Hot Air: Shattering Barriers

Papal Bull

I’ve been super busy (and mildly under the weather) the last week or so. That’s why I haven’t posted anything here in a while.

I’m still super busy (and still mildly under the weather) but a few recent happenings in the world at large demand I pontificate.



BTW: In case you didn’t catch the reference in the subhead above, there is indeed a thing called the Papal Bull. It is a hyper formal letter issued by the R. Catholic Church’s Big Poppa, usually having to do with things like excommunications, clarifications of church legal matters, and other hotsy-totsy decrees. The “bull” comes from the Latin bulla, a lead seal attached to the end of the letter to verify its authenticity. Sadly, the term papal bull is rarely used anymore, obviating newspaper headlines such as “The Latest Papal Bull.”

One more thing: The papal bull largely has been replaced by the papal brief. Sadly, again, newspaper headline writers have thus far refrained from printing the likes of “Francis Reveals His Latest Papal Briefs.”

The world could be so much more fun if I were king.


My most ardent Bernie-ista pals will scream bloody murder when they read this but news orgs. left and right last night and this morning proclaimed Hillary the “presumptive” Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential election.

The Associated Press, apparently, canvassed scads of super delegates and, by its math, determined that HRC now has enough delegates to put her over the top in Philly next month. The rest of the corporate media has taken the AP’s pronouncement as gospel and is similarly crowning Hill.

Does anybody realize what an earth-shaking happenstance this is? Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first woman to be nominated for prez by a major American political party!

That’s huge, babies.

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As huge as Barry Obama catching the nod in 2008.

I’d imagine even the most bilious of the Bernie gang that’s been slicing and dicing HRC non-stop since the beginning of the primary season would recognize the achievement. (One beat. Two beats.) Nah, who am I kidding?

Need I point out it’s been the Dems who’ve nominated the first female vice presidential candidate (Geraldine Ferraro in 1984), and the first black man and first woman to be (take your pick) Führer, Ayatollah, General Secretary of the Communist Party, Cocaine Addict-, Kenyan-, and Lesbian Murderer-in-Chief.

The Republicans, OTOH, have bestowed upon this holy land one Donald John Trump as their candidate for Grand Dragon-in-Chief.

And still there are misguided souls around the nation who swear there’s no diff. between the parties.


Of all the things Muhammad Ali (nee Cassius Marcellus Clay) accomplished in his life, the thing I respect most was his refusal to be inducted into the US Army during the Vietnam War.

“My principles,” he said, “are more important than money or my title.”

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He could have used his money and/or his influence as the one of the most well-known people on Earth to get out of serving in Vietnam. He could have moved to Canada and boxed all over the world. Professional baseball and football players by the score got out of service by enlisting in the National Guard during the war. That way, they’d only have to give up one weekend a month for training and drills. Ali didn’t do any of that. He reported, as ordered to the induction center and then, when his name was called, refused to respond.

He said:

No, I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.

That’s courage.

And I’m not going to cheapen his stance with mealy-mouthed praise of the bravery of soldiers who did go to Vietnam. I’ve been hearing a lot of that of late. What about the boys who served? What, indeed about them? I know many fellows who went to Vietnam. The lot of them have been damaged physically, emotionally, psychologically — you name it, they’ve suffered it.

They suffered so much because the horrors they witnessed, the killings they had to commit, the pain they experienced, were not justified by their nation’s inherent goodness. American soldiers in World War II saw just as many heads blown off, viscera spilled from riven abdomens, limbs separated from torsos, children riddled with rifle shots, towns, villages and big cities burned to ashes. These horrors could be processed sanely only with the understanding that their country was on the side of right and good. The hundreds of thousands of Americans who fought in Vietnam could fall back on no such rationale.

It was one thing to wipe out a town in an effort to halt the evil of the Nazis. It was quite another to to set fire to a Vietnamese hamlet for…, um…, er…, what was the reason for that again?

Muhammad Ali simply was fortunate enough to have had his consciousness raised by being a black man in America and a member of a religious group that didn’t consider itself fully American. He employed that knowledge to form his principled stance. Tens of thousands of other young men hadn’t yet shrugged off the yoke of patriotism, one that would blind them to their government’s lies. They did what they considered their duty.

So did Muhammad Ali. Only his duty was a lot less popular than theirs at the time.

June 7th Birthdays

Beau Brummell — Yep, there was indeed a fellow named Beau Brummell, and quite the fop he was, too. Born George Bryan Brummell, he ingratiated himself with Prince George, who’d go on to become England’s King George IV. Brummell, the prince, and other notables such as George Gordon, Lord Byron, became what were known as “dandies.” Under Brummell’s influence, the dandies began to wear neckties and an early version of the modern suit, they took to shaving and bathing daily, and paid special attention to their oral hygiene. Brummell would brag it took him five hours a day to complete his toilette and dressing.


Herman B Wells — Beloved and storied president of Indiana University, serving from 1937 through 1962.


Virginia Apgar — Pioneering obstetrical anesthesiologist who developed the Apgar Score, a method for measuring the developmental capabilities of newborns at five minutes, ten minutes, and — if needed — additional intervals. She studied neonatology and advocated for intensive care for babies born prematurely.

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Gwendolyn Brooks — Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet who wrote about black lives in the inner city. Her poetry dealt with drugs, racism, and poverty. She elected not to finish college because, she reasoned, she only ever wanted to be a writer and the only way to become a writer was to simply write.

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Tom Jones — Welsh singer and sex symbol. Women threw their panties at him as he performed on stage. He was much more than masturbational fodder, though, as illustrated by this duet with Janis Joplin:

Nikki Giovanni — American poet who was one of the more well-known of the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s. Her poetry championed the struggle for civil rights as well as Black Power. She was known as “the poet of the Black revolution.”

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On this date in 1967, the writer Dorothy Parker died. She wrote, “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

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Also on this date in 1965, the US Supreme Court ruled in the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, striking down a state law prohibiting married couples from using birth control. The Court cited “marital privacy” as the basis for its decision.


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