Category Archives: Bill Clinton

Hot Air

Fixing The Unfixable

As far as I’m concerned, we don’t need any more proof that unfettered capitalism has become our holy land’s Frankenstein monster. It’s now become as perverted as Marx’s Communism was under megalomaniacs like Joseph Stalin or Mao Tse Tung.

We don’t have a single bete noir we can blame for all the ills of free market madness, although Saint Ronald Reagan can play the role in a pinch. No, the greedy, acquisitive, sociopathic reprobates who’ve turned free enterprise into crushing corporatism and fundamentalist profiteering are many. The Wall of Dishonor includes such past and present hooligans as:

Kozloswki Party

Kozlowski Hosts A Birthday Party For His Wife

Boesky

Boesky

Success, it has been said, has a thousand mothers. The pantheon of big-time biz winners today, though, boasts as many motherfuckers.

So, what do we do? Overturn capitalism? Hah! Good luck. And, really, do we want to do that? Robert Reich, who served as Bill Clinton’s Labor Sec’y, the other day threw out a more subtle solution. BTW: it’s odd that a Clinton cabinet member should become such a hero of the Left as Reich; the 42nd Prez was about as guilty as Reagan was for creating the economic clime that gave us the various bubbles, the Wealth Gap, and the Great Recession.

Anyway, Reich tells the story of Market Basket‘s ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. Market Basket’s board gave Demoulas the boot because he wanted the share the wealth, which is worse than child molestation in the corporate board world. Reich writes:

What was so special about Arthur T., as he’s known? Mainly, his business model. He kept prices lower than his competitors, paid his employees more, and gave them and his managers more authority.

Late last year he offered customers an additional four percent discount, arguing they could use the money more than the shareholders.

In other words, Arthur T. viewed the company as a joint enterprise from which everyone should benefit, not just shareholders. Which is why the board fired him.

Reich goes on to suggest that there are many more businessfolk-with-a-heart, like Arthur T. “[I]nterestingly,” Reich writes, “we’re beginning to see the Arthur T. business model pop up all over the place.”

Hmm. We’ll see. It’s nice to think that a growing number of modern corporate big shots might be slightly less immoral than a band of grave robbers, but is it realistic? Reich’s idea is that good people will triumph. I dunno: what if it’s not the people but the very system itself that’s crooked. We can pat people on the back and tell them how wonderful they are when they pay their employees a few cents more than starvation wages but pats on the back don’t drive boardroom discussions. Aggressive, ambitious people need to be reined in by laws and regulations, otherwise every leader, in business as well as politics, would be that guy who can kick the crap out of everyone else.

Ghandi was a great guy but he would have been chewed up and spit out by his competitors within ten minutes of accepting a job as a company’s CEO. He wouldn’t fit into the competitive corporate world no matter how much of a Mahatma he was.

I’m all for the good guys in business, only I fear they’ll always be the outliers.

Anyway, check out Reich’s piece.

Rice Is Nice

Nice piece on the Rice family farm in Spencer in today’s Herald Times (paywall). The Loved One and I have stocked up at its country retail outlet any number of times.

The very idea of driving down a gravelly road to get to a market in the middle of rolling farmland is part of what makes living in Bloomington such a source of happiness for me.

Rice Quality Farm Meats

Meat Market

The gist of the H-T story is Rice’s move away from producing so much beef. The farm family, acc’d’g to the piece, has done a lot of trade in the past processing beef cattle for private customers but with the recent rise in beef prices, that business may soon tail off. So Rice is diversifying, moving more into turkey and other fowl.

In fact, the existence of Rice’s retail ops was an early step in the farm’s hedge against a plummet in processing revenues.

If you haven’t been out to Rice of late, do yourself — and the Rice family — a favor.

Who’s Fooling Whom?

The very idea that the intelligence services and the military of this holy land were all caught off-guard by the ISIS advance in Iraq is preposterous. Either somebody’s lying big time or we have the stupidest spy agencies in the world.

ISIS

Hiding In Plain Sight

Papa’s Got The Same Old Bag

Gary, Indiana’s own Monroe Anderson points out that, with the exception of the actors, there were no blacks involved in the production of that new James Brown biopic playing in theaters now.

Movie Poster

Black On The Outside

Just thought you’d like to know.

 

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

 

Hot Air

Union, Yes!

Sit down. Grab an extra large bottle of Xanax. Prepare yourself for a shocks of shocks.

A US gov’t agency made a pro-labor decision yesterday.

Alright, I’ll wait for the paramedics to revive you.

Yes, the regional National Labor Relations Board ruled that college athletes have the right to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining. They can, in other words, form a union.

Huzzah.

Memphis 1968

Labor

Ever since Saint Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers back in 1981, unions have been under siege in this holy land. It’s reasonable to buy into the theory that the ascendent Right back then wanted to kill off the unions because they’d been a backbone of Democratic Party support throughout the 20th Century. And it worked because, without unions, the Dems had to turn to big money corporations for their bread and butter. To do that, the Democratic Party had to move to the Right itself. That’s why don’t-rock-the-boat center-Rightists Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have been the Dems’ standard bearers in the last quarter century. The Clinton and Obama administrations were (and are) as friendly to Wall Street, multi-national corporations, and the plutocracy as any fuddy duddy GOP-ers were before Reagan declared America safe from the horrors of organized labor.

In fact, the only really successful recent union has been the Major League Baseball Players Association, itself populated by nascent plutocrats. The MLBPA has taken management to the woodshed time and again, proving once again that only millionaires have any real power here.

Anyway, the outgoing QB of the Northwestern Wildcats football team, a lad named Kain Colter, led a group calling itself the College Athletes Players Association in an effort to negotiate with NU. Colter and Co. claimed to be employees of the university. Northwestern meanwhile said they were  student-athletes, the fairy tale designation that colleges use to make us think of young men in gowns and mortarboards dashing off to make it on time for a brief practice after spending the majority of their day reading Proust and memorizing the periodical table. The local NLRB looked at the daily skeds of NU ballers and concluded, very rightly, that their huffing and puffing on the practice field was a full time job with some academics thrown in when there was time.

Colter/ABC News

Kain Colter, Labor Leader

Keep in mind that Northwestern is not even a typical sports factory. In football and basketball, it’s usually the laughingstock of the Big 10, with its fan and alumni base becoming delirious when NU achieves mediocrity. Players at, say, Ohio State University or the University of Florida are under such pressure to perform that to tell them their point guarding or strong safety-ing will be only a full-time job would be akin to telling them they can go on vacation for six months.

Many observers note that the football and basketball programs at big, powerhouse colleges run their teams much as their pro counterparts do, meaning players must think sports morning, noon, night, and even while they dream. Athletes at these sweat factories must do weight training in the morning, study the playbook in the middle of the day, scrimmage in the afternoon, and have meetings with coaches in the evening. They’re assigned ” counselors” who make sure they get up on time and comb their hair properly, and who have private meetings with professors to ensure that, say, the star running back makes it through that grueling and onerous History of the TV Sitcom course.

Sure, college football and basketball players get scholarships — some of them — but that free education means little if the recipient knows what the Triple Spread Option is but can’t quite put his finger on who Henry David Thoreau was.

Indiana University makes scads of dough selling tickets for the general public to see its “student athletes” throw spheroids around. IU sells out the plus-17,000 seat capacity Assembly Hall for its basketball games. Several people have been known to buy tickets to see the Hoosiers football team play. Nobody gives those ducats away. Partisans pay a premium for them. University presidents say this influx of cash helps keep tuition down although they rarely make mention that tuition figures are growing exponentially these days.

IU Assembly Hall

Revenue

That dough is going somewhere but it ain’t going into the pockets of the kids the fans pay to see play.

Let’s hope the new college game players’ union will change all that.

MST3k

One of my five favorite television shows of all time was Mystery Science Theater 3000, aka MST3k.

You either get it or you don’t. The Loved One, for instance, doesn’t. Whenever I click MST3k on Netflix, she either groans or gives me one of those “you idiot” looks. That’s fine. She digs the hell out of soap operas like Six Feet Under and Mad Men, stuff that I consider to be slightly below fingernails on a blackboard in my ranking of pleasurable activities. So, she watches her stuff and I watch mine.

I like to think, though, that I don’t give her “you idiot” looks. I’m such a saint.

Anyway, I round out my top five of all time with The Larry Sanders Show, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, the Cubs on WGN, and Seinfeld. Okay, shoot me, that makes six. Whatever. Notice the common thread? They’re all farces. Especially the Cubs on WGN.

Grace Distraught

Farce

MST3k was a troublemaking, utterly irreverent, radical, impudent, insolent, sacrilegious, mocking snark-fest. I’d watch it every single Friday night on Comedy Central and the channel’s earlier incarnations. The writers and performers on it were so flip and derisive that I was certain they thought about the world just as I did. Sure, they considered those hushed, stodgy filmstrips we saw in elementary school as silly as a grown man wearing clown shoes. And they must have thought that, well, Newt Gingrich was clownish as well. They were my kind of people.

MST3k

Joel Hodgson (L), Michael J. Nelson, And The ‘Bots

The rumor mill’s been churning out news that a new version of MST3k is coming back, only it isn’t. You’ll have to go to Happy Nice Time People to find out about it. Apparently, the new version is some sort of trick you play with a movie you get from Netflix or one of those peer-to-peer video file sharing rackets on the interwebs and then you have to buy some audio to synch up to it that’s put out by some of the old MST3k people. It all sounds too jerry-rigged and Rube Goldberg for me so I’m not going to do it. Which is fine because my guess is the MST3k thing is long past its sell-by date. Sorta like the fourth season of Arrested Development.

Leave well enough alone, right?

In any case, in reading about this new development, the Happy Nice Time People made reference to Michael J. Nelson’s “completely reprehensible political beliefs.” Nelson was the second host of the show after founder and first host Joel Hodgson left to carve out a stand-up career somewhere. (I haven’t heard of him since, so I figure he never did wow the comedy club crowd.) Nelson was just as funny as Hodgson — maybe even funnier. He delivered his lines better and was a natural actor. I liked him immensely.

That’s why I was crushed to read about his “completely repreh…,” oh, you know. the HNTP people linked to what amounts to a manifesto of MJN’s poli-junk-sci. Let me repro it herewith:

During a 2004 interview with the fanatic site MST3K Review, Nelson described himself as Protestant and conservative: “I read the National Review cover to cover. Check in at Townhall.com every day. Check the Washington Times daily. Listen to Dennis Prager and Michael Medved on a regular basis. Read Mark Steyn with regularity. Read the Weekly Standard. So, yes, I do vote Republican.”[11] He later referred to the Minneapolis Star Tribune as “the Star and Sickle, or the Red Star Tribune”

I almost broke down in tears. I consoled myself by repeating, mantra-like, that this snippet was from Wikipedia. Now I’m not anti-Wikipedia by a long shot. I think it’s a great resource, only not an authoritative one. It’s a nice place to start learning about something. Its links and references are a good step in the right direction. But god forbid I’d ever quote something from Wikipedia in these precincts as if whatever point I was making was written in scripture.

From Townhall.com

Say It Ain’t So!

So here’s my hope. Mebbe someone with an antic sense of humor equal to the MST3k gang typed in the graf in question. You know, ha hah hah? Or, even more likely, Michael J. Nelson himself was toying with humanity by telling us a bunch of funny lies about his “conservatism.” That’s even ha hah hah-ier.

Man. I’m still bummed, though. It’s as bad as when I first discovered that most sports stars were Republicans. It makes sense now but when I was a kid, I believed none of my beloved Cubs could ever even think of voting for Dick Nixon. But a lot of them did. A lot of them.

I’ve become much more sanguine about the whole thing. For instance, I still love watching Robert Duvall act. Clint Eastwood, too. And John Wayne. I can pretend their real political slants just don’t exist. And by golly, no one who could play Mac Sledge so well in Tender Mercies or Captain York in Fort Apache could actually be — eek! — a Republican. But Duvall is and Wayne was. So there. I’ve just gotten better at suspending disbelief.

But Michael J. Nelson? From the very, very seditious, insurrectionist Mystery Science Theater 3000?

Now that’s unbelievable.

Hey, Remember Me?

Alright, call me a cynic if you want, but this is what television and movie stars do when they’ve faded from the spotlight:

From HuffPo

 

Hot Air

Black Bogeymen

No more bullshit about how the most extreme critics of B. Obama aren’t, at heart, racists.

Yes, yes, yes, you can criticize the Prez all you want because that is our nation’s pastime no matter who occupies the Oval Office, be he a dope who lied to get us into a war or a Nazi/commie who just happens to have dark skin.

But criticizing the president does not mean the Congress must obstruct every single thing he wants done. To wit: Wednesday’s Senate rejection of Obama’s nominee to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. See, Debo Adegbile, in his former position as counsel for the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, once wrote a couple of amicus briefs on behalf of convicted Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Adegbile

Adegbile

Mumia has been a cause-célèbre since his conviction in 1982. He pretty much was railroaded through the PA state courts, although, I must admit, a careful reading of the evidence against him reveals that, sure, he killed that cop. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania prosecutors had such a tumescence to fry him that they neglected a few of the fair trial niceties the US Constitution calls for. Thus, civil liberty advocates cried whoa and called for a new trial. Thusly, Adegbile got involved.

Mumia

Abu-Jamal

Now, ergo, acc’d’g to the conservative loon-ocracy, Adegbile is four-square in favor of every black man killing a cop just for the hell of it. And remember, he’s black, with a really scary black name, so it has to be true.

Indiana’s very own Senator Joe Donnelly, nominally a Democrat, joined the disloyal opposition in quashing Adegbile’s nomination.

So Adegbile has been denied a Justice Dept. post because he did what lawyers are supposed to do: That is, defend people. Apparently, though, defending a scary black man disqualified him.

Post-racial America my foot.

Soul Man

Speaking of hard-core conservatives in this holy land, I’m getting the feeling a lot of them secretly dig Vlad Putin, aren’t you?

Putin

Republican?

He’s macho. He’s full of strutting braggadocio. He hunts. He hates gays. He’s tough. George W. Bush gazed into his eyes and concluded they were kindred souls. And he does whatever the fk he wants with a gun in his hand (and, by extension, so does his Russian military).

Kiddies, the truth is Putin would be a perfecto Tea Party choice for Prez of these U. States.

Leaders Of The Pack

Speaking of potential presidential candidates, isn’t NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand looking more and more viable by the day?

And wouldn’t the Dems take a needed first step in repositioning themselves if they selected as a 2016 ticket Hillary Clinton and KG? You might say it’d be suicide to put two women on the same ticket but wags said something similar when Bill Clinton tabbed Al Gore to be his running mate in 1992. No way, they said, can you have two southern boys from smallish states running together. But they won.

Clinton/Gillibrand

That’s The Ticket

I wonder if the Clinton/Gillibrand pair would win. It’d sure be fun to find out.

[BTW: Google's Related Searches feature that pops up when one types in the NY Sen.'s name has "Kirsten Gillibrand weight loss" as its number one category. The number two most popular KG search is "Kirsten Gillibrand Vogue." Apparently, she was profiled in that mag in 2010. "Kirsten Gillibrand on the issues" does not show up until number five. Sigh.]

Your Daily Hot Air

Meet The New Boss

At long, long, long, long, lo-o-o-o-o-ong last (have I made my point yet?), the august WFHB Board of Directors and Protectors of Free Speech, Community Access, and the Democratic Process will select a new czar of the airwaves today.

The station has been running without an official boss since the surprising departure several decades ago (well, okay, last June) of fundraiser extraordinaire and and radio savant Chad Carrothers. WFHB’s Board typically moves at a glacial pace but this time it appeared as though the ice flow had come to a complete halt.

The Board has had the three final candidates for the open General Manager position hop through hoops and, on several occasions, engage in games of dodgeball with the unwashed masses (read: the rank and file volunteer membership of the station). The lucky (unlucky?) three fielded Q.’s in public forums wherein they were asked about their hopes, dreams, plans, and systolic and diastolic numbers.

Now, the folderol is complete. The vote takes place today. Oh, wait — one last bit of folderol remains: before the Board votes, there will be yet another opportunity for jes’ plain folks to voice their preferences, displeasure, or delirium regarding the unlucky (lucky?) three. As if the Boarders don’t have enough info already. And as if everybody with an opinion hasn’t already shouted it from atop the fish on the dome.

Courthouse Dome

When Chad Carrothers dropped a second bomb on us and announced he and his clan were coming back from their sojourn in the Pacific Northwest, I immediately concluded he’d been summoned, sub rosa, by one or more Boardfolk to return to this metrop. and rescue the station from a mediocre cast of applicants. That was a few weeks ago. I would have bet my good money that the GM chair was being fitted once again for CC.

Now? Not so fast. I’m hearing too much grumbling among the membership about the commander emeritus possibly coming back. And some of the grumblers believe a few Board members have joined the chorus.

Which leads me to hedge my bets. If you, like me, are afraid to take a total bath on the GM pick action, lay a little dough off on this proposition: News Director Alycin Bektesh just may be compelled to share her key to the WFHB Dames’ Executive Washroom with the new boss after today’s vote.

A Different America

Bill Clinton did what he does best (no, not that) yesterday in Virginia when he stumped for his old pal Terry McAuliffe, who’s running against a Tea Party darling for governor of the Commonwealth. Clinton, it may be recalled, is a campaigner without peer and who, if Al Gore hadn’t gotten all huffy and puffy about his former boss’s sexual peccadilloes, might have helped the Veep beat George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, but let’s not cry over that spilt milk again.

Clinton & Socks

[Insert Way-Too-Easy Joke Here]

Clinton Sunday afternoon told a McAuliffe rally that Dems have suffered in non-presidential election years of late because “a whole different America” shows up to vote. Meaning, of course, that tons of folk came out to vote for Barack Obama but those same folk punted when governorships and congressional seats and school board positions were up for grabs. Ergo, the Tea Party gains of the last few years.

McAuliffe’s opponent, a fellow named Ken Cuccinelli, pretty much verified Clinton’s assessment. He told his own supporters, “If we want to import D.C. politics and tactics to Richmond, Terry McAuliffe will do it for us. Of course, we’ll also get good Detroit financial policy, too. And we’ll get Hollywood values, too. And Bloomberg New York City gun control.”

Allow me to decode Cuccinelli here: If you don’t vote for me, the Democrats (Washington), the darkies (Detroit), the fags (Hollywood), and the Jews (Bloomberg New York) will take over.

Democrats, darkies, fags, and Jews voted for Barack Obama twice. They tended to stay home in 2010.

Man, if only Al Gore wasn’t such a prude.

Hot Air

The State Of The Prez

Now and again I feel I have to defend Barack Obama before my Far Left/Radical/Anarchist friends and acquaintances.

Republicans, Me Party-ists, professional paranoiacs, and others may portray the Prez as the second coming of Karl Marx/Joseph Stalin/Osama bin Laden (or even ObL himself), but the rational among us know that Obama is about as centrist as anyone can be. He is, it can be said, a human gyroscope, spinning on a tightrope pulled on by the ghosts of Andrew Breitbart and Howard Zinn.

As such, he infuriates both ends of the political spectrum, much as our previous hyper-centrist Democratic president, Bill Clinton, did.

Here’s an irony: both the Far Left and the Far Right call Obama a fascist.

Mussolini HQ

Italian Fascist Party Headquarters, 1934

Anyway, my lefty sisteren and brethren become apopleptic every once in a while in reaction to some sin the Obama administration has committed. For instance, the F-word (not that one; this one) was dropped indiscriminately when Edward Snowden was flitting around the world looking for a country that is notorious for its news media repression where he could find freedom. It was the Obama Fascist State, of course, that’d driven the delightful young man to seek asylum in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Natch, I think describing Barack Obama as a fascist is way over the top. That’s because I read books and they tell me about people who have been real, honest-to-gosh fascists in this cruel world.

Apparently, some people believe the word fascist means anyone you don’t agree with.

So, I feel compelled on occasion to defend Barack Obama (and myself) against charges that he’s the worst human being since Dr. Mengele. I did, after all volunteer for the Obama primary campaign in Kentucky during the 2008 election season. I, in my miniscule way, helped get this fascist elected. I had, I try to convey to my angry interlocutors, the best of intentions. Honest.

Make no mistake: I’ve been disappointed by much of what Obama has done as this holy land’s Kenyan-in-Chief. I wanted single-payer universal health care. I wanted the Goldman Sachs stink washed out of the world’s economy. I wanted the speeding train of privatization slowed down (at least). I could scream while pounding my fists on the sidewalk, as others do, that Obama betrayed me.

I won’t though, because I understand that no matter how much I loathe what the Far Right and the Me Party-ists stand for, they still deserve to get much of their way as part of the normal give and take of a democratic republic. Not only does Barack Obama understand that as well, he realizes, too, that he cannot govern unless he throws bones to those he profoundly disagrees with. And he has.

BHO

Tightrope Walker

It occurs to me, ergo, that any time a huge swath of the American public is deliriously happy with a Prez, somebody’s getting roundly screwed.

It also occurs to me that any Prez who is roundly despised by both ends of the spectrum just might be doing a bang-up good job.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle class security all bear the union label.” — Barack Obama

PAY ‘EM!

TOP OF THE HILLER

Congrats to Pencillista Nancy R. Hiller for earning state kudos on her fab tome, “A Home of Her Own.”

The Hiller opus was named a finalist in the Best Books of Indiana: Nonfiction 2012 beauty contest this week.

Hey, I ain’t the only guy who can write around here.

GEEK LOVE

A quick reminder: Bloomington’s Science Cafe fires up again Wednesday, September 12th.

IU experimental nuclear physicist Michael Snow will deliver the first presentation on Antimatter.

Physicist Michael Snow

Brain scientist Alex Straiker, who’s organizing this latest incarnation with lab-mate Jim Wager-Miller, says the shebang will begin at 6:30pm at Rachael’s Cafe.

This fall’s science topics will also include “The First Americans,” “Climate Change and Bloomington,” and “Brain-Machine Interfaces: Eye Tracking.”

FLYNT HUSTLES MITT

Hustler was among the worst porn I’ve ever seen in my life.

I say was because I haven’t seen the mag in years. Maybe even decades.

So I have no idea what unflattering poses its intentionally half-witted looking models are being put into these days. Suffice it to say I recall them reclining akimbo to such an extent that were I so trained, I could proffer them instant cervical exams from afar.

That is, were I moved open the mag’s pages.

I just never found the thing arousing. I consider my tastes in unclad women fairly, um, progressive. I mean I don’t need my pix of naked ladies to feature impossibly long-legged and wasp-waisted, vacant-staring, “hotties” with plastic half-cantaloupes on their chests.

That’s me. Apparently the vast majority of American male-dom (male-dumb?) digs that look. Hustler had it in spades.

Duh

The mag’s circulation stands at around half a million these days, down from a high of 3 million per month in its pre-Interwebs hayday.

Larry Flynt, the visionary behind Hustler, long has been a scourge to the Right, specifically its self-appointed plaster saints like the late Jerry Falwell and the regrettably still-respiring Gov. Rick Perry. That alone earns my grudging respect for him even though I hold my nose while stating it.

And now Flynt has flopped a million bucks on the table, calling for anyone in this holy land to produce Mitt Romney’s tax records.

You know, those things Ann Romney, hands on hips, jaw set, has refused to allow us to see. She says she and her special guy have nothing to hide, therefore they’re hiding the returns.

We’ve Given ‘You People’ Enough!

If someone does come through with the docs that’ll tie Romney in with an arch-criminal, global, underground, crushing tyrannical corporate syndicate looking to addict the world population to dangerous chemicals, financial “instruments,” and magic underwear, then a million bucks’-worth of the dough Flynt made portraying woman as DNA receptacles will have done some good.

Of course, it’ll be just as good if the elusive tax returns simply reveal the Romneys to be richer than the spooky god they worship.

I CAN SEE FOR MILES AND MILES AND MILES….

Here, thanks to I Fucking Love Science (or, for the more skittish among us, Science Is Awesome) is a comparison of the mirror sizes of the Hubble Space Telescope and the proposed James Webb Space Telescope.

Is there an “edge” to the Universe? Maybe, the JWST will allow us to see it.

From NASA: James Webb vs. Hubble — How Do They Compare?

From The Moscow Times we learn that Russkies are dying to sound like bossman Vladimir Putin.

Apparently, Putin is the most accomplished of Russian leaders when it comes to prevaricating in the language of his land.

Silver Tongues

In that, he’s like our very own Bill Clinton.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“My father was a statesman, I am a political woman. My father was a saint. I am not.” — Indira Gandhi

POL IN CHIEF

Natch, I’m heavy on liberals and progressives in my Facebook friends list. They were all abuzz over Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention last night. Here it is, in case you missed it:

Hindsight is 20/200 (yes, 20/200 — no typo there), of course, but even while it was happening I knew Al Gore was blowing the 2000 election by not having Clinton campaign for him. Damn you Al Gore — we could have avoided eight years of the Bush League!

HOW MANY WAYS CAN THEY SAY THEY HATE HIM?

Barack Obama has never been tempted to run and hide from Clinton simply because old Bill suffers from his peculiar form of priapism.

Guess What I Have Under This Desk

In fact, the Prez frustrates the bejesus out of the Right because he, apparently, has no sex skeletons in his closet. Oh, how the GOP and its mouthpieces would love to tear down Barry with some juicy sexual misconduct charges.

Can you imagine the barely-coded racial messages we’d be getting if Obama couldn’t keep Little B under wraps in his Fruit of the Looms?

You know how newspapers have obituaries pre-written for celebrities while they’re still alive? Guaranteed, the Fox News squealers and other pathological snarlers have headlines pre-written for the Obama sex scandal of their wet dreams.

Once you go Barack, you never go back.

or

Barack the Buck

Yeesh. And if his correspondent party or parties would be white, female? Heavens, pasty men would be roaming the streets carrying assault rifles.

Fear Of A Black Presidential Penis

Oh wait, they already do.

Anyway, nothing seems to satisfy the anti-Obama crowd. If Obama was a nail-biter, they’d figure a way to condemn him for it. As it is, that deep thinker Hank Williams, Jr. recently upped his topple-the-Nazi-dictator rhetoric by proclaiming his conviction that Obama hates cowboys and cowgirls.

This latest episode of Right Wing projectile verbal vomiting proves Jon Stewart’s point that “There is a President Obama that only Republicans can see.” It’s been many years, Hank, since any fraction of the population could write Cowboy or Cowgirl on the Occupation line of the their tax forms.

Perhaps Hank has inside info that Obama is not partial to secretaries and plumbers by day wearing cowboy drag at night. And isn’t even that a dated demographic? Urban Cowboy is now a +30-year-old meme.

I Thought This Movie Was Made Before The Invention Of Cameras

And line dancing went out soon after the Zoot Suit, didn’t it?

Even soldier boys can’t seem to resist getting a jab in on the CinC.

Among the spate of new Obama-is-the-antichrist books being released this late summer, is the tale of the Osama bin Laden raid writen by a Navy SEAL team member who participated in the operation. The book, “No Easy Day,” is bylined by someone named Mark Owens, who doesn’t exist. That’s the nom de plume of one Mark Bissonette, who swears he’s doing nothing wrong by blabbing the raid’s secrets even though he thought it wise to assume an alias.

Bissonette writes that neither he nor the rest of his SEAL confreres has ever liked Obama. Joe Biden, either. Which must be important to his narrative — just don’t ask me how.

How weird is that? I mean, can you imagine the boys in that famous Iwo Jima photo telling reporters, “Yeah, taking the island was a tough job but we did it. And by the way, none of us likes that FDR. He’s a socialist and a jerk. And Truman? He’s like someone’s drunken uncle at Christmas dinner.”

Down With The President!

WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO DO?

If you’re having withdrawal pains for The Pencil’s GO! events listings, just keep your shirt on.

I’m told now that the rollout for the Ryder magazine’s new website — which will carry the EP’s events listings — may come as early as today. Which probably means sometime next week.

JAMBALAYA

The old man was 72 times better than the kid anyway.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

Science Is Awesome (formerly I Fucking Love Science)A Facebook community of science geeks.

Present/&/CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed, Mr. President, but I do say not more than ten to twenty million dead depending on the breaks.” — General Buck Turgidson in “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

A RAIN OF RUIN

This is both stunning and terrifying.

Isao Hashimoto of Japan has created a CGI video depicting every nuclear explosion on Earth since the first one in the New Mexico desert in July, 1945. The first few years plod along but then, by 1962, when Hashimoto’s vid becomes a perverse symphony, it’s as though we’re trying to blow the planet to smithereens.

Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z

In the days and weeks leading up to the Republicans’ self-love orgy going on this week in Tampa, people asked me how excited I was to have this glorious opportunity to spout off even more than I usually do about them.

Whatever “It” Is

The answer: Not much. And a correction: the opportunity is not glorious.

Funny, huh?

As in ironic.

As I wrote yesterday, all politics is theater. And the convention on Florida’s west coast is the GOP’s big showbiz opening.

What am I going to write? That they’re liars and alarmists? I may as well recycle any of dozens of posts I’ve already written about that.

What have we learned thus far that we didn’t know already? That Ann Romney still has a schoolgirl crush on her big boy?

He Lights Up My Life

Wake me up when it’s over.

Oh, and I’ll have another fine opportunity to take a well-earned beauty nap when the Dems convene in Charlotte next week.

FAT CHANCE

There never was any chance Chris Christie of New Jersey would be tabbed by Willard Romney to be his running mate. The fact of the matter is Christie’s too fat.

Chris Christie

Last fall when the idea of a Christie run for the White House was floating around, some op-ed writers danced around the topic of his belt size. Pseudo-liberal blowhard Michael Kinsley even suggested that a Christie presidency would set the wrong example for the nation, as if tens of millions of folks would suddenly start scarfing down entire Tombstone pizzas in a sitting (hey, wait a minute — that is happening already.)

His girth precluding him from coming within a couple of blocks of the White House is both an insult and a rather reasonable proposition.

It’s insulting because most people have a prejudice against fat people. The thin harbor within themselves the notion that fat people are greedy pigs who are swallowing too much of the Earth’s resources, primarily Wavy Lays and Sara Lee frozen cakes.

People are fat, the svelte among us believe (whether they admit it or not), because they are lazy cows.

Choose whichever round animal analog you wish, the comparison is never praise.

Not A Bull, Not A Bear, Not A Lion

Republicans might love Christie’s stances but they’d hate to look at him for four or eight years. The fat, we’ve decided, are unsightly. And can you imagine how Dems would jump all over President Christie for his width? He’d be the poster boy for the rapacious rich in progressive cartooning and editorializing.

As wise policy, keeping Christie out of the Oval Office merely insures that we won’t have to suffer the grief of burying him a year and a half into his presidency due to his heart exploding like a water balloon. I mean, even Bill Clinton was thought to be too corpulent when he was first elected. He had to lay off Big Macs and pretend to exercise a bit before the nation felt comfortable that we weren’t an infarct away from a Gore Administration. Still, Clinton twice had to have his cardiac plumbing Roto-Rootered to keep him alive.

Even though we’ve become the fattest nation on Earth, we just don’t like fat people.

WRONG FROM RIGHT

Really, you’ve got to love the Right Wing. They give us so much to laugh at.

For instance, there’s a new book out about the raid to find and kill Osama bin Laden. It’s written by a guy named Richard Miniter and it’s called “Leading from Behind.”

Miniter argues that Barack Obama spent years screwing up the hunt for Obama. Which is odd, considering the fact that the president ordered the raid to get the al Qaeda leader. And it worked.

That is, Obama accomplished something in his first term that George W. Bush failed to do for seven and a half years. Yet Obama screwed up. Miniter so far is silent on Bush telling us the mightiest military in the history of the planet was doing everything it could to round bin Laden up even as the number one terrorist traipsed at will from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

Actually, No

See, that’s the way it is with today’s Republicans and their various Tory pals. Nothing a Democrat does can be praised, even tepidly. Especially Barack Obama. In fact, the Republicans told us early on in his term that their sole raison d’etre until 2012 would be to bring down the president.

Nice patriotic gang, eh?

By the way, those who dared criticize Bush’s handling of Afghanistan and his Family Honor War in Iraq were immediately branded traitors by the same bunch that’s ravaging Obama today.

I’d laugh out loud but too many people buy into the Republican line.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

Indexed

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

I Fucking Love Science

Present/&/CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kinsey Institute, Morrison Hall — Volunteer docent training; 3-4:30pm

Monroe County Public LibraryIt’s Your Money series: Free, confidential session with a financial expert; 4:30pm

Bear’s PlaceMusic: Jamey Aebersold All-Star Quintet; 5:30pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Music: 220 Breakers; 6-8:30pm

City Hall, Showers PlazaWomen’s Bike Ride; 6pm

The Player’s PubMusic: Below Zero Blues Band; 6:30pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Little Otik”; 6:30pm

Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Music: Jeff Nelson & Sylvia McNair host a presentation of performances by Jacobs School of Music students; 7:30pm

The Comedy AtticBest of the Bloomington Comedy Fest; 8pm

Bloomington Playwrights ProjectDrama: “Working”; 8pm

◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium — UB Films: “Magic Mike”; 8pm

Serendipity Martini BarTeam trivia; 8:30pm

Max’s PlaceMusic: Americana showcase; 9pm

The BishopMusic: Outdoor Velour; 9pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Conspirators of Pleasure”; 9:30pm

◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium — UB Films: “Magic Mike”; 11pm

ONGOING

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th

  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th

  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th

  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th

  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st

  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012

  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st

  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • “Media Life,” drawings and animation by Miek von Dongen; through September 15th

  • “Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture”; through September 15th

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I was born with a need to be the center of attention and, of course, you’re the center of the world when you’re acting.” — Julie Christie

IT WAS SEVEN YEARS AGO TODAY

Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill once famously said, “All politics is local.”

I, less famously, counter: “All politics is theater.”

Most of the Republican Party’s formula for success since the late 1960s has been its ability to present its standard-bearers as tough guys, strong men, and decisive generals. The GOP has acted more as a talent agent than a producer of statesmen for the last 45 years.

Richard Nixon won the 1968 presidential election because he told the nation he would stand firm against the madness in the streets. He’d beat down the savage blacks who were threatening to explode out of their ghettos. And he’d swiftly kick the crap out of the North Vietnamese and bring the boys home.

Save Us, Dick

We believed him. Just as many of us have believed pro wrestling is on the up and up and Judge Judy is our nation’s top jurist.

Ronald Reagan won the 1980 presidential election because he told us we were terrific and the 1984 campaign by telling us it was Morning in America. Ham that he was, he knew the Soviet Union was on its way out so he talked tough and thereby snatched all the credit for that empire’s inevitable collapse.

Make Us Feel Good About Ourselves, Ronnie

Theater.

George W. Bush’s role as resolute CEO of the Great United States, Inc. propelled him to victory over a couple of namby pamby Dem opponents in 2000 and 2004. The nation was terrified of presidents who liked blow jobs, college educated eggheads who’d ponder us into paralysis, and crazy Arabs who’d blow up our cities. Bush was the antidote to all those existential threats.

Be The Boss, George

But then came Hurricane Katrina and the theater went dark.

The worst natural disaster in America’s history presented Bush with a dramatic challenge he was unable to play. It was as if Kristen Stewart were cast in the role of Margaret Thatcher.

Streep As Thatcher; Stewart As, Um, Stewart

Katrina’s president was a role that was written for Bill Clinton. He’d have set up a second White House in New Orleans. He’d have hugged the storm’s victims until his arms ached. Had Clinton been in office when Katrina hit, people would have been marveling to this day about how fabulous the federal government’s response was to the tragedy.

And in the most practical sense, Clinton wouldn’t have done a thing different than Bush did.

Bush knew how to play the business executive and the military commander. He had a feel for the role of the manly hero who saves the day.

His greatest line before his downfall was, “They hate us for our freedoms.”

Which was, of course, as phony a line as, say, “Go ahead, make my day,” or “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

“Well, do ya, punk?”

But we in this holy land have always been a cooperative audience. We’ll forgive any political actor for chewing the scenery as long as it makes us feel good. It’s only when pols don’t make us feel all tingly and warm or bold and adventurous that we turn on them.

Witness Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech. Bye bye, Jimmy.

Bush’s Carter moment came when he uttered those unforgettable words, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

People were still sitting on rooftops waiting to be rescued when Bush said that. The Superdome was filled with refugees at the time of the quote. New Orleans cops were shooting up citizens.

Yet Bush found it important to bestow frat boy bonhomie upon his emergency response point man at that moment in time.

Bush Takes It All In From Above

And like that, Bush was finished. No matter that no government could ever have responded adequately to Katrina. Nothing like it had ever happened before in America.

But when nature sucker punches us in the belly, we have to blame someone. And it’s not just Americans who react that way. Be it an earthquake in Afghanistan or a flood in India, people will shriek “Where’s our government?” even as the government is digging itself out of the rubble.

At times like that, the first and best thing government can do is assure us everything will turn out alright. The boys in charge must tell us that they’ll move heaven and Earth to set our lives right again.

Bush didn’t know that. He was the wrong actor for the part.

Theater.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present/&/CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Music: Barbara McGuire; 6-8:30pm

Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural CenterBuddhism in Everyday Life Series: Ani Choekye presents “What Are Realizations?”; 6:30pm

Unity ChurchBloomington Peace Choir weekly meeting, new members welcome; 7pm

The Player’s PubMusic: Stardusters; 7:30pm

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

Harmony SchoolContra dancing; 8-10:30pm

The BluebirdMusic: Rod Tufcurls & the Benchpress; 9pm

◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryOpen house, public viewing through the main telescope; 9:30pm

The BishopMusic: Kentucky Nightmare, Panic Strikes a Chord, Dead Beach; 9:30pm

ONGOING

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th

  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th

  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th

  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th

  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st

  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012

  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st

  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • “Media Life,” drawings and animation by Miek von Dongen; through September 15th

  • “Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture”; through September 15th

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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