Hot Air: Friday the 13th

Mom Knows

Susan Sandberg

Right off the bat, let’s salute Bloomington City Council member Susan Sandberg for her dedication, her strength, and her poise. She showed up for Wednesday night’s council session despite some major heaviness going on in her home life. That’s the way, SS says, Jane Sandberg would have wanted her to do things at this tough time.

You’ve made your mom proud, Susan.

One Race

Once again, scientific researchers tell us “race” is nothing. This even though society tells us it’s everything.


The Mark Felt movie has been in theaters for a couple of weeks now. Mark Felt: The Man Who Brougth Down the White House may well have been the biggest grossing movie of the ’70s had it been made and released, say, a couple of years after Watergate played out with the resignation and subsequent pardon of Richard Nixon. After all, All the President’s Men was the third-highest grossing film of 1976, exceeded only by Rocky and a remake of A Star Is Born.

All the President’s Men, in fact, depended hugely on the presence of the character ID’d only as “Deep Throat” for its dramatic thrill. Everybody alive in the US at the time, it seemed, was dying to know who DT was. Speculation ranged from a handful of CIA and FBI spooks to Nixon press sec’y Ron Ziegler to assistant White House counsel Fred Fielding to White House Domestic Affairs Advisor John Ehrlichman to even unindicted war criminal Henry Kissinger.

Trying to guess the identity of DT became a sort of national game with wits, wags, and opinion pushers tripping all over themselves trying to suss him out. It wasn’t until 2005 that former FBI No. 2 man Mark Felt, suffering from dementia and on his way out of this vale of tears, was tabbed by his family’s attorney. Investigative journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who cultivated Felt as their primary deep background source (ergo his moniker — a play on the eponymous, bizarre, 1972 porn film title) finally admitted he was the one after the revelation.

There was a sense of letdown when Felt was fingered. Drama kings and queens (like me) would have preferred DT to be Kissinger; that would have been in keeping with Henry’s sneaky, self-serving nature. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

In any case, director Peter Landesman has brought Felt’s story to the big screen and, as expected, it created a stir in the papers and news magazines but the ticket-buying public has been too busy yawning to turn it into a blockbuster. The flick hasn’t even made a million bucks thus far. Hell, it’s barely edged over the hundred-thousand dollar mark meaning, acc’d’g to one source, it’s the 385th biggest-grossing movie of the past calendar year.

That ain’t good. In fact, when I type “it’s been in theaters a couple of weeks now” I likely err. Go ahead, try to find a theater where it’s playing anywhere in this holy land.

It’ll probably do some biz as a stream offering over the next few years but no one will ever confuse it with Gone with the Wind.

In any case, the fact that this movie now exists got me to thinking about people who squeal. Was Felt a rat? In a sense, yeah. He only started telling the tale of Nixon White House evil-doings after he’d been passed over for the job as J. Edgar Hoover’s replacement following the original FBI director’s transition from this earthly plane to hell. Felt blabbed, it’s been said, because he wanted to get back at Nixon for selecting a cipher named L. Patrick Gray over him to lead the Bureau.

Whether that’s true or not it points out something about rats. Their only loyalty is to themselves. We may think rats are rare but, the truth is, in a rat-race economy, with the me-generation now fully in charge of government, business, and societal apparatus, rats are everywhere, even in organized crime.

If you’ve watched too many movies that mythologize the Mob, you’ll come away thinking its members hew to a perverse ethic, the Omerta. Hoodlums tell nobody outside the family — especially coppers — anything about its machinations or its members.


Which, flat out, is not true.

Almost every hood sings when the G or the local heat put the squeeze on him. Their entire lives have been given over to amassing personal wealth and standing, even if in doing so they have to break Commandments 6 through 10, inclusive. Their lives, in other words, are all about — only about — what’s good for them. The microsecond the Omerta comes in conflict with that goal, they violate it.

The vast majority of uber-ambitious, high-reaching figures in the corporate world or gov’t or any other playing field are as moral in that sense as all those big Outfit and Syndicate goons who’ve testified before Grand Juries and congressional committees in order to avoid going to prison for the rest of their lives.

America’s One Commandment long has been Thou shalt obey a code of ethics as long as it’s no skin off thy nose.

Mark Felt, if the most cynical interpretation of his motivations are to be believed, did what every hyper-achiever does: he served himself.

High ambition, stratospheric success, and the accumulation of scads and scads of wealth are utterly incompatible with being a decent human being.

The Drug Store

The Loved One dug this up:

Meanwhile, that very Congress has spent the last seven and a half years doing its level best to do away with a law that attempts to ensure health care coverage for virtually every American.

Jar Of Information

Ever wonder what distinguishes community radio WFHB from, say, a public radio station like WFIU?

Wonder no more. My guest yesterday on Big Talk was WFHB general manager Jar Turner who joined me to push along this week’s fall fundraiser.

Go here for the podcast of my chat with Jar.


Give once. Give every month. Or don’t give at all. Your choice. The Pencil’s going to be here no matter what.

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One thought on “Hot Air: Friday the 13th

  1. Susan Sandberg says:

    Thank you, Mike, I inherited a very tenacious family work ethic from two most excellent parents, Eugene and Jane Sandberg!

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