they'd support light rail so much they'd pay $110 a year for it.

The bad news is that's down from the 87% who supported it last year, when the pollsters didn't mention anything about paying for it.

• Just as a personal note, if you're one of those pessimists who believes the general public has little or no interest in the language, try this simple experiment: put a No Solicitors sign up on your front door. You'd be amazed. Every Jehovah's Witness, Free Window Replacement Estimator, Itinerant Lumberjack, and Professional Door Knob Festooner is passionately concerned with whether "to solicit" requires an immediate request for cash. And they're all wrong, but I suppose that's to be expected, what with the state of public education an' all.

* Exaggeration. He's not that smart.


stAllio! said...

i feel like navin johnson when the new phone books arrived!

TM said...

I oppose mandatory helmet laws too, but not for the same reason Mitch does.

I think we should preserve at least some mechanisms of natural selection. Unhelmeted motorcyclists are also a good source of healthy young transplant organs.

So I say ride on, Mitch! Stick it to the man and ride with the wind through your hair.

D. Sidhe said...

Actually, I just went with a "Leave No Fucking Phone Books Or I Will Hex You" sign. My HOA is debating whether this is appropriate. I pointed out that their "No Solicitors" sign at the entrance to the complex is not solving the problem, and that you can only see my sign from my doorstep. Any youth who wants to climb my stairs to get a look at a very common swearword has probably earned it.

Miles said...

So funny, yet so accurate. Yipes!

stAllio! said...

TM: mitch himself wears a helmet when riding. whether he does so because he doesn't want to be killed or just to prevent his combover from flapping in the breeze is unknown.

StringonaStick said...

TM is correct. I've got friends in the organ/tissue harvesting business (legally!; see what our tabloid culture makes us have to pre-emptively do now?). They refer to rocket bikes as "donor cycles".

TM said...

Hmm, so Mitch is no fool... I guess he just thinks his constituents are. He's probably right.