Hot Air: Midwest Gal …

… Woman Of The World

Zaineb Istrabadi calls herself a “midwest gal.” She was born in England, raised in Baghdad, lived a large chunk of her adult life in New York City but, still, she considers our acreage of flyover country home.

Zaineb Istrabadi

She teaches Arabic at Indiana University and has been an active member of our community for nearly 20 years. In keeping with the Big Talk tradition of asking first questions, I posed this one to Zaineb: Who’s an Arab?

Everybody knows what an Arab is, right? Ixnay. The day I had her in the studio, I’d asked at least a dozen friends and acquaintances what — or, more properly, who — an Arab is. None could answer to any degree of certitude.

She’s my guest on this week’s Big Talk and my profile of her runs today in the Limestone Post.

Go here for the Big Talk podcast and here for the magazine piece.

Hot Air: A White Holiday

Today, of course is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, a holiday, BTW, thinned to gruel by several states (Alabama and Mississippi and, to an extent, Florida) that co-celebrate Robert E. Lee’s DOB on this date.

Let’s just ignore that virtually criminal insult for the nonce and concentrate instead on what MLK Day really means in the rest of America. Most white people, I’d guess, in the year 2019 respect and admire the cardboard cut-out that the nation’s most-heralded civil rights warrior has become. It’s safe, natch, for Dubuque moms & pops to embrace him because he’s dead.

How Many Of Us (Whites) See Ourselves.

America’s black population, I’ve gleaned, digs King well enough but sees him, rightly, as one of many, many heroic figures in the fight that, sadly, continues to this day. It’s a fight, in fact, that has flared anew in recent decades, thanks to the prominence of overtly racist media whores like Rush Limbaugh, Joe Arpaio, Megan Kelly, David Duke, Alex Jones, and our very own president of these United States. There’ve always been — and always will be — dark-skin-detesting reprobates crawling around underneath this or that rock but they’ve come out into the air because of the growth of the 24-hour news cycle and social media.

Funny thing is, Hubert Humphrey in 1948 set the tone for the diversity-embracing post WWII Democratic Party with his “bright sunshine” speech at the national Dem convention that year. Here’s the meat graf of his speech:

My friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years late. To those who say that this civil-rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights. People — human beings — this is the issue of the 20th century. People of all kinds — all sorts of people — and these people are looking to America for leadership, and they’re looking to America for precept and example.

Bright sunshine, Humphrey implied, would cleanse the nation of its racist sepsis. Rather, we’ve learned the emergence of haters into said bright sunshine has not destroyed them, the noxious bacterial slime they are, but has elevated them to a previously unimagined platform.

Looking at the spectrum of race relations herein, the likes of Alex Jones, Stephen Miller, or Li’l Duce occupy a place to the far right, the infrared side as it were, near the extreme edge where, if they drift any further away from the center, they tumble directly into the fires of Hell. Most of us white people like to think we occupy a reasonable center, accepting of all god’s children, no matter if they’re black, white, or purple — although I’ve yet to meet a purple human being in this life.

Truth is, we whites give ourselves more credit than we deserve, especially when we congratulate ourselves for celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s b-day.

The far-too-prevalent sentiment hereabouts runs along these lines: Yeah, sure, we want to be the fair and equitable home to all races, creeds and colors and let’s hold hands while we sing Kumbayah…, but, damn it, why don’t these blacks and browns and Muslims and gays and whatevers quit their complaining and start realizing how great I have it here?

Because, in this Land of Me, only I matter. King, we like to forget, was most assuredly not an I guy.

So, today, a lot of white folks are not celebrating him but some fanciful image of themselves.

Hot Air: A Year Of Big Talk!

Okay, so I’m losing my mind.

I forgot to mention in today’s primary post that today marks a year since Big Talk premiered as a stand-alone, half-hour program on WFHB, 91.3 FM. (To be perfectly accurate, the actual anniversary would be tomorrow as the first long-form BT aired Thursday, January 4th, 2018.)

Big Talk ran sporadically and then regularly as an eight-minute feature on WFHB’s Daily Local News under the aegis of former news director Joe Crawford. The very first Big Talk feature aired January 9th, 2014 with my guest, cartoonist Nate Powell, co-author with Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) and Andrew Aydin of the graphic novel trilogy, March. After Joe left the station, I worked with his successor, current news chief Wes Martin, to turn this thing into an honest-to-gosh program. Boss Wes shepherded Big Talk through the station’s approval process until we were able to put the first episode out in the universe. He’s helped me refine this thing and has been as supportive as can be.

Adrian Matejka [Image: Michelle Litvin]

My guest for the first stand-alone show a year ago was the then-newly named Indiana poet laureate Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke, finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. To celebrate a first-year’s-worth of weekly shows, I’m re-running the Matejka interview today at 5:30pm.

I hope you’ll join me today or at any time online as every Big Talk is available as a podcast on the ‘FHB website. Here’s the original Matejka interview podcast link. And, as always, I’m eager to hear your suggestions for future Big Talk guests.

Thanks for listening!

Hot Air: The Backbiting Begins

The political assassination of Elizabeth Warren has begun. I read the other day about a “concern” some Democrats have that she’s just Hillary Clinton II.

Dig this graf from a recent article in The Atlantic:

As always happens with front-runners, Warren has become a target. She’s considered less shiny than some of the newer firebrands, who have themselves become the anti-establishment. Operatives working for several other Democratic candidates about to make their own announcements have insisted she’s the Hillary Clinton of 2020—and not in a complimentary way. They describe her as overly cautious and cold, carefully curating her “authentic” moments and struggling to escape a relatively small issue—her claim of American Indian heritage—that’s threatened to overtake her entire candidacy. Her big speech just after Thanksgiving on “a foreign policy that works for all Americans” sounded a whole lot like Clinton’s focus-grouped emphasis on “everyday Americans,” several operatives argue. She even has Bernie Sanders threatening to run to her left.


Other articles and blog posts cite some kind of innate “dislikability” in Warren, similar to H. Clinton’s. The best retort I saw re: that charge went something like, She’s running for president, not prom queen.

Before everybody gets panicky, let’s recall that presidential candidates and their rivals have battered each other in the run-up to their respective nominations since…, well, the time of Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. In that sense, internecine warfare has been built in to the American political DNA. In fact, the practice was played to a perverse perfection in 2016 when candidate Donald Trump called intra-party opponents like Rick Perry and Ben Carson every name in the book. Next thing anybody knew, President Gag was naming them his Cabinet secretaries.

Anyway, should E. Warren end up the Dem nominee for president, I will vote for her. I will do that no matter what faux pas she has committed in the past, no matter what isolated policy position she has ever held in opposition to mine, no matter what slur or insult has ever slipped out of her mouth either inadvertently or on purpose, and no matter any minor financial venial sin she has ever committed.

I say that because no matter whether she runs against Donald Trump or Mike Pence or any other Republican, she will be the better choice considering my personal philosophies and desires. It’s that goddamned simple.

Donald Trump is not only a bad man, he’s a sick man. Mike Pence is an obsessive, woman-fearing god-ist. And the rest of the Republicans are part of a political party that has, since the rise of Barry Goldwater and the dawn of Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, appealed to the fears and hatreds of white people. If you disagree with this assessment, the onus is on you to disprove it. And you can’t.

Don’t forget, also, that the Republicans since the time of Saint Ronald have stood in rock-solid opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment. I repeat for the 9,623rd time, any party that wants to deny full rights to one half the citizenry will never get my vote even for dog catcher for pity’s sake.

Need another reason why I’ll vote for any Democrat over a Republican for president? Okay. The party espouses “trickle down” economics, the most insulting money philosophy ever conceived of by agents of Satan to fool the populace into thinking they’ll somehow get a fair shake. Just think of it — the aforementioned Holy Reagan conjured an economic policy, the name of which brings to mind fat pigs zealously guarding their pails of slop filled to the brim and squealing that you ought to be happy with the odd drips that may, just may, happen to spill over from time to time. Any voter who feels well-treated with that imagery should be pictured next to the dictionary definition of the word masochist.

I will toss my happy support behind any Democratic candidate who runs in the 2020 presidential election.

Credit The Council

A little late on this one but, nevertheless, warranted. Kudos to the Bloomington city council for nixing the idea of building a brand-spanking new 4th St. parking garage, complete w/ up to 200 more spaces. The council in December voted unanimously to repair the current structure.

The 4th Street Parking Garage.

The repair option will buy a few extra years of life for the garage. It’ll eventually have to be replaced. Built in 1986, it was expected to last 50 years. That should have meant the thing would be in service until the year 2036, by which time we’ll be zipping around the city with our own personal jetpacks (yeah, sure).

The garage, in any case, is falling apart and several million bucks’ll have to be spent to make sure the thing doesn’t collapse. This raises the question of why the garage has become virtually unusable sans major repairs in only 33 years. I realize these things don’t come with lifetime warrantees but I’d be damned sure I wouldn’t use whichever construction company built the garage for any other future projects around town. There’s been talk that no one expected the garage to be used so much by people who, ‘y’know, have wanted to park their cars there since the days of Mayor Tomi Allison. I find that kind of talk spurious. You build something, you’d better expect it to be utilized to its full capacity. If I buy a washing machine, I don’t expect Sears to tell me I should only have done the laundry once a month when it breaks down after couple of years. Then again, Sears is just about going out of business these days so who knows how dependable its washers are.

Bloomington, I trust, is not about to go out of business. And when the time comes for the city to put up another parking garage at, say, $50 mill, it had better last as long as the builder says it will.

Hot Air: Stockpiling


We all, presumably, think we’re going to live for a good many more years. That is, unless you’ve been informed recently by your medical professional that you have, say, six months to live. If so, what the hell are you doing wasting your precious few remaining hours reading this blog?

BTW: I went to to find another word for nonsense (I decided, instead, simply to write blog) and one of the synonyms for it was hot air. Another was big talk. So I’d say I’ve chosen identifiers for my online and radio presences quite well, no?

Anyway, let’s say you’re my age or thereabouts. You can reasonably expect a good 20 or so more years on this planet — whether you want to remain here or not and see if we can do worse than President Gag is another discussion entirely. How many books would you expect to read in 20 years? How about we set a range: if you’re a voracious, speedy reader, you can, conceivably, knock off some 50-plus books a year. Me? I’m an especially slow reader. I like to savor and re-read. I want to make sure I grasp as many meanings, references, innuendos, allusions, wrinkles, and adumbrations as possible (toldya I was cruising, didn’t I?). So I consume some 20 books a years. Sometimes fewer.

If I were to stock my home library with enough books to last me through the year 2038, my shelves’d be crammed w/ some 400 tomes. Those speed-demons I mentioned above? They ought to invest in well more than a thousand tomes, just to be on the safe side.

Eco: Crazy? No, Smart.


Along comes Cypress-based freelance writer Jessica Stillman to say, essentially, a thousand books is hardly enough. Rather, she posits in Inc. mag., if you aspire to be truly intelligent and curious, you ought to own more books than you can read in a lifetime or three. She cites the personal library of Italian author Umberto Eco which stood at a healthy +30,000 titles. That is, that’s the number of books he had (he’s dead) on the shelves in his home. Did I say healthy? I’d bet there are a few skull jockeys out there who’d have diagnosed him as rather un-healthy, at least under the definition of compulsive buying disorder in the Journal of the World Psychiatry Association.

Stillman, though, thinks old Bertie had the right idea. Writes she:

So stop beating yourself up for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes. All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people.

Having scads of books — many, many more than you could ever read — is an indication you’re smart. Well, sure. But Stillman advances a non-intuitive reason for this. All those books staring down at you, accusingly, from their lofty, jam-packed shelves convey to you all the things you don’t know. Every uncracked book in your personal library is a repository of knowledge that’s not yet in your head. And the smartest among us are those who know for a fact they’re not smart enough. The most ignorant of your neighbors and countryfolk are the ones who think they know it all.

Stillman argues:

…[I]t is a well-known psychological fact that it’s the most incompetent who are the most confident of their abilities and the most intelligent who are full of doubt. (Really. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect.)

Here’s some basic dope on the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Stillman quotes the scholar-essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb (his five-volume philosophical opus includes the books Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, and Skin in the Game). “Read books,” he says, “are far less valuable than unread books.”

So, don’t hate yourself for not getting to all the books you have piled up around the house. It means you’re smart.


I’ll admit it: I’m the absolutely worst audio engineer I’ve ever heard on the radio. I doubt if you’ve ever heard a worse one

My Big Talk featuring a two-year old interview with preservation architect Cindy Brubaker yesterday no doubt made even casual audiophiles cringe. Both the general manager and the news director at my radio home, WFHB, nearly popped forehead veins as they endured the echo-fest that was my voice track in Thursday’s show. Although I have to say Cindy sounded awfully good — but half a loaf is still not good enough in this radio biz.

To that end I have to start looking around for an audio engineer. I need someone who can sit with me and my weekly guest and make sure both of us sound great. It’s an unpaid gig but, honestly, it’s a great way to get some valuable experience in media. It’s a foot in the door. Hell, working at ‘FHB is as good as a college course in terms of hands-on experience, contacts made, and résumé filler. Just ask local radio stars like David Brent Johnson, Brother William Morris, or emeritus pro voice Yael Ksander. They all started out at WFHB and now are awash in fame and riches.

In any case, if you know of any punk kids itching to get into media and can spare about an hour and a half a week, send them my way. Think of the public service you’ll be providing — helping to make Big Talk even better than it is now!


BTW: Here’s the podcast of yesterday’s show with Cindy Brubaker. Try not to cringe when you hear my non-dulcet tones, okay?

Hot Air: Out Of The Past

Every once in a while (and even more frequently during this holiday season) I fetch an old Big Talk feature from the past and expand it to fit into my half-hour time slot on Thursdays at 5:30pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM. See, Big Talk used to be an eight-minute feature on the Daily Local News but just about a year ago, we went all out and turned this Glab-gabfest into a stand-alone program. In fact, the first full-length Big Talk aired January 4, 2018 with my guest, the then-newly-named Indiana state poet laureate, Adrian Matejka.

So that’s what I’m doing today. I grabbed the raw recording of my interview with restoration architect Cindy Brubaker and turned it into today’s show. She and I sat down in December 2016 and yakked at each other for a good hour. Generally, my raw interviews last anywhere from an hour to almost two, so when the show was only eight minutes long, plenty of great chat went unheard by the listening public. Cindy also was the subject of my second Big Mike’s B-town column in the Limestone Post. For the deeply trivia-addicted among the jillions of Pencillistas out there, the first BM’s B-ton was Dan “Carp” Combs. (Here’s the Combs BM’s B-ton, here’s the original Combs WFHB feature, and here’s the recent, expanded Big Talk with him.)

Anyway, Cindy’s been at this restoration game for a few decades now. Her first big project was the structure on the north side of Courthouse Square that used to house Pictura Gallery and is now home of VR Gaga, a virtual reality game center. Pictura, BTW, has moved to 202 S. Rogers St.. That’s ironic because that little intersection at 4th and Rogers has become — thanks in large part to Cindy Brubaker — a real art gallery and hip shop destination just west of downtown B-town. Call it our own little Soho.

The I Fell Complex.

Brubaker restored and runs the I Fell complex at that intersection. The old structure, originally built to house a Duesenberg dealership, is now home to the I Fell Gallery and the Rainbow Bakery. The Fell is across the street from Pictura’s new digs as well as some other arty places. On First Fridays you can park yourself right at that general locale and partake of doughnuts, wine, sculpture, paintings, photos, and all other sorts of something an old artist friend of mine used to call “the useless objects.” Yep, that’s what that friend, herself a sculptor, called art. I get her point but I’d quibble with her about art being “useless.”


Brubaker On The Job.

I enjoy speaking with women who succeed and exceed in fields traditionally reserved for men. BTW: a woman named Louise Blanchard Bethune is generally regarding as the first female professional architect in America. She started working at it long before our modern system of professional architect accreditation became entrenched. Before 1876 when Bethune went to work as an apprentice draftsperson with the noted Buffalo architects Richard A. Waite and F.W. Caulkins, an architect was pretty much a guy who owned his own drafting tools and told people he was an architect. Waite, it must be added, was hailed as a revolutionary groundbreaker for hiring Bethune, a —gasp! — woman.  I imagine he was pilloried for same as well.

Brubaker was formally trained as an architect but is not licensed in the state of IN. She serves as a consultant, working mainly with Springpoint Architects, a firm that occupies yet another building she’s restored. Restoration architecture is a relatively newish field. When Brubaker studied the practice at Columbia University in the 1980s, it was a largely unknown, unheralded pursuit. Not so now.

Anyway, I’ll let her tell that story and others this afternoon at 5:30 on WFHB, 91.3 FM.

And Another Thing

What is it about Bloomington and its streets? First off, in many places hereabouts it’s a 50/50 proposition that a given intersection will be marked with street signs. I harp on this all the time but if Bloomington hopes to become a biggish city, as some elected officials and real estate developers around here clearly crave, it’s got to provide biggish city services. Curbs and gutters, for one thing. Immediate replacement of missing street signs, for another.

And our numbering system is all fercockter. I refer you to the Pictura Gallery citation above. As noted, it’s located at 202 S. Rogers St. but it sits at the crossing of Rogers and 4th Street. That’s just dopey. I’d expect a place situated there to be numbered, say, 404 S. Rogers, but no.

This kind of thing bugs the latent obsessive-compulsive in me.

Hot Air: Bullish On Bookstores

How about that ol’ Rick Morgenstern? He used to own a terrific (so I’ve heard) independent bookstore over in the Eastland Plaza. I never got there myself because he’d closed the place before I came to this sprawling megalopolis in 2009. But everybody I talk to raves about it.

Morgenstern had some good fortune going for him, sitting pretty in a location w/ scads of parking and some decent foot traffic, both pluses for any biz but especially for a bookseller. Then along came that corporate steamroller called Borders and Rick fared about as well as a tiny beetle caught underneath the crushing wheels. He closed his store in the 1990s not terribly long after Borders opened up its superstore in Eastland’s anchor spot.

Borders, of course, among other missteps, invested hugely in music CDs — just in time for CDs to go the way of Betamax. Its parent corp., The Borders Group, died gasping and mewling in September, 2011. The Bloomington Borders had shuttered eight months earlier, on January 7. As Borders was moaning and groaning through bankruptcy proceedings, Barnes & Noble copped the Borders logo and the company’s customer list. And, wouldn’t you know it, now it’s Barnes & Noble that’s moaning and groaning, the nationwide corporation bleeding money for years and announcing it’s quitting Bloomington in February, 2019.

So now, apparently, Rick Morgenstern sees an opportunity. He’s thinking of opening another bookstore. Writes he in today’s online Herald Times:

I’m considering opening a new version of my store. If I do it, it will not only be a cool new indie bookstore, it will also offer other amenities such as food and drink, live performance and arts and crafts goods. This store will be a sweet and warm family gathering space just like our former bookstore.

Now that the Book Corner is Bloomington’s only remaining independent bookseller offering new product (Caveat Emptor sells used books), Morgenstern just might be on to something. The local bookstore as social locus works in places like Village Lights in Madison, Indiana.

I look forward to seeing Morgenstern’s dream become a reality.

[ h/t to Pencillista Chris Paputsas. ]

Highly Insulted

Do you read Jim Hightower’s columns on his website The Hightower Lowdown? Hightower’s the media gadfly who’s taken up the mantle of fellow Texan, the late Molly Ivins. Hightower also pens a weekly syndicated column for newspapers across this holy land. That is, those newspapers that aren’t run by rich-as-Croesus corporate overlords.

Those kinds of guys are awfully sensitive these days. They’re getting damned good at squelching any content that portrays them in a bad light (read: as they really are).

Hightower, for instance, not long ago wrote a column for distribution in which he lambasted the plutocrats who are in charge of the nation’s news media. Not that the suits haven’t run newsrooms and studios since forever but as recently as the late 1970s, coast-to-coast TV networks maintained a sort of benign, hands-off attitude toward their news-gathering ops. The presentation of bulletins (remember that term?) and daily newscasts was thought of as a public service. News deptartments weren’t expected to make money. They weren’t considered profit centers. They were, in fact, viewed by their CEOs and boards of directors as a nice thing they could do for society — or at least payback for the privilege of setting up otherwise-uber-profitable shop on limited, federally-administered airwaves.

Newspapers, too, were not considered terribly wise investments but rich folk continued to invest in them as a sort of beau geste, something they were obligated to do for the world in exchange for the gazillions they made in other, more lucrative rackets.

That all changed once the pathological deregulators of the Right killed the equal-time provision and the 24-hour cable news services took over our very way of thinking about the world. Now news has to make piles of doughs just as hamburgers have to generate revenue for McDonald’s or crystal meth has to enrich the global cartels of Mexico, China, Myanmar, and the United States.

Jim Hightower in a November column skewered the feces out of the oligarchs who’ve taken over our print and electronic news services. He came down especially hard on the vulture capitalists buying up newspapers like a bipolar insomniac with a modem and a couple of not-yet maxed-out credit cards. Hightower wrote:

They know nothing about journalism and care less, for they’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast by slashing the journalistic and production staffs of each paper, voiding all employee benefits (from pensions to free coffee in the breakroom), shriveling the paper’s size and news content, selling the presses and other assets, tripling the price of their inferior product – then declaring bankruptcy, shutting down the paper, and auctioning off the bones before moving on to plunder another town’s paper.

Wouldn’t you know it, Hightower’s column was spiked. Hightower’s distributor, Creators Syndicate, killed the piece because it didn’t want to offend the “hedge fund scavengers” (Hightower’s words) who own local papers that purchase content from it. Hightower told Austin Chronicle reporter Michael King: “Here we go with the irony again. A column about media concentration leads to media censorship — or I guess corporate self-censorship.”

News media long ago ceased being a privileged, sacrosanct pillar of society, a business that wasn’t really a business, sort of like religion. (Although religion learned how to be fabulously profitable eons ago.) Still, the Pollyannas among us still like to think journalism remains a public service, vital to society. And in some cases it is. There’s Democracy Now! and The Guardian and a slew of other struggling news-gathering and investigative agencies swimming valiantly upstream. But the number of people who get their news from such outfits is negligible. There’s me and maybe you and ten or twenty other people around the country who eschew ABC, CNN, USA Today, and the News Corp. divisions. People want to be entertained by news, to be scared to death by news, to be reeled in by continuing reports on the latest virus/terrorist threat/calamity/disappearance/scandal/superstorm/celebrity divorce/Trump tweet, to be, in other words, hooked. Those captive eyes mean big bucks, regardless of how the message perverts our perception of reality. As former CBS CEO Les Moonves famously said of the Trump candidacy in early 2016:

It may not be good for America but it’s damned good for CBS…. Man, who would have expected the ride we’re having right now?… The money’s rolling in and this is fun. I’ve never seen anything like this, and this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on Donald. Keep going.


Hot Air: Not So Fast

Before we get too giddy and gay and gaga over all the Cabinet members, department heads, and Republican congressbeings deserting Individual 1 these days, keep something in mind. All these sons (and daughters) of bitches either wholeheartedly endorsed Li’l Duce or tacitly supported him by not loudly objecting to his crimes against decency and the Constitution in the run-up to the 2016 election and through the early days of his reign.

Sure, scads of GOP-ers and their apologists are becoming fed up with the president’s delusional, uninformed, reactionary, borderline psychotic mode of leadership. Now. Why didn’t they kick up a fuss, say, 20 months ago? Because President Gag was remaking America in ways that delighted them to the point of climax. Like Godzilla tramping through Tokyo, he knocked over, crushed or otherwise destroyed as many consumer protections, environmental regulations, banking safeguards, necessary business constraints, racial and gender shields — anything, in fact, that made life a little easier and safer for those of us who don’t count our wealth in nine figures.

P. Gag, in fact, was doing every goddamned thing every Right Wing, fundamentalist, evangelist, greed monkey, prosperity gospel-ist has ever wet-dreamed about night after night since the the earliest days of the New Deal.

Now that he’s accomplished all that — and it says right here he’s the most effective* president we’ve had since the 1930s — all these SOBs (and DOBs) can pretend they’re worried about civilization and democracy.

[ * Not to be construed as meaning good. ]

So I’m not going to call for a parade for the likes of James Mattis and the rest of the Republicans who are growing disenchanted with someone who never, ever, ever deserved their enchantment in the first place..

Pete Speaks

Here’s the link to the podcast of yesterday’s Big Talk featuring South Bend Mayor (and possible 2020 presidential contender) Pete Buttigieg.

Big Talk airs every Thursday at 5:30pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM, or anytime online.

Hot Air: Today’s God-ists

Many of us remember a day when there was a whole swath of the pious population that was…, well, decent.

That is, if you ran into folks who professed to be godly, who claimed to have faith in some one and only true creator of the universe, who, for chrissakes, got down on their knees at night and prayed, you could be perhaps 50 percent assured that they’d be loving, caring souls. Many religious types actually gave a good goddamn about the homeless, the hungry, the sinners, the lame, the halt, the overindulgent, the rash, the suspicious, the loners, the foreign…, hell, all of us.

But now, at least the most vociferous of deity idolators are, quite frankly, jerks. Let the kids and the elderly in the caravan die — it’s their own fault. If you haven’t got the dough to afford health care, too bad. The homeless are lazy bums. Why should I help you?

Let’s go a step further. Tons of self-identified Christians are gaga over President Gag. To wit:

Or this:

Today, following their Dear Leader’s lead, many religious types don’t give a shit about the homeless, the hungry, the sinners, the lame, the halt, the overindulgent, the rash, the suspicious, the loners, the foreign…, hell, all of the rest of us

So how did this happen?

Naturally, I have a theory. For thousands of years, religion and faith in god was a way — the way, mostly — to explain the world. How did we get here? Why are we here? Where are we going? All those Q’s, seemingly, were answered by those who claimed to have an in w/ the Big Man. These explanations made us feel better. They took the fret out of everyday life. There’d be an eternal reward after we cashed in our chips. And all our pain and suffering was not for naught.

Virtually everybody bought into this, from the smartest philosophers to the most ignorant backwoods hunter-gatherers. Gradually, through the centuries, the most observant of the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Arabs, the Chinese, the Asian Indians and others started discovering that more and more things could be explained by natural processes. Science was born. The answers were less and less to be found in the Well, God did it school of thought.

This gradual chipping away of the role of god has brought us to the year 2018 where the belief in a creator threatens to fall below 50 percent of the pop. sooner rather than later. And a huge percentage of those who do hang on to their deism no longer see the Ultimate Boss as the be all and end all of everything. Ask any of your friends who continue to believe in god what that god is and you’ll most likely see someone struggle to answer. That answer, say, in the year 1862 would have been something on the order of He willed us into existence and controls all aspects of our lives. He created the birds and the flowers and knew from the onset whether we’d be good or evil. And so on.

Now, it’s more like, Um, god is a force or some such nonspecific evasion.

That’s because we don’t need him to fall back on as an explanation for How did we get here? Why are we here? Where are we going? And so on.

The curious among us, the observant, those who know what plate tectonics is, who are familiar with natural selection, and can tell you, briefly, what the Big Bang was and how long ago it happened, have weeded themselves out, to a large extent, from the legions of believers.

So who’s left among those ranks? A fast-growing share of them are people who “loved” god because he was all-powerful, was angry, was vicious, was vengeful, was a man, created women out of a man’s rib bone, ordered us to worship him and him alone in his first four Commandments, was inflexible, refused to forgive us unless we prostrated ourselves before him — rather like the fellow a minority of us elected to the presidency in 2016.

Sadly, the rolls of this holy land’s Judeo-Christian religions are more and more the incurious, the idolatrous, male-fetishist, authoritarians. They don’t love people; they love obeisance. God, to them, isn’t a unifier; he’s the almighty doorman, the existential ICE agent, filtering the “chosen” from the rest of us.

This doesn’t mean everybody who believes in god thinks that way. I know far too many good, loving, kind, decent souls whose faith is real and unshakable. Only they’re fast becoming the minority in the roll call of disciples.

The Religious Right’s infatuation w/ Li’l Duce isn’t puzzling at all.

Pete Patter

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced the other day he won’t be running for a third term in 2019. You remember Pete, don’t you? He was the chirpy young dude who waged an exciting campaign for chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2017. As his star ascended, some national publications even began speculating that — mirabile dictu! — Buttigieg might be a player when the Dems get around to choosing their nominee for president in 2020. And wouldn’t that be a Hoosier hoot, especially considering Pete’s an out gay man who, since then, has married his longtime male partner.

No link — paywall.

Buttigieg has presided over a mini-renaissance in South Bend, a working class town that went straight to hell after its auto industry collapsed in 1967. In fact, Newsweek magazine in 2011 named South Bend one of America’s 10 dying cities. Things are looking a tad brighter there these days; whether that can be attributable to Buttigieg or he was just lucky enough to be in office when the bounce-back happened is for smarter folks than me to quibble about.

In any case, Buttigieg remains a comer in Dem circles. Hell, the Washington Post the other day went out on a limb and flat-out declared he’s pretty much in the ’20 race. He visited Bloomington in June, 2017, to address a house party full of Democratic women (and a man or two). He spoke about the Democratic message and how the party ought to return to its roots championing the Little Guy.

I did an eight-minute feature on his chat that summer when Big Talk was but a short part of the WFHB Daily Local News. Now the Glab-gabfest is a stand-alone half hour program so — what the hell? — I figured I’d put an extended Pete piece on air this afternoon. So tune in to WFHB, 91.3 FM, today at 5:30pm to hear what he has to say.



Hot Air: Cold War

I may rile up one or two Pencillistas by saying this but so be it.

The whole kerfuffle over the Christmas-y song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” is definitely in the running for the least important issue ever to grab an appreciable share of mass media attention. And if you feel the horrors of its heretofore innocuous lyrics are pressing enough that you’re ready to take to the streets carrying a torch, well…, friend, you’re a reason why the patriarchy continues to keep its heel pressed firmly down on the necks of women, not only in this holy land but across the world.

The Powers That Be love — lo-o-o-o-ove — this kind of tug-of-war. It detracts and distracts from the real issues: the glass ceiling, the way we raise young males to be aggressive and young females to be submissive, and the abject fear far too many of us have of women assuming their rightful places in our global societies.

Big corporations and dick-waggling pols are thrilled that they get to fire disposable running backs, announcers, product endorsers, or lead actors for violating some suddenly-sacrosanct standard of language. They get off easily that way. It’s absolutely no foreskin off their junk. They look heroic but they get to keep their iron grip on power. They get to keep women in their place. And they get to slap each other on the back because not a goddamned thing has been changed.

Hell, we can make the playing of this insignificant ditty illegal — never let a soul hear it again — but we still elected a joke of president largely because tens of millions of us were terrified that some pantsuit-wearing elderly lady might become the Leader of the Free World. And women still make a fraction of the dollar less than men. Have I mentioned that scads of judges still have a wink and a nudge attitude toward young white men who are accused of sexual assault?

If you think a victory in this song melee gets women closer to parity with men, then expect full equality to arrive some time around the year 3073.

Hear Carp Speak

Here’s the podcast link for yesterday’s Big Talk featuring Dan “Carp” Combs.

%d bloggers like this: