Category Archives: Antonin Scalia

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.” — Omar Bradley

BOOM!

WFIU reports that the US Army is staging a two-week nuclear explosion response simulation through mid-August right here in South Central Indiana.

Some 10,000 soldiers and civilian responders are play-acting what they’ll do in the event that some mad brown people drop a nuke on, say, Bloomington or even Indy.

The big burlesque is happening at the Muscatatuck Urban training Center, about 75 miles east-southeast of Bloomington.

Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (Click to enlarge)

MUTC covers a thousand acres and has more than a hundred training buildings including structures up to seven stories tall as well as good old split-level suburban type homes.

Now, I mention mad brown people because that’s who we’re really afraid is going to hurl the big one at us, no?

Didn’t George W. Bush whisper the words mushroom cloud and Saddam Hussein into our ears back in 2002 and 2003 to convince us to go along with him and his cronies on their war party? How much has changed regarding how we look at Arabs and Muslims since then?

When Michele Bachmann can get media mileage and a sharp increase in campaign donations out of linking one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aides with al Qaeda even now, we haven’t moved an inch off that witless, brainless dime in ten years.

Anyway, MUTC is located, appropriately enough, on the former site of the Indiana Farm Colony for Feeble Minded Youth. Adding to the irony of it all, the IFCFMY is where several thousand forced sterilizations took place after Indiana became the first state in the union to allow that eugenic practice.

I wonder if the people who ran IFCFMY instructed the kids to duck and cover back in the ’50s.

And how feeble-minded do we have to be to figure we’ll survive a nuclear blast if only we have enough ambulances and EMTs?

WHAT’S THE ANTIDOTE FOR ANTONIN?

I’ve been taking my time reading Rick Perlstein’s fab book, “Nixonland,” this summer.

Perlstein posits that Dick Nixon was the first television era president to give voice to the bleatings and ramblings of the gleefully uneducated in this holy land.

Rick Perlstein

Nixon’s was truly a grass roots campaign in 1968. He portrayed college-educated people as snobbish, superior, sex- and drug-crazed lunatics who were going to ram blacks, Jews, peace, welfare, and even a little bit of the Communist Manifesto down good people’s throats. Nixon was savvy enough to realize most Americans had a hard enough time getting out of high school.

He rode a wave of self-pity and manufactured paranoia into the White House.

The divisions Nixon capitalized on in the United States at the time make today’s Tea Party/Occupy Wall Street tête-à-tête look like a pillow fight.

Perlstein suggests that this nation avoided an actual second civil war by a hair’s width. Bombings, murders, assassinations, mob actions, and the army on American streets were as common from 1965 through 1973 as texting while driving is today.

Watts, August 1965

Anyway, during Nixon’s early years in the White House, PBS was coming into its own as a news operation to be reckoned with, especially since it didn’t have to answer to advertisers. PBS started nosing into some of the more unsavory aspects of the Nixon administration. The President directed the general counsel for the Office of Telecommunications Policy to draw up a plan to defang PBS.

That general counsel wrote memos spelling out precisely how Nixon could bring PBS to heel. He wrote: “The best possibility for White House influence is through Presidential appointees to the Board of Directors.”

Once Nixon had stacked the board with his boys, they could then work on local PBS stations to play ball with the White House through the granting of moneys that were originally meant to go to the national network. The reason? The national network was top heavy with people from “the liberal Establishment of the Northeast.”

In other words, college-educated men. Bad guys who must be battled.

The author of that strategy was a fellow named Antonin Scalia, now the longest serving member of the US Supreme Court.

Antonin Scalia: Warrior Against Liberals

Yeah, there was a revolution in the ’60s. Only the guys in power staged it — and won it.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present and CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Bloomington High School NorthYard sale to benefit the Color Guard; 7am-noon

City Hall, Showers Plaza — Farmers Market; 8am-1pm

Monroe County FairgroundsDay 8, 2012 Monroe County Fair, Veterans Program; 2pm — Dead Giveaway; 5pm — Demolition Derby; 7pm; Noon to 11pm

◗ IU Art MuseumTour: Exploring German Expressionism with docent Yelena Polyanskaya; 2pm

◗ IU Art MuseumTalk: Focus on Hockney with curator Nan Brewer; 2:15pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “David Hockney: The Bigger Picture”; 3pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Kumaré: The True Story of a False Prophet; 7pm

Bloomington Playwrights ProjectOriginal musical, “Dreams & Nightmares”; 7pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Jeb Brester; 7-9pm

Buskirk-Chumley Theater — “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; 7:30pm

Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Cari Ray, The Not Too Bad Bluegrass Band;  7:30pm

◗ IU Woodburn Hall TheaterRyder Film Series: “Polisse”; 8pm

Cafe DjangoDave Gulyas & Dave Bruker; 8pm

The Comedy AtticCostaki Economopolous; 8 & 10:30pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Oslo: August 31”; 8:30pm

The BishopJason Wilber, e.a. strother; 8:30pm

The BluebirdPam Thrash Retro; 9pm

Max’s PlaceLexi Minich and the Strangers; 9pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Bonz; 9:30pm

Max’s PlaceOtto Mobile; 10:30pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; opens Friday, August 3rd, through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Coming — Media Life; August 24th through September 15th
  • Coming — Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture; August 24th through September 15th

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite.” — John Kenneth Galbraith

THIS MEANS WAR!

Steven Higgs of the Bloomington Alternative ran a fascinating twoparter this month on the 1971 opening salvo in the right wing revolution that has turned this holy land into a corporatocracy. Don’t miss it.

Less than half a year before he was nominated by Richard Nixon to become a US Supreme Court Associate Justice, the then-rightist Lewis Powell wrote an explosive memo detailing what he saw as the coming war for free enterprise.

Powell, you may recall, retired in the middle of Ronald Reagan’s second term as president. By that time, he was seen as a moderate, a compromiser, the guy who could talk to both Antonin Scalia and Thurgood Marshall. In fact, many felt Powell was even too liberal for a Court and a nation that had moved dramatically rightward in the preceding 16 years.

Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy, an even more conservative jurist, to replace Powell. Now Kennedy is seen as the moderate, the compromiser, and, occasionally, too liberal for his own good.

The right has come a long way, baby.

Powell

Anyway, Powell, a big-time corporate lawyer and legal advocate for the tobacco industry, wrote that American capitalism was under attack on a variety of fronts 41 years ago. Everybody, he wrote, from Ralph Nader, the media, academia, the federal courts, communists  and “New Left”-ists, to outright revolutionaries were gunning for our sacred economic system.

Powell wasn’t speaking metaphorically either. He was convinced liberals were out to destroy America. His screed sounded like nothing other than a typical Rush Limbaugh upchuck.

For instance, Powell quoted a Fortune magazine diatribe against consumer advocate Nader:

“The passion that rules in him — and he is a passionate man — is aimed at smashing utterly the target of his hatred, which is corporate power. He thinks, and says quite bluntly, that a great many corporate executives belong in prison — for defrauding the consumer with shoddy merchandise, poisoning the food supply with chemical additives and willfully manufacturing unsafe products that will maim or kill the buyer.”

Nader, Powell asserted, was dangerous.

Dangerous

Funny thing is, a mere six years later it was learned that Ford Motor Company bosses knew their Pinto model was liable to explode in flames in rear-end collisions. Those execs also knew a certain number of Pinto drivers and passengers would die as a result. They decided that the deaths and resulting financial damage claims were simply the cost of doing business.

Dangerous, indeed.

In the Powell Memo, sent to members of the US Chamber of Commerce, he suggested corporate America and political leaders devote themselves to the “constant surveillance” of school textbooks and eliminate left-wingers from schools and positions of power.

“There should be no hesitation to attack,” he advised corporate leaders.

Yeesh!

Higgs concludes that the memo was “a literal call to the political arms that have (sic) subsequently driven the nation’s devolution from democracy to oligarchy.”

I suppose the only difference between today and 1971 is that, back then, the only people who would spout such psycho garbage were toady corporate lawyers. Now, the corporations have an entire Tea Party to parrot their paranoia.

LIZZ WINSTEAD’S BABY

Lizz Winstead created the fabulously successful Daily Show franchise that we think of as Jon Stewart’s baby.

It isn’t.

Winstead

Stewart came aboard two and a half years after the show was born. He replaced the smarmy-snarky, celebrity-gossipy Craig Kilborn as host. Toward the end of Kilborn’s run, he granted an interview to an Esquire magazine writer in which he suggested that Winstead would happily blow him. It was the last straw in Winstead’s long-standing battle against the comedy boys club that was taking over her show. She quit soon after.

Since her Daily Show stint, Winstead’s career has soared and dived. She co-founded the ill-fated Air America Radio network. She writes occasionally for the Huffington Post, has produced a few TV and radio shows, and now hosts a weekly New York City radio news wrap up program called “Shoot the Messenger.”

I was reminded of Winstead while reading a neat book called “¡Satiristas!: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians,” by Paul Provenza and Dan Dion. It was published by itbooks, a HarperCollins imprint, in 2010. In it Provenza chats with dozens of funny people about their art.

Winstead is included in the line-up. She tells Provenza that part of her comedic sensibility emanates from her conservative Catholic childhood home in Minneapolis.

She recalls facing her first adult dilemma as a teenaged girl.

“[T]he first time I ever had sex, in high school, I got pregnant. I knew I wasn’t having a baby, bu the way to get an abortion was so insane. Being brought up a Catholic, I didn’t know where to go, but one day I saw a sign on the bus for a place that said, ‘Abortion options.’ I thought, ‘Oh, there are many options.’

“So I go to this place, and it was run by some group called The Lambs of Christ. This woman comes out wearing a lab coat, so I’m thinking she’s some kind of doctor. Then I realized the women at the Clinique and Lancôme counters wear lab coats; she’s not really a doctor, lab coats are pretty much available anywhere. She shows me blow-ups of mangled fetuses and a picture of a kid on a bike. I’m like, ‘A bike?’ It was insane. I left completely confused. As I walked out the door, she was yelling after me, ‘Just remember, the choice you make is mommy or murder.’

“I thought, ‘I’m sixteen and here’s an adult, a “person of God,” impersonating a physician, just scaring the shit out of me.’ Even as a kid, I was, like, ‘That’s fucking weird.'”

Winstead’s 51 years old now, meaning the encounter took place 35 years ago, probably sometime in 1977.

Just four short years after the US Supreme Court’s landmark Roe vs. Wade decision.

Nashville’s The Tennessean newspaper reported Friday that 24 states passed new abortion restriction laws in 2011, more than any previous year.

Talk about fucking weird.

MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING

Written by Bruce Springsteen, performed best by Cyndi Lauper.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Democrats always like to brag that their guys are smarter than the opponents and Republicans always like to brag that their guys are more moral than the opponents. But if you’re looking for morals in politics you’re looking for bananas in the cheese department.” — Harry Shearer

DEMOCRACY

I generally rake Republicans over the coals in these precincts.

You may ask why I don’t extend the same courtesy to the Democrats. They are, in many ways, nearly indistinguishable from the Republicans these days.

The last two Democratic presidents have been what used to be referred to as Rockefeller Republicans. Despite hysterical pronouncements by Fox News faces and talk radio squealers, neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama are wild-eyed radicals.

Sheesh, quite the contrary. Like the Rocky Reps of yore, Bill and Barry are staunch defenders of those that have it even as they pay lip service to those that don’t.

Oh sure, Clinton and Obama were and are light years ahead of the GOP on things like the environment, race relations, and Supreme Court nominees whose resumes do not include tutelage under “Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS.”

Oh, and I’m not equating the likes of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas with the Nazis. I find this whole people-I-disagree-with-are-Hitler trend of the last decade or so downright infantile. But the Ilsa reference is too delicious to pass up.

Anyway, the Dems who attain high office these days are not quite as crocodillian as their Republican counterparts. But they’re getting there.

If Barack Obama is such an airplane-hijacking, rock-throwing, Islamic terrorist mole, then why has he surrounded himself with so many Goldman Sachs unindicted co-conspirators?

I lay off the Dems because, gee, they’re so pitiful.

I was raised in a Democratic family in a Democratic city in a Democratic state in a Democratic nation. That’s right: when I was just learning who was who in this holy land back in the mid-1960s, my president was Lyndon Baines Johnson, my governor was Otto Kerner, and my mayor was Richard J. Daley. All Democrats.

Richard J. Daley & Teddy Kennedy

Heck, the Democratic precinct captain in my childhood neighborhood, Barney Potenzo, a cigar-chomping, fedora-sporting party hack who visited our house at least once a month just to make sure our loyalty wasn’t wavering in the slightest, even convinced my mother to have the polling place in our basement a couple of times.

Those were exciting days. Some patronage stooges would dolly in the voting machines as well as boxes of supplies and canvasing sheets the day before the election. Then the next day the entire house would be awash in the aromas of coffee, hamburgers, and Barney’s cigar until late at night when the election judges and poll-watchers would be concluding their final negotiations to produce the obligatory local landslide for the Daley Machine.

On Election Day, I’d be sitting at the top of the basement stairs, listening and trying to see as much as I could. I was rapt by the process and the coffee-cum-cigar bouquet intoxicated me.

The first day we hosted the polling place, one of our neighbors, a little old Italian woman who’d finally been naturalized and was voting for the first time in her life tottered into the basement and told the judge she didn’t know what to do.

Barney Potenzo almost swallowed his cigar when he heard that. He dashed to the old woman’s side as fast as a shark who smells chum.

“Doan worry, Nonna*. I’ll take care a’ya,” he said as he put a vise-like grip on her elbow and whisked her toward a voting machine.

(*Nonna: affectionate Italian for Grandma, a familiar term of respect for a superannuated woman.)

In those days, the standard voting machine was an enormous green contraption that must have weighed a thousand pounds. The top half of the face of the machine contained a board with a list of the candidates for the various offices next to little levers that would make metallic plinks when they were flipped.

Plink

To vote, one would enter the booth and pull a big handle that automatically drew a red curtain, affording the voter a measure of privacy.

You might expect that I’d hear thousands of plink, plink, plinks throughout the day but we lived in one of the most dependable Democratic wards in the city so most voters plinked once, for a straight-ticket vote, and then went on their way, assured that any reasonable favor they’d ask of Barney Potenzo would be granted until the next election.

Barney would listen intently as each voter entered the booth. If he heard a single, straight-ticket plink and then see the curtain open up, he’d grin at the voter. “T’anks a lot,” he’d say, his cigar bobbing with each syllable. “Gimme a call, y’need anyt’ing, okay now?”

Woe unto the voter, though, whose moment in the booth produced multiple plinks. That meant she or he was wasting precious votes on Republicans. When those few voters exited the booth, Barney would eye them grimly, his jaw clenched.

And if they had the temerity to say goodbye to Barney, the precinct captain might deign to throw a cold, “Yeah, okay,” at them.

So, on this particular day, Barney led the frail old lady to a vacant booth and said, “Now, here’s whatcha do.”

He proceeded to show her the big handle that would draw the red curtains and then he pointed at the little levers next to the candidates’ names.

“Look up d’ere,” he instructed. “Y’see d’at little lever next to Democrat? Yeah, d’at’s it. Y’pull d’at one and d’at’s all y’gotta do. Yer done, see?”

The little old lady hardly had a chance to say thank you when a young, conscientious cop (each polling place had a cop to stand guard) dashed up and put his hand on Barney’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry,” the cop said, “but you can’t do that.”

The cop clearly was new to the force and from a station outside our ward. He didn’t know who he was messing with.

“What the goddamn hell are you talkin’ about?” Barney roared. “Donchyou tell me what the hell to do!”

“Watch your language, sir,” the cop demanded.

“Hey, sonny boy, whaddya, some kind reformer or somethin’? Mind yer own goddamn business,” Barney said.

With that, the cop whipped out his bracelets and cuffed Barney right there in my family’s basement. It was thrilling.

“I’ll be a son of a bitch,” Barney hollered.

“You’re under arrest,” the cop said.

I couldn’t wait to see the news that night, certain this little drama would be the lead story. (To my great disappointment, Barney’s arrest wasn’t even mentioned; I hadn’t fully realized yet what a huge city I lived in and how many times this scenario was probably played out in a hundred polling places that day.)

The rest of the voters and poll-watchers and election judges froze. No one could speak. It was as if they were watching a natural disaster slowly unfold before their eyes, a tornado maybe, or an earthquake. My mother wrung her hands.

As the cop led Barney out of the basement, the precinct captain shouted over his shoulder toward the Democratic election judge, “Call Louie!”

Louie Garippo was the Democratic Committeeman of the 36th Ward. The committeeman was the real power in the ward. The alderman usually answered to him. The 50 ward committeemen met every year with the Big Potato himself, Mayor Daley, to choose a slate for the upcoming election. They seemed to have an innate sense of what the Mayor wanted and would act accordingly.

In return, the Mayor allowed them a pro-rated number of patronage jobs to disburse, based on their relative loyalty and their most recent voter turnout. In the 36th Ward, Louie Garippo was so powerful he could have snapped his fingers and ordered the firing of every cop in the Austin District police station and replaced them with elementary school patrol boys.

The Democratic election judge asked Ma if he could use the phone and then raced upstairs to call Louie. “Y’better get over here quick,” he said into the receiver.

Louie arrived in a matter of minutes. He listened as the judge told him what’d happened. “I’ll be goddamned,” Louie said. Then he asked Ma for the phone.

“Hiya, Commander, this is Mr. Garippo of the 36th. I want you to do something for me,” he said into the receiver.

Louie was only on the phone for a scant few moments. After he hung up, he passed me and tussled my hair. “Hey, you’re gettin’ to be a big boy now,” he said. “I bet you can’t wait until you’re old enough to vote.”

“No sir,” I said.

My mother smiled even though she was still wringing her hands.

And before I knew it, there was Barney Potenzo, sauntering back into our basement, looking for all the world like a cat with feathers sticking out of his mouth.

He’d been chauffeured back to our home in a squad car driven, of course, by a different cop than the one who’d arrested him.

Barney’s Limousine

When he saw Louie, he gushed. “T’anks a lot, Mr. Garippo,” he said. “Some kinda punk kid, that police officer, huh?”

Louie Garippo only grunted. He hustled Barney to a corner of the basement and lit into him in a muffled voice. I couldn’t make out much of what he said beyond, “What’s the matter with you? Don’t you know any better than to….”

The new police officer on duty locked the door at six o’clock. The judges and poll watchers counted, negotiated, and drank coffee until two in the morning. Not that there was much to count other than an overwhelming number of straight Democratic votes. But Mayor Daley had a policy of holding back vote counts until after the Republican precincts in suburban DuPage County had reported.

Once he knew the Republican totals, then he could release a sufficiently higher number of votes from the city. The incumbent President Johnson destroyed Barry Goldwater in our precinct, as he did around the country that day. It was one of the greatest landslides in American history.

Who knows, maybe the Republicans learned something that day. The next presidential election year, 1968, saw Richard Nixon, utilizing the Southern Strategy, grab the White House.

The Republicans probably were tired of having elections stolen from them. The Dems, they knew, had ballot box-stuffing and jiggered vote counts down pat. The Republicans could never beat them at that game.

So, they pulled the scary black man out of their hat. Over the years, the GOP has utilized any number of scary bogeymen to counterbalance Democratic prestidigitation. There’ve been the commies, the fags, liberated women, atheists who won’t allow our kids to pray in school, brown terrorists, Manchurian Candidates, and socialists.

It’s a hell of a lot more efficient strategy than depending on cigar-chomping party hacks to turn in manufactured vote counts. In fact, the Dems probably don’t even know how to steal a vote anymore.

But the Republicans never run out of bogeymen to scare the electorate with.

That’s why I go easy on the party of my childhood.

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