Category Archives: J. Edgar Hoover

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The flood of money that gushes into politics today is a pollution of democracy.” — Theodore H. White

SUMMERTIME AND THE BREATHIN’ IS WHEEZY

Hooray for summer! Today’s the first Ozone Action Day of 2012 for the Bloomington area.

Ixnay Today

Do everybody’s lungs a favor: take the bus, ride your bike, or walk. And lay off the power mower for a few days.

FRIDAY FUN

Click.

HOT SPELL IN EGYPT

I called it a year and a half ago when Hosni Mubarek was overthrown in Egypt.

Everybody was jumping for joy over the Arab Spring. I cautioned, Be careful what you wish for.

Egypt may tumble into civil war in the wake of some controversial supreme court rulings this week. It must be said, Egyptians have a choice in who crushes their dreams of freedom: the Muslim Brotherhood or the military.

An Egyptian Military Council Leader

I’m no jingoist but the situation in Egypt does remind me that the American revolution turned out not so bad after all. And many, many of the tyrannies that the Founding Daddy-os neglected to toss out have been addressed in the ensuing two and a half centuries.

THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL

Yesterday, Christopher Buckley in Salon argued that “Moby Dick” is the greatest American novel ever written.

He’s wrong.

Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is far superior. And if you prefer a less iconic choice, how about Thomas Berger’s “Little Big Man”?

In fact, I’ll take LBM over TAoHF. Berger’s epic recounting of late 19th Century American history through bullshitter-supreme Jack Crabb’s eyes is America. Crabb was “Zelig” before Woody Allen even thought of the man who was everywhere.

BAD

Ranker.com lists “The All-Time Worst People in History” today.

Adolf Hitler, natch, tops the list, garnering a few more votes than his on-again, off-again ally Joe Stalin. Three of Hitler’s henchmen (Himmler, Goebbels, and Mengele as well as his idiot son Mussolini also make the list).

il Duce

George W. Bush ranks No. 20 which is ludicrous. His inclusion on the list shows that liberals verey, very often can be as knuckleheaded as conservatives. Well, not very, very often. Actually, not even often at all. Occasionally.

Anyway, here’s my own list of The Worst Americans in History, in no particular order:

How I Wish That Was An Exploding Cigar

Working On It: Charles (L) & David Koch

  • George Wallace –“Segregation now. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever!”
  • Orval Faubus — Arkansas governor who called out the National Guard to stop black students from attending a predominantly white school in 1957.
  • Curtis LeMay — Even though he was instrumental in the US victory over Japan in World War II, LeMay was nuts. I suppose if you’re fighting a “good” war, you want generals who are more whacked-out than the enemy’s. LeMay was brilliant, daring, innovative — and whacked-the-fk-out. Ran with Wallace as a third party candidate in the ’68 presidential election.

Oh, and Paris Hilton. I know she’s yesterday’s news but, still, she represents everything bad about the celebrity culture, nonproductive wealth, women-as-objects, arrogance, and a host of other American ills.

We Mustn’t Forget Paris Hilton

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.” — Fran Lebowitz (h/t to RE Paris)

GOOD RIDDANCE, ANDREW BREITBART

“I’ve never killed a man but I’ve read several obituaries with glee.” — Mark Twain

Andrew Breitbart is dead. The Earth is now a better place.

Like Twain, I don’t care much for gloating when a bad guy dies but in this case, Whoopee!

Gone, Baby, Gone

Breitbart was a character assassin, an amoral ideologue, an agent provocateur, and, well, a dick of the highest order.

Here’s the difference between a warthog like Breitbart and a human being of decency. When Shirley Sherrod heard about his death, she said, “The news of Mr. Breitbart’s death came as a surprise to me when I was informed of it this morning. My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart’s family as they cope during this very difficult time.”

Sherrod: A Gracious Victim

This from a woman whose career serving in government was derailed by a phony-assed, maliciously edited video produced by none other than Mr. Breitbart.

And speaking of phony-assed, maliciously edited videos, it was Breitbart’s airing of the ACORN footage that led to that social service organization’s eventual bankruptcy and demise. Nice work, Andy-baby, pissing on all those folks who need food, housing, and legal services for your own professional advancement.

Naturally, the Republican candidates for president are mourning his passing as though a great public servant is gone from the scene. Rick Santorum calls his death a “huge loss, in my opinion, to our country.” Mitt Romney remembers him as a “loving husband and father.”

“Aw, He Was Such A Nice Guy.”

Reminds me of when any notorious Outfit boss kicked the bucket back in Chicago. No matter that he’d been responsible for corrupting labor unions, forcing the Mob’s way into legitimate businesses, and murdering loan sharks, recalcitrant shopkeepers and potential witnesses, his neighbors would say he was such a nice guy and a real fine family man.

Hey, people, even A. Hitler was kind to his dog Blondi. That doesn’t excuse him for his evil acts.

Anyway, Breitbart — though not Hitler or a capo, but profoundly destructive in his own way — joins such luminaries as J. Edgar Hoover, George Wallace, Orval Faubus, Curtis LeMay, and Lee Atwater in the pantheon of dead evil Americans.

It’s irrelevant that he was “a loving husband and father.”

“Welcome To Hell, Andy!”

PAYING THE PIPER

Now that Mayor Mark Kruzan doesn’t have to worry about reelection for a while, he can level with Bloomington voters about the state of the city’s finances.

They ain’t good.

Kasey Husk of the Herald Times reports this morning that Kruzan says there are “dark clouds on the horizon” for us.

Potential Cover Shot For Bloomington’s Annual Financial Report

The reason Kruzan waited until now to drop the bomb on us, apparently, is the potential that voters could have blamed him for the economic mess we’re in. That would have been stupid, of course, but then again no one ever accused the electorate, either here or nationally, of being remarkably brilliant.

Smart Enough To Know We’re Not All That Smart

Hell, an entire major political party is fired up by proud anti-intellectualism. (I won’t even link to that party — you can guess which one I mean.)

So no, the city’s empty pockets aren’t Kruzan’s fault.

But we know where the blame primarily lies — all those clever, conniving, duplicitous investment banking house unindicted felons who played our economy for hundred of billions of dollars in fees and bonuses and left it dry.

Check out Michael Lewis’s book, “Liar’s Poker” for an early snapshot of the unregulated, greenback-worshipping, hyenas that populated Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Wall Street money-squeezers back in the mid- and late-80s.

Not a one of those reprobates has ever served a minute in jail. Yet guys like Mark Kruzan have to worry that voters may turn on them because of the sins of Wall Street.

We can only hope there is a hell so that Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, and the rest of their aiders and abettors can join Andrew Breitbart in it.

IT’S ALL RELATIVE

With Russia’s presidential election three days away and Vladimir Putin looking like a shoo-in, we’re being inundated by news stories and commentary about what a despot the former KGB spook is. Deep thinkers are howling about how un-democratic the supposedly-now-democratic heart of the former Soviet Union is.
No doubt Putin’s goons have had “meetings” with dissenting journalists, his spies have added a dash of “strychnine” to the soup of neighboring pols or fed polonium pellets to expat whistle blowers, and his PR flacks are hard at work manipulating the minds of Russian couch potatoes.

That’s all true. Plus, Putin is such a charismatic tough guy that when he met the notoriously untraveled George W. Bush, this holy land’s president-at-the-time tumbled into a deep man-crush over him.

Putin Porn

Yesterday, though, I caught another side of the story. Former IU writing professor Erlene Stetson and her husband visit us at the Book Corner nearly every day when they’re in town. Her husband was born in Germany and they keep homes in both countries.

The husband — whose name I never catch because we start talking about world events and history immediately, leaving little time for idle chit-chat and social niceties, so let’s call him Mr. Stetson — started ruminating about Putin and Russia.

“It is amazing,” Mr. Stetson said, “how things have changed in Russia.”

He was talking about the Russia of today vis-a-vis that of such sweethearts as Joseph Stalin and his successors.

Mr. Stetson pointed out that even if the Russian press and TV outlets are manipulated and intimidated now and again, they’re still a hundred-fold freer than the old state media apparatus was under the Communist General Secretaries.

He also says the recent mass protests against Putin and Russian voter fraud would never, ever have been tolerated in the Soviet days.

Russia, 2012

Eastern Europeans of a certain generation view the new Russia in a state of near-awe these days, according to Mr. Stetson. Not that they envy Muscovites and the like, just that the relative relaxation of traditional Russian authoritarianism is so jarring in comparison to the bad old days.

Of course, it’s easy to look good when the object of comparison is a tyranny that, under Stalin, murdered tens of millions of people to maintain discipline, advance ideology, and just for the fun of it.

This reminds me of revisionist historians who decry the so-called Fathers of Our Country for owning slaves and treating women as decorative appendages.

White men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did indeed “own” human beings, including their lovely brides.

“Property”

Viewed through today’s lens, Washington and Jefferson appear to be monsters.

In their own day, though, the framers of the US Constitution were the most progressive thinkers on the face of the Earth. They eschewed divine authority and legislated nobility out of existence. Yes, the only US citizens that counted were white male land-owners.

But that was a hell of a leap forward from previous social set-ups. We’ve been taking leaps in fits and starts ever since.

As the late, astute Molly Ivins once wrote, “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.”

MERCEDES BENZ

“The Lord” and Money — perhaps this should be our national anthem.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.” — Gore Vidal

NO PLASTER SAINT

Think of Martin Luther King, Jr. today. Think of what a brilliant man he was. Think also of what an imperfect man he was.

King, 1956

His work hastened the enactment of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The contender for the most evil American of the 20th Century, J. Edgar Hoover, kept a thick dossier on King’s sex life. Yep, King did those tawdry things outlined in the file. To people like Hoover, that file defined King.

To tens of millions of Americans who can now vote freely and don’t have to worry about not getting a job or being turned away from a hotel or restaurant because they’re the wrong color or sex, King was incapable of such “sin.”

Both views insult the man because they deny the fullness of his humanity, the good in him and his failings, his high principles and his base urges.

Me? I respect King all the more for knowing he battled with and often succumbed to temptation. He was just a guy — but what a human being!

Imperfect Men; A More Perfect Nation

FLIP-FLOP PHONIES

Here’s all you need to know about the state of national politics in this holy land. Jon Huntsman today will endorse Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for president.

Best Friends Forever

Huntsman is dropping out of the Republican primaries six days before the South Carolina vote and almost a week after he came in third in the New Hampshire beauty contest, a finish he told his supporters was a springboard to South Carolina. He made the decision this weekend.

Up until yesterday, his website listed chapter and verse as to why Romney is unelectable in November. Or, I should say, was unelectable. Romney is (oops again — was) a flip-flopper, a shark, a pretty boy, a man with no real philosophy.

Man, you’d have thought a Romney presidency would almost have been as devastating to America as the presidency of Barack Obama — who, by the way, was Hunstman’s former boss. The only thing Hunstman didn’t accuse Romney of was being a secret Muslim, but there’s only room in the political conversation for one of those, apparently.

Sunday, the keepers of the Huntsman website made all references to Romney’s evils vanish.

Hunstman’s Suddenly Mitt-Free Website

Politics would be a funny game if it didn’t make me so glum.

VOTE FOR ME — I’LL SET YOU FREE!

How weird is it that Rick Perry has suddenly positioned himself as the defender of the people, calling Mitt Romney a “vulture capitalist”?

Very weird.

Perry’s panicked. The man who has sold his governorship to any corporate entity that waves a check in his face, clearly figures the only bullet he has left in his cylinder is to accuse Romney of being a greedy capitalist pig.

Which Romney is — but so is Rick Perry.

It goes to show that the most powerful influence on politics is the virtually pathological ego that spurs a person to want to become a national leader.

Perry: “I’m The One.”

Perry gave up his precious economic philosophy in the snap of a finger when he felt himself in danger of losing out on the ultimate job promotion.

I’ll vote in the presidential election, sure, but I can’t shake the feeling that anyone who wants to be president of a nation of +300M people with some 5600 active nuclear weapons at his command is, well, a bit off. Why would any sane human being want that kind of responsibility?

Oh Yeah, I Can Handle This Thing — Don’t Worry

Just trying to meet the needs and desires of our massive population is daunting enough. Knowing that the ace you have up your sleeve in dealing with the world’s nations is an arsenal that could ignite at any moment a global holocaust makes the job desirable only to a crazy man or woman.

LOCAL POLS: LESS PHONY, JUST AS NUTTY

I spoke with Tim Mayer, the Bloomington City Council’s new president, last week. He’s refreshed from a nice holiday vacation and looking forward to picking up the gavel.

I apologized to him for not playing “Hail to the Chief” when he walked into the Book Corner and he graciously forgave me. “How does it feel to be the Commander in Chief of such an august body?” I asked.

He spun on his heel, pointed to the middle of his back and replied, “The target’s hanging right here.”

Mayer Was Comforted By Judge Mary Ellen Diekhoff After He Was Sworn In

Mayer became serious and said he’s looking forward to the task. In fact, he claimed the best part of being a council member is hearing the citizenry during the public comment sessions at the meetings. At which point I told him he needs psychiatric treatment.

Mayer is still sane enough to say I was probably right. Then he recounted the tale of a particular well-known citizen gadfly who attended every meeting and had a blustery opinion on every proposal. This man was a shrewd provocateur who knew just how far he could go when raising his idiosyncratic Cain — he knew, for instance, that he could get away with uttering the word shit during his comment period but not the F-bomb.

Anyway, Mayer remembered that the man was familiar enough with the personalities on the Council to be able to get under any of their skins. He knew how to rattle one female former Council president by saying repeatedly, “Listen here, girlie….”

The former president’s hair would stand on end at such moments.

BTW: as for last year’s Council president (and I’m not necessarily saying she’s the one referred to above), doctors in the decompression ward report that Susan Sandberg will be released from her straitjacket soon and should recover nicely, save for the occasional nightmare.

Susan Sandberg, Before She Was Institutionalized

Good luck, Tim.

WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN

Oh yes we will. We always do.

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