Category Archives: Voting Rights Act of 1965

Hot Air

Why Vote?

So, what’s the diff. between the Dems and the Republicans again?

You’ve heard this Q. many times. I’ve even wrassled with it myself a time or two. A quick glance at the last three presidencies — Bill Clinton’s, George W. Bush’s, and Barack Obama’s — might lead a common citizen to think they’d all three come from the same college fraternity, the one that also funneled dozens and dozens of future capos into the Goldman Sachs mob.

There’s a lot of truth in that assessment. But there exists a greater truth, and here’s proof:

Clinton & Obama: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor

Bush II: John Roberts, Samuel Alito

Yep, those are the US Supreme Court nominees of the last thee presidents. Justices selected by Clinton and Obama voted in the minority against yesterday’s Court’s decision (Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action) to uphold Michigan’s voter ban on racial quotas in college admissions. (Breyer, it should be noted, uncharacteristically joined the majority in Schuette.)

The Clinton/Obama gang also voted in the minority against

McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission: Removed limits on how much money individuals can contribute to candidates or political action committees in in campaign cycle.

Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission: Corporations and other special interest organizations may contribute as much as they like to coandidates and political action committees in any given campaign cycle. This decision produced, as a byproduct, the concept of “corporate personhood.” It also led to the idea that a corporation’s money is the moral and legal equivalent to an individual’s free speech.

Shelby County v. Holder: The section of the Voting Rights Act allowing the federal government to monitor the voting rules of states that had previously allowed slavery and, later, had instituted Jim Crow laws was dismantled. This decision was immediately followed by several states enacting stringent voting restrictions.

The current majority in the Supreme Court also includes Saint Ronald Reagan’s boys, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia, as well as Pappy Bush’s nominee, Clarence Thomas.

Buttons

So, what can we glean? This: The conservative-dominated Supreme Court believes that the wealthy should have greater sway in the electoral process and that blacks are on their own, even in the face of long-standing, institutionalized prejudices and legal impediments.

Sorry if I sound didactic here today but the pressure’s on. It’s an election year — an off-year election, to be sure, but all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives are up for grabs. I don’t know what’s so off about that other than voters in this holy land usually don’t give a damn about non-presidential elections.

Conceivably, putative next prez, Hillary Clinton, could be forced to work with both a Senate and and a House dominated by Me Party-ists, Right Wingnuts, regressivists, Birchers, crytpto-racists, and the odd moderate Republican who somehow manages to slip through.

Good luck, Hillary, on getting a Supreme Court nominee through that thicket.

Your Daily Hot Air

Opinions Of Difference

From Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent to the US Supreme Court’s opinion striking down the key portion of the Voting Rights Act:

Throwing out the Voting Rights Act when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.

Ginsburg

One Tough Old Bird

It’s been said enough that sometimes I even buy it: the differences between the Democrats and the Republican can be measured by the thimbleful.

Well, you can take that stale canard and shove it right up your Supreme Court.

You Can’t Tell The Justices Without A Scorecard

Here are your Reagan/Bush/Bush US Supreme Court justices:

  • Antonin Scalia

  • Anthony Kennedy

  • Clarence Thomas

  • John Roberts

  • Samuel Alito

And here are the justices nominated by presidents Clinton and Obama:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  • Stephen Breyer

  • Sonia Sotomayor

  • Elena Kagan

I ask you, who would you rather spend a summer evening drinking shots and beers with: Ginsburg or Clarence Thomas?

Thomas

Eek!

Sex In Tex. Etc.

The Loved One will brain me if I don’t mention last night’s eruption in the Texas Senate. State Senator Wendy Davis earned herself  gobs of political points with her filibuster against the state’s proposed abortion-killing bill.

Live vid of Davis’ pals and supporters hooting and hollering over the Senate president’s attempts to squeeze a vote in before the midnight deadline actually drove The Loved One out of bed whereupon she dashed into my garage office, shouting “Are you watching? Are you watching? This is historic! Turn it on!”

I hate to be the buzzkiller here, but there is history and there is Texas history. Leave it to Molly Ivins to educate us:

Dig, man, the plaster-saint theocrats of the Texas state legislature flat out don’t want women to feel pleasure. Go ahead; argue with me. You’ll lose.

FYI, in case you live in a cloister: a dildo is a dick-shaped implement that many females use for personal reasons. Here is an actual dick:

You’re welcome.

[This just in: Texas men have already declared war on Davis. Or maybe this is just a side battle in their ongoing War on Women. Anyway, Davis' Fort Worth office was firebombed overnight. Nothin' sez "pro-life" like throwing a firebomb.]

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“But suppose god is black. What if we go to heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and god is there, and we look up and he is not white? What then is our response?” — Robert F. Kennedy

SUPPOSE THEY GAVE A WAR AND NOBODY WON

When all is said and done, the US hasn’t suffered a devastating loss of human life in the Afghan debacle.

Yes, 2000 of our soldiers have been killed. The loss of one life in war is a tragedy. But, jeez, we’ve been in that hell-hole for 11 years now, trying to convince the populace at gunpoint that the Culture of McDonald’s is preferable to that of We’ll-Stone-You-If-You’re-A-Woman-And-Even-Think-About-Sex.

That’s about 182 deaths per year. 182 too many. But we’re not talking about a generation being decimated.

In case this little detail escaped your attention, I might point out that some 20,000 Afghan civilians have been blown to bits or otherwise killed in the war.

This Means War

Details, details. Here’s another one: The bad guys we went into Afghanistan to pound the crap out of in November, 2001, are still hanging in there. Yup, you remember the Taliban, don’t you? Those fellows who frown on music and dancing and cheering at soccer matches and women in general? Oh, and the guys who let Osama bin Laden camp out in their backyard while he and his boys planned their terror attacks?

Yeah, that Taliban. They’re in negotiations as we speak to be allowed back into everyday political life in Afghanistan.

Some war.

LESSON NUMBER ONE: TELL THE TRUTH

Writer Kristin Rawls at the progressive advocacy site AlterNet debunks the five main misconceptions or outright lies that the benighted portion of the populace of this holy land believe about teachers and public education.

I’ll let Rawls do the arguing. Here, though, are the five lies:

  1. Unions are undermining the quality of education in America
  2. Your student’s teacher has an easy and over-compensated job
  3. If your child doesn’t get picked in a charter school lottery, he or she is doomed
  4. Your child will automatically be better off if your school district adopts a “school choice” assignment plan
  5. Your student’s teacher sees your constructive involvement in your child’s education as an annoyance

Eek!

I never cared much for school but the tens of thousands of dollars I’ve spent on hundreds of hours of shrinks have narrowed the possible reasons for my distaste for the childhood classroom down to a manageable few dozen.

Still, I’ve always believed public education is perhaps the single most admirable contribution to human society that this nation has ever made.

THESE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Think back to 50 years ago today.

A young man named James Meredith had decided he wanted to enroll at the University of Mississippi. He’d already attended another university and had compiled a good academic record.

Meredith Then

Many people, though, were aligned against his acceptance to the institution. The forces lined up against him included Gov. Ross Barnett. The governor ruled that Meredith would not be accepted to Ole Miss.

Meredith, of course, was black. Mississippi, of course, was Mississippi.

Barnett was pressured by the federal government to allow Meredith to enroll. The governor didn’t have a leg to stand on; the Supreme Court had ruled that segregation at public supported schools was unconstitutional seven years earlier.

So, Barnett grudgingly allowed Meredith to go to school in the state’s university. The immediate result? A bloody campus riot by white students and Ku Klux Klan ringers.

Here’s a list of forces called out to quell the rioting and ensure Meredith’s safety as he attended classes:

  • 500 US Marshals
  • The 70th Army Engineer Combat battalion
  • Units from the 503rd Military Police Battalion
  • The federalized Mississippi Army National Guard
  • Officers from the US Border Patrol

This fighting force was in place even before Meredith attended his first day of classes at the University of Mississippi. Still, Meredith was harassed and shunned.

By college students, I might remind you.

US Marshals Escort Meredith To Class

The experience was so traumatic that Meredith felt compelled to leave Ole Miss. He eventually received his undergraduate degree from the University of Ibadan.

Which is in Nigeria. Which, in case you haven’t made the connection, is not the United States of America.

As time went by, Meredith earned a law degree from Columbia University in New York City.

He remained active in the civil rights fight after attending college. In fact, he led a voter registration march back in Mississippi in 1966. A white man shotgunned him in the back for his efforts. Meredith, fortunately, survived the murder attempt.

Meredith, Moments After Being Shotgunned

James Meredith attended his first class at the University of Mississippi 50 years ago today.

Sometimes it’s good to look at the glass as half full. October 1st, 1962 was a long, long time ago.

There’s even a statue of Meredith on the Ole Miss campus.

He’s pushing 80 now and lives with his wife in Jackson, Mississippi. He’s got a new book coming out, “A Mission from God: A Memoir and Challenge for America.”

Meredith Now

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Brought to you by The Electron Pencil: Bloomington Arts, Culture, Politics, and Hot Air. Daily.

FAIR ◗ Monroe County Fairgrounds, Commercial Building West29th Annual American Red Cross Book Fair, +100,000 used books, CDs, DVDs, games, maps, sheet music, etc.; 9am-7pm, through October 2nd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, outside WFHB StudiosPublic participation in creating a ten-foot sculpture called “The Messenger,” Rain or shine; 9am-5pm

STUDIO TOUR ◗ Brown County, various locationsThe Backroads of Brown County Studio Tour, free, self-guided tour of 16 local artists’ & craftspersons’ studios; 10am-5pm, through October

BENEFIT ◗ Bloomington Convention CenterDinner & award ceremony for Stone Belt; 6-8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleDawn Hiatt; 6-8:30pm

VARIETY ◗ Cafe DjangoBloomington Short List, ten-minute acts, hosted by Marta Jasicki; 7pm

MUSIC & POETRY ◗ Boxcar BooksMeg Waldron; 7pm

CLASS ◗ Monroe County Public Library — “On the Brink of Destruction: The Cuban Missile Crisis 50 Years Out,” presented by IU Lifelong Learning; 7-8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceSocial Justice; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts CenterLatin Jazz Ensemble, the Aaron Bannerman Group, Tom Walsh & Michael Spiro, directors; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase: Ryan Brewer, Chad Mills, Chris Wolf; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdKrewella; 9pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • What It Means to Be Human,” by Michele Heather Pollock; through September 29th
  • Land and Water,” by Ruth Kelly; through September 29th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • “Samenwerken,” Interdisciplinary collaborative multi-media works; through October 11th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits opening September 28th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others:Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections form the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

ART ◗ Boxcar BooksExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Papercuts by Ned Powell; through September

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • “Doctors and Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical professions

The Electron Pencil. Go there. Read. Like. Share.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m a real rebel with a cause.” — Nina Simone

REBELS

Independence Day.

We consider ourselves free in this holy land, and I suppose we are when compared to the rest of the world.

But there is no freedom without bondage. The old baseball manager Earl Weaver once said you can’t be a true rebel unless you’ve lived under the yoke of one kind of imposed order or another.

We profess to have loathed the tyranny of the British Empire when in reality the yoke we bore back in the 18th Century was that of King George III’s mental illness. It can be argued we really had no profound disagreement with the British and regarding the concept of freedom.

We wrote “… that all men are created equal.”

Yes, men. They’re all that counted when our Articles of Confederation, our Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution were written. White Men. White men who owned land.

White Men

The British themselves were slowly but surely coming around to the idea that male landowners ought to be able to govern themselves. We were just in a little bit more of a hurry about it all.

That was an amazing concept for the times. If we think it’s rather quaint — what about women and blacks and homosexuals and everybody else who isn’t Anglo, pale-skinned, and carrying X and Y chromosomes in their cells? — we have to remember that we’ve come a long way.

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

We’re still struggling. But, again, there is no freedom without bondage.

I’M FREE

… and freedom tastes of reality.

DREAMING

People talk about The American Dream as if there is such a thing; that is, one shared aspiration among our 300-plus million citizens and the countless others around the world who want to get in on our good thing.

I’ve met enough disparate people to know there are almost as many American Dreams as there are Americans.

Still, the mythmakers may be right. There is one overriding American Dream that supersedes all those other, idiosyncratic dreams.

For all the people who laugh at Donald Trump — his hair, his bombast, his “Hey Ma, look at me!” persona — virtually every one of them wants to be him.

American

That’s the true American Dream. To be rich. To be so rich you can tell the world to fk off.

To be so  rich you’ll never have to work another day in your life.

To be so rich that when the cable goes out you can bully the customer service rep on the phone and get someone out to fix it even on Christmas Day.

To be so rich you don’t even have to vote.

To be so rich beautiful young women or men (whichever you prefer) will be willing to see you naked despite the ravages of time on your body.

I saw a black guy once on the Fourth of July all decked out in red, white, and blue, his car festooned with American flag decals and the insignias of the unit he served in Vietnam with.

I was tempted to ask him why he was so demonstrably in love with this country. After all, he was old enough to remember when it was illegal in many states for him to have sex with a white woman. Illegal!

He was old enough to have seen Lyndon Johnson sign the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts in 1964 and ’65, laws that essentially recognized him as a human being — something this holy land had not done without reservation since its inception.

How in the world could a man who’d experienced so much insult, both institutionally and from his individual countrymen, be loyal to the state that made all that insult possible?

What is it that he sees in the United States of America? What would make him put his life on the line to prop up a corrupt little nation in Southeast Asia — one he’d probably rarely heard of before he was shipped out there — just because American politicians told him he ought to?

Why was he willing to dress up in that land’s colors?

We were at a gas station in Louisville, Kentucky at the time. He jumped in his car and drove away before I could talk myself into querying him. Too  bad.

And even if I had asked him all those questions, would he have answered truthfully? Would he toss around catchwords like freedom, independence, and liberty?

Maybe, just maybe, he loves America because he dreams that here he can become a rich man.

My dream? Only that we dream of something more.

YOU DREAMER, YOU

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

◗ Downtown Bloomington and around Courthouse Square — 4th of July Parade; 10am

◗ Courthouse Lawn — Independence Day concert, Bloomington Community Band; 11:30am

The BishopAmerica, Fk Yeah: A Night of America, For America; 4pm — patriotic films, “Red Dawn”; 8pm — “Rocky IV”; 10pm — “Team America: World Police”; midnight

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibit, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%” by John D. Shearer; through July 30th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibit, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts by Qiao Xiaoguang; through August 12th — Exhibit, wildlife artist William Zimmerman; through September 9th — Exhibit, David Hockney, new acquisitions; through October 21st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryKinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st, 11am

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

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Marriage is a gamble, let’s be honest.” — Yoko Ono

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

Shelli Yoder allowed herself and her gang a scant 24-hours’ worth of reveling after her Democratic primary victory Tuesday.

Yoder At Her Front Door Tuesday Night

She gathered the troops together early last evening to begin serious planning for her run for Congress in the November election. Yoder, her communication director Alexa Lopez, and volunteers from around the state met at the Uptown Cafe on Kirkwood to plot strategy for Indiana’s 9th District race against Republican Todd Young.

VOTING ON RIGHTS

I don’t care what the result in North Carolina was Tuesday — putting human rights up for a vote is not only wrong, it’s a dead-on indication that the rights in question flat out aren’t going to be rights once the polls close.

How do you think the federal Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts would have fared in a popularity contest back in 1964?

Unless enlightened leaders legislate those rights into existence, the most likely choice of the electorate would be to flip the finger to whichever group wants them.

For all his sins, President Lyndon B. Johnson twisted arms, bartered with, and cajoled senators to pass the laws that would guarantee legal equality for black Americans. He might have been a vote-stealing, crude and crass, venal pol, but he knew the nation needed federal legislation to bring its black brothers and sisters fully into the family. And he did so at the cost of his presidency.

Martin Luther King Congratulates Lyndon Baines Johnson

Barack Obama’s long-awaited imprimatur of gay marriage yesterday won’t cost him the presidency, but his view on the matter alienates him from at least half the voting public.

For my money, I don’t want democratic principles determined by an electorate that is more conversant in the private life of Kim Kardashian than Thomas Paine’s “The Rights of Man.”

WHITE BOYS

My roster of Facebook friends tilts heavily to the left. That makes sense because I tilt heavily toward the left, even when I haven’t been drinking.

Lots of lefties these days are certain the nation as well as humanity itself is on a crash course toward disaster. If I took all the Facebook posts of my friends seriously, I’d be a juddering wreck. Our food is poisoned, the FBI is snooping through my sock drawer even as I type these words, war will be declared on Iran in a half hour…, Help!

I’d have to imagine the Facebook posts of Right-leaning folks are just as alarming, only for different reasons. The political and philosophical zeitgeist of the 21st Century holds that if you aren’t wringing your hands and being a drama queen, then you aren’t paying attention.

Rage is demanded by people who use Facebook to alert the world to the perils they see around every corner. I’m sorry to inform them all I don’t have that much rage in me.

But last night a post by the decidedly non-political Tyler Ferguson turned me into a snarling beast.

Ferguson reported that the college lads who live directly across the street from her have purchased and installed a new stereo system in their apartment. She heard them congratulating each other on finally having a sound device that can make their music audible halfway across the continental United States.

Tyler reports she can now hear the lyrics to the songs they play with crystal, if disturbing and annoying, clarity.

She writes: “I don’t recognize the current song, but the lyrics are ‘nigger’ and ‘fuck’ pretty much over and over. Nice.”

Now we have to assume the “artists” singing such an Euterpean delight are black. It’s perfectly acceptable in the recorded music industry world for young black men to liberally sprinkle their lyrics with the N-bomb.

Me, I immediately assumed the lunkheads blasting the music are white. Suburban white boys are the single biggest demographic that buys what I’ll indelicately christen “nigger/fuck music (NFM).”

I’m no shrink, but I’ll hazard the guess that the Zachs and Joshuas of the world embrace such cacophony as a way to demonstrate how macho and quasi-threatening they are. Testosterone has a weird way of making young men desperately want to display those traits.

So I added my comment to Tyler’s Facebook post thread. Several others already had offered to help Tyler commit mayhem upon the persons and property of the lads in question. I wrote: “And if you tell us they’re white, I’ll be happy to go with you and kick their balls up into their abdomens.”

See, my take on the white boys loving NFM is that they’ve reduced young black men to loathsome stereotypes. When I see a Mom-and-Dad-bought-and-paid-for SUV careening around the corner at Kirkwood and Walnut blaring NFM, I think the boys therein would have been perfectly comfortable some 65 years ago, sniggering at Steppin’ Fetchit while flipping a nickel to the bootblack who just shined their shoes.

Tyler responded: “They are pasty white.”

I came back with a flurry of obscene pejoratives directed at the lads. I concluded, “Grrrrrrrrr!”

So that’s the sum total of my emotional output due to Facebook for the rest of the month. Even if someone reveals that George W. Bush personally planted the explosives that toppled the Twin Towers.

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

Thursday, May  10, 2012

IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits, “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”; through July 1st — “Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather than To Be Seen): Muslim Self Portraits; through June 17th — “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”; through July 1st

IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; through June 29th

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center Exhibits at various galleries: Angela Hendrix-Petry, Benjamin Pines, Nate Johnson, and Yang Chen; all through May 29th

Trinity Episcopal ChurchArt exhibit, “Creation,” collaborative mosaic tile project; through May 31st

Monroe County Public LibraryArt exhibit, “Muse Whisperings,” water color paintings by residents of Sterling House; through May 31st

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

Monroe County Public LibraryUsed book and media sale; 9am-4pm

Monroe County Courthouse Lawn — Strawberry Shortcake Festival; 10:30am-2:30pm

Nom!

Bloomington City HallPlatinum Bike Summit; 4pm

Bear’s PlaceMedia Noche Trio + 1 CD release party; 5:30pm

Farm Bloomington, Root Cellar — Ryder Film Series, “444 Last Day on Earth”; 6:30pm

Buskirk-Chumley TheaterCardinal Stage Company presents “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”; 7pm

IU CinemaFilm, “The Kid with a Bike”; 7pm

Brown County Playhouse“Under the Umbrella: Life Is a Circus” performed by balancing artist Steven Ragatz; 7-8:15pm

Fairview Elementary SchoolScott Russell Sanders speaks about becoming an author; 7-8pm

Scott Russell Sanders

Max’s PlaceKeith Korns; 7:30pm

The Comedy AtticDan Telfer; 8pm

The Player’s PubCarpenter and Clerk, 220 Breakers; 8pm

The BishopGood Luck, Spoonboy, Kind of Like Spitting; 9pm

Bear’s Place Karaoke; 9pm

The Pencil Today:

THE (VIDEO) QUOTE

Courtesy of the White Rabbit.

RICK ‘N ROLL

A couple of things about my favorite Martian, Rick Santorum, before I get into the meat of today’s post.

  1. Yesterday, speaking before a crowd in Arizona, Rickey-girl slammed the Obama health care bill, natch. But he acknowledged that part of Obama’s reasoning was that every citizen should have the right to health care. Haharights. “When the government gives you rights, they can take those rights away,” he spewed. I’ve never thought about it that way before. I guess Martin Luther King, Jr. and all his cronies, were they still alive, would regret the enactments of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. Because, after all, who cares about rights when they can be taken away?
  2. Pennsylvania’s man-in-the-closet is taking heat for casting aspersions on Obama’s “theology.” He has declared he will not step back from the statements because they came from his heart. You know, that’s why Republican Cro-Magnons are attractive to a lot of voters. They won’t back down. It’d be refreshing to hear a Democrat once in a while saying, Screw it, I said it and I believe it, no matter how many people think I should apologize.

BALLOT BOXERS

Speaking of Democrats, the Monroe County party faithful gathered together last night in the Fountain Square ballroom to pat themselves on the back and tell each other how badly they’re going to spank the GOP this coming November.

Even Mayor Mark Kruzan emerged from his cocoon to press the flesh.

Kruzan Has Been Seen In Public Before

Dem hopefuls running in the May primary for city, county, and statewide offices were introduced by the somnolent county party chair Rick Dietz during last evening’s finger-food love fest.

BTW: perhaps Dietz does a fine job maintaining the records of the party, or maybe he finds the best deals on yard signs and bumper stickers. But when it comes to rallying the troops, Steven Wright would be a more emphatic orator.

Anyway, the star of the show was the mustachioed John Gregg, who’s running for governor. He grabbed the mic out of Dietz’s hand when he was introduced and wowed the crowd. The man has charisma in addition to that big furry thing on his upper lip.

A Hirsute Governor?

The five brave souls running for US Congress from Indiana’s 9th District met the flock as a unit for the first time. In fact, some of them met the flock for the first time, period.

At least three of the contenders threw their hats into the ring within the last few weeks. They’re all earnest and most of them paid lip-service to the memory of liberal Dem representative Frank McCloskey as well as the sainted Lee Hamilton. But from this vantage point, it seems likely the only one with a ghost of a chance to unseat Congressboy Todd Young is Shelli Yoder.

McCloskey: Local Hero

I came down hard on Yoder Monday. She’s best known as Miss Indiana 1992 and earned a second runner-up spot in that year’s Miss America drool-fest. Apparently, she’d earned her second-lieutenancy by smoking up the pageant stage in her swimsuit.

Being a licensed and certified smart-ass, I felt compelled to make fun of her beauty-queen past. But smart pols like Regina Moore and Linda Robbins dig her the most, so I can’t discount their evaluations.

On the other hand, I spoke to a couple of female pols last night who want to see more from Yoder — and they weren’t talking skin, either.

Here are the Dems running for the nomination:

I haven’t got time right now to reveal my impressions of the gang (there’s the little matter of catching my bus to get to the Book Corner) but I’ll run them all through my wringer within the next few days. It should be fun.

SEX, SEX, SEX!

Back to the-man-whom-Google-made-famous, Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times decided to check out his website. Steinberg reveals the results of his research in today’s column.

Steinberg

His conclusions? What I’ve been saying all along, these theocratic right wingers think about sex, sex, sex, and more sex.

To be frank, I do, too. As do you, I’ll bet. But, speaking for myself, I don’t flagellate myself for those thoughts.

And yeah, I tried the whole whipping-for-fun trick once. Didn’t do much for me. Still, I don’t run around screaming that my S&M pals ought to be banished to a desert island.

Maybe, Rickey-girl should try it. Could it be that’s what he really wants?

THE REAL RICK?

 

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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