Category Archives: Andrew Breitbart

Hot Air

No Schadenfreude Here

So Fred Phelps is dead. Lots of folks on my side of the fence are expressing glee over his passing. Not me.

I’d always seen Phelps as a pitiable, extremely sick individual. No sane person could do what he did for so long and so conscientiously. He gave his entire life over to a campaign of senseless, pointless, self-destructive demonstrations of pure hate. Yet he never hurt anyone except himself. Even people who fought tooth and nail against same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ advancements in rights must have cringed every time Phelps’ psychopathy-distorted face appeared on a TV screen. I’d argue that he did more to advance the cause of acceptance and rights for non-straight people than any dozen LGBTQ activists.

Phelps

A Face Of Pain

If I feel anything, it’s relief that man whose life was poisoned by sheer self-induced misery finally is at peace.

OTOH: When Andrew Breitbart died, that was different. He was sane but a self-centered, miserable, lying, dangerous excuse for a human being. To this day I’m deliriously happy that Breitbart’s dead.

The Girl & The Jet

Notice how a judge ruled against the Spierers yesterday? The grieving parents of the missing IU student wanted to keep some evidence under wraps in their negligence lawsuit against two young men who spent time with Lauren the night she went missing.

Apparently, Robert and Charlene Spierer thought the release of all evidence might compromise a potential criminal case against anyone who might bear responsibility for their daughter’s disappearance. The judge ruled, whoa, all criminal and civil proceedings are open to the public.

Well, that’s not precisely true but this is not a case of national security or clear and present danger or even anything that might embarrass someone in a position of power.

Anyway, how many of us have forgotten about Lauren? It occurs to me that I really don’t even see those missing student posters and flyers that still adorn doors and shop windows around town. Natch, the Spierers will never forget. And Lauren’s story will become headline news once again when she’s found.

Poster

Part Of The Landscape

The whole thing still puzzles me. Lauren is our town’s MH Flight 370. How can a college student or an airliner simply disappear from the face of the Earth? Kidnappers and murderers aren’t arch-criminals. They don’t possess wondrous machines that allow them to daze and awe the law abiding world while they go about their nefarious business. Real-life bad guys leave clues. They’re sloppy. They’re careless. They’re human.

Of course, that missing Malaysian jet probably was not hijacked or blown up. That breed of criminal doesn’t often keep his evil deeds on the qt. The whole idea being he wants the world to know what a fearsome character he is. Run of the mill baddies don’t go trumpeting their stunts, sure, but 99.9 percent of the time they lack the smarts and the wherewithal to cover up their actions for too terribly long.

Flight 370 Family

Waiting

Meanwhile, the hundreds of family members and friends await word in Kuala Lumpur. As do a couple of parents in Long Island.

Credible Numbers

Statistics centerfold model Nate Silver is taking a lot of heat these days for a climate change article he ran on his new website 538. In the piece, author Roger Pielke, Jr. states that we’re spending tons more dough to clean up after climate-related disasters than ever before, not necessarily because storms are getting worse or more frequent but because the value of our damaged or destroyed assets has mushroomed.

Those trying to alert the gen. public to the dangers of climate change are apoplectic. They feel the 538 piece just might give folks the wrong impression about how costly C.C. already is, and will be in the near future.

Now we come to the point where every climate change argument falls on either side of a line separating canon from apostasy. Nate Silver and Roger Pielke, Jr. suddenly find themselves cast as villains, saboteurs, heretics.

A few climate scientists are saying Pielke’s statistical methodology was suspect. Maybe. But Silver and those who work with and for him have virtually unassailable reps when it comes to crunching numbers.

It seems, though, that the criticisms come from the corner of the human psych that holds that established wisdom must never be challenged, even if the challenge is the splitting of hairs over a few dollar figures. Certainly acceptance of climate change is established wisdom these days, at least among those who are nominally sane. Sure, troglodytes like Sen. James Inhofe may believe climate change is a hoax and, yes, he’s in a position of power to do something (or, far more likely, nothing) about it. But the scientific community and we lay folks who consider ourselves well-read buy into forecasts of potential global climate disaster.

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

Given that, anybody who dares to suggest things aren’t as dire as the most alarmist of us might believe is seen as the enemy now.

Climate change is real, and a real danger; only let’s not get sloppy with the evidence. That’s all Silver and Pielke are saying.

Hot Air

The State Of The Prez

Now and again I feel I have to defend Barack Obama before my Far Left/Radical/Anarchist friends and acquaintances.

Republicans, Me Party-ists, professional paranoiacs, and others may portray the Prez as the second coming of Karl Marx/Joseph Stalin/Osama bin Laden (or even ObL himself), but the rational among us know that Obama is about as centrist as anyone can be. He is, it can be said, a human gyroscope, spinning on a tightrope pulled on by the ghosts of Andrew Breitbart and Howard Zinn.

As such, he infuriates both ends of the political spectrum, much as our previous hyper-centrist Democratic president, Bill Clinton, did.

Here’s an irony: both the Far Left and the Far Right call Obama a fascist.

Mussolini HQ

Italian Fascist Party Headquarters, 1934

Anyway, my lefty sisteren and brethren become apopleptic every once in a while in reaction to some sin the Obama administration has committed. For instance, the F-word (not that one; this one) was dropped indiscriminately when Edward Snowden was flitting around the world looking for a country that is notorious for its news media repression where he could find freedom. It was the Obama Fascist State, of course, that’d driven the delightful young man to seek asylum in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Natch, I think describing Barack Obama as a fascist is way over the top. That’s because I read books and they tell me about people who have been real, honest-to-gosh fascists in this cruel world.

Apparently, some people believe the word fascist means anyone you don’t agree with.

So, I feel compelled on occasion to defend Barack Obama (and myself) against charges that he’s the worst human being since Dr. Mengele. I did, after all volunteer for the Obama primary campaign in Kentucky during the 2008 election season. I, in my miniscule way, helped get this fascist elected. I had, I try to convey to my angry interlocutors, the best of intentions. Honest.

Make no mistake: I’ve been disappointed by much of what Obama has done as this holy land’s Kenyan-in-Chief. I wanted single-payer universal health care. I wanted the Goldman Sachs stink washed out of the world’s economy. I wanted the speeding train of privatization slowed down (at least). I could scream while pounding my fists on the sidewalk, as others do, that Obama betrayed me.

I won’t though, because I understand that no matter how much I loathe what the Far Right and the Me Party-ists stand for, they still deserve to get much of their way as part of the normal give and take of a democratic republic. Not only does Barack Obama understand that as well, he realizes, too, that he cannot govern unless he throws bones to those he profoundly disagrees with. And he has.

BHO

Tightrope Walker

It occurs to me, ergo, that any time a huge swath of the American public is deliriously happy with a Prez, somebody’s getting roundly screwed.

It also occurs to me that any Prez who is roundly despised by both ends of the spectrum just might be doing a bang-up good job.

Sunday Morning Hot Air

Hit Or Myth?

The brutal murder of Matthew Shepard back in 1998 really kicked Americans into high gear to begin accepting gay people.

Shepard

Matthew Shepard

Before Matthew Shepard, most straight people in this holy land (that is, pretty much most people) shrugged when the issue of gay rights came up. After Matthew, only hard-core haters and fundamentalist zombies found it acceptable to heap scorn upon homosexuals. Without Matthew Shepard, gay marriage probably would have been an easy ten years down the road rather than the expanding right it is today.

The young University of Wyoming student’s execution was the equivalent of Bull Connor’s police dogs and fire hoses being used against black civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama in May 1963.

Shepard Fence

Crime Scene

The kid’s death became a touchstone for anyone who wanted to declare her- or himself a supporter of GLBTQ concerns or, for that matter, any minority group. Just saying the name Matthew Shepard and shaking your head sadly communicated to one and all where you stood on a huge variety of issues.

If ever there was a martyr, it was Matthew Shepard.

Now comes a book that portrays Shepard’s killing as revenge for a drug deal gone bad.

The Book of Matt posits that Shepard was a meth user and a mule. The author suggests he’d screwed up an associate’s deal and was whacked for it.

Sounds like a history-jumbling invention by some holy roller who is certain homosexuality will be the downfall of Murrica. The book could have been written by one of the thankfully dead Andrew Breitbart’s apostles or Jerome Corsi or some paranoiac loon from World Net Daily.

Google the words matthew shepard book and take a wild guess what comes up first (below the obligatory ad for several such tomes). Yep, a Fox news headline about Shepard’s purported drug involvement:

From Google

Despite the current general distaste for homophobia, there are still enough dopes out there who are so petrified of catching gay cooties that they gaze fixedly at Fox News for warnings that compulsory sodomy is just around the corner. Oh, and that gay people are really nothing more than meth heads.

The whole thing is creating yet another new brand of Truther-ism, whose goal is to skewer the “gay grievance industry.”

Surprise: Author Stephen Jimenez is gay.

Jimenez

Who Is This Man?

Already, folks are jumping with both feet on Jimenez’s methodology, research, and conclusions. At best, Jimenez is a courageous defender of the truth, at worst a gay analog to the self-hating Jew.

Me? I don’t care what Stephen Jimenez is. For that matter, I don’t care what Matthew Shepard was. I didn’t need the story of his murder — true or not — to be on the side of humanity. All humanity.

It’s a damned shame America needed such a gory story to kick it over to the right side of history and morality.

Your Daily Hot Air

Ghoulish Giving

NPR stations around this holy land probably do this, too, but I’m only familiar with the act as committed by Bloomington’s own WFIU.

That is, the really creepy begging on-air for you, the listener with a foot in the grave, to write the public radio station into your will.

A little promo runs every day on Morning Edition. Some somber-ish music plays in the background as the announcer tells us we can make “an investment in WFIU’s future” and leave behind a valuable legacy. The financial support page on WFIU’s website expands on the concept. It tells us that these are “Gifts that cost you nothing during your lifetime,” as if the station’s doing us a big favor. The page also gives us options for giving cash, stocks, real estate, or other personal property. It even shows us how to make that very last donation by signing over our life insurance or retirement plan benefits.

Undertaker

“But First, Let’s Sign Those Papers.”

I know the ad is directed to us all in general, but I can’t help thinking about the poor souls who are pushing 85 or 90 and maybe have an electrical system that’s about to short out.

The station is saying, sans all the prettified verbiage, “Hey, when you’re dead, can we have your money?”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, public broadcasting needs our support. The Loved One and I pitch a c-note over to WFIU every year, natch. And, yeah, the Republicans every once in a while threaten to cut off federal funding for NPR because, as we’re all well aware, public radio endorses forced sterilizations and compulsory abortions and works feverishly behind the scenes to convert all white children into homosexuals. Nevertheless, we continue to listen and want to help pay for Will Murphy‘s fleet of Maseratis.

(And, BTW, every time the Republicans threaten to cut off funds, public  radio and TV fundraising phones jump off the hook.)

Anyway, I dig that public broadcasting fundraisers must be creative. I mean Garrison Keillor’s not gonna pay himself for his valuable time. Still, this legacy business is really unseemly.

Look, my brother has made himself a nice, tidy pile over his lifetime and, don’t get me wrong, I’ve put the touch on him once or twice, or was it half a dozen times? — no matter — the point is, even I wouldn’t have the cagliones to say to him, “Hey, Joey baby, I was just thinking, wouldja mind filling out a nice round figure for me in your last will and testament and, oh yeah, I think I’d look awfully good behind the wheel of that Chrysler 300 of yours.”

I don’t want to get all Bob Greene-y on you here, but I don’t think this kind of ghoulishness would have flown even twenty years ago.

Greene

Yes, That Bob Greene

[Big Mike Note: While I was googling pix for this post, I discovered that there’s a whole genre of erotica surrounding sexy babes and hearses. I have absolutely nothing to say that would make this addendum any funnier or snarkier. I just want you to know about it.]

I Am Love The Walrus

As you know, without Wonkette, I would be blissfully unaware of every important development in this crazy, mixed up world. And, (h/t to Doktor Zoom of Wonkette) here’s what’s important to the lunatics employed by the thankfully dead Andrew Breitbart’s network of interwebs agit-prop sites: this holy land’s advertising industry and Hollywood are in cahoots to foist bestiality upon us.

Yup. As evidence, John Nolte of Big Hollywood last year cited a weird little commercial for Skittles in which a couple of hot tomatoes talk about their sizzling love for walruses who gobble the multi-colored candies.

Indeed, nothing like pix of chix making out with walruses to entice Murricans to try animal sex.

OTOH: I have to wonder if bestiality really is on the rise. What else, after all could explain the existence of Breitbart bloggers better than the coupling of Homo Sapiens sapiens and Pan troglodytes?

Chimpanzee

Hey, Baby, How ‘Bout It?

I Am In Love With A Sheep

Redux on this vid; I’m fairly certain I’ve run it before, but it’s always worth a reprise. This is the single funniest wordless double-take in the history of film. And it’s proof that Gene Wilder was a comic genius. Go ahead, laugh out loud, even if you are at work.

Your Daily Hot Air

Raison D’Etre

Sometimes I wonder why I push this boulder up the mountain on a daily basis. The Pencil isn’t making me rich. Nor have millions bookmarked this site. But, like pizza, the Cubs, and taking naps, writing the Pencil is irresistible for me. I can no sooner stop churning out these screeds than I can abstain from turning the air conditioning down to 70 degrees seconds after The Loved One has dialed it up to 72.

There are rewards in this Sisyphean endeavor. I seem to have attracted a number of very nice, decent, and thoughtful conservative readers. For instance, check the comment by Mari Loosen under yesterday’s “Abortion: It’s A Laff Riot” entry.

Now, Mari and I understand that the only thing we agree upon is the fact the the sun rises in the east, and even that might be open for debate on certain days. No matter. She reads the Pencil, well…, religiously.

But the last thing we’d ever do is call each other names. So this tiny space on the interwebs is our way of standing up for civility in this very uncivil world of political debate.

Satan

We Disagree; Ergo, You’re Satan

I’ll continue to come down as hard as I can on Right Wingers who are unreasonable or destructive. And willful stupidity makes me want to throw tomatoes at those who parade it proudly. But anyone who wants to argue for a rational, heartfelt conservatism is always welcome here.

I’m thankful for everyone who’s a Pencillista.

Bad Guy

Now, then. Let us consider one of those unreasonable, destructive Right Wingers who wallow in willful stupidity.

That would be one James E. O’Keefe, the noted video saboteur and revolutionary Tory.

You may remember him from his appearances on national television in this get-up:

OKeefe

Yeah, O’Keefe’s the upper middle class white boy who disguised himself as an inner city pimp so he might create havoc in an office of ACORN, the international social service agency.

ACORN’s aim was to help poor people, simple as that. But since the folks who ran the org. didn’t run away shrieking whenever anybody used the term “social” to describe it, Cro-Magnons like O’Keefe immediately assumed they were “socialist,” much like the Kenyan-born Manchurian Candidate who’d stolen the office of President of the United States and who was driving them to extremes of lunacy they’d previously managed to keep hidden.

O’Keefe and some equally well-fed female cohort pretended they were a pimp and a streetwalker trying to get ACORN to finance their illegal sex enterprise, their way of showing that community organizations and social service agencies are more interested in destroying the fabric of society than, y’know, helping people. They played their roles as a hidden camera rolled. Then, using misleading edits, they spliced together what they thought was a damning video indictment of all things liberal. Their end goal was the downfall of ACORN.

Social Service

Another Commie, Helping Someone

And guess what: they succeeded.

Repugnican Congressbeings and their spineless Democratic counterparts bought the scam hook, line, and sinker. Federal funding for ACORN was cut off and the ensuing shit-storm of bad pub dried up the agency’s other sources of revenue. Next thing you knew, ACORN was out of biz and poor folks who’d come to rely on them to help in matters of voting rights, housing, safety, health care and other things that come by divine right to upper middle class white punks like O’Keefe could just go straight to hell.

And that wasn’t O’Keefe’s only sin. He was busted along with three henchmen trying to bug Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s office in 2010. He secretly recorded NPR executives. He misrepresented and slandered Planned Parenthood, and more. Overall, his deviousness would make Tricky Dick Nixon’s rat-fuckers envious.

And perhaps worst of all, he now writes for the thankfully-dead Andrew Breitbart’s eponymous online orgy of yellow journalism.

I bring this chucklehead up not for gratuitous purposes, although, I’d be thrilled to eviscerate him for no better reason, but because he has somehow conned a reputable publisher to put out a book of his verbal emesis. Or should I say formerly reputable?

Anyway, most of you know I’m also a bookseller. I peddle ’em at the Book Corner, Bloomington’s only remaining independent book store. Yesterday, I posted a mini-manifesto on the Book Corner’s Facebook page. I thought I’d share it with you here:

A Bookseller Draws A Line In The Sand.

Hello, Book Corner fans, customers, and supporters. This is your loyal and congenial bookseller, Michael G. Glab, more familiarly known as Big Mike.

As you know, I have never quibbled with any customer over her or his choice of reading material. I have happily sold even Bill O’Reilly’s assassination-porn series of books. I’ve always believed that reading is a good thing, regardless of the topic (even tarot stuff and James Patterson novels.)

But I must make a stand here and now. Today, Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, released a book written by James O’Keefe, the self-styled “citizen-journalist” whose ambush methods and “creative” video editing style have resulted in numerous sabotaged careers, the destruction of a national social service agency, and innumerable instances of deception, prevarication, and dissembling designed to confuse participants in the arena of political discourse. The book is entitled Breakthrough: Our Guerilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy.

The book, like the man who purportedly wrote it (I am aware of no evidence at this time that he is able to read and write), is dangerous. Therefore, I can not in good conscious sell it to you in the unlikely event that we should stock it.

With all due respect, if you approach me and ask for the book, I will politely request that you take your custom elsewhere. I am certain there is a perfectly good bookstore in Hell that is even now stocking the book.

Happy Reading!
Big Mike
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You know, business is business and all that, but sometimes a guy just has to follow his conscience.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.” — Fran Lebowitz (h/t to RE Paris)

GOOD RIDDANCE, ANDREW BREITBART

“I’ve never killed a man but I’ve read several obituaries with glee.” — Mark Twain

Andrew Breitbart is dead. The Earth is now a better place.

Like Twain, I don’t care much for gloating when a bad guy dies but in this case, Whoopee!

Gone, Baby, Gone

Breitbart was a character assassin, an amoral ideologue, an agent provocateur, and, well, a dick of the highest order.

Here’s the difference between a warthog like Breitbart and a human being of decency. When Shirley Sherrod heard about his death, she said, “The news of Mr. Breitbart’s death came as a surprise to me when I was informed of it this morning. My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart’s family as they cope during this very difficult time.”

Sherrod: A Gracious Victim

This from a woman whose career serving in government was derailed by a phony-assed, maliciously edited video produced by none other than Mr. Breitbart.

And speaking of phony-assed, maliciously edited videos, it was Breitbart’s airing of the ACORN footage that led to that social service organization’s eventual bankruptcy and demise. Nice work, Andy-baby, pissing on all those folks who need food, housing, and legal services for your own professional advancement.

Naturally, the Republican candidates for president are mourning his passing as though a great public servant is gone from the scene. Rick Santorum calls his death a “huge loss, in my opinion, to our country.” Mitt Romney remembers him as a “loving husband and father.”

“Aw, He Was Such A Nice Guy.”

Reminds me of when any notorious Outfit boss kicked the bucket back in Chicago. No matter that he’d been responsible for corrupting labor unions, forcing the Mob’s way into legitimate businesses, and murdering loan sharks, recalcitrant shopkeepers and potential witnesses, his neighbors would say he was such a nice guy and a real fine family man.

Hey, people, even A. Hitler was kind to his dog Blondi. That doesn’t excuse him for his evil acts.

Anyway, Breitbart — though not Hitler or a capo, but profoundly destructive in his own way — joins such luminaries as J. Edgar Hoover, George Wallace, Orval Faubus, Curtis LeMay, and Lee Atwater in the pantheon of dead evil Americans.

It’s irrelevant that he was “a loving husband and father.”

“Welcome To Hell, Andy!”

PAYING THE PIPER

Now that Mayor Mark Kruzan doesn’t have to worry about reelection for a while, he can level with Bloomington voters about the state of the city’s finances.

They ain’t good.

Kasey Husk of the Herald Times reports this morning that Kruzan says there are “dark clouds on the horizon” for us.

Potential Cover Shot For Bloomington’s Annual Financial Report

The reason Kruzan waited until now to drop the bomb on us, apparently, is the potential that voters could have blamed him for the economic mess we’re in. That would have been stupid, of course, but then again no one ever accused the electorate, either here or nationally, of being remarkably brilliant.

Smart Enough To Know We’re Not All That Smart

Hell, an entire major political party is fired up by proud anti-intellectualism. (I won’t even link to that party — you can guess which one I mean.)

So no, the city’s empty pockets aren’t Kruzan’s fault.

But we know where the blame primarily lies — all those clever, conniving, duplicitous investment banking house unindicted felons who played our economy for hundred of billions of dollars in fees and bonuses and left it dry.

Check out Michael Lewis’s book, “Liar’s Poker” for an early snapshot of the unregulated, greenback-worshipping, hyenas that populated Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Wall Street money-squeezers back in the mid- and late-80s.

Not a one of those reprobates has ever served a minute in jail. Yet guys like Mark Kruzan have to worry that voters may turn on them because of the sins of Wall Street.

We can only hope there is a hell so that Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, and the rest of their aiders and abettors can join Andrew Breitbart in it.

IT’S ALL RELATIVE

With Russia’s presidential election three days away and Vladimir Putin looking like a shoo-in, we’re being inundated by news stories and commentary about what a despot the former KGB spook is. Deep thinkers are howling about how un-democratic the supposedly-now-democratic heart of the former Soviet Union is.
No doubt Putin’s goons have had “meetings” with dissenting journalists, his spies have added a dash of “strychnine” to the soup of neighboring pols or fed polonium pellets to expat whistle blowers, and his PR flacks are hard at work manipulating the minds of Russian couch potatoes.

That’s all true. Plus, Putin is such a charismatic tough guy that when he met the notoriously untraveled George W. Bush, this holy land’s president-at-the-time tumbled into a deep man-crush over him.

Putin Porn

Yesterday, though, I caught another side of the story. Former IU writing professor Erlene Stetson and her husband visit us at the Book Corner nearly every day when they’re in town. Her husband was born in Germany and they keep homes in both countries.

The husband — whose name I never catch because we start talking about world events and history immediately, leaving little time for idle chit-chat and social niceties, so let’s call him Mr. Stetson — started ruminating about Putin and Russia.

“It is amazing,” Mr. Stetson said, “how things have changed in Russia.”

He was talking about the Russia of today vis-a-vis that of such sweethearts as Joseph Stalin and his successors.

Mr. Stetson pointed out that even if the Russian press and TV outlets are manipulated and intimidated now and again, they’re still a hundred-fold freer than the old state media apparatus was under the Communist General Secretaries.

He also says the recent mass protests against Putin and Russian voter fraud would never, ever have been tolerated in the Soviet days.

Russia, 2012

Eastern Europeans of a certain generation view the new Russia in a state of near-awe these days, according to Mr. Stetson. Not that they envy Muscovites and the like, just that the relative relaxation of traditional Russian authoritarianism is so jarring in comparison to the bad old days.

Of course, it’s easy to look good when the object of comparison is a tyranny that, under Stalin, murdered tens of millions of people to maintain discipline, advance ideology, and just for the fun of it.

This reminds me of revisionist historians who decry the so-called Fathers of Our Country for owning slaves and treating women as decorative appendages.

White men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did indeed “own” human beings, including their lovely brides.

“Property”

Viewed through today’s lens, Washington and Jefferson appear to be monsters.

In their own day, though, the framers of the US Constitution were the most progressive thinkers on the face of the Earth. They eschewed divine authority and legislated nobility out of existence. Yes, the only US citizens that counted were white male land-owners.

But that was a hell of a leap forward from previous social set-ups. We’ve been taking leaps in fits and starts ever since.

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

MERCEDES BENZ

“The Lord” and Money — perhaps this should be our national anthem.

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