They Love The Fight
Here’s a blurt: If you’re taking sides in the latest episode of the Israeli/Palestinian Hatfield/McCoy Feud, you’re part of the problem.
Whose Explosions Do You Prefer?
So, here comes news that Evan Bayh maybe, possibly, we’ll see, wants to be governor again. He’s sitting on a cool $10 million in his campaign war chest, which is the finest and best qualification for elective office in this holy land.
No one knows for sure if Bayh’s hot for the state’s top hot seat, but he ain’t sayin’ no way, mang. Bayh’s playing it coy by saying he’s too busy sending his sons off to college right now and he can’t be bothered with thinking about high offices. I believe him; surely, the lads needs their bags packed, their hair combed, their blue jeans pressed, and care packages prepared as they move on toward this next big step in their lives. Who else is going to handle those chores other than Indiana’s former senator and governor?
Generally, when pols play coy, that means they’ve made their minds up already and are merely waiting for the most opportune moment to announce their shiny new campaigns. And Bayh’s tilt for guv will be as shiny as any money can buy. Experts say his big wad makes him a formidable foe for the current occupant of the Hoosier guv’s mansion, Mike Pence. All Pence has going for him is a record of delivering to Indiana voters precisely what he promised them when he ran in 2012.
I call it a toss-up at this extremely early stage of the game.
Who? Me? Aw, I dunno.
Pence’s name, BTW, is still being bandied about by touts who are trying to dope out the 2016 presidential race. Smart guys here and there tossed his name around during the 2008 and 2012 contests, although no Pence for Prez activity ever crashed the nation’s internet servers.
Add to that the fact that Pence’s predecessor as governor, Mitch Daniels, also was seen as Republican presidential candidate timber. So what is it about Indiana governors that make them potential Oval Office occupants? Just off the top of my head, Indiana’s not a state infested with crime syndicate figures whose reach extends into the sitting Governor’s pockets, so Daniels, Pence, et al appear free of scandal in that sense. I’d always felt one of the main reasons Mario Cuomo never really ran hard for president was because his necessary dealings with New York’s mobsters would be thrown in his face at every campaign stop.
Indiana, too, is among the most anonymous of states. The Hoosier governor can go about his business without the corporate news media prying into his every orifice on a daily basis. So even if Pence, for instance, sabotages the state’s own Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz, national wags and wonks will simply shrug and say, So what? It’s Indiana.
All an Indiana governor has to do is look presentable, stay out of whorehouses and opium dens, and play coy about his presidential ambitions and next thing everyone knows he’ll be plumped as the next big thing. Hoosiers, BTW, are southern enough to appeal to a general electorate that prefers its presidents to sound more like Jimmy Stewart than Enrico Fermi, but not so much so that one can conclude they’ve just climbed down off a watermelon cart. Bill Clinton’s twang almost made him sound too southern for America’s liking, only his hillbilly patter was ameliorated by his Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale background. Pence and Daniels sound just right.
And, maybe, so does Bayh. Surely Bayh knows a return to the governor’s mansion will ignite talk of the White House for him. Here’s a safe bet: Should Bayh wrest the job away from Pence in 2016, and should Hillary Clinton let the White House slip through her fingers that same year, he’ll be a front runner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.
If I Were A Rich Man
John Oliver, for my money, is now outdoing his former boss, Jon Stewart, in the area of trenchant political commentary spiced with humor and smart-assed-ness. Oliver’s fairly new show, Last Week Tonight, is the go-to source for current events on the teevee today.
The other day, he explained why Americans vote against their own interests and in favor of those of the uber-rich time and again. My lefty friends constantly ask on the interwebs why we support policies that’ll benefit, say, the Koch Bros. while screwing ourselves. The answer’s simple. I’ve said it time and again and John Oliver said it too. Listen:
Ball Of Confusion
I know, I know, my pious friends and loyal readers are going to want to kick me in my ample posterior for this. And what follows will merely be a preaching to the choir among my fellow non-believers, but I thought I’d share this chart prepared by graphic designer Andy Marlowe diagramming the many contradictions found in the Bible.
Each arc represents a refutation, repudiation, or outright denial of some statement found earlier in the text that is the basis for the worldview of more than a billion people on this Earth.
“The truth,” reads the Gospel of John, Chapter 8, “shall make you free.” OTOH, that statement’s surely negated elsewhere in the Bible.
[h/t to Maryll Jones.]
Them’s The Rules
Pay close attention, Pencillistas. I will not tolerate ad hominem attacks, name-calling, gratuitous slurs, the ramping up of emotionalism, and other violations of my personal code of civility in the comments section of this communications colossus.
Yesterday some pejoratives were thrown around. Stop it. Period.
In one of P.G. Wodehouse’s stories, Bertie Wooster’s young cousins, Claude and Eustace, hope to join a ridiculously frivolous college fraternity called The Seekers. In order to gain entrance to the group the two must bring in souvenirs from a day trip to London. They begin by trying to steal a truck but the truck driver puts up a good fight and so they look elsewhere for their tickets to the club. As the day goes on, they shoplift a huge fish from a market, they round up a gang of stray cats, and they cop a top hat off the head of a prominent psychiatrist whose car their taxi is stuck next to in a traffic jam.
Claude and Eustace then park their swag in Bertie’s apartment while he is out. Lo and behold, Bertie that afternoon will be entertaining that very psychiatrist for lunch. It turns out the psychiatrist also has twin neurotic distastes for fish and cats. Naturally, he concludes that Bertie is insane.
It’s all a lot of goofiness, which was the hallmark of Wodehouse’s work. None of Wodehouse’s fictional conceits, though, was as goofy as the true story of another group, also known as The Seekers, in 1954.
The Seekers were an apocalyptic cult that was certain the Earth was going to end on the winter solstice that year. They’d been so informed, they claimed, by messages from extraterrestrials who communicated telepathically with a woman named Dorothy Martin. Dorothy would then record said communications through a process called “automatic writing,” which can best be described as speaking in tongues with the aid of pen and paper.
Scads of folks believed Dorothy’s dire warnings about the endtimes. Many sold all their possessions, quit their jobs, and prepared for the big finale. Eventually, Martin informed The Seekers that a flying saucer would rescue those who believed in her warnings, whisking them away from the globe as it broke apart.
The Smart Ones
Alert Pencillistas will note that the end never came on December 21, 1954. When The Seekers were asked about the failure of Martin’s prediction, they “reasoned” that their own belief in the apocalypse, as well as their trumpeting of its coming to the rest of the benighted world, had warded it off. Their courage and sensitivity, they believed, had saved the world.
Chris Mooney recounts this story in a piece in Mother Jones on the fact that many of us don’t believe, well, facts. Entitled, “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science,” Mooney’s piece tries to explain why climate change deniers, 9/11 truthers, Birthers, and all the rest seem so plentiful in our holy land these days.
Honest to gosh, there are real reasons for people being unreasonable. Even when confronted with the incontrovertible fact that their belief was nonsense, The Seekers continued to believe in it. How can that be? Scientists call this particular puzzle “motivated reasoning.” It’s in all of us, this urge to cherry-pick facts to support something we desperately want to believe even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
Take me, for instance. When Paula Jones back in 1994 accused Bill Clinton of sending for her to come up to his hotel room and then he proceeded to pull out Little Bill several years before, I was certain it was a lie of monumental proportions. Clinton was my guy; I’d voted for him. I wanted to believe he’d never in a million years do such a thing. I wanted to believe the Republicans had made up the story out of whole cloth because, well, they’re bad guys. That became my motivated reasoning.
I was wrong. Clinton, it turned out, was a cock monkey. Paula Jones surely was one of many who’d had Wee Willie waggled in front of her.
I like to pride myself on my capabilities of reason and analytic thought. But I’m merely human. Mooney posits that motivated reasoning is all too human. Read the piece and perhaps you’ll gain an understanding of folks who can’t seem to see the story for the facts.
Wither The Dems
Book maven and political observer RE Paris reacted to my post about Evan Bayh possibly running for governor — and more — yesterday. Bayh, in her view, is as bitter a spoonful of cough syrup as Bill Clinton was. She writes:
It’s pitiful when the party you have voted with all your life gives you no reason to vote for them [anymore] — and your vote is always… They’re better than the other creeps.
Not Your Granny’s Party