Category Archives: Barack Obama

Hot Air: Loads Of It

The Illusion

I hate like hell to admit it, but John Steinbeck was right:

The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 10.28.34 AM

Honesty, Honestly

Has it occurred to you that this Obama administration, now well into its eighth year, has been shockingly free of venal scandal? I mean, I can’t think of a single Obama White House functionary who’s been brought up on charges of swiping from the public trough or peddling his or her influence for personal gain.

Usually, presidential administrations in their second terms are wracked by accusations, investigations, and indictments of major and minor officials who’ve fattened their wallets thanks to their positions of power.

Not now, though. Not in this presidency.

Obama seems a decent human being. Perhaps his leadership imperative, communicated to all hirees from the get-go, was Do no wrong. It can’t be just dumb luck can it?

And, believe me, if there were even a hint of malfeasance, the vultures  who control the House and Senate as well as those in talk media and the blogosphere would have been on it like flies on dog droppings.

Phew, That Could Have Been Terrorizing!

Here’s something I just don’t understand. Perhaps you can explain it to me.

Yesterday, a mentally-broken man went on a knife rampage in Taunton, Mass., killing two and injuring four others before an off-duty sheriff’s deputy shot him to death. The man apparently went on the random spree after ramming his car into a truck outside a home in Taunton. He then entered the home and stabbed an 80-year-old woman to death and seriously injured the her daughter. He went out on the street, jumped back in his car, and wound up at a nearby mall. There, he attacked several other people, killing one before the deputy stopped him.

A horrible story, indeed. But, somehow, authorities wished to console us in our confusion and worry over the incident. Taunton police made certain to tell reporters the attacks were not related to “terrorism.”

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about the whole affair.

Was the aim of such an announcement to comfort us that no swarthy foreigners were responsible for the death and carnage, but simply a misguided poor soul from this holy land?

And if these attacks are not “terrorism,” what are they? Merely lack of impulse control on the part of a fellow citizen — who, thank god, happens not to be dark or unbearably different. That’s better?

Hillary’s Handiwork?

Have you seen that social media meme aimed at Bernie-ites purportedly showing them how to make home-made glow sticks but in reality is actually a recipe for a mini-bomb?

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 7.43.19 AM

No one knows where this ugly little “joke” came from but I guaran-goddamn-tee at least some Bernie true believers are convinced it was the handiwork of operatives from Hillary’s campaign. Hell, there’s gotta be some in this holy land who are certain Hillary herself posted the freakin’ thing!

The Stark Truth

The Loved One and I watched All the King’s Men last night, the 1949 movie based on Robert Penn Warren‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about Willie Stark, a populist demagogue who rises to power from the dirt furrows of farm country. Stark becomes wildly adored, with wits and wags wondering if he’s a messiah or a tyrant. The movie based on the book won the Academy Award for Best Picture just four years after Warren won his Pulitzer.

Willie Stark is nothing like Donald Trump but the whole idolatry thing, the “outsider” challenging the powers-that-be, the snake-oil salesman promising a new way of running things, is at the core of Trump’s appeal.

Smart guys used to fear a new Huey Long (upon whom, it is said, Willie Stark was based) coming along, galvanizing the poor and the disenfranchised by telling them what a lousy deal they’re getting and how the big boys are laughing their way to the bank on the backs of the common clay.

It’s tempting to say ATKM is a harbinger of the 2016 presidential race wherein populist demagogue Donald Trump roars to the Republican nomination despite all the analyses of the experts who pooh-poohed his quest. But it’s not. Trump most certainly is not a man who came from dirt furrows and challenged the powers that be. He was a trust fund baby who inherited tens of millions of dollars from his slippery daddy-o and has always been one of the powers that be.

Sure, many of those going gaga over Trump are poor but many, many more are reasonably comfortable, at least in relation to the rest of the world. A Trump rally is not populated by modern day analogs to the subjects of, say, Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era photos.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 10.11.50 AM

Lange’s “Migrant Mother” (1936)

Trump’s fanboys and -girls, in fact, look awfully well fed and clearly have had a good night’s sleep in warm, comfy beds. King-sized, most likely.

They see themselves as unduly screwed, which is bizarre. And Trump keeps telling them they are, which is only the first of his bald-faced lies, of which he’s trafficked in an alarming many.

Guys like the fictional Willie Stark and the real Huey Long had an extremely limited appeal, touching the hearts only of those self-aware enough to accept that they were dirt-poor hicks — “Just like me!” Stark roared. Today, nobody wants to admit they’re a dirt poor hick. Screwed, yeah. Dirt poor, no. Let’s go to Faulkner again, who hit it square:

[The American poor] see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

And not only the Murrican poor see themselves that way. Even the well-fed and cozy comfy feel they’re only one lucky break away from sharing caviar and Moët et Chandon w/ the likes of Donald Trump or the Kardashians. These days, they desperately believe, those lucky breaks are being denied them which is a far worse injustice than mass starvation in Bangladesh or the kidnapping, raping, and killing of schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Only a borderline sociopathic liar like Trump could feed and reinforce in people this line of bushwa. Nothing Trump says is based on any set of acts or reality, which sets up his ultimate untrue punchlines. Murricans have been waiting breathlessly for an uber-rich man to come along and lie to them. Rich men, too many in this holy land deeply believe, are special, a higher form of life, nearly messianic.

Their words are scripture, their bank accounts proof of their divinity.

Naw, America never needed to worry about a fascist demagogue coming along and appealing to the poor. The real danger was the incendiary who spoke to the temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

May 11th Birthdays

Laskarina Bouboulina — Known as the heroine of Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire, she commanded the rebel Greek fleet and, later, became an admiral in the Russian navy.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 10.53.05 AM

Chang and Eng Bunker — The most famous Siamese (now, more acceptably, conjoined) twins. Both married (two separate women) and had, between them, 21 children.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 10.58.36 AM

Harriet Quimby — The first women to be awarded a pilot’s license in the United States and the first female to aviate across the English Channel. She also was a Hollywood screenwriter, penning scripts for seven films directed by D.W. Griffith.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.03.57 AM

Irving Berlin — Born Israel Isidore Baline, he wrote gazillions of standards now in the great American songbook including “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “God Bless America,” “White Christmas,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” and countless others.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.48.33 AM

Martha Graham — Perhaps the most revered American dancer in history, she conjured the “Graham Technique,” a method of modern dance style and teaching that revolutionized the art form.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.46.51 AM

Salvadore Dali — Painter and art world personality.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.45.31 AM

Richard Feynman — Nobel Prize winning physicist, iconoclast, bongo player, and author of, among others, Six Easy Pieces. One of my favorite humans ever.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.42.56 AM

Mort Sahl — Humorist who specialized in political and social issues, he used a newspaper as a prop onstage, opening it up and commenting on stories within. Steve Allen called him “the only real political philosopher we have in modern comedy.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.39.36 AM

Louis Farrakhan — Controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, an American organization dedicated to the uplift of Black Muslim young men. Farrakhan also has spouted anti-semitic and anti-gay lines. Many in the American Black Muslim community believe he was involved in the plot to assassinate Malcolm X.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.36.45 AM

Martha Quinn — One of the original five VJs on MTV.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.32.18 AM

And, finally, Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, died on this day in 2001.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.31.04 AM

Hot Air

One Shot, One Year

For my money, this is the picture of the year, 2015:

ct-ct-lamon-reccord-met-1221-jpg-20151220

[Image: John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune, November 25, 2015]

That’s a young fellow named Lamon Reccord, a participant in street protests against Chicago police brutality and the killings of black people in general around this holy land. The protests broke out this fall in the aftermath of the release of a video showing a CPD officer shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times on a South Side street some 13 months earlier.

This particular confrontation took place at the corner of State and Randolph streets in the Loop the day after the video footage was released. Reccord already had gained national notoriety when he was video’d staring down another Chicago cop the day before. He’s either a symbol of morally-justified resistance to police racism and the use of deadly force or he’s a troublemaking punk, depending on where you stand on police/black relations in Murrica these days.

Loyal Pencillistas know where I stand.

Insurrection?

Correct me if I’m wrong, lawyers and military experts, but if Sy Hersh is right about this*, Gen. Martin Dempsey has committed a clear violation of military chain of command, putting the himself at risk of court-martial, incarceration, and even death. It seems like treason, pure and simple. It doesn’t matter if the president’s decision is right or wrong. That’s not how the military works. In fact, it borders on a coup.

And, really, haven’t you been expecting one or another Obama opponent to lead some kind of mutiny, even at this late date in his presidency?

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 11.12.50 AM

Dempsey (L) & Hersh

Remember when the big panic going around held that Obama was secretly planning to get us involved in a big war or some such emergency so that he could declare martial law and remain in office even after his term(s) expired? Then again, that particular paranoiac delusion might well have gotten lost in the flood of all the other psychotic reactionary hallucinations to Obama’s election. There were so many of them, after all.

In any case, at least one reactionary was sure to commit some act of overthrow, given all the panic surrounding the first black prez.

[ * Just in case you’re too pressed for time to read the piece, Hersh asserts in the January 7, 2016 issue of the London Review of Books that Dempsey engaged in a secret plan to lure the Russians into the Syrian civil war and simultaneous battle against ISIS. Further, he ignored the White House’s strategy of attempting to remove Bashar al Assad from power. Dempsey, acc’d’g to Hersh, thought Obama was all wet in his Syria strategy so he freelanced his own plot.

Hersh, BTW, is a dogged, fearless investigative journalist who exposed the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War and the US Army’s abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. He also occasionally cooks up the occasional crockpot conspiracy theory. The question, then, is where does this latest revelation fall in Hersh’s spectrum? ]

Cashing In

CBGB’s in New York City’s Bowery district was the chic-est place for punks to hang out in the late 1970s and into the early ’80s. The seediest bar imaginable, run by a guy named Hilly Kristal on a side street rife with the homeless, junkies, broken glass, and discarded syringes, the place introduced the world to the likes of the Ramones, the Talking Heads, Television, Blondie, the Dead Boys, Patti Smith, and countless other heroes of punk.

cbgb-1983-nyc-billboard-650

Even inside the place, CBGB was littering with trash, vomit, dog shit, and strung-out mainliners. The very ugliness of CBGB became its selling point. Punk — and CBGB — symbolized a violent reaction to Middle American sensibilities, corporatism, advertising, music marketing, and the use of personal hygiene products.

CBGB served food, after a fashion, because its liquor license demanded it do so. Nobody went there to eat, believe me. The place has been closed for years now, its frontage now redone a la gentrification moderne.

Nevertheless, an entrepreneur named Harold Moore is opening up a CBGB restaurant in Newark Int’l Airport. Moore says he’ll serve $9 deviled eggs, an $11.50 iceberg lettuce salad, and a $14 hamburger to travelers hoping to recreate the Bowery/punk experience. The only thing is, Moore isn’t going to be serving Hilly’s legendary chili which, acc’d’g to lore, usually contained cigarette ash, spit, and other bodily fluids you can only imagine.

Need I remind readers that this holy land is one weird fking place?

Duh!

FactCheck.org has named Donald Trump its political liar of the year. The truth-digging organization selects an annual top lying bastard and, really, who else could it be in 2015?

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 11.41.50 AM

Our National Shart

 

Girl Cooties

Ugh! Hillary’s got lady parts. And stuff comes out of them! Gross.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 11.48.36 AM

Please, Click This Link — It Gets Better!

Okay, can we all admit now that Donald Trump is the worst excuse for a human being this holy land has produced in many, many a year?

Okay then.

 

Hot Air

Let There Be Light

Hallelujah!

Winter solstice zips in tonight at 11:49pm in the Eastern Time Zone of the United States.

danilo_pivato_solstice-590x255

Winter Solstice Sequence

[Image: Danilo Pivato]

The days, after that moment, will become longer, brighter, and more amenable to my overall mental health.

Yay.

Talking Headless

It is important not just to shoot, but to aim.

That’s the advice Barack Obama would give his successor regarding how to kick the crap out of ISIS. He was talking with NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep in the public radio network’s annual end-of-the-year chat with the boss of this holy land.

It’s vintage Obama — measured, considered, sober, calm.

As opposed to, say Sen Ted Cruz, the foreign-born pretender to the throne who not long ago told the same interviewer that Murrica oughtta “carpet bomb” ISIS.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 11.22.51 AM

Carpet Bomber Cruz

That’s something your idiot, uninformed brother-in-law would say in the midst of a holiday meal pontification. What’s scary, natch, is the fact that Cruz is a valid contender for the 2016 Republican nomination for president.

Cruz tried to justify his remark by saying this country has dropped more and bigger bombs many a time before so why in the world aren’t we doing so now?

Do we really have to answer that? Okay, let’s say we must. The reason we dropped more and bigger bombs in other wars was because we were trying to destroy an enemy’s war-making capabilities, its factories, its railroads, its air bases, its military installations and key infrastructure sites. None of which ISIS really possesses. What Cruz doesn’t grasp is, ISIS is a marauding band of lunatics invading semi-urbanized, semi-permanent outposts, terrorizing frightened tribal groups, and imposing its will mainly through the use of scimitars and other medieval tools of war. Obama said earlier in his interview, “Well, who is it you are going to bomb? Where is it that you are going to bomb?”

But what Obama doesn’t understand is Cruz’s blatherings resonate more with the American people than his own rational utterances. The vast majority of citizens herein want the bold, decisive, action-oriented palaver of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump more than the aforementioned measured, considered, sober, calm reasonings of Obama.

I don’t suggest that Obama start word-vomiting à la Cruz, Trump et al. I do insist he begin talking more to the limbic brain of the American electorate. Be more of a cheerleader, Barack. Tell us you’re gonna stand on your head to beat ISIS. Reassure us that we’re the biggest, strongest, baddest-assed nation on Earth. We want to hear it. It doesn’t matter if it’s all bullshit. We want the bullshit.

We have no interest in wonk-think. Obama can continue to be the policy wonk behind closed doors. He should be. He must be. But when he’s addressing Murrica, he’s got to be more Ronald Reagan than the University of Chicago senior lecturer he once was.

You’ll pardon me while I go drink my depression away now.

Vox Pop

So, Bob Zaltsberg and the brain trust over at the Herald Times have decided to suspend public comment on stories during the holiday season.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 11.12.08 AM

H-T Chief Zaltsberg

Hmm.

I can’t figure out why readers’ sensibilities might be more fragile during this two-week period than any other. Zaltsberg writes that he and other gatekeepers have had to delete a few dozen comments in recent weeks because the commenters violated the paper’s civility policy.

Me, I’d leave even the most egregious, insulting, offensive stuff in — with the proviso that everybody who comments use their real names. I like the idea of knowing who the haters and flamboyant ignoramuses are in our town.

Cosmic Comedy

The contestants from Uranus, the Andromeda Galaxy, and Kepler 452b protest.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 11.07.04 AM

Hot Air

Potty Mouth

Okay, you wanna know what’s weird? Fox News, natch. ‘Course, you already knew that. But the point was driven home again yesterday when one Fox News commentator reacted huffily to Barack Obama’s utterance of the word “nigger” on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast.

Obama/Maron

The Prez & Marc Maron

For the two of you on this planet who don’t know the backgrounder yet, Maron does this online interview show in his garage and somehow scored a date with the Most Powerful Person on Earth. If you want more detail about it, click over to Terry Gross’s Fresh Air interview with Maron [the first time, I dare say, that the act of fellatio was ever broadcast on NPR.]

Anyway, Obama, talking about race relations in this holy land, said to Maron during the podcast:

Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say “nigger” in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination.

Now, that’s the kind of statement we’ve come to expect from the Good Obama — nuanced, incisive, compelling. As opposed to those statements of the Bad Obama — mealy-mouthed, evasive, nebulous — you know, the kinds of things that we demand our presidents say.

Obama has violated countless cardinal rules of the presidency, first and foremost among them being brown-skinned. Remember when George W. Bush’s chief of staff Andrew Card had apoplexy because BHO had the nerve to work in the Oval Office in his shirt sleeves? By uttering the South’s most famous gift to the American English vocabulary, Obama soiled the presidency once again, at least acc’d’g to a jimoke named Todd Starnes, who, apparently, says words for Fox on a regular basis.

Starnes, writing in his “Todd’s American Dispatch” online column, sez:

President Obama caused jaws to drop across the fruited plain when he uttered the N-word during the interview which was published on Monday. He mentioned the incredibly offensive racial epithet during a conversation over race in the aftermath of the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina…. 

If he talks like that in public — I can only imagine what he says in private. [all sic]

Dig, this is from the “news” network that that for at least 36 hours tried to convince its senescent audience that the Charleston shooting was an attack on Christianity and not dark-skinned people. That Dylann Roof kid had to shriek that he did it because he wanted to start a race war before the Foxers finally came around to the truth of it all.

This, too, from the “news” network that champions and/or features the following people: Rudolph Giuliani, Jeb Bush, Nikki Haley — each of whom has been quoted as saying it’s impossible to know why Roof gunned down nine black people in a church, despite the facts that he told friends he wanted to kill black people, he explained to one of the black people at the church why he was killing black people, and then told the police he went to the church specifically to kill black people. Right, that Roof kid, he’s sure a puzzler.

So, Starnes positions Barack Obama as a foul-mouthed punk for merely saying the word that I’d guess a significant percentage of the Fox News audience uses in everyday language — and not in the abstract, illustrative sense that the President used it. Starnes shudders to think what maledictions Obama employs in private. One can only assume that in the Oval Office, women are “cunts,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who’ll visit Washington in September, is a “slant-eyed gook,” and a good weekend is chockfull of “bitches” and “whores” whose derrieres are covered with “animal trank.”

Because, isn’t that how black guys talk? And Obama’s a black guy, QED.

BTW: Starnes has written essays and/or posted videos at least five times regarding the Charleston terrorist act. Not once has he decried the odious racism that was at the heart of the massacre. In fact, he stuck with the attack-on-Christians trope much longer even than his Fox confreres.

The killing of nine black and brown human beings by a white supremacist, apparently, is far less serious than the president using the term “nigger” to make a point. Like I said, Fox News is weird.

Haley’s Kudos

Let’s give credit where it’s due. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley yesterday called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds in Columbia. I never thought she’d come around but she has and she should be commended.

SC Confederate Flag

Down With The Flag

If you want to split hairs and say she should have expressed herself in this manner long ago, go ahead. I agree. But she’s done it now; not every Republican has.

Bloomingfoods’ Tomorrows

Parsing the statements of the National Co+Op Grocers reps who spoke at last night’s Bloomingfoods co-op owners open house meeting, I sense that they see the local food retailer’s future much as I do.

National Co+Op Grocers people have taken over Bloomingfoods‘ operations this spring and summer in order to find out why the operation was collapsing in a heap. The president of the board of directors and the general manager have resigned, scads of mid-level managers have been axed, and even before Nat Co+Op took over, B-foods closed its flagship Kirkwood Avenue store.

My recommendation is B-foods should shutter all locations except the Near West site. Nat Co+Op director C.E. Pugh told the crowd yesterday that one of the many actions to be taken in the near future includes the shedding of “unnecessary assets.” That sounds like code for more store closings. “We’re going to be in the period of downsizing for a few months,” Pugh added.

Pugh and Nat Co+Op’s Paula Gilbertson, who’s serving as acting GM, both spoke of two of the three remaining B-foods locations in terms that cannot be described as optimistic. On the other hand, when talking about the Near West store Gilbertson and Pugh spoke of spiffying up the place.

Maybe — just maybe — B-foods can escape from this morass leaner and in possession of a brighter future.

She’s Got It

Day two of The Loved One’s birthday week. I’m posting songs dedicated to her Monday through Friday this week. Yesterday’s tune was Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend.” Today, let’s go with something from my fave blue-eyed soul brothers, the Average White Band.

 

 

 

Hot Air

Foods Facts

In case you missed it, here’s the WFHB podcast featuring an interview with Keith Taylor, a co-op governance researcher who works at Indiana University’s Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. Taylor started a change.org petition calling on the Board of Directors of Bloomingfoods to come up with a clear and public plan to address some of the issues that are making B-foods employees, shoppers, and co-op members nervous these days.

Bloomingfoods

Bloomingfoods

Taylor was grilled by News Director Joe Crawford last week about goings on at the local co-op grocer. Among other things, B-foods faces a potential union vote by its employees and must find a way to compete with two new natural and organic grocers coming to town within the next couple of years. Both Lucky’s Market and Whole Foods Market have announced plans to hit Bloomington. Lucky’s on South Walnut Street is due to open by the end of May.

Friday, the B-foods Board announced its decision to ask for help from the National Co+Op Grocers (NCG) in resolving its financial picture. At the same time the Board revealed that its president, Tim Clougher, has stepped down.

The NCG move will entail volunteer managers from other member grocery stores coming in and observing B-foods’ operations, doing an audit of its books, and making recommendations for repairs.

If Bloomingfoods pulls through the next couple of years in decent shape, it’ll be a testament to the loyalty of its customer base and the buy-local philosophy. B-foods not only faces competition from Lucky’s and WFM but mega-grocer Kroger has gone all in on natural and organic, especially at its newly remodeled Kroger Theme Park store on the east side.

The NCG request indicates that the B-foods brain trust is serious about the co-op’s future.

Shouting Out For Hamilton

Congrats to Rob Deppert for landing the plum task of intro’ing Howard Dean when the lobbyist/Dem Party sachem comes to town to flog for mayoral candidate John Hamilton.

Dean will spiel for Hamilton at the Monroe County Courthouse Wednesday at 1:00pm. The former Vermont governor and chair of the Democratic National Committee is credited with implementing the party’s “50-state strategy” that loaded both the US Senate and House of Representatives in its favor in the 2006 elections. In 2008, Barack Obama used the same strategy win election as president. Under the strategy, the Dems fought hard in what had previously been regarded as hopeless states and districts. Voters who’d considered themselves outnumbered in those places were targeted and energized, leading to numerous Democratic upsets.

Dean

Howard Dean

Most Murricans only know of Dean through a video of him hollering to rouse the troops at post-election rally the evening of the Iowa Caucuses in 2004. Known as the “Dean Scream,” video of the outburst was aired endlessly that month and was the final nail in the coffin of Dean’s presidential aspirations. Fox News pretty much ran all-scream, all the time for a good four weeks.

Me? I thought he got a raw deal from the get-go. So he hollered. So his voice was hoarse and cracked. It was a pep rally, for pity’s sake.

Truth is, Dean is a top-notch political strategist and certainly would have been my guy for president over both incumbent George W. Bush (duh!) and even eventual Dem nominee John Kerry.

Happy Days Here Again?

Speaking of politics, the folks who run my back office — AKA Soma Coffee — just got in a new shipment of mugs. Said mugs, natch, aren’t really new; Soma’s famed for its retro inventory. Take the mug I got today — on it was a repro of the New York Times front page the day after Barack Obama was elected prez in 2008.

NYT

Of course, I got to reading the impossibly tiny print. I was reminded that the election had produced a Democratic majority in the Senate of 59-41 as well as a 257-178 plurality in the House that happy November day.

All I can wonder is how in the goddamned hell the Dems pissed that advantage away.

OTOH: It looks like presumptive Dem nominee for prez in 2016, Hillary Clinton, is harkening back to those cheery times with her recent moves to the Left. Mebbe the party has learned a thing or two over the last couple of elections.

Hot Air

Democracy Inaction

And so, the big mayoral candidates debate finally came to pass yesterday. Sponsored by the Herald-Times with streaming by CATS, the three Dems running for this thriving, throbbing megalopolis’s top office were to duke it out with fewer than three weeks to go before the coronation…, er, primary.

I dashed through my daily writing, chores, shower and shave so as to be on time for the 5:30pm promisefest at the Monroe County Public Library. First, though, I’d have to stop off at Staples to pick up a package of reporter’s notebooks because, no doubt, I’d fill them all up with the bons mots of Darryl Neher, John Hamilton, and John Linnemeier. Ah, democracy. So let’s get right to my notes on this momentous occasion.

Better leave ten minutes early, what with all the traffic sure to be headed toward the MCPL.

Get to Staples at 5pm, pay cash for pkg of three ntbks, in and out. Phew!

While backing out of parking space, almost run over woman carrying huge bunch of balloons from Party Store.

Traffic westbound on 3rd St. bearable. Smooth sailing until hitting Greek row past Jordan. Small sporty Mercedes stops in middle of road — w/o even pretending to pull even a inch toward the the curb — to let out impossibly fashionable young woman from passenger side. YW hefts backpack onto shoulder and walks casually around Merc. toward sidewalk. Car ahead of me and behind Merc. honks. YW flashes dismissive wave that would do Paris Hilton proud. Only when she gets to sidewalk does she break into a coltish trot, graceful, as if she’d been trained at what used to be known as “charm school.” As I pass her, I let loose a string of creative and borderline criminally abusive epithets, concluding with “… goddamned little sorority shit!” YW throws head back and laughs — charmingly.

Near MCPL, I notice empty street parking spaces here and there. Hmm. Where are multitudes? Shouldn’t there at least be a parade? MCPL parking lot full so I pay for 2½ hours of street parking — $2.50 plus .30 credit card fee. Robbers.

Enter libr. Guy at info desk has no idea what I’m talking about when I ask where debate is. He  dials numbers but nobody on other end of line knows about it either. Me: “Well, look, just tell me where the auditorium is.” He points the way. I lope down stairs — if you can describe what an overweight, damaged-heart man w/ a bad right hip is doing as “loping.”

I get to Kirkwood entrance desk, starting to wonder what’s going on. Stop at desk to ask woman, “There is a mayoral debate here today, isn’t there?” Woman doesn’t know what I’m talking about. She does say several other ppl have asked about it already. I wonder what she told them. She’s joined by another woman and both of them work phones trying to get answer for me. Both tell person on other end I am only most recent of many who’ve asked about debate. Again I wonder what they told the others.

First woman nods and hangs up phone. “Okay,” she says, “here’s what’s going on. The debate is being carried live on CATS. [My shoulders slump] But it’s not happening here. It’s at the Herald Times.” I grimace. It’s 5:29pm. She notices and brightens up — “You can watch it on CATS!” I shake my head and thank her anyway.

Back to car to race to the H-T. Traffic down 3rd St. to Collage Ave. again is bearable. I whip into H-T parking lot in no time [actually 9 mins.] Lot is suspiciously un-packed — only four cars. I hobble toward front door. About ten yds. from door, young woman exits and smiles at me as we pass ea. other. I pull on door; it is locked. Meanwhile young woman is stopped by another, older woman, who has just parked in lot. I overhear their convo.: Older woman also had gone to MCPL for debate and was directed here.

Young woman says she doesn’t know what the older woman is talking about but offers to walk woman to front door to help her find out. I say, “It’s locked.” The younger woman pulls out her phone — “I’ll call my editor.” Older woman says, “Oh no! I don’t want to hold you up; you’re going home!” Young woman says, “No, no. I just want to help.” Older woman and I smile @ ea. other.

Ed. does not answer so the younger woman suggests we walk around building to side door. On way, younger woman says her name is Sophie. Side door is locked as well. Sophie dials ed. again. This time he answers. Tells her debate is indeed here & is being streamed live on CATS to “viewing party” open to public in council chambers at City Hall. Debate has started and studio doors are locked. No public. Sophie walks us back toward front door. I still hold out hope I can sneak in. Just as we get there, Sophie’s ed. opens door. Aha! Here’s my chance. Ed., though, stands in doorway. He tells us exactly what Sophie said he told her. That’s that.

MG 20150416

No Debate

As Sophie, the older woman, and I walk back to cars, Sophie says, brightly, “well, you can watch it on CATS!” I pout and say, “I wanted to cover it live.” Sophie perks up — “Who do you work for?” I tell her about The Pencil. She says, “Oh wow!”

I wonder if H-T had mentioned change of venue in paper today. Wouldn’t have mattered; I would have had to read H-T to find out. I prefer The Pencil.

Before opening her car door, Sophie says, “I’m sorry.” I say, “That’s okay. It’s a better story this way. I’ll just snark the hell out of it tomorrow morning.” Sophie laughs.

The three of us get into cars & drive off. I listen to Honky Tonk Woman on CD. Traffic is bearable. I park in front of Atlas bar, walk in, order Stella Artois & start writing these notes. In mid-writing, I spill beer on new reporter’s ntbk. Pencil tip tears thru soaked pages. I sop up spill and find dry pps.

Such is life during primary election season for Bloomington’s foremost blogger.

BTW: Here’s the debate in toto on CATS, complete with a bedsheet as the stage backdrop.

Whose Country?

A Bloomberg poll reveals that two of every three Republicans are more loyal to the apartheid state of Israel than they are to this holy land. A holy land, I might remind you, that they normally call the greatest in god’s creation — especially when they tumesce (a word I just made up) over the hundred of millions of guns and the religious freedom to refuse service to fags here.

These same GOP poll respondents say they’re far more sympatico to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than they are to Murrica’s colored president — their own country’s president, I might add, as long as he isn’t some overly brown, Kenyan-born, commie, Nazi, socialist who moonlights as an abortionist.

Bloomberg Poll

Republicans — those folks who never stop whining and moaning about patriotism and loyalty and all the rest of their blatherings have become a party, I might suggest, that in the year of their lord 2015 is full of shit.

Word Rhythm

Ready for some iambs?

Lexington, Kentucky’s Katerina Stykova-Klemer and Eric Sutherland and Indy’s Wendy Lee Spacek will read their meters tomorrow night, April 18th, 8pm, at the I. Fell Gallery, 415 W. 4th St (the southeast corner of 4th and Rogers). The readings are part of the Ledge Mule Press Poetry Project.

Poets

[L-R] Stoykova-Klemer, Sutherland, Spacek

 

Hot Air

God

I’ve never tried to conceal the fact that I’m an atheist, either in this space or in any other setting. At the same time, I’ve always felt it was best to take a kid glove approach to people who do believe in a god.

I figured, hell, this world is mad, this life is crazy, and if believing in a distant, invisible being who created the universe and who, albeit rarely, will grant your wishes helps you get through it, fine. I use things like music and comedy and red wine and perhaps another substance or two — unnamed, natch — to negotiate the insanity. Who says my crutch is better than yours?

Now, though, I’ve reached the end of my rope. I’ve had it. The gloves are coming off. This mad, maddening, mad-making, so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Gov. Mike Pence will sign in a private ceremony this morning is the deal-breaker for me.

Here’s the offending clause in RFRA, AKA Senate Bill No. 101, 2015:

Sec. 8. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability

See what the bill says? The gov’t may not force a person to violate her or his religious standards even if her/his actions violate laws or the rights of another person. If the rest of us have to play nice and by the rules vis-a-vis other human beings under the law, you, homo-fearing, transgender-fearing, butch-fearing, effeminate-man-fearing, and — most importantly — god-fearing shop owner may deny service to those people whose appearance scares you to death.

All ya gotta do is say god told you so.

God

Enough. Stop the madness.

You want to believe in god, go ahead. But keep it to yourself. Don’t make rules and laws based on the supposed utterances of a deity or his representatives, the vast majority of which inspire constant discord and strife even among members of your own club. If there are three billion people on this planet who believe in god, there are three billion who disagree over precisely what god wants them to do.

Take pleasure and comfort in your supposed solidarity with an ancient, pre-technology, pre-literate, nomadic desert tribe. Just leave me out of it. And leave my city, my state, my country, and my world out of it. Burn all the incense you want. Raise your hands and pray that the most powerful entity in all creation is looking down upon you with paternal love in his eye. Give all your money to your preacher. Teach your kids that there is only one true god — yours, of course. That’s your right.

My right? Not to be bothered by your bullshit.

Horserace

Okay kids, here’s the early form chart for the 2016 presidential election.

2016 Odds

Business Insider Chart

You want some advice? Here it is:

1) Bet $500 on Hillary. You’ll make a c-note that way and the risk is really, really minimal.

2) If you can stand merely breaking even on the election in a worst-case scenario, drop another hondo on Ted Cruz. If he loses either in the primaries or the general e., you’re covered. But if he wins — which I don’t believe to be too deranged a proposition (well, yes, a Cruz presidency would indeed be deranged but the possibility of it happening is not) — you’ll cop a cool thirty-three hundred skins. That should take a bit of the sting out of a Cruz victory.

With the way things are headed in this holy land, I’ve got a funny feeling about a Cruz long shot.

[h/t for the chart to Rich Lloyd, Vanderbilt University prof. and player emeritus.]

Carson’s Diagnosis

This may be my fave headline of the month:

17983_10206042730892434_1570057174941120028_n

So, the leader of this holy land joins an elite club including such luminaries as Charles Manson, John Warnock Hinckley, Mark David Chapman, the Unabomber, and even Norman Bates and Patrick Bateman. Golly gee, thanks for the clarification, Dr. Carson!

Psychotics

We Now Have It On Good Authority

Hot Air

Sinners

Picking up the pieces after a couple of days off.

So, Ferguson, Missouri, police arrested a suspect in the shooting of those two cops at a protest rally there last week. Huzzah, justice has been served, no?

St. Louis County

Jeffrey Williams

Maybe. But the truth took a pounding. In fact, both parties stained their eternal souls by violating what the Christianists call their Ninth Commandment. To wit:

The suspect, a 20-year-old named Jeffrey Williams, admits shooting into the crowd from his car. Police say they found at his home a .40 caliber handgun that, they insist, matches the shell casings found near where the shots were fired.

  • Commandment Violation No. 1: Williams told police interrogators, sure, he shot toward the crowd but, golly gee, he wasn’t trying to hit any cops. The fact that two officers — and no one else — took slugs, apparently, was just the worst and most ironic luck.

The cops hauled Williams in where his portrait was taken and, lo and behold, sharp-eyed observers noted that he had bruises and marks on his face. His lawyer says he also has bruise marks on his back and a had suffered a healthy clunk on his head.

  • Commandment Violation No. 2: A Ferguson spokescop looked aghast when asked about the bruising and marks on Williams. He told reporters that, heavens no, officers hadn’t laid a hand in anger on the suspect and that accusations he was beaten are “completely false.” This is true, one must surmise, despite a long, long — lo-o-o-o-ng — history of cops roughing up suspects in cop shooting incidents to the point of sadism and torture. It just didn’t happen this time, see?

In other news, the check is in the mail.

A Nice Place to Visit

Well, how ’bout that?

Political gossip columnist Michael Sneed reports that the Obama family is moving to New York City. That is, as soon as Jan. 20th, 2017, or the Whacked Out Wing of the Republican Party figures out a way to impeach, convict, and remove him from office, Barack, Michelle, and the kids’ll fly home to NYC as opposed to their pad in the Kenwood n-hood of Chi.

It was nice while it lasted but Chicago’s really not the home of anybody anymore. Oprah’s gone. Michael Jordan’s gone. John Hughes was gone long before he died. Bill Murray doesn’t live there. Nor do Tina Fey, Jon Favreau, Mike Myers, and a slew of other comedic talents who really only passed through the Windy City on their way to bigger and better things.

Nelson Algren copped a sneak out of town long before he turned in his lunch pail. Same with Saul Bellow.

It’s been decades since Phil Donohue lived there.

Diablo Cody left town years ago. Dave Eggers left in the ’90s. Dan Savage barely made it to the ’90s in Chicago. Scott Turow left for college and never came back. The first chance Ernest Hemingway got, he skedaddled out of town.

David and Amy Sedaris lived there and moved away.

Hell, Al Capone blew out of Chi. for South Florida before the gov’t graciously put him up in one of its max-security B&Bs.

The following Chicago actors couldn’t get out fast enough:

  • Gillian Anderson
  • Bob Balaban
  • The Belushi boys
  • Steve Carell
  • Stephen Colbert

Colbert

  • The Cusack family
  • Dennis Farina
  • Chris Farley
  • Harrison Ford
  • William H. Macy
  • John Mahoney
  • John Malkovich
  • Jenny McCarthy (thankfully)

McCarthy

  • Mandy Patinkin
  • Jeremy Piven
  • John C. Reilly
  • Vince Vaughn
  • Orson Welles
  • Robin Williams

The non-pariel thespian Adrian Zmed (he gave our nation the memorable line, “Hooker’s a good cop!”) also fled the city.

We may even have another ex-pat president from Chicago if the Democratic Party doesn’t get its act together and find someone other than Hillary Clinton to carry its banner in 2016.

Oh, and me.

MG 2008

Photo: Holly Detra

Crime’s Glass Ceiling?

Here’s the reaction of a female acquaintance of mine to the indictment of Judith Seigle, the former office manager in the city’s Parks & Recreation Dept. for embezzling nearly half a million dollars from the department and its supporting foundation. Let’s call this acquaintance Martha.

Martha: There’s a lot of women doing this these days. Embezzling, I mean.

Me: Really?

Martha: Yes.

Me: Well, uh, why do you think this?

Martha: I don’t know. Maybe it’s because women are in positions where they oversee money.

Me: Hmm.

Martha: They have this power over the money but they don’t have any real power.

Me: But, um….

Martha: And, you know, maybe they’re feeling angry about how their opportunities are limited. Maybe they get to the point where they just say to themselves, ‘You know what? I deserve this.’

I don’t know how much of Martha’s thesis can be verified. Nor do I know how many more Bloomington city employees will be indicted for pocketing municipal funds.

They Love My Cooking

I’ve been a cooking monster the last week or so. In that time I’ve made pizzas from scratch (crusts and all), my monthly supply of spaghetti sauce (w/ meatballs, of course), a roasted corned beef brisket, ham and red potatoes au gratin, a big plank of salmon, an assortment of crudités, my daily fruit smoothies, heaping bowlsful of oatmeal, raisins and honey, and other gustatory delights.

Saturday night, while preparing the toppings for my pizzas, I combined in a bowl three scrumptious cheeses (mozzarella, asiago vecchio, and Parmigiano-Reggiano) for my wall-to-wall formaggio blanket. I put a lid on the bowl and began to shake it vigorously.

I dunno why but the lid came off the bowl and, suddenly, the air was fill with a precipitation of shredded and grated cheeses. I howled as a thick dusting of the stuff covered my head, chest, and shoulders. Enough fell to the newly swept and mopped kitchen floor that, had The Loved One known (she’d just cleaned the floor), she would have rewarded me with one of her nastiest looks.

Fortunately, Steve and Sally the Dogs appeared seemingly from nowhere and began to diligently lick up the fallen cheese. Within seconds the kitchen tile looked clean enough to eat off of which, in fact, it had been.

I’m happy to report I had enough backup cheese to cover my pizzas. The Dogs were delirious. The Loved One gobbled up her mushroom-topped slices with glee. Me? I knocked off much of the roasted red pepper, black olive, and mushroom pie in moments flat.

Of course, I had to take a shower first — the water not too hot lest I melt whatever cheese remained on my person.

Practicing the kitchen arts in Chez Big Mike can be fun

 

Hot Air

An Unmistakable Statement

Think what you will about Barack Obama’s presidency. You’re entirely welcome to piss and moan that he’s a failed president, that his policies are leading us toward socialism, and/or that we’ll be paying through the nose for his programs for generations to come. Wags, “journalists,” and even entire “news” organizations have grown up shrieking such things. That’s okay; this is Murrica and we have the right to say what in the hell ever we want, so long as we don’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater. We can even lie from sunrise through sunset, so long as we don’t fudge our résumés or cheat on our taxes.

So the Right can keep on peddling its slop. But those who didn’t show up at Selma Alabama, yesterday for the 50th anniversary remembrance of Bloody Sunday, are being more honest with that one single act than with all the facts, figures, interpretations, and innuendos they’ve mouthed and keyboard-spewed for the so-far six-plus years of the Obama reign.

Washington Post

Obama Embraces John Lewis At The Edmund Pettus Bridge

[Saul Loeb photo/Getty Images]

They’re saying:

  • Civil rights don’t matter;
  • Black human beings don’t matter;
  • Voting doesn’t matter;
  • The rule of law doesn’t matter.

They’re saying a lot for being so uncharacteristically silent.

Kyle Watch

Is Kyle Schwarber single? Does he go out with anybody?

Aw, what am I saying? He’s not my type.

The burly and supremely talented former Indiana University catcher came to the plate Thursday in sunny Arizona. It was his first at bat as a professional baseball player in Spring Training. He promptly hit a grand slam home run. On top of that, it was his birthday. The kid is only 22.

Sigh.

Schwarber

Schwarber

If he keeps this remarkable hitting up — he’s been tearing up the minor leagues since he was drafted out of IU by the Chicago Cubs last June — he’ll be smashing baseballs onto Waveland Avenue outside Wrigley Field by the end of the 2016 season.

Maybe he is my type after all.

Rules & Regs

Now, this may be a silly thing to make an issue of but, well, I gotta. I was in the restroom at my local Subway yesterday afternoon. After I finished my primary business therein, I stood at the sink and washed my hands. And there, right next to the sink was the sign, “Wash Your Hands.”

I doubt if there’s a restaurant or other food service establishment in this holy land that doesn’t have that sign or a similar one in its rest rooms, most of them reading, in fine print, something on the order of By order of your local health dept.

Sign

I’m willing to bet a bushel-full of cash that all those health depts. also mandate that the sign must be within a certain few inches of the sink. Which is the worst place for it to be.

If you’re standing at the sink, you’re washing your hands, right?

The sign should be right above the urinal. Or next to the flush lever in the stall. That’s when whatever king or queen of slobs who needs to be prodded into washing their mitts should be, y’know, prodded.

There. I feel better now.

Political Science

I’ll sigh again here in today’s post, but for a different reason.

A story in this AM’s Herald Times (paywall) tells us that there’ll be a Bigfoot investigation campout at Monroe-Morgan State Forest the first weekend in May. Yep, a gang of people who fancy themselves scientific researchers will be on the lookout for the famous wraith that has purportedly appeared, fleetingly, before the eyes of yahoos all around the backwaters of this holy land for decades.

Apparently, credulous souls have glimpsed the reputed giant in the woods just north of this thriving, throbbing megalopolis. And despite the fact that Bloomington is home to rational thinkers, reputable scientists, and dogged investigative types, only a select few have gazed upon the decidedly non-glabrous, towering, hermetic figure. A guy named LeRoy Nail of Martinsville, the leader of the local chapter of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, says his group has investigated three confirmed sasquatch sightings in Morgan County. The national BFRO lists 76 sightings of the beast in Indiana over the years.

Sigh. Again.

From BFRO

Bigfoot Footprint In Morgan County

To think there are scads of us who passionately believe that if only we can calmly and patiently lay out well-reasoned arguments, all the people of this great nation will happily accept certain scientific truths. Such a liberal way of thinking.

Which, itself, is highly un-scientific. Researchers have shown, time and again, that well-reasoned arguments — far from being convincing or persuasive — actually steel the resolve of non-believers.

For instance, I know a guy who believes the following:

  • Communist infiltrators have run vast swaths of the United States government since at least the end of World War II
  • Bobby Kennedy smothered Marilyn Monroe to death with a pillow because she’d heard JFK blab some state secrets while in flagrante delicto with her
  • The JFK assassination was a Mafia hit
  • A spaceship from another planet crashed into the Earth and the bodies of its occupants were operated on in a secret facility in Nevada
  • The moon landings were hoaxes
  • Homosexuals are engaged in a systematic plot to take over the public school teaching profession
  • Hillary Clinton ordered the murder of Vince Foster
  • The US government employs high-altitude airplanes to spray mind-control drugs over heavily populated areas

"Chemtrails"

“Chemtrails”

  • Barack Obama was trained from childhood to be a Muslim plant whose job was to take over America and destroy it

This fellow is otherwise a respectable, seemingly reasonable chap. He runs his own successful business. You wouldn’t consider him a wild-eyed lunatic at first glance.

Yet he firmly rejects any suggestion that global warming or climate change threatens us.

And, yes, he believes there are sasquatches or Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) running around all corners of this globe. “There’s all kinds of scientific evidence for it,” he says.

He is impossible to talk to.

To liberals, he’s simply misguided, in need only of enlightenment. To the Right, he’s the key to the White House in 2016.

My Pal Foot Foot

A “classic” by The Shaggs, who inexplicably were resurrected from a well-deserved obscurity back in the 1990s by musicians and critics who should have known better.

Hot Air

Moore No More

So, now both citywide candidates for public office have announced they’re turning in their lunchboxes.

City Clerk Regina Moore yesterday sent out an announcement to all her supporters and pals that she won’t seek reelection  next November. She joins Mayor Mark Kruzan in planning for a life without headaches, handshakes, and harping constituents.

Regina Moore

Moore (David Snodgress/Herald Times Photo)

I’ve got to imagine Moore must have grown a cauliflower ear from listening to so many friends and acquaintances try to weasel their way out of parking tickets over the phone. I can honestly say I never put the touch on her to spring me from the $20 fine — but I thought about it every single time I found that green envelope on my windshield.

Truth is, I’ll bet she’d have told me to take a hike. She was — hey, wait a minute: is — one of the finest public servants imaginable. What a couple, she and Don Moore, no?

I hope to see the two of them browsing in the Book Corner even more than they already do once she surrenders her keys to the City Hall office supply closet.

What Barack Has To Look Forward To

The US presidential impeachment process really is simple:

  • 1) The House Judiciary Committee concludes that the President must be impeached
  • 2) The Chair of the Judiciary Committee sends Article(s) of Impeachment to the full House

Goodlatte

House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte

  • 3) The full House approves one or more Articles of Impeachment by simple majority; this means the President has been impeached
  • 4) Now the Senate puts the President on trial; all 100 Senators will serve as the jury
  • 5) If 67 of the Senators (two-thirds of that chamber) vote to convict the President, another vote is held to either remove him from office or levy another form of punishment or censure on him

That’s it, kids. Oh sure, there are a gazillion little details interspersed: hearings to determine charges, votes to determine the rules of the trial, and so on. But these five steps are the process in a nutshell.

It’s so hard to get 67 Senators to vote one way on anything that doesn’t either enrich them or their campaign coffers that impeachment probably is — and will always be — used only to harass the President.

Certainly that’s what happened in 1998 when Bill Clinton was impeached. The Republican House couldn’t possibly have figured to get a Senate conviction on his fellatial (I just coined a word) crimes and misdemeanors but they loved — I repeat loved — dragging him through a four-year-long ordeal. (The first special prosecutor was appointed in January, 1994 to investigate the Whitewater financial affair and the death of Clinton lawyer Vince Foster; the Senate acquitted Clinton on unrelated charges in February, 1998.)

WaPo

I don’t know if Bob Goodlatte‘s (R-VA) Judiciary Committee will decide to consider Articles of Impeachment as its first act when the 114th Congress convenes in January, but I just know it’ll do so eventually. Goodlatte seems a tad, well, more sane than some of the more virulent Me Party-ists of the new, total GOP Congress. But the pressure’s going to be on him from the madman wing of the party to make Barack Obama’s last two years in office a living hell.

As if the first six years haven’t been already.

Really Reading

Speaking of the Washington Post (look up), the paper has released its list of 2014’s 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction.

I plan, over the next few years, to read nine of the books. Wait a minute — over the next few years? Yeah.

See, because I peddle books, people think I read everything that comes in. I don’t. I can’t. No one can. And if, in some distance bookstore, another peddler says she or he does; know that s/he’s toying with the truth. Reading entails submerging one’s self in a book, savoring it, understanding it, being in it. Speed reading and other tricks of the hyper-caffeinated set do not, in my unhumble view, constitute reading.

Books

My Nightstand’s Under Here Somewhere

At least once a week, a customer’ll pull a title off the New York Times Bestseller list shelf and ask, “Have you read this yet?” Invariably I say no. And the cust. usually responds with a a look of pained shock. I wanna say, “Look, you want me to read one of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing… fetish books? Or Heaven Is for Real? Hell, I haven’t even gotten to Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist yet. Whaddya want from me?”

Anyway, throwing the list of nine in with the several dozen other books already waiting for me to devour, I’m being almost overly-ambitious by saying I’ll get to them in a mere few years.

That said, here are the latest nonfiction books that have gone into my reading queue:

  • The Bill of the Century by Clay Risen — about the passage of the 1965 Civil Rights Act
  • The Birth of the Pill by Jonathan Eig — the simple daily contraceptive pill was perhaps the most important development in the women’s rights story in the second half of the 20th Century
  • Countdown to Zero Day by Kim Zetter — about Stuxnet, the first burst in the 21st Century’s cyberwar
  • The Divide by Matt Taibbi — I’ll read anything by Taibbi; here, he lays out in his trademark rational rage style how money buys justice in this holy land

Book Cover

  • The Invisible Bridge by Rick Perlstein — a confession: I’ve already read it. Perlstein covers the years 1974 through 1976 in his series on the history of the conservative movement in the US
  • My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossell — the author has scads of phobias (and so do I); here. he tackles them with candor and humor
  • The Nixon Defense by John W. Dean — the disgraced ex-president’s White House counsel gives the ultimate insider’s view of the tragi-comic scandal
  • The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs — Peace grew up in the Newark slums and went on to study molecular biology at Yale; he also was a nails-tough street thug who ran a profitable dope trade
  • A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre — Brit spook Kim Philby bamboozled pretty much everybody in the intelligence community, apparently not a difficult trick

If you phone me and I don’t answer, it’s because I’m reading.

%d bloggers like this: