Hot Air


At the time of its founding, this was the most forward-thinking, brilliant idea of a nation ever to grace this planet. Some 239 years ago, it was the apex of human thought and social congress. Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (as well as the succeeding Bill of Rights) were masterworks of compromise, leadership, and literature.

Was it flawed? You bet. How could it not be, considering it was the product of human minds and hands. In it, women did not exist. Slaves existed as mere fractions of white men. But the Founding Fathers — another flaw in our conception; without mothers, there are no children — were so progressive they built into our charter document the ability to change it. It was no Bible in their eyes, intractable and immutable, but a living, growing thing. One day, I’ll bet, it will even recognize women.

To quote Molly Ivins, “It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”

I like that. It makes me feel good about America. It may even be true.


A couple of centuries-plus later, well…, this ain’t the most forward-thinking, brilliant idea of a nation anymore. It is a bloated, self-important, willfully ignorant, bellicose giant. All the giants on Earth at this moment can be described as such. Russia? Sure. China? Yep.

Perhaps it is inevitable that the giants of the globe must become fat, annoying ogres. It may be due to something in the human genome. But we’ve got something those other two gargantuas don’t have — our founding documents.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, they can be misread and misused. Think Citizens United. Think the prevailing idea that nothing about the manufacture, sale, and possession of guns should be regulated.

Yet, think about the fact that, today, homosexuals can settle down and create families and homes with the full blessing of the state. Homosexuals — the most reviled class of humans throughout history. We accept them now, under the law. They are us!

To a large extent, we still live by the Jeffersonian axiom:

The legitimate powers of the government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God [sic]. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

Of course, we’ve extended those powers to include actually helping folks whose legs are broken or whose pockets have been picked. Witness the Supreme Court’s two affirmations of the Affordable Care Act.


We’re a nation that has dispatched the mightiest military in human history all around the planet, mainly to ensure that a gallon of gasoline remains cheaper than $4 and that electronic goods can be manufactured by foreign workers earning near-slave wages and bought by our citizenry for a song.

That military hasn’t fired a shot in defense of true liberty for the last three-quarters of a century, even though it’s been fighting almost constantly, both covertly and accompanied by parades.

We’re afraid — rightly so — of crazed religious zealots who wish to establish their god’s rule over the Middle East and we steer robotic weapons through the air to kill them. Fair enough, they live by the sword, but our drones blow to pieces anybody else who happens to be in the neighborhood at the moment. We don’t worry too much about that; they are, after all, brown.

We’re fouling our air, the water, and the soil for the purpose of finding and burning fossil fuel so our cars can go and our air conditioners can run. And when people complain about the damage this process is causing, we brand them liars and communists. Well, not all of us; only those who run our economy and make our laws.

We worship those who accumulate wealth. That is, those who amass so much that neither they, nor their succeeding ten generations can use it up no matter how profligately they spend. How else to explain the fact that the likes of Donald Trump and Jamie Dimon are neither in prison nor a mental institution? We’ve allowed our lawmakers to rig the game so that the tiniest sliver of our population gathers more and more wealth while the vast majority of us either stagnate or get poorer. Then we gobble up books and movies about all the richest guys who are so thrillingly imaginative and hard-working.

We wave flags and brag that everybody wants to be an American. Then when foreigners try to cut corners to get in here, we brand them rapists and murderers and disease carriers. Worst of all, from our POV, they are brown people.

So, today, I wouldn’t pat myself on the back just because I’m an American. I will be thankful, though, we gave ourselves a great set of start-up guidelines. Even if that start is getting a hell of a lot smaller in the rearview mirror.

Hot Air

Tempus Fugit Fugue

Hold on to your hats: Debbie Harry turned 70 yesterday!

Seventy freakin’ years old. She is now, officially, an old dame. And those of us who listened and danced to her when she was not are, by extension, also old bats.

Hot Air

Do You Believe…?

FYI: I’m too busy writing the Zietlow book right now so my posts will be spotty herein for a few days.

In any case, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Lovin’ Spoonful hit Do You Believe in Magic [h/t to Al Yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue for the tip]. So listen up.

Hot Air

The Next Appeal

Much of America jumped for joy upon hearing the Obergefell decision last week. Other Americans, though, groused, clenched their fists, and vowed to…, um…, to do something.

Those of us who think we’re familiar with this holy land’s system of writing, enacting, and interpreting laws might react with a derisive snort to the Religious Right’s pledge to act. As we understand it, once the US Supreme Court rules on a disagreement over a law, well, that’s that. There is no higher authority than the Supremes.

Ah, but that’s not so, say the Holy Rollers. There is god.

Anti-Same-Sex Marriage

The Big Daddy-o in the Sky is mightily pissed, they tell us. Almightily pissed. They know because they talk him him regularly. The fact that their conversations always are one-sided means little to the pious of our nation. Somehow they know what his immensity is thinking. He’s thinking about unleashing earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics, and other annoyances upon our blighted land because we’re now allowing same-sex couples to get married.

Don’t mess with god, the Very Right sez. He’ll hit you so hard your mother’ll fall down.

Teehee, the rest of us say.

Put the brakes on your snorting, sez me. Don’t laugh at the Religious Right. They’ve got a power behind them greater even than god. They’ve got the Koch Boys.

Murrica’s second richest clan engineered the Citizens United decision — declared, natch — by that very same Supreme Court in 2010. CU gives the Kochs the mechanism by which they can control elections hereabouts. And do you know what remedy some Republicans are touting? The election of US Supreme Court justices.

As in, Hey, vote for me, I’ll set you free! Imagine Donald Trump on the Supreme Court. Or Glenn Beck. How about Sarah Palin? You know, of course, one doesn’t have to be a lawyer to be a US Supreme Court justice, don’t you? The Constitution says nothing mandating lawyers as bench warmers.


Habeas Who? Nolo What?

But if, say, Sen. Ted Cruz has his way, some specially anointed water-carrier for the Kochs just might make it into a black robe. Cruz is telling the world via his recently-released political memoir that we must start having general elections for Supreme Court justices.

Acc’d’g to him, the justices should reflect the will o’the people. Acc’d’g to reality, such elections would more likely reflect the will of the Koch Boys. And if the Kochs figure a candidate for the Supremes — who just happens to be a flamboyant god-ist — will serve their lofty interests, they’ll throw their dough behind him. Dough wins elections.

Let’s be frank: It’d be a sure bet a guy who’s philosophically simpatico to the Kochs would be a crucifix waver. Davey and Chuck know better than anyone the history and efficacy of the American plutocracy using Jesus to further its interests.

Those of us giddy that the US Supreme Court has ratified the freedom of any two adults who want to chain themselves together in wedlock had better watch out. The Religious Right has god behind them. And god has the Kochs behind him.

The Explosion Of Privatization

So, another Space-X rocket ship has exploded upon taking off. It’s a shame. Now the astronauts in the International Space Station will have to wait for their latest copy of Entertainment Weekly magazine.

Space-X is the rocket booster manufacturer and operator that scored a contract with NASA to resupply the ISS in the aftermath of the Space Shuttle era. The idea being private industry can do the job immeasurably better than a gov’t agency. That’s the philosophy behind privatization, right?

Right. Elon Musk put together the Space-X aerospace corp. with one of its stated goals being putting a crew of humans on Mars. Eventually. Till then, though, Space-X’d do the heavy lifting for the ISS.

In the last eight months, though, two Space-X vehicles have blown themselves to smithereens. That is, the last two Space-X ships are now nothing more than metal splinters. Make no mistake: space travel is a risky business. Hell, I can’t even lift myself off my recliner without help half the time. A rocket booster must lift tons and tons of stuff, pushing it up to 25,000 mph to escape the Earth’s gravitational pull. The Falcon 9 vehicle that blew up yesterday is designed to carry up to 27.5 tons of food, water, magazines, and toilet paper. That’s even more than I weigh.

Nobody can do it without taking the chance that the damned thing’d disappear in a burst of flaming fuel. Not a gov’t agency. Not a private corporation.

When NASA was first trying to launch rockets into space in the late 1950s, the ratio between successful liftoffs and blow-ups was a terrifying 1-1. In the ensuing six decades, though, the US gov’t agency in charge of space stuff learned how to send people and things off the Earth with a reasonable expectation of success. Oh sure, there’ve been disasters — Apollo 3, the Challenger, and the Columbia — but whenever NASA experienced such a spectacular failure, it had to shut down operations for long months and even years and explain to the American people why it screwed up. As for the non-governmental Space-X outfit, the American public will forget about Sunday’s explosion by the day after tomorrow. That is, those who even were aware of the explosion in the first place.

At least NASA had to put the lives of astronauts and the negative PR fallout from a mission failure on the front burner. The pols who authorized the billions of dollars for the agency’s operations insisted NASA launch a safe vehicle, and costs be damned.

That was then. Now, with privatization, cost is king. Private corps. put profit on the front burner. If one safety check or another cuts too deeply into the total expense of a mission, well then it just might have to be made more flexible, shall we say, or even nixed altogether. Shaving cost is the god of for-profit business. Maximizing revenue is its heaven.

I have no idea at this moment if Musk’s Space-X cut corners to put together its Falcon-9 vehicle. I assume NASA and the company itself will conduct a thorough investigation. But, guaranteed, that investigation will be done outside the public eye. And its findings will make about as much splash as the news that the City of Bloomington is using a new brand of paint for its parking meters.

Suffice it to say I’m no fan of privatization.

Magical Monocrat

Funnyman Aaron Freeman points out a prediction made by then-Cuban prime minister Fidel Castro in 1973:

The United States will talk to us when you have a black president and the world has a Latin American pope.

Some folks are saying this is evidence of the revolutionary boss’s psychic powers — or at least his ability to read the geopolitical tea leaves. I say, Bah. His “prediction” was really code for “When hell freezes over.” I doubt he would have ever guessed that Satan would be shivering while he — Castro — was still alive.

Castro & Doves

Fidel & His Famous Dove Trick

Now, if he would have said, “… when homosexuals can marry in the US and the Pope rails regularly against the evils of capitalism…,” then we could talk about his extra-sensory perceptions.

Hot Air

The Straight Take

So, this guy comes into the bookstore late yesterday morning. He’s with three teenaged daughters (I’m assuming) and the lot of them are as flamboyantly straight as they could be. He’s wearing a muscle T-shirt with some kind of rebel-motorcycle slogan on it and the little dames are all Daisy Duked and wearing make-up and false eyelashes — on a Saturday morning for chrissakes!

He asks if we sell the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal and I say, “Yeah, sure, they’re right outside the door on the rack.”

He says, “No they aren’t,” and points toward the rack. Sure enough the danged thing is empty. I hadn’t even realized we’d sold out so early in the day.

“Huh,” I go, “I guess everybody wanted them for their front pages.” And this is true. We even sold out of the Herald Times (and we almost never do). Its front page, like the NYT’s and the WSJ’s, was the US Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision from top to bottom. One couple came in and bought a pile of H-Ts because their pastor was on the cover, celebrating the landmark decision.


The muscle-T guy, though, looks at me as if I’m from the moon. He cocks his head and asks, “Well, what’s the big deal about their front pages?”

Now I cock my head. There are days when you just know what’s on the front page of the newspaper. The day after the 2008 election, f’rinstance, or July 21st, 1969. People kept their papers from those days. I did. I still have them stashed away somewhere in the garage.


“Um, er, y’know, the same-sex marriage decision came down yesterday,” I explain. I try not to sound as though I’m didacting to a six-year-old who’s asking why the moon doesn’t fall out of the sky.

See, kid, it’s all about angular momentum and Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion. The way it works…, uh, look, it just doesn’t, okay?

The guy gives me a look like, Hey, pal, I know that.

Natch, now I really start sounding like a didact. “When a momentous event takes place, people like to have a keepsake of it, something that will remind them of the history of the thing years from now.” Sheesh, I may as well be Julius Kelp.

From "The Nutty Professor"

“Actually, We Retain Mementos Of Benchmark Occurrences….”

The guy sniffs. “Yeah, that’s what I mean.” As if to say What kind of pussy would want a keepsake of fag and dyke marriage. He actually smirks at me.

I shrug. My mind for a hot minute is a raging battleground between the Bad Me who wants to say, How should I know? I’m not one of them! and the Good Me who’s dying to shout, Go fuck yourself, pal!

The Bad Me’s learned reaction to want to betray all my same-sex-loving friends and family and the muscle-T guy’s desire to belittle fags and dykes — these are two good reasons why Friday’s decision was so breathtakingly necessary.

Actually, we’ve still got a long way to go.

Hot Air

Head Sounds

I don’t know if I’ve ever made a movie recommendation in these precincts. If not, here’s the first: Go see the Brian Wilson biopic, Love & Mercy.

Both Paul Dano and John Cusack portray Wilson’s descent into and return from debilitating craziness about as well as any actor could. A lot of people have been saying that Cusack’s take on Wilson is inferior to Dano’s. I don’t buy it. Cusack, who plays Wilson from the 1980s, has all the tics and quirks down. (Dano plays Wilson as he records the Pet Sounds album in 1966.) You might watch Cusack-as-Wilson and say the actor’s rendition is sort of…, oh, I don’t know, empty. Well, that’s only because Brian Wilson — post-LSD, post-breakdown, under the thumb of a mad shrink — was nothing more than a shell of a human being.


Brian Douglas Wilson

Even today, supposedly back to normal and “cured” of his own madness, Wilson has the look of a man who’s witnessed the atomic blast that destroyed his hometown and is now trance-walking through life, waiting for the next airburst. Panic disorder, auditory hallucinations, paranoia — they’re as devastating to an individual as the explosion of a W88 warhead is to a population.

As a dramatic study of psychiatric illness, L&M is superb. It’s even better as the reimagined tableau of a genius turning his entire existence into a musical instrument in the service of producing “the greatest album ever made.”

That’s what Brian Wilson was trying to do when he was conjuring Pet Sounds. You can make the argument that he succeeded and I wouldn’t object.

God Only Knows

That said, here’s the last in my series of songs dedicated to The Loved One during her birthday week. If you do go to see Love & Mercy, you’ll learn who once said this was, “[T]he greatest song ever written.” You’ll be surprised.

One more thing: If you love music and want a glimpse into the making of a classic, watch this two-part vid [Part 1, Part 2] on the making of GOK in the studio. Then watch/listen to the final cut below.

Hot Air

Take Me To Your Leader

You think the GOP field of presidential candidates is already an overflowing clown car? You don’t know the half of it. Or even the quarter of it.

As of this AM, no fewer than 27 Republicans have declared themselves in on the 2016 lottery. Another two have active exploratory committees raising dough in their names. Those 29 are the somewhat serious among all those who’ve filed campaign declarations — or are about to — with the Federal Election Commission. Not to be terribly outdone, the Democrats thus far offer 15 honest-to-gosh candidates. Independents, Libertarians, the Greens, and other wannabe third parties have mustered up dozens and dozens of future answers to trivia questions. The numbers including such statesmen as Sydneys Voluptuous Buttocks of Buffalo, New York, or Ole’ Savior of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In fact, the FEC’s list of folks who’ve filed the necessary paperwork to run in the 2016 beauty contest has reached an astounding 421 names.


Here’s the latest comprehensive list of declared as well as just-about-declared Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election:

Charles “Skip” Andrews III — 66-year-old father of 11; born on a US Army base in Frankfurt, West Germany 9don’t get your shorts in a bunch — anyone born to American parents on a military facility is eligible to become president); a Kansas construction and remodeling business owner, has written two books, one on personal morality and governance and the other on how the monetary system works

Michael Bickelmeyer — A self-styled inventor from Ohio, one of the gadgets he has a US patent application for is a space-based weapon system — it collects the sun’s rays while orbiting the Earthj, magnifies them, then directs them via mirrors and things and then directs them to the ground where they zap terrorists, swear to god; he also includes a photo of his birth certificate on his campaign website (you know what that means)

Kerry Bowers — A Nevadan who lists his strengths as “listening, planning, organizing, directing, leading and achieving” (sounds like he’d make a fine housewife); retired Air Force colonel

John Ellis “Jeb” Bush — Campaign slogan: “We’re all in this together”

Ben Carson — Retired neurosurgeon; writes hooray-for-America books; the GOP’s favorite dark-skinned Murrican

Dale Christensen — “I am first and foremost a family man and a patriot”

Chris Christie (exploratory committee) — The newly-svelte New Jersey governor is expected to announce next week

Ted Cruz — Another foreigner; Harvard-educated although he has mastered the art of speaking Ingnorantese


Ted Cruz

Brooks Cullison — Says “America, and indeed much of Western Civilization and the world are under seige by violent, barbaric jihadists whose ideology is extracted from Islam”; born in Vincennes, Indiana; now a lawyer and banker in Olney, Illinois

John Dummett, Jr. — No jokes about his name please — I’ll handle the humor around here; calls himself “a common ordinary patriot”; says things like, “I fear for our nation and our way of life,” and “Time is short”; he’s a god-ist who is strongly opposed to the usual evils: abortion, same-sex marriage, illegal immigrants, and anyone who believes the Constitution can be amended, I can’t find any info on what the 59-year-old does or did for a living

Mark Everson — A 60-y-o New England prep schooler and Yalie, Everson was raised in Yonkers; worked as an international propagandist for the US in the Reagan Administration; a CPA, after spending time in priavte industry, he served as Bush II’s commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service

Carly Fiorina — Former big cheese at Hewlett-Packard; acc’d’g to most observers, the corp. was in worse shape after she left than it was before she came aboard


Carly Fiorina

Lindsay Graham — Suspiciously unmarried US Senator from South Carolina; digs war

Jim Hayden — “We are currently under constant threat of attack from the Muslims…. [W]e have got to defeat the Muslims….”; former Marine from Tennessee; does not dig the IRS

Chris Hill — Oops, he’s dropped out already!

Mike Huckabee — From a campaign ad for Huckabee’s previous run for president:

Mike Huckabee: My plan to secure the border? Two words: Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris: Mike Huckabee’s a lifelong hunter who’ll protect our Second Amendment rights.

MH: There’s no chin behind Chuck Norris’s beard, only another fist.

CN: Mike Huckabee wants to put the IRS out of business.

MH: When Chuck Norris does a push-up, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.

CN: Mike’s a principled, authentic conservative.

MH: Chuck Norris doesn’t endorse, he tells America how it’s gonna be.



Bobby Jindal — Once warned fellow Republicans they must “stop being the stupid party”; Jindal and his Republican-led Louisiana state legislature recently passed a budget that will cut $600 million form higher education funding

Michael Kinlaw — A native Texan who moved to Colorado and even once ran for the US Senate from that state, he’s against and for everything that all the other conservatives are against and for except, oddly, he’s in favor of same-sex marriage; owned a mortgage banking co. that went belly-up during the 2008 mortgage banking crash; his website does not open up, which is probably appropriate

Dennis Michael “DML” Lynch — Documentary filmmaker who has taken on the “liberal media” and illegal aliens; is working on a documentary celebrating the confrontation at the Bundy Ranch in 2014; he also says he’s a public speaker and an entrepreneur

George Pataki — The former New York governor must be bored

Rand Paul — Honestly? A serious candidate for president

Rick Perrysigh

Michael Petyo — Writes that the next prez should be, “[O]ne who is chosen by GOD to defend the rights of the people and their Nation. One who when he speaks the words will flow from his lips as does honey from a hive” [all sic]

Marco Rubio — Another serious candidate for president

Brian Russell — Boss at Florida’s Bluefin Investments, actually claims that because his brother is in the Army, he has a unique and valuable perspective on foreign policy

Rick Santorum — “santorum


Rick Santorum

Jefferson Sherman — Government should be small, the military should be big, blah, blah, blah; he’s from Maryland, that much I know; all I could find out about what he does is a Radaris line that he’s worked in the “food preparation” industry — is a he a busboy? search me

Donald Trump — The clowns’ clown

Scott Walker (exploratory committee) — The Koch Boys’ boy

Okay? Now you’re a more informed voter. Stay tuned for all the Dems and other party candidates.

My Prayer

Not that I pray, but if I did….

For The Loved One, in honor of her birthday week


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