Hot Air

Moore No More

So, now both citywide candidates for public office have announced they’re turning in their lunchboxes.

City Clerk Regina Moore yesterday sent out an announcement to all her supporters and pals that she won’t seek reelection  next November. She joins Mayor Mark Kruzan in planning for a life without headaches, handshakes, and harping constituents.

Regina Moore

Moore (David Snodgress/Herald Times Photo)

I’ve got to imagine Moore must have grown a cauliflower ear from listening to so many friends and acquaintances try to weasel their way out of parking tickets over the phone. I can honestly say I never put the touch on her to spring me from the $20 fine — but I thought about it every single time I found that green envelope on my windshield.

Truth is, I’ll bet she’d have told me to take a hike. She was — hey, wait a minute: is — one of the finest public servants imaginable. What a couple, she and Don Moore, no?

I hope to see the two of them browsing in the Book Corner even more than they already do once she surrenders her keys to the City Hall office supply closet.

What Barack Has To Look Forward To

The US presidential impeachment process really is simple:

  • 1) The House Judiciary Committee concludes that the President must be impeached
  • 2) The Chair of the Judiciary Committee sends Article(s) of Impeachment to the full House

Goodlatte

House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte

  • 3) The full House approves one or more Articles of Impeachment by simple majority; this means the President has been impeached
  • 4) Now the Senate puts the President on trial; all 100 Senators will serve as the jury
  • 5) If 67 of the Senators (two-thirds of that chamber) vote to convict the President, another vote is held to either remove him from office or levy another form of punishment or censure on him

That’s it, kids. Oh sure, there are a gazillion little details interspersed: hearings to determine charges, votes to determine the rules of the trial, and so on. But these five steps are the process in a nutshell.

It’s so hard to get 67 Senators to vote one way on anything that doesn’t either enrich them or their campaign coffers that impeachment probably is — and will always be — used only to harass the President.

Certainly that’s what happened in 1998 when Bill Clinton was impeached. The Republican House couldn’t possibly have figured to get a Senate conviction on his fellatial (I just coined a word) crimes and misdemeanors but they loved — I repeat loved — dragging him through a four-year-long ordeal. (The first special prosecutor was appointed in January, 1994 to investigate the Whitewater financial affair and the death of Clinton lawyer Vince Foster; the Senate acquitted Clinton on unrelated charges in February, 1998.)

WaPo

I don’t know if Bob Goodlatte‘s (R-VA) Judiciary Committee will decide to consider Articles of Impeachment as its first act when the 114th Congress convenes in January, but I just know it’ll do so eventually. Goodlatte seems a tad, well, more sane than some of the more virulent Me Party-ists of the new, total GOP Congress. But the pressure’s going to be on him from the madman wing of the party to make Barack Obama’s last two years in office a living hell.

As if the first six years haven’t been already.

Really Reading

Speaking of the Washington Post (look up), the paper has released its list of 2014′s 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction.

I plan, over the next few years, to read nine of the books. Wait a minute — over the next few years? Yeah.

See, because I peddle books, people think I read everything that comes in. I don’t. I can’t. No one can. And if, in some distance bookstore, another peddler says she or he does; know that s/he’s toying with the truth. Reading entails submerging one’s self in a book, savoring it, understanding it, being in it. Speed reading and other tricks of the hyper-caffeinated set do not, in my unhumble view, constitute reading.

Books

My Nightstand’s Under Here Somewhere

At least once a week, a customer’ll pull a title off the New York Times Bestseller list shelf and ask, “Have you read this yet?” Invariably I say no. And the cust. usually responds with a a look of pained shock. I wanna say, “Look, you want me to read one of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing… fetish books? Or Heaven Is for Real? Hell, I haven’t even gotten to Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist yet. Whaddya want from me?”

Anyway, throwing the list of nine in with the several dozen other books already waiting for me to devour, I’m being almost overly-ambitious by saying I’ll get to them in a mere few years.

That said, here are the latest nonfiction books that have gone into my reading queue:

  • The Bill of the Century by Clay Risen — about the passage of the 1965 Civil Rights Act
  • The Birth of the Pill by Jonathan Eig — the simple daily contraceptive pill was perhaps the most important development in the women’s rights story in the second half of the 20th Century
  • Countdown to Zero Day by Kim Zetter — about Stuxnet, the first burst in the 21st Century’s cyberwar
  • The Divide by Matt Taibbi — I’ll read anything by Taibbi; here, he lays out in his trademark rational rage style how money buys justice in this holy land

Book Cover

  • The Invisible Bridge by Rick Perlstein — a confession: I’ve already read it. Perlstein covers the years 1974 through 1976 in his series on the history of the conservative movement in the US
  • My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossell — the author has scads of phobias (and so do I); here. he tackles them with candor and humor
  • The Nixon Defense by John W. Dean — the disgraced ex-president’s White House counsel gives the ultimate insider’s view of the tragi-comic scandal
  • The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs — Peace grew up in the Newark slums and went on to study molecular biology at Yale; he also was a nails-tough street thug who ran a profitable dope trade
  • A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre — Brit spook Kim Philby bamboozled pretty much everybody in the intelligence community, apparently not a difficult trick

If you phone me and I don’t answer, it’s because I’m reading.

Hot Air

Black Helicopters Take Out Bambis

So, the White Buffalo outfit whacked some deer Monday night and Tuesday morning — apparently. The City’s being closed-mouth about the operation. Do not enter signs were put up at the last possible moment, I suppose so that culling protesters wouldn’t flock to the Griffy Lake area and perhaps catch an arrow or even a slug in the gluteus maximus.

Griffy Lake

A couple of trucks from the Exotic Feline Rescue Center and the Hoosier Hills Food Bank were seen parked in the vicinity, meaning some big cats and unwealthy humans’ll be dining on venison soonly.

I can report the spread of a conspiracy theory. One woman has publicized a story she got from her nephew that the FBI was involved in the cull and some 150 critters were assassinated. The nephew also told his aunt that each deer was gutted on the spot and the guts were left for coyotes to munch on.

Folks, it ain’t just the wingnut right that’s got its head screwed on backward.

Risky Business

Have you caught the news from So. Korea that the ferry line CEO whose vessel capsized in April, killing 304 people, has been thrown in prison for ten years? Not only that, seven other company officials were given  prison sentences of two to six years. And another couple of guys got suspended sentences for participating in the cover-up.

Sewol Disaster

The Sewol Disaster

The poor bastards. I bet they wished they’d have run their ferry company here in America. In which case, following a similar disaster, at least three of them would have been hired by Fox News as shipping and/or business analysts. The rest would probably have gotten their own reality TV shows.

I guess the South Koreans just don’t understand business.

McKim’s Missives

I don’t know where he finds the time to do it but Monroe County Council member Geoff McKim puts out an absolutely indispensable blog covering the nuts and bolts of local gov’t. His IN53 – MOCOGOV site is a neat example of elected officials at least giving the impression that they give a good goddamn about you and me, the voters.

McKims

Geoff McKim & Brood

For instance, a post this week addresses  $87,575 in proposed spending on a couple of maintenance vehicles for the Monroe County Parks and Recreation Dept. so it can take care of its hiking trails. Admittedly, that’s not anywhere near as sexy a news story as, say, Barack Obama’s birth in Kenya or some Tea Party pol professing that rape babies are god’s gift.

What we fail to recognize all too often is that these are the real issues in government. Spending a few thou here and a few thou there is what council members, representatives, state senators, and other beauty contestant winners argue about and do every day.

This Means War

It’s sort of comforting to know that Phyllis Schlafly is still on the case. The superhero fighter against the Equal Rights Amendment back in the ’70s and, before that, a prime mover in the birth of the neo-conservative movement in this holy land, she’s got some thoughts on Barack Obama’s immigration speech last night.

Even before the Prez issued his exec. order granting temporary amnesty for certain unauthorized aliens to remain here, ol’ Phyll told the World Net Daily folks that he was about to embark on a course of action as shocking and devastating to our sacred republic as the attack on Ft. Sumter or Pearl Harbor.

Man! I munna start digging a bomb shelter in the back yard this very morning.

US Civil War

Amnesty = Unspeakable Slaughter

Schlafly referred, of course, to the opening salvo of the Civil War — and, golly gee, we might be in for another such bloodbath because of Obama and his amnesties:

Schlafly, like fellow conservative luminary Richard Viguerie, speculates that an executive amnesty might touch off a sort of modern-day conflagration.

The truth of the matter is these Right Wing loons are pretty tumescent over the prospect of another Civil War. Witness, for instance, the run on St. Louis-area gun shops in the lead-up the the Michael Brown killing grand jury report.

Y’know, if ever I have questions about the rightness and efficacy of being at least somewhat allied with the Democratic Party, I remember the other party boasts deep thinkers like Schlafly and Viguerie. All of a sudden I say to myself, Hey man, those Dems’ll do.

Hot Air

Plastics

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. 

Benjamin Braddock: Yes, sir. 

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening? 

Benjamin: Yes, I am. 

Mr. McGuire: Plastics. 

Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

From "The Graduate"

One Word, Benjamin

And so went perhaps the most famous exchange between characters in a Mike Nichols movie — or, for that matter, any movie made in the 1960s. The Graduate shot Nichols into the Hollywood firmament in 1967. It was his second directorial effort, following some pretty good success the  year before with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

In The Graduate, he took an absolute unknown, Dustin Hoffman, who was short, whose look screamed his Jewishness, and who had a honker of monumental proportions, and turned him into the object of a bored, spectacularly gorgeous suburban housewife’s desires. “Mrs. Robinson,” he blurts to Anne Bancroft, reclining alluringly on her bed, “you’re trying to seduce me.”

“Huh?” she says, chuckling.

“Aren’t you?”

She was.

As much as The Wild Bunch, and Rebel Without a Cause in the 1950s, The Graduate defined the new, post-WWII youth generation. Youth – the word itself became almost a brand. Almost? Hah! Youth culture was sold like jeans, record albums, Pepsi, and sex — all of which which were inextricably tied in with the young.

The Graduate, when all was said and done, was about pointless, directionless rebellion. Revolution, as Abbie Hoffman once shouted, for the hell of it. Well, a mild revolution. A revolution waged from the safety of the revolutionaries’ backyards.

Adults were hypocritical, shallow, materialistic, hyper-status conscious, and, well, bad guys. The young were disaffected, alienated, and somehow aware of the over-30 generation’s sanctimonious affectations. Only they became so aware while lounging in the sunken swimming pools their parents had built for them.

Mike Nichols’ The Graduate was a work of genius. Not too surprising, considering he came from the star nursery that eventually became known as The Second City.

A bunch of then-current and former University of Chicago students and hangers-on started the Compass Players in Chi-town’s Hyde Park neighborhood in the mid-’50s. The Compass gang, including David Shepherd, Del Close, Paul Sills, Shelley Berman, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, Alan Alda, Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, and others, performed improvised commedia dell’arte skits at a local bar called The Compass. Nichols joined the group and met Elaine May there. The two quickly became lovers and co-performers. They formed a duo act and rocketed to fame far beyond that of the rest of the Compass people at the time. As the Compass Players morphed into The Second City in 1958, Nichols and May struck out on their own, eventually performing on Broadway together in “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May” and winning a 1962 Grammy award for Best Comedy Album.

Nichols/May

Nichols & May

Nichols has given us so much comedy – just check out his IMDb page — that he can be forgiven for marrying former Richard Nixon speechwriter Diane Sawyer.

One more thing. The final scene of The Graduate, as much else from the movie, has become iconic. The story goes that nobody knew how the movie would end. Nichols directed Hoffman and Katherine Ross to run out of the church where Ross’s character — coincidentally (or not) named Elaine — had left her fiancé at the altar. The two were to run down the street and eventually board a city bus. They dashed to the rear of the bus and plopped down, out of breath and sweaty, she still in her wedding dress and veil. Hoffman and Ross thought the shot of them, huffing and puffing, would be a brief one and they anticipated there would be another, closing shot.

Instead, Nichols instructed his cameraman to keep shooting. Hoffman and Ross sat in the back of the bus, wondering when they’d hear the word “Cut!” It wasn’t to come for long moments. The actors, puzzled, remained half in-character and half out of it, glancing around, the bafflement beginning to cloud their faces.

Only then did Nichols yell “Cut.” The scene was perfect. Nichols knew that the couple had no idea where they were going nor what they’d do when they got there. The quizzical looks that crossed their faces conveyed it better than anything they could have ever conjured as actors.

Who’s Next

Judging by my unscientific, non-comprehesive, seat-of-the-pants survey of some of Bloomington’s most plugged-in citizens, this town’s next mayor may either be John Whikehart, former Ivy Tech-Bloomington chancellor and current deputy mayor under outgoing boss Mark Kruzan, or City Council member Darryl Neher.

This despite the fact that Whikehart is 65 years old and hasn’t made any public utterances about wanting the job.

One or two have even implied that Whikehart was brought into city government for the express purpose of succeeding Kruzan. This conspiracy theory has it that Kruzan knew he’d be getting out before being chased out, especially after the downtown parking meters hoo-ha, and wanted a trusted lieutenant to carry on after him.

Neher, on the other hand, seems a far more likely challenger for the throne.

See for yourself whose names are being bandied about:

Neher

Darryl Neher

Bloomington City Council, District. V. The smart money is on Neher to run.

Ruff

Andy Ruff

Bloomington City Council, At Large. Another great bet to run, at least acc’d’g to knowledgeable observers.

Whikehart

John Whikehart

Bloomington Deputy Mayor, former chancellor of Ivy Tech-Blooomington.

Hamilton

John Hamilton

Ran against Kruzan in the 2011 Democratic primary. A risky bet — a good authority whispered into my ear a year ago that he’s not interested in running anymore. Then again he won’t have to run against Kruzan this time. Hmm.

Yoder

Shelli Yoder

A good bet to run. She’s ambitious and, presumably, looking for a job with a higher profile than that of her current gig as 1st District representative on the Monroe County Council, the better to leapfrog into the US Congress seat she really wants.

Volan

Steve Volan

Bloomington City Council, District VI. Don’t waste your dough on this bet. Tall Steve already has gone on the record saying he won’t run.

Some half a dozen other names have been floated as well. None of them is worth mentioning here. Note no Republicans have been mentioned. This is Bloomington — duh.

Hot Air

List Mania

Smithsonian magazine this week released its list of the 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time. The mag divided the names into these categories:

  • Trailblazers
  • Rebels & Resisters
  • Presidents
  • First Women
  • Outlaws
  • Artists
  • Religious Figures
  • Pop Icons
  • Empire Builders
  • Athletes

Smithsonian Magazine

Ali, Lincoln & O’Keeffe Made The Cut

Here are a few of the names listed:

Secretariat

Significant American?

Go ahead, don’t be afraid to click any of the links. I, for instance, had no idea who Ellen G. White was.

Now, there are plenty of names that are sure to raise an eyebrow or two. Secretariat — the horse? And in the rest of the list, Robert E. Lee in Rebels & Resisters along with the likes of Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Tecumsah? Bette Davis? Charles Manson? L. Ron Hubbard? And perhaps the biggest boner of them all, Sarah Palin as one of the First Women.

Think what you want about Palin, she wasn’t the first anything. The actual first major party female vice presidential candidate was Geraldine Ferraro back in 1984.

Of course, the point of such lists is to get people talking about them.

I love lists. I make them all the time. One of my little tricks as an aspiring writer was to make lists when I felt a bout of writer’s block coming on. The idea being even if I couldn’t write real, inspired stuff, I had to keep the brain/eye/hand connection going. Sort of like a baseball player taking batting practice.

Here’s a typical list:

Big Mike’s Five Favorite Albums/Discs of All Time

  • What’s Going On? Marvin Gaye
  • Bryter Layter Nick Drake

Bryter Layter

  • Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, & Broadway Overtures: from the original Gershwin Piano Roll accompanied by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas, music director
  • Ingénue k.d. lang
  • Compact Jazz: Astrud Gilberto with Stan Getz
  • Pet Sounds The Beach Boys
  • Odessey & Oracle The Zombies

So shoot me: I couldn’t cut two discs from that list. Plus, don’t yell at me: Odessey was how the word was spelled on the Zombies disc.

How about this:

Big Mike’s Eleven Most Important Inventions of All Time

  • The electric lightbulb
  • The internal combustion engine
  • The electric motor
  • The microscope
  • The personal computer
  • The toilet

Toilet

Important

  • The printing press
  • Gunpowder
  • General anesthetic
  • Plastic
  • Antibiotics

Go ahead, make some lists yourself. How about your favorite websites? Make sure to put The Pencil atop that one.

Mayoral Matchup

Now that Bloomington bossman Mark Kruzan has announced he’s quitting his gig when his current term expires, the guessing game begins regarding the next victi…, er, mayor of this mighty metrop. I’ve put out the call for some of B-town’s finest citizens to tell me who they think may run for the office in 2015.

From WTIU

I’ve already received a few replies and the lineup looks, well, eclectic. And doesn’t that fit Bloomington to a tee?

BTW: No I will not run for mayor, as some misguided souls have suggested. My skeletons shall remain safe and secure in my closet where they belong, thank you. Besides, I don’t even live within the city limits, although I can shoot a spitball across the border from my living room window.

Tune in here tomorrow when I list some of the other suggested names.

Hot Air

The Rich: How They Get That Way

Kids, you have to read this smart — and smart-assed — work of art by a performance artist named Revolva (h/t to B-town’s hoop queen Paula Chambers for pointing it out.) Revolva has made tsunami-high waves on the interwebs for busting the heretofore beloved Oprah Winfrey’s chops.

Revolva

Revolva & Friend

See, the world’s most caring, powerful, brilliant, spiritual, all-knowing woman was throwing a great big narcissists ball in San Jose, CA this past weekend, charging up to a grand a ducat, and had asked Revolva to perform for free at it.

The SJ event was part of what the Oprah Outfit calls The Life You Want Weekend. It featured scads of self-help snake-oil peddlers, phony-baloney mystics, and shrewd entrepreneurs telling huge arenas of goggle-eyed woman how they control everything that happens to themselves and how they can attract good things by thinking sweet thoughts. The audience was cooed at and cosseted by the likes of bullshit artist Deepak Chopra and literary self-exalter Elizabeth Gilbert. For this, I repeat, many of the attendees  shelled out a thou a ticket.

Kari Revolva writes in an open letter to Oprah (all sic):

The life I WANT does not involve mega tours netting unfathomable amounts of real, tangible money, while local artists are coached to accept all or most of their payment in the least stable form of currency: exposure. If the “trailblazing” I do today is being an upstream voice, then I’ll at least make a bold statement about the life I DO want:

I want a life in which people are not asked to work for free — by people who can totally afford to pay.

Kari Revolva is an Oakland, California-based comedian/actor/dancer/writer/hoop artist who apparently does circus-ey things with the Hula Hoop and throws in some fire while she’s at it. She got a call from one of Oprah’s Harpo Studios producers asking her to work an outside stage at the last stop on the Big O Life You Want tour. She was shocked when she was told there’d be no pay. Not only that, she’d have to pay her own way from one end of San Francisco Bay to the other. Oh, and whatever else she had planned for that particular day that might have made her a dollar or two would be out of the question as she raced to donate her services to Oprah’s money-printing machine.

From revolva.net

Revolva’s Math

The Life You Want Weekend last month was skewered in a New York Times style section piece written by Jennifer Conlin.

Revolva continues:

In one day, your arena tour (capacity around 18,000, each ticket $99 to $999) is raking in more money than most people will make in a year. In ten years. In their entire lives. And yet, your side stage, featuring local acts, is paying in that old tap-dancing, phantom promise of “exposure.” As I was choking on my own tongue (stroke!), your producer also mentioned there was the added bonus of a ticket to the event. Unfortunately, her call coming just four days before your San Jose stop, I didn’t have the whole weekend free. I also texted my landlord, and it turns out he does not accept rent payment in Oprah Winfrey tickets. Gah!

I’ve long gagged over the genuflecting America did before Oprah, whose daily TV love fest (she retired from her show in 2011) regularly featured junk science, quack medicine, self-help bushwa, and the likes of fraudster Mehmet Oz. Today her magazine (which, by her own order, displays her sacred mug on every cover) features a column written by Herself entitled “What I Know for Sure,” which sounds just a tad presumptuous, no?

The sold-out arenas at which O put on her Weekends prove she’s still a huge draw. As Malcolm Muggeridge once observed:

One of the peculiar sins of the 20th Century which we’ve developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.

Bad Thoughts

Now this might sound macabre, ghoulish, and even tinfoil-hat-ish but the question just occurred to me: Who’s going to get shot at first, Elizabeth Warren or Pope Francis?

Warren/Pope

Warren & Bergoglio

I also include in the realm of possibilities food poisoning, trumped-up sex scandal, or — gulp! — plane crash.

Go ahead, laugh at me. I hope I’m wrong as wrong can be. I hope to hell I’m making an ass out of myself.

This mad, mad, mad, mad world lets troublemakers rock the boat — but only to a point. I’m guessing Warren and the Pope long ago went way past that point.

Hot Air

Kill The Democrats; Long Live The Democrats!

This last election really turned me off. The Republicans peddled their copyrighted brand of panic, blaming Barack Obama for everything from ISIS and ebola to the scourge of ingrown toenails. The Democrats, meanwhile, continued to do their patented impressions of field mice.

Field Mouse

Hi, Would You Vote For Me?

I’ve had it with both parties. Of course, I’ve never really not had it with the GOP; when I was 18 and registered to vote for the first time, the Grand Old Party declared itself four-square against the Equal Rights Amendment. Even at that tender age I figured any party willing to fight tooth and nail against guaranteeing Constitutional rights for half this holy land’s citizens was rotten to the core. Very, very little in the ensuing four decades has persuaded me otherwise.

For years, though, I had hopes for the Dems. I happily cast my vote for Jane Byrne in 1979 when she became Chicago’s first female mayor. I was thrilled four years later when Harold Washington became my beloved hometown’s first black mayor. I gleefully pulled the lever three times for Adlai Stevenson — once when he ran for reelection to the US Senate in 1976 and twice when he ran unsuccessfully for Illinois governor in ’82 and ’86.

Washington

Thrilling

I did my microscopic electoral part for House members Dan Rostenkowski and Luis Gutierrez. I even voted for Rahm Emanuel when he ran for Congress in 2002. For the first ten years of my voting life I was enthralled with the Democrats. They were my heroes and, at times, my saviors — for instance when the arch-villain Ronald Reagan was running for president.

Jimmy Carter, I sensed though, was a decent Joe but lacking in toughness. He didn’t have the killer instinct a street brawler must have. And if politics is anything, it’s a street brawl. Still I voted for him twice. I threw the lever for Walter Mondale, too, and not just because his comely daughter, radio personality Eleanor Mondale, flirted with me once at the Treasure Island grocery on Clybourn Avenue. Sigh.

Mondale

Eleanor Mondale

Anyway, along came Michael Dukakis and I was forced to vote in November 1988 while pinching my nostrils together. The man was about as scintillating as a six-month-old bottle of canola oil. But worse, during his debate with the eventual presidential victor, his opponent George H.W. Bush charged that Dukakis had committed the unforgivable sin of being a member of the ACLU. At which point, I was hoping Dukakis would reach for his wallet, pull out his ACLU membership card, and proclaim, “You’re damned right I’m a member. I support this country’s Constitutional rights. Why aren’t you a member?”

Instead, Dukakis dithered and mumbled and looked like a little boy who had to dash home because his mother was calling.

For a brief stretch in the 1990′s, the Dems reinvigorated me. Not necessarily their standard-bearer, the right-of-center and supremely unctuous Bill Clinton, but his campaign strategist James Carville. Now, he had the killer instinct. Carville not only was willing and able to go toe to toe, he dug it. And vying against a reprobate such as the Republicans’ Lee Atwater, he had to be unafraid to get blood on his knuckles.

Atwater/Carville

Brawlers

But then the Dems went right back to being meek as Dukakis. In 2000, when Al Gore needed every edge he could find, he eschewed the help of his former boss — Bill Clinton arguably was the nation’s finest and most charismatic campaigner — simply because the outgoing Prez had enjoyed a refreshment courtesy of Monica Lewinsky a time or two in the Oval Office. The dope. Gore lost the race to Georgey-boy Bush and that was that.

Four years later, John Kerry appeared to be positioned to knock Bush II off his perch but — wouldn’t you know it? — some ideologues and tinfoil cap-wearers came along and charged that the former Purple Heart winner had faked his injuries in Vietnam. Again I was hoping John Kerry’d take to the podium, lift his trousers leg to show his scars, and say, “How dare you bastards insult me and all the poor sons of bitches who lost blood, limbs, and their lives in that godforsaken shithole of an unjust war?”

But no, Kerry was above it all. Subsequently he was below it all — as in 3,000,000 votes shy of the man who’d embroiled us in his own ten-year-long, $2 trillion phony war.

Bush

Yeah, Whatever

And then this year the Dems opted to run like the wind from their latest right-of-center party leader, Barack Obama. They ran from him so hard that they had nothing left to run against the Republicans, who swept to the majority in both houses in historic fashion.

For all that, I say screw ‘em. Unless the Dems start turning over the party to real, true progressives who want to take up the banner against the 1%, who want to speak for the poor and the disenfranchised, who want to foment a mini-revolution in America’s halls of Congress as well as on Wall and Main streets, they can go to hell.

Romney & Bain

Overthrow This

To that end, I propose a manifesto. Call it Big Mike’s Platform. If the Democrats want me and the (I hope) millions of others like me who want steeled-spined fighters for truth, justice, and the American way to smash the Republicans and their uber-wealthy sugar daddies, they’ll adopt this platform. And why not? It was good enough, in large part, for Democrats for almost a hundred years — that is, the hundred years before they magically turned into field mice.

Now then, the platform:

  • Reverse Citizens United
  • No cap on income to deduct Social Security taxes
  • Minimum wage tied to independently-set poverty level figure
  • Paid family & medical leave
  • Re-institute Glass-Steagal legislation
  • Re-institute higher capital gains and inheritance tax levels
  • Disallow investment bankers from serving on regulatory commissions overseeing investment banks
  • Consider the search for effective, affordable, renewable energy sources as vital as a war effort
  • Rebuild roads, bridges & ports
  • Create a simple pathway to citizenship
  • Complete and unfettered access to affordable contraception, including abortion
  • Create a College of Lobbyists (Legislators must not meet or communicate with lobbyists outside a designated area within the Capitol that has public gallery viewing. Lobbyists register and schedule informational talks that Senators and Representatives can attend voluntarily. This way, legislators get needed information on topics as well as advocacy groups’ input on proposed laws. Any contact between lobbyists and legislators outside this arena would be punishable by jail.)
  • Mandatory voting
  • Month-long elections with convenient voting centers
  • Complete public financing of national, state and local elections
  • Abolish the Electoral College
  • Single-payer, universal health care
  • Universal military or social service, earning participants college credits
  • Complete and thorough background checks on all gun purchasers
  • A national database of gun purchases and ownership
  • Restrict sales of automatic weapons and armor piercing ammunition
  • Limit the number of firearms an individual may possess
  • Guaranteed free public education, through college and post-graduate work
  • Comprehensive public transportation, including municipal bus and light rail and national, high-speed heavy rail
  • Restrict corporations’ cross-media holdings
  • Eliminate no-bid federal government contracts
  • Discard farm subsidies that benefit large agri-business corporations
  • Encourage labor unions and persuade management and unions to work hand-in-hand to ensure the success of industry
  • Increased investment in science and business research
  • Decriminalize drug abuse and emphasize treatment for abusers
  • Internet neutrality
  • Affordable broadband access

I’m sure there’s more, only I haven’t thought of it yet. When new ideas come to me, I’ll share them.

Hot Air

Money For Nothin’

Try as I might, I can’t seem to find a Las Vegas over/under line on when the first Article of Impeachment against Barack Obama will be passed by a House committee.

Inpeach

You know it’s coming as well as I do. I just want to get my smart money down on it now.

A Good Woman For The Job

Congrats to Efrat Feferman on her promotion to Assistant Director in charge of finance over at Pat Murphy’s City of Bloomington Utilities Dept.

Feferman

Feferman

With Efrat keeping an eye on the operation’s checkbook don’t expect anybody to get away with purchasing $100,000 oriental rugs for their offices or solid gold sinks for the exec. washroom. She started off in the accounting department when she first went to work for Utilities some years ago and has been handling Utilities Board relations of late. Her new gig begins Dec. 1st.

Brrrrrr…, GRRRRR!

Hey Bloomington, WTF? I left Chicago to get away from this kind of weather!

Frost

Just in case you’ve forgotten, the official start of winter is more than a month away.

Self Abuse

You know those ridiculous “ear plugs” — AKA “lobe gauging,” or “tribal piercing” — where people, mostly guys, get their earlobes punched out and stretched by inserting cylindrical thingies into them? Well, a number of people who’ve had it done are now regretting their decisions. Duh.

Cosmetic surgeons in Great Britain say trade in earlobe repair due to this misguided mutilation is robust. And even though Brits report more gauging ruers than their American counterparts, plastic surgeons here have noticed an uptick in the procedure as well.

So far, the only thing docs can do is slice the saggy, droopy lobe loop off and refashion the remaining flesh to look somewhat natural.

Lobe Loop

Loopy

My back office at Soma Coffee affords me ample opportunity to see guys with ear plugs. They don’t put me off my feed as much as they once did, familiarity breeding numbness, as it were. I do remember a guy who took the gauging thing to a whole new level of bizarre. One of my old coffeehouse hangout/back offices was called Bic’s Hardware Cafe on Halsted Street down by 18th Street in Chi.’s East Pilsen neighborhood. A fellow who came in to the place on occasion not only had ear plugs but his loops were so big you could have fired a gun though them and still missed hitting him in the head. He’d looped the septum of his nose as well. He was, I’d suppose, a gauging savant.

So much so, in fact, that he’d actually had his ankles looped. Yep. Here’s how it worked: He’d pierced the skin and flesh between his Achilles tendons and his lower leg bones. Somehow — perhaps surgically — he’d had the apertures looped so that you could actually see the space, perhaps an inch or so, between sinew and bone. Natch, he had a cylindrical bangle dangling from each hole.

Ankle Hole Location

I was wearing a hat the first time I saw him; it popped up the top of my head.

Now, defenders may say these gaugers have a right to do whatever they wish with their bodies and I guess that’s true. On the other hand, it’s like a developer building the ugliest skyscraper in the skyline. It’s an imposition on the senses and sensibilities of the rest of us. Just as I’m forced to have my eyes violated by the architectural monstrosity below, the man at Bic’s Hardware Cafe forced me to view the gap between his Achilles tendons and tibiae.

Grand Lisboa

The Grand Lisboa Hotel In Macau

Love & Hate

My pal Susan Sandberg has a dame crush on IUPUI prof and blogger Sheila Kennedy. Not to be outdone, I have a guy crush on Chicago Sun-Times columnist and blogger Neil Steinberg. Of course, you would know this if you’ve visited these precincts the last…, what is it now — two and a half years? Yeah, that’s it. I left The Third City in August 2011, circumnavigated the globe as a merchant marine for six months and then started up this communications colossus.

Anyways, Steinberg thinks much like I do, meaning he’s sensitive, intelligent, rational, and right. He pointed out yesterday a bumper sticker he saw on an SUV in a northwest suburban restaurant parking lot. It read GTFO.

The O was Barack Obama’s old campaign logo. Meaning the prez of this holy land should Get the Fuck Out. Which, I suppose, might disappoint in some slight way the plurality of voters who twice elected him to park his wingtips on a desk in the Oval Office.

Steinberg went on to muse about people who are so madly in hate with Obama. In the process of which, he pointed out that there’s a whole cottage industry of products, services, and miscellaneous shit revolving around said hatred and the countdown to that sacred day when the current C-in-C leaves office, January 20, 2017.

(As an aside, my guess is they won’t be happy that day either as the next president — a human being with a vagina — takes office. Then again, the entrepreneurial spirit being what it is, a whole slew of new products, services, and miscellaneous shit will come to market counting down the days until January 20, 2021.)

So, I figured I’d embark on an interwebs reconnaissance mission to search for things similar to that GTFO bumper sticker (as Steinberg himself did; although he did not itemize his findings.) Here’s what I’ve found:

More Bumper Stickers

Bumper Sticker

Bumper Sticker

Bumper Sticker

Emphatic

Bumper Sticker

I Must Be a Double Asshole!

Bumper Sticker

Naw — This Isn’t Racist One Eensy Bit!

Bumper Sticker

Huh?

Countdown Clocks

Countdown Clock

Countdown Clock

T-Shirt

T-Shirt

Simple & Elegant

Mints

Mints

 

For That Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Toilet Paper

Bumper Sticker

Toilet Paper

These last two are fascinating. Imagine, every time a guy goes into his bathroom — even if it’s only to wash his hands — he sees the face of Barack Obama staring at him. How much hate does one have to have in one’s heart to want to see the object of his odium every time he brushes his teeth, clips his toenails, or drops a deuce? The bathroom, in my world, is the second most important room in the house. I desire peace, tranquility, surfaces free of muck and mire, a clean towel or two, and some comforting reading material in that special place. Anything that might roil my blood would be taboo. Then again, perhaps I don’t hate enough.

Presumably, all the people who buy and display these tchotchkes would profess they’ll be happy — deliriously so – when Barack Obama leaves office. I get the feeling, though, that they’re never happy.

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