Hot Air

Do They Follow Or Lead?

The Indy Star tells us this morning the “religious freedom” bill that passed the Indiana House yesterday is “controversial.”

Indy Star

Um, let me correct the equanimous editor who concocted that headline. The bill passed 63-31, which, in political horserace terms, is a goddamned landslide. You see, it’s obvious the entire nation is four-square against this gay marriage stuff and our esteemed statehouse representatives are merely reflecting that will of the people.

I mean, am I right? It couldn’t be that our state legislators are woefully out of touch with the zeitgeist of the 21st Century, could it?

Here in Indiana?

Send Him To Hawaii

As of nine o’clock this AM, Owen V. Johnson has raised only $70 of the $3000 he’s aiming for in his gofundme effort to get to Honolulu. He’s hoping to get there so he can participate in a ceremony noting the 70th anniversary of the death of Indiana’s own Ernie Pyle, the nation’s most famous and beloved combat correspondent during World War II.

Johnson is a retired Indiana University prof. of journalism and is known as the nation’s foremost expert on Pyle. He’s been invited to give the commemoration address at the dedication of a new gravesite for the legendary Hoosier. The only things standing between him and the April ceremony are 4200 or so miles, airfare, hotel accommodations, cab fare once there, and maybe enough scratch for a few decent meals.

Johnson

Owen Johnson

Johnson has set up the crowd funding page to cover his expenses. One of his biggest cheerleaders is City Council member Steve Volan who calls Pyle “one of the greatest Hoosiers who ever lived.”

Pyle, born near Dana, Indiana, in 1900, served in the US Navy Reserve during World War I and attended IU after peace broke out. He studied journalism here and edited the IDS. After graduation, Pyle went to work for the Washington Daily News where he eventually became something of a travel correspondent. His editor there described his writings as having “a Mark Twain quality.” His travel columns eventually were syndicated nationally.

Pyle became a war correspondent in 1942 and, unlike other journalists covering the action, he shunned hanging around the generals and commanders, preferring instead to hunker down in the mud with the grunt soldiers. His focus on the little guys endeared him to the nation’s newspaper readers. In fact, he even suffered what used to be known popularly as “battle fatigue” and was officially termed “war neurosis.” (It’s now called PTSD.) For instance, he wrote of visiting the French town of Falaise immediately after a vicious battle there: “Everything is dead. The men, the machines, the animals — and you alone are left alive.” Historian Rick Atkinson writes of Pyle’s mindset after Paris was retaken in The Guns at Last Light, the third volume of his Liberation Trilogy about the Western European campaign:

Among the Allied casualties was Ernie Pyle. “If I ever was brave, I ain’t any more,” he wrote a friend. “I’m so indifferent to everything I don’t even give a damn that I’m in Paris.” The war had become “a flat, black depression without highlights, a revulsion of the mind and an exhaustion of the spirit.” In a final column from Europe, he told his readers, “I have had all I can take for a while. I’ve been 29 months overseas since this war started; have written about seven hundred thousand words about it…. The hurt has finally become too great.”

Pyle recharged his batteries in the US and then went back to covering the war in the Pacific. On the atoll island of Iejima, he was riding with a regiment commander in a Jeep when the vehicle came under fire from a distance machine gun nest. Pyle and the lieutenant colonel jumped into a ditch until the firing stopped. The two peeked over the rim of the ditch and Pyle, smiling, asked the colonel, “Are you alright?” At that moment, he caught a machine gun bullet in the left temple. He was killed instantly. The date was April 18th, 1945.

Pyle

Ernie Pyle

Pyle was buried first at the Army cemetery on Okinawa and then transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu. He was one of the very few civilians awarded the military’s Purple Heart.

If you figure it’s worth it to kick a few dollars into Johnson’s kitty for the trip, do so. Go here.

Make It A Fair Fight

Al Jazeera America reported yesterday that the magnificent African elephant is nearly extinct. The cause? Poachers are killing the creatures for their tusks.

African Elephant

Beauty

As of now, the elephants are just a few decades from disappearing in the wild. The world has lost some 80,000 members of the species to poachers in the last eight years. Man, I wish elephants could fire guns, just so they could have a chance against the bastards.

Boggling The Imagination

The foreign-born Ted Cruz utilizes a secret weapon in his stump speech, according to a BBC online magazine post. He used the word “imagine” some 38 times during his candidacy announcement yesterday at Liberty University in Virginia.

Political reporter Anthony Zurcher writes that Cruz’s speaking style is a “cross between Atticus Finch and Tony Robbins.”

Cruz

Imagine This Man As President

Zurcher cites political strategist Frank Luntz re: “imagine”:

‘Imagine’ is still the most powerful word in the English language because it is inspiring, motivating and has a unique definition for each person. When you want to inspire, imagine is the language vehicle.

In other words, “imagine” conjures up whatever the hell the listener wants to believe. Which pretty much encapsulates the strategy of too many of today’s pols.

Me? I see Cruz as a lot like Robbins and not so much at all like Atticus.

Groupie Nuns

Sounds like a punk band name, no?

A gaggle of cloistered nuns almost knocked Pope Frankie over during his visit to a cathedral in Naples this past weekend. They charged him in an effort to touch, presumably, the hem of his garment.

Pope Francis

Rock Star

On the other hand, one cardinal also in attendance shouted as the nuns surrounded the Pontiff, “They are going to eat him! Sisters! Sisters!”

Can the Catholic church get any psycho-sexually weirder?

Selfie Nonsense

I thought you’d get a kick out of this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 1.10.45 AM

In the real world that I inhabit, this poor dope would either be sucked out of the cockpit and tumbled to his certain doom or the force of the near 600-mph wind drag would sever him at mid-thorax like a deli slicer cutting through a fresh Genoa salami. That is if he could even get that cockpit window open, which he couldn’t because it’s a pressurized cabin.

The kicker is there are enough people in this mad, mad world who believe this kind of bushwa to constitute, say, an entire political party.

Our World, Take It Or Leave It

From New York University prof and social media marketing guru Peter Shankman:

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