Category Archives: Howard Zinn

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.

Your Daily Hot Air

A Bigger Responsibility

Personal to Huma Abedin: Your husband has a problem. A big one. He needs help. And you are helping him pretend it doesn’t exist.

Weiner Pix

Anthony Weiner As Carlos Danger

He doesn’t need to be running for mayor of New York just now. Perhaps he should get a nice, stable job helping poor people cope with a culture and economy that’s stacked against them. Then, at night, he can work with a therapist to try to understand why he must send pix of his junk out on social media and why he must sex chat or sext with strangers while married to you. Once he figures that out, he has to change that behavior. If he does, then — and only then — should he consider running for the chief executive position of what is essentially the capital of America.

Huma, you’ve been portrayed in sympathetic magazine portraits as a strong, smart, capable woman. Standing by your man as he grasps for power and continues to cuckold you is not evidence of any of those traits. Appearing at his side and repeating that you’ve forgiven him again and again are not signs that you are brave. Quite the contrary.

 Abedin

Huma Abedin

As a woman in the high profile world of politics, you are a role model for young girls. They should see you moving legislation, organizing voters, bettering this world. Not being an accessory for a hyper-ambitious husband who’s got a monkey on his back.

Now, the both of you, go solve your personal problems.

You’re welcome.

A Rock And A Hard Place

Unless I missed it — and I don’t think I did — the IDS has positioned itself above the fray in the Mitch Daniels/Howard Zinn dust-up.

Save for a couple of student-penned op-eds posted online two days ago, Indiana University’s campus newspaper hasn’t run anything regarding the story that has gained national attention.

Image from Mother Jones

Zinn & Daniels

In case you’ve been holed up, waiting for the scion of an antiquated, pompous British faux-ruling system to appear, the news broke last week that former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels stood on his head while the state’s boss to make sure the late Zinn’s alternative tome, A People’s History of the United States, would not pollute our precious children’s minds in the classroom.

Every news outlet from the Huffington Post to the Daily Caller, and from the New York Times to Democracy Now! has weighed in on the story. Snippets from the emails Daniels exchanged with the state’s Superintendent of Public Education showed up in newspapers across the nation and on broadcasts both local and international.

The irony of it all is the Daniels, now the president of Purdue University, tells anyone who’ll listen that he’s four-square in favor of academic freedom. That is, apparently, unless it allows somebody to challenge the Ayn Rand-ist, free market fetishist, Murrica-is-blessed-by-god view of our holy land’s history.

You’d figure the IDS might jump on the story, considering there’s a question as to whether Daniels was trying to muscle IU to to ban Zinn. Now, I’ve read the emails in toto and I don’t see anything specifically directing any state employees to twist IU arms in the matter. Nevertheless, evidence exists that Daniels was mighty unhappy that Zinn’s book was being used in university history courses.

The IDS is in a unique position to get to the bottom of this. No matter that we’re in summer break right now. The paper still publishes online and hard copy versions. In fact, the IDS was right on top of the story that has been breaking Bloomington’s heart this week: a motorist apparently left a dog in a car with the windows rolled up for a couple of hours Monday. The high temp that day was around 90. The pooch died.

Lousy as this dog story is, it really doesn’t compare with the Daniels/Zinn thing. The IDS also covered the story of the Ohio State University football player who was busted at a Bloomington sports bar Sunday and the case of a 19-year-old who was caught diddling with a 14-year-old in Lower cascades Park Monday. I’m sure everyone involved feels these stories are of paramount importance.

But this is a major state university. And when evidence suggests the former governor has tried to call the academic shots, well, now we’re talking pressing and historic news. Why hasn’t the IDS been all over it?

You can bet I’ll do my best to find out during my next shift writing news at WFHB Thursday.

Wonderful World

The Pencil Today:

HAPPY ZINNDAY

Today would have been Howard Zinn‘s 90th birthday. The brilliant radical historian died in January 2010.

His histories portrayed this holy land as a steamroller that flattened everything (or, more accurately, everybody) in it’s path. The America portrayed in Zinn’s books was as distant from that in school textbooks as the Earth is from Pluto.

I keep a copy of “A People’s History of the United States” in my bathroom. Sometimes a passage from it makes me so mad that I slam the book shut. Like anybody else, my first impulse is to blame the messenger. Why, I mutter, couldn’t this man see the good in America?

After a few moments, I realize (again) that he did. He was a patriot. He loved this nation so much that he devoted his life to the study of it. He loved it so much that he knew all the ugly and hateful bits of it. He loved it so much that he urged his readers to fix it.

I hope we do.

More than anything, Zinn despised bullshit. He wasn’t going to be a cheerleader. There are more than enough of those people around.

Here are a few of Zinn’s more trenchant lines:

“If those in charge of our society — politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television — can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.”

“In the United State today, the Declaration of Independence hangs on schoolroom walls, but foreign policy follows Machiavelli.”

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

“We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate,a war against innocents, a war against children.”

“War itself is the enemy of the human race.”

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.

Friday, August 24, 2012

◗ East 4th Street between Dunn & Grant streets — Flavors of 4th Street International Food Festival, outdoor food tasting; all weekend, today noon-10pm

◗ IU CinemaJorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture Series: Joe Swanberg; 3pm

WonderLabTeen Night, refreshments and special activities; 5:30-8:30pm

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit openings:

  • “Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture”; Gallery talk by Glen Joffe; 5-6pm — Opening reception 6-8pm, on view through September 15th

  • “Media Life,” drawings and animations by Miek van Dongen; Opening reception 6-8pm — Gallery talk by the artist; 6-7:30pm, on view through September 15th

Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural CenterBuddhism in Everyday Life Series: Ani Choekye presents A Guide to Meditation; 6:30pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Sun Don’t Shine,” with appearance by director Amy Seimetz; 6:30pm

Ryder Film Series“The Well Digger’s Daughter” at IU Fine Arts; 6:45pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Music: Joe Sanford; 7-9pm

Chateau Thomas Winery, Nashville — Music: Sharlee Thomas, Will Devitt; 7pm

◗ IU Memorial Union, Frangipani Room — Recreational folk dancing; 7:30pm

Ryder Film Series“Take this Waltz” at IU Woodburn Hall; 8pm

Cafe DjangoMusic: Sam Huffman Trio; 8pm

The Player’s PubMusic: Impasse; 8pm

The Comedy AtticGarfunkel & Oates; 8pm

Max’s PlaceMusic: Blue Sky Back; 8:30pm

Ryder Film Series“The Pigeoneers” at IU Fine Arts; 8:45pm

Bryan ParkRyder Film Series outdoor presentation: “A Streetcar Named Desire”; 8:45pm

The BluebirdMusic: Clayton Anderson; 9pm

Bear’s PlaceMusic: Apollo Quad, Second Chance at Eden, Ravello; 9pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Music: Barbara McGuire; 9:30pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Alexander the Last”; 9:30pm

The Comedy AtticGarfunkel & Oates; 10:30pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “V/H/S,” with appearance by director Joe Swanberg; 11:55pm

The BishopMusic: Cherub; Midnight

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

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I got my head bashed in at a demonstration against the Vietnam War. Police were losing control because they were up against a world they really didn’t understand.” — Terry Gilliam

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO

Gotta tell ya, folks, I hate to see Little Rickey Santorum go, for the loss of his entertainment value alone.

Now the presidential race is down to two politico-economic fraternal twins, each of whom is about as exciting as a can of beige paint.

Definitely Not Beige

If it wasn’t for guys like Santorum, I’d have to actually take the Republicans seriously and you know how disconcerting that prospect would be for me.

Digging the Santorum campaign was like having a daredevil hobby — bungee jumping off tall bridges, say, or rowing across an ocean. Exciting, sure, but if things go wrong, you’re screwed.

In this case, the worst-case scenario would have been a Santorum presidency

So, bye-bye Rickey. We knew you all too well.

A SIMPLE QUESTION

Does it surprise anyone that the first media creature George Zimmerman has spoken with is Fox News’ Sean Hannity?

Sympathetic Ear

DANIEL ELLSBERG, PATRIOT

I missed this. Saturday, April 7th was Daniel Ellsberg‘s birthday.

You want a hero? You got him.

Ellsberg

Here’s the story of Ellsberg’s heroism as told by Howard Zinn in his compelling graphic narrative book, “A People’s History of American Empire.”

Zinn and Ellsberg became friends in 1969 during the anti-war movement. Ellsberg earlier had worked for  the RAND Corporation, which was assigned by the US Department of Defense in 1967 to write up a history of the Vietnam War. Ellsberg actually did much of the grunt work researching this nation’s involvement there.

He learned that President Harry Truman authorized the funding of France’s colonial war against Vietnam independence fighters as far back as  the 1940s. President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s threw US support behind Vietnam strongmen who opposed free elections in that country.

Throw in a pile of other falsehoods, exaggerations, forgeries, and intentional inaccuracies on the parts of generals and politicians executing the slaughter in Southeast Asia, and Ellsberg understood that our stated aims there were a colossal sham.

Thanks to the study, Ellsberg saw that President Lyndon Johnson’s assertion that the North Vietnamese had started a war just for kicks in the summer of 1964 was an out and out lie.

Johnson, see, had said some North Vietnamese in a little motorboat had attacked a couple of American cruisers just sitting in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and minding their own business. Johnson parlayed this whopper into getting Congress to sign him a blank check and the next thing you knew, a half million American soldiers were fighting for who knows what in Southeast Asia.

Johnson, Finally Grasping What Vietnam Had Become

Ellsberg and some other RAND researchers privately agreed that they had to say something to the American public about our country’s shenanigans in Vietnam.

They figured Middle American folks would trust them, sub-contractors to the Pentagon with 7000 pages of damning documents in their hands, rather than wild-eyed hippies carrying peace placards.

So they sent a letter to major newspapers around the country calling for an end to the war. The New York Times and the Washington Post both published the letter, but nobody really gave a damn about it.

Meanwhile, the United States military went on happily killing and bombing in Vietnam. Then there was a Green Beret murder scandal and the My Lai Massacre. Ellsberg already was wracked with guilt for his country over what he knew and these atrocities only pushed him over the edge.

Destroying The Town In Order To Save It

He contacted another former RAND colleague and together they photocopied the 7000 pages with the goal of releasing the classified documents. The two agreed it was worth going to jail for exposing government secrets if it might shorten the war somehow.

Their hope was the release of the papers would turn even the most die-hard patriots against the war. They contacted the offices of a few congressmen and found no one willing to touch their hot docs.

Finally, they went to the New York Times with their bundle of papers. After a few months, the Times went ahead and published what would become known as the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg was charged with theft and violations of the Espionage Act. He faced 115 years in prison. He turned himself in to the FBI in Boston on June 28, 1971, after having run off many more copies of the Papers and distributing them to other newspapers.

Setting The Type For The New York Times Pentagon Papers Edition

While Ellsberg was on trial, it was learned that the Nixon White House had ordered mugs to burglarize his psychiatrist’s office in hopes of finding incriminating notes against him there, and other mugs to harass him at public appearances. The federal judge declared a mistrial in Ellberg’s case due to these government interferences.

He was lucky.

He was also, as I mentioned earlier. a hero.

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH

The Buffalo Springfield played this song on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, February 26th, 1967.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.” — Christopher Morley

BARRY’S OKAY — JUST OKAY

I have no idea why but I feel I must defend Barack Obama these days — tepidly, of course, because his presidency has been rather ho-hum, for my money.

For all the excitement he generated among the commie, pinko, homo, abortion-crazed, tax-happy, put-the-white-man-in-jail, apologize-for-America, femi-nazi, Manchurian-candidate-cabalist population of this otherwise holy land when he was merely candidate Obama, Boss Obama’s reign has been pretty much a let down.

Every Right Winger’s Wet Nightmare

Many of my lefty pals feel their blood pressure reach quadruple digits when the current POTUS is mentioned. The radical lawyer Jerry Boyle goes so far as to call him a “traitor” (to the left‘s cause — not, as the other side would have it, to the nation.)

How can a guy be a traitor when he was never part of the club?

If anybody had paid a bit of attention to how he voted when he was Senator Obama, they’d know he was, in truth, the biggest Rockefeller Republican since that very man who passed from this vale of tears at the age of 70 while banging his secretary on her desk back in 1977. (Yeah, yeah, I know — allegedly.)

The Original Rocky (Bust In The Senate Gallery)

Anyway, as I’ve pontificated before, perhaps my happiest day as a voter and taxpayer in this greatest nation in the history of our corner of the Solar System was when Barack Obama was elected president. Not that I expected him to outlaw guns in cities, care for the sick, tend to the poor, pull the soldiers out of Iraq and Afghanistan the next day, and order the summary executions of Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, but because the election of a (half) black man demonstrated that these United States had grown up a bit since, oh say, the 1970s.

That and the fact that Obama wasn’t George W. Bush nor was he craven enough to have chosen as his running mate a MILF-y knucklehead from Alaska.

Every Right Winger’s Wet Dream

The fact that Obama has surrounded himself with so many unindicted felons from the Goldman Sachs mob makes me want to retch. Then again, I never expected him to name among his advisers Dennis Kucinich, Howard Zinn, and Rachel Maddow.

So, that’s my roundabout way getting to the fact that I am categorically, incontrovertibly, without question or fail, voting for Barry come November. As long as nobody better comes along.

You think I want to see Roe v. Wade overturned? And all those Wall Street baboons given free reign? The privatization and profit-ization of basic human services? The digging for oil in every citizen’s backyard? Rush Limbaugh smiling?

Hell no, babies. I’m a staunch(ish) Obama man from here on out.

TRUTH — REALLY

Bloomington author Julia Karr waltzed into the Book Corner Monday, carrying the galley copy of her forthcoming book, “Truth.”

It’s the follow-up to her successful 2011 release, “XVI,” a murder chiller set in a dystopian future.

‘Truth” will go on sale a week from tomorrow with a book release party Friday, January 20, at Boxcar Books.

Julia Karr

Karr brought in “Truth” for our town’s Book Babe R.E. Paris, who’s reviewing it for Ryder magazine.

I was chatting with another customer at the time, a man whom I don’t know. When I told him he was in the presence of a big time pen lady and then told him about all the other successful authors in town, he said, “No kidding? I had had no idea this was such a center for authors.”

It is, pal. It is.

BLOOMINGTON’S BOOK BABE LOOKS BACK AT 2011

Speaking of R.E. Paris, I mentioned yesterday that she looks at the year in publishing in the current issue of the Ryder. Peter LoPilato, the Ryder’s majordomo, has been kind enough to let us run selected pieces from the magazine in these precincts.

The Ryder

So, let’s take a look at R.E.’s retrospective, no?

2011: The Year in Books, by R.E. Paris

In which I discuss some interesting titles from 2011, note others, and leave out yet many more worthy of mention among the hundreds of thousands of books published last year.

Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt, (Norton), is a very readable history of the intellectual inheritance of the Renaissance. Greenbaltt shows that history ties the modern world to the classical one…. read more

TRUE FAITH

New Order was born of Joy Division after that band’s lead singer committed suicide. Joy Divison had led the post-punk movement in the late 1970s and New Order took the sound to a new level with its incorporation of then-new electronic technology.

And, BTW, New Order has a bit of a Bloomington connection. The video for “Round & Round” featured the face of super-model and recent local divorcee Elaine Irwin (go to the 3:15 mark.)

Elaine Irwin Decorates New Order’s “Round & Round” Video

Anyway, here’s “True Faith”:

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” — Queen Gertrude in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet

Hamlet And His Mom (They’ve Got Nothing On Rick Santorum)

RICK SANTORUM’S PROBLEM

So, now we can go back to forgetting that Iowa exists.

Republicans in the cornstalk state staged their beauty contest last night and, in the end, couldn’t decide who had the prettier face, Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum.

Rick Santorum?

Let me ask that again — Rick Santorum?

Rick Santorum Wore This Suit While Decrying Gay Marriage

Sheesh! Talk about good news-bad news. I mean, the vast majority of overall-ed voters rejected the notion of a Michele Bachmann presidency, which will go a long way toward ensuring that I get a sound sleep tonight. That’s the good news.

But Rick Santorum?

Here, in his own words, is the guy whom 30,007 Iowans think ought to be able to name the next Supreme Court justice: “I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts.”

Man, Rick Santorum would wake Hamlet’s shrink from his nap.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when it comes to guys who pontificate the way Santorum does, the “problem” they have is trying to ignore the endless pictures of homosexual acts that crowd into their imaginations every time they turn the lights out.

Rick Santorum’s Problem(s)

IGNORANTIA LEGIS*

Eek. Monroe County Auditor Amy Gerstman has done the right thing by saying she won’t run for another term.

Gerstman

But with the latest revelations about her county credit card use for personal expenses, she might do herself a favor and make an appointment with one of the fine attorneys over at Bunger & Robertson to see if she ought to start packing her toothbrush for a little stay away from home.

Gerstman has purchased gifts, groceries, dinners, and other personal items using at least three of the four credit cards registered under her office’s name. The Herald Times reported this morning that she also paid her kids’ private school tuitions with one of the cards.

The auditor (for the moment) has apologized and says she’s paid back all the money. That’s nice. But if a guy robs a bank and, while being chased by the cops, runs back into the bank claiming he wants to return the loot, the heat still slaps the bracelets on him.

By the way, that fourth credit card? Gerstman claims her office has forgotten the password to access online information about it. She also says the bank lady who normally helps her with the account has been on vacation. Both County Commissioner Marty Hawk and the H-T requested info on that card more than two months ago.

Some vacation.

Oh, and another thing. Bloomington Alternative ran a little piece when she announced her run for the office in 2008. Scroll down to the third paragraph where she’s quoted as saying, “There needs to be a change, restoring confidence is essential.”

Some confidence.

* The legal profession’s shorthand for the Latin, Ignorantia legis neminem excusat (ignorance of the law is no excuse.)

KILL YOUR TV

Make sure you read at least ten books this year.

Here are ten of my faves:

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
  • Goodbye, Columbus: And Five Short Stories by Philip Roth
  • The Canon: A Whirlgig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier

Angier

  • The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America by Bill Bryson
  • Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris (the science writer, not the entrepreneurial self-help goof)
  • Ball Four by Jim Bouton & Leonard Schecter
  • The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro (a so-far three-volume bio of the 36rd President with the fourth book due out this spring)
  • Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis & Christos H. Papadimitriou
  • A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

A simple truth: books make you smart; TV makes you stupid.

FRICTION

The band Television was fronted by the very talented Tom Verlaine along with high school chum Richard Hell. Born Thomas Miller, Verlaine adopted his stage surname from the French poet Paul Verlaine. He said he did it as an homage to Bob Dylan who also renamed himself after a tragic versifier.

The Pencil Today:

SMARTEN UP

Leave it to Mark Twain: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

YOU WANT US TO TEACH YOUR KIDS TOO?!

So, the Monroe County Community Schools Corporation is going to spend a quarter of a million dollars installing security cameras and buzz-in doors at local schoolhouses.

New MCCSC boss Judy DeMuth has made it clear her administration’s top priority is “safety.”

The Herald Times in an editorial today says, “…[T]here really is no amount too high to pay for student safety.”

Who Needs Teachers When You Have Security Guards?

Yes indeed, our children will be safe. Not necessarily educated, considering the recent massive cuts in school funding, but safe.

BOOKS? WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ BOOKS!

Speaking of silly things like book larnin’ and other socialist plots, the Monroe County Public Library faces a $600,000 shortfall for fiscal year 2013.

Plenty Of Books But Where Are The Guns?

Thankfully, the philosopher-statesmen in the Indiana statehouse have enacted a concealed carry law permitting patrons to bring their artillery into the library.

Library hours may be cut. Staff may be slashed. Books and materials acquisition will be curtailed.

But we’ll be safe.

PROGRESS

Just to prove I’m not totally down on this holy land in the year 2011, allow me to take you back to the year 1900.

The late Howard Zinn in his excellent “A People’s History of the United States” tells of the “Rules for Female Teachers” a Massachussetts small town board of education issued a 111 years ago:

  1. Do not get married.
  2. Do not leave town at any time without permission of the school board.
  3. Do not keep company with men.
  4. Be home between the hours of 8:00pm and 6:00am.
  5. Do not loiter downtown in ice cream stores.
  6. Do not smoke.
  7. Do not get into a carriage with any man except your father or brother.
  8. Do not dress in bright colors.
  9. Do not dye your hair.
  10. Do not wear any dress more than two inches above the ankle.

There. I wonder if the kids were as safe then as they are today, though.

Oh, and Number 11: Crush Your Abdomen

WORDS ARE FOR LIBERALS, DEMOCRATS, AND OTHER REPROBATES

Cowboy Rick Perry may have had some trouble in recent weeks expressing himself in terms that speakers of the English language can fathom. Some have accused him of being overwhelmed by the complicated task of speaking.

But yesterday, speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition, he proved himself far superior to the outmoded concept that words have, um, meaning.

Words?

The Republican candidates for president had gathered ’round to tell America’s Jews how much they love, love, love them.

This despite the fact that most Jews in this holy land vote Democrat. But the Republicans are the party of god and in these United States god is the Judeo-Christian big man.

Over the centuries, Christians may have gotten a lot of mileage blaming the Jews for inspiring the crucifix logo design. Still, Christians see Jews as their forefathers, albeit mean, old step-forefathers.

So, the party of god sent its best and brightest to the RJC’s tsuzamenfor in Washington to court voters.

The only GOP contender not to show up was Ron Paul, who wasn’t invited. He has committed the unforgivable sin of calling for a cutoff of aid to Israel. Cowboy Rick also has come close to uttering that dastardly line.

Perry last month called for slashing foreign aid to all countries “to zero” and then making them prove they are loyal, malleable, and/or starving enough to death to earn back our largesse. Naturally, reporters later peppered Perry with questions about our best pals in the Middle East. “What about Israel?” came the query from all sides. “Even Israel,” Perry said.

It would be interested to see how Perry could talk his way out of that one.

He did his best.

Perry told the RJC that the several billion dollars the US government ships to Israel each year is not “foreign aid.”

Golly, foreign aid, Cowboy Rick implied, is money we flush down the toilet for countries full of brown people and folks who are not sufficiently enamored of our sacred system of predatory capitalism.

The dough we send to Israel, the Cowboy explained, is, well, “strategic defensive aid.”

Oh.

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