Category Archives: Mother Jones Magazine

Hot Air

Call Out The Air Corps!

Drop The Atom Bomb!

Sometimes real life today resembles nothing so much as a cheap 1950s movie. Y’know, the kind where giants grasshoppers threaten the big city or beady-eyed commies are plotting to infiltrate our high schools.

From "The Beginning of the End"

Giant Bugs Crawl Up The Wrigley Building

 

No matter what the threat was, some square-jawed sonuvabitch always  knew how to handle it. If it was the grasshoppers, why, just drop The Bomb on the besieged big city. If commies, well then, we’ll send in some real he-men to reason with them utilizing rock-hard fists.

Bloomington faces neither giant grasshoppers nor commies these days, yet some squared-jawed “thinkers” in these parts figure we need the The Bomb-lite for some as yet unnamed peril.

One of those square-jawed “thinkers,” apparently, is Bloomington police chief Mike Diekhoff. Acc’d’g to documents obtained by Mother Jones mag via the Freedom of Information Act, the Bloomington PD was one of several hundred from around this holy land to request a nice little Armored Tactical Vehicle from the Pentagon’s surplus motor pool.

BPD MRAP Request

Diekhoff’s Request

The specific vehicle Diekhoff wanted was a mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) fortress on wheels. The feds, you see, had 625 such MRAPs in their used car lot, the vehicles having been driven only by grandmas on Sunday afternoons for spins around Mosul in Iraq or the Helmand Province in Afghanistan during our excellent adventures in those locales. The Pentagon has a program making these tanks and other weapons of war available to municipal, county, and state law enforcement agencies for use against marauding mobs, heavily-armed drug cartels, lone snipers on the roofs of tall buildings, bomb-throwing anarchists, and other bad guys lurking around every corner even in our most bucolic villages. Reports Mother Jones:

In 2012, the program began making MRAPs available. The vehicles weigh around 14 tons, and feature armored hulls and tiny, blast-proof windows. “Nothing short of a rocket-propelled grenade will trouble this powerhouse,” one manufacturer boasted.

Terrific. I know I’m getting a little sick and tired of dodging flung explosives and taking cover whenever I hear the tom-tom beat of an AK-47 on Walnut Street.

MRAP

A Navistar MRAP On Display

Young adult writer Julia Karr (she’s not a young adult herself — she writes novels for that bunch) pointed out recently that Bloomington’s request still is pending. This even though President Barack Obama, caving in to pressure from his Kenyan Muslim gay abortionist overlords, has curtailed the Pentagon program.

Obviously, he wants the commies, anarchists, marauding mobs, and giant grasshoppers to win.

Now, I understand this great nation currently is suffering from a collective nervous breakdown — witness the popularity of presidential candidate Donald Trump — but, golly gee, can’t we feign at least a bit of sanity here in Bloomington?

The very existence of an armored, camouflage-painted MRAP in the BPD parking lot suggests our cops view the rest of us as enemy soldiers to be blown to kingdom come should we cross a certain as-yet unwritten boundary.

Let’s put some pressure on Diekhoff to withdraw this request. It’d be a nice gesture on the part of the gang upon whom we bestow badges and guns to keep the peace to actually view our city as something other than a war zone.

Hot Air

Help Wanted

So, the city’s hiring a bean counter to handle the 2015 upcoming budget. Acc’d’g to today’s Herald Times [paywall], Mayor Mark Kruzan et al have tabbed the Crowe Horvath accounting firm to slap a quick dough doc together in time for the City Council to review it in August.

Just to bring you abreast of the situ., City Controller Sue West took a powder in June after only a year and and half on the job. The Mayor characterized her leaving as a “life decision.” He said at the time that her absence wouldn’t affect the ongoing budget process because Deputy Controller Donna Slater, a CPA, was on hand and, per the M., “she doesn’t have that much less experience with budget preparation. We’re very fortunate to have Donna.”

Slater less than a week later threw her hands in the air and resigned as well. Eek.

CH Lanyard

Now Crowe Horvath senior manager Angie Steeno will draw up the draft budget. Slater (who’s staying on the job through Aug.) and city staffers already have been hard at work on it but the remaining work entails more than just dotting the i‘s. Crowe Horvath is a well-respected accounting firm with offices in 26 cities around the country. The outfit was started in 1942 by biz math geeks Fred P. Crowe Sr. and Cletus F. Chizek. By 1995, Crowe’d become one of the top 10 accounting firms, in terms of billing, in the US. After the usual series of  mergers and buyouts, Crowe Chizek became Crowe Horvath in 2008.

Steeno has previous experience with Bloomington: she handled some capital development issues for the Utilities Dept. back in 2011.

I dunno if it’s me, but ever since I arrived in this town in 2009, people entrusted with both the city and county’s cash have been dropping like flies. After learning about Amy Gertstein and Rhonda Foster’s alleged misuse of county credit cards and Justin Wykoff allegedly cutting himself sweetheart deals with Public Works contractors, I get the feeling local governmental finances are no more safe than if all B-town and Monroe County cash was simply parked on shelves in some photocopier room.

Cash

What with the potential for criminal charges, firings, and unexpected resignations, landing a job as a local pecuniary official might not be cause for celebration of late.

The mayor and the County Council promise us things are getting better. We’ll see.

Tyson Talks Tough

So, I’ve been saying this for years but who wants to listen to me? Tons o’folks listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson, though, especially those usually on my side of the fence who believe in climate science and evolution etc. Mother Jones has published a vid wherein the King of All Science tells the anti-GMO crowd, essentially, to take a Xanax. He explains:

I’m amazed how much rejection genetically modified foods are receiving from the public. It smacks of the fear factor that exists at every new, emergent science…. What most people don’t know — and they should — is that practically every food you buy in a store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food. There are no wild, seedless watermelons. There’s no wild cows…. You list all the fruit, and all the vegetables, and ask yourself, is there a wild counterpart to this? If there is, it’s not as large, it’s not as sweet, it’s not as juicy, and it has way more seeds in it. We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, the vegetables and animals, that we have eaten ever since we cultivated them. It’s called artificial selection. That’s how we genetically modify things. So now we can do it in a lab, all of a sudden you’re gonna complain? …We are creating and modifying the biology of the world to serve our needs. I don’t have a problem with that because we’ve been doing that for tens of thousands of years. So chill out.

deGrasse Tyson

Fallen Idol?

Sorry, NdGT, there won’t be any chillin‘; the foodies who’ve seen this vid are having nervous breakdowns at this very moment trying to figure out what to think about you now.

Cuban Wisdom

Indiana University alum and billionaire Mark Cuban doesn’t like the way corporations are trying to get out of paying US taxes now. Big outfits like Walgreen’s are moving their HQs to foreign countries these days so’s they can dodge their responsibilities to help keep this holy land running. Cuban sez:

If I own stock in your company and you move offshore for tax reasons, I’m selling your stock.

When companies move offshore to save on taxes, you and I make up the tax shortfall elsewhere.

Looks like he learned a thing or two at the Kelley School.

Cuban

Cuban

Hot Air

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.

Peace Cop

The Seekers

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.

Wodehouse

Wodehouse

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 Seekers

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.

Jones

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.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Not Your Granny’s Party

 

%d bloggers like this: