Category Archives: Democratic Party

Hot Air

Ch-Ch-Changes

Okay, you wanna know what’s wrong with today’s Democratic Party? I’ll tell you. David Plouffe was Barack Obama’s campaign manager in 2012. Today, Plouffe is the attorney for Uber, the freelance taxi service.

Plouffe, on behalf of his bosses, is fighting a Seattle city council ordinance calling for Uber to turn its list of drivers over to union organizers. This is a routine step, generally required by federal labor law, a precious government protection for workers thinking of organizing.

Now, the reason the Seattle city council had to get into the act is Uber claims its drivers are “independent contractors” which is corporate-speak for Get your own goddamn health insurance.

Uber, with Plouffe leading the charge, is sure to appeal the council’s action in federal court.

In other words, he’s fighting against unions.

Overpass.37

Union Busters

Unions, I might remind you, used to be the very spine of Democratic support in this holy land.

That is, before the party learned its bread was buttered far more generously by Wall Street banksters and pirate captains of industry.

Water Works

Monroe County Council member Geoff McKim tells us the US Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of adopting its first revised master plan for Lake Monroe in nearly 50 years. To that end, the Corps is hosting an open house where the plan, developed by the Woolpert, Inc. engineering firm of Dayton, Ohio, will be on display.

Woolpert must deliver a version of the plan by the middle of next month. That submission, acc’d’g to McKim, must be accompanied by public comment.

Considering that’s our pool of drinking, bathing, and cooking water, you’d figure many of us would have something to say about how the reservoir is used over the next half century.

McKim points out that a preliminary version of the plan he’s eyeballed specifically states the city of Indianapolis reserves the right to draw water from the lake. Indy’s not sucking up all our water just yet but may feel compelled to do so in the future. A future, I might add, that potentially includes water shortages due to climate change.

Anyway, outgoing water czar Pat Murphy always has stressed that anything done on, in, or near the lake affects water quality. I don’t know about you, but I like the taste of my Bloomington water — especially when mixed with a smooth bourbon. The upcoming master plan will undoubtedly affect that taste.

woodford

The Highest And Best Use

The open house is from 3-7pm today at the Corps’ Middle Wabash Area Office, 1620 Monroe Dam Court.

 

How Does Your Brain Work?

How cool is this? Independent UK publisher Nobrow Press offers a super-cool graphic novel about the workings of the human brain called Neurocomic.

If you’ve followed these ramblings and screeds for any length of time, you know I’m a huge advocate of using the graphic novel as a teaching tool — yes, even in our public schools. Especially in our public schools.

The state’s schools of late have become enthralled with distributing expensive electronic devices to students, devices that the kids and their parents would have to reimburse the school for should said students lose or wreck them. But — silly me! — everyone knows school kids never lose or wreck things, so don’t worry about a thing.

These cyber toys, teachers tell me, really are of value only to the big corporations that manufacture and peddle them. No one I know believes the latest MacBook Air will make your kid learn her lessons any faster or more efficiently.

Books, on the other hand….

Here are some panels from the Neurocomic. They look fun and informative — and what better way is there to learn?

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 10.29.04 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 10.29.25 AM

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Images: ©Nobrow Press, 2014

Anyway, Neurocomix appears to be as needed a title in my personal core library as the graphic novels Logicomix, Maus I & II, the Complete Persepolis, Feynman, and a few others..

Uptown Funk Mashup

Have you seen this yet? If not, you’re in for a treat. Enjoy!

Hot Air

Okay, Don’t Take My Word For It….

If my screeching hasn’t convinced you the Democrat Party is being run by dopes, take it from Ralph Nader.

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez grilled him on Democracy Now! after the shellacking the Dems suffered earlier this week. Nader said the Dems are set to embark on a plea-copping orgy, blaming everybody and everything but themselves for Tuesday’s massacre.

And, no, this type of thing does not “always happen” as some wags are opining. The GOP slaughter has brought us the most nearly-homogenous, ultra-conservative Congress in more than a hundred years. The Republican victory in the 2014 Mid-Term Elections was indeed historic.

Nader

Nader

Nader — whom many Dems still love to blame for Al Gore’s snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory in 2000 — told Goodman/Gonzalez “the Democrats have got to recognize they have to have a change of leadership.”

Here, here.

When Gonzalez mentioned the barrels of cash dumped into this election by various PACs and political sugar-daddies, Nader reminded him that both the Republicans and the Democrats benefited from such largesse. “The Democrats raised huge amounts of money this time around and in 2012 in their own right, plenty of money to win,” he said.

As I railed on Wed., scads of humans might detest the GOP and what it stands for but the Dems offer voters nothing as an alternative. “[P]eople back home are not given enough reason to vote for the Democrats,” Nader said. “But they’re given plenty of emotional reason to vote for the Republicans because of all the social issues — the school prayer, the reproductive rights, the gun control. The Democrats have dropped the economic issue that won election after election for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman. They can no longer defend our country against the most militaristic, corporatist, cruel, anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-environment, anti-women, even anti-children programs, the Republican Party. A lot of soul searching is needed….”

Do yourself a favor and listen to the entire interview.

Were I the King of the Democratic Party, I’d boot Harry Reid’s, Nancy Pelosi’s, and party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s asses right out the door. And I wouldn’t care if it was open or not.

Dem Leaders

Leaders?

Hot Air

The Party’s Over

So, the Republicans now are the big boys, running the halls of Congress like they own it. The Democrats, meanwhile, are crying, moaning, copping pleas, and generally behaving like high school sophomores who failed geometry because they didn’t study.

I have no use for either gang at this point in history.

The Republicans give me the jitters because their party has been hijacked by loons. The Dems upset my stomach because they’re all afraid of their own shadows. What choice does a bright, intelligent, caring, charming citizen such as I have?

Ick. Just Ick.

BTW: Those BMOC Republicans who think they own Congress? They don’t. The Koch Boys and several other nefarious, archcriminal, ungodly wealthy sociopaths do. Not that it matters to the Republicans in Q. The money’s gonna flow into their campaign coffers for the foreseeable future and, really, that’s all that matters. The Dems? Money’s still flowing into their war chests, too — just not as obscenely much as that emanating from the checkbooks of Chucky and Davey et al.

Koch Industries

The Nation’s Capital

For years I’ve been telling people we in the Dem party shouldn’t pin our hopes on peeps like Dennis Kucinich or Elizabeth Warren for possible White House runs. They’re too liberal, I’d say, pretending I’m some wise old political strategist. They need to be on the outside, shouting in, I’d pontificate. Mom and Pop Murrica won’t buy them. Apparently the Dem “brain” trust bought that argument as well, imposing upon us slate upon slate of milquetoasty, innocuous, borderline vacuous stuffed shirts. Oh no, they weren’t too liberal at all. They were, um, uh…, well, they were alive as far as the rest of us could tell. Barack Obama is alive. So is Hillary Clinton. Harry Reid. Alison Lundergan Grimes. Rahm Emanuel. Andrew Cuomo. John Kerry.

Ugh. I’m sick to death of all of them, every single middle-of-the-road, safe, non-threatening, “successful” Dem out there, and that’s a huge lot. (Admittedly, Obama’s brown skin and Hillary’s vagina threaten the bejesus out of tons o’folks in this holy land but no matter; those people are never going to vote Dem anyway.) The “safe” way has been so successful that the Dem party has pissed away control of the White House and both houses of Congress as late as 2010 to the point now where a certain revivified corpse pundit can ask, Is this the end of the Democratic era?

So, yeah, bring Elizabeth Warren on! And bring with her legislators like Judy Chu and Keith Ellison. Al Franken ought to get an invite. Donna Edwards, Sam Farr, Mike Honda, Jan Schakowsky, and Linda Sanchez too. Put out the call for Barbara Mikulski, Brian Schatz, Maria Cantwell, and Tammy Baldwin while you’re at it.

Warren

Bring Her On!

They’re all too liberal, acc’d’g to conventional wisdom — which makes them just liberal enough for me.

Hell, sticking like glue with true believers worked out fabulously well for the Conservatives, resulting in the beatification of one Ronald Wilson Reagan. Old Dutch never once apologized for his views. He was, at one time, long, long ago, considered a political joke. Saint Ronald now sits in heaven at the right hand of god.

Give me E. Warren for Prez in 2016.

Out Is Back

Drop what you’re doing and tune in tonight at 6pm. bloomingOUT! is back on the air.

South Central Indiana’s only LGBTQI-oriented radio talk show went silent for a few months after the retirements of producer Carol Fischer and her partner, host Helen Harrell, in August. Now, WFHB is airing the program again, starting immediately after the Daily Local News tonight.

“We have a big crew of volunteers from eclectic backgrounds coming together to produce bloomingOUT,” says WFHB New Dept. chief Alycin Bektesh. “We have a rotating cast of hosts, segment producers and engineers. Many IU students are involved as well as Indiana’s Marriage Equality Poster Boys Jeff Jewel and Jeff Polling.”

Jewel/Polling

Jeff Jewel & Jeff Polling Get Married (Photo: Chris Howell/Herald Times)

Hot Air

A Good Beating

Y’know what? I hope the Democrats get their asses kicked all over this holy land today.

They deserve it. They deserve it because they’re pinning their hopes on a candidate whose big selling point is she’s not Barack Obama. That’s Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky. She’s running against next January’s new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Barack Obama, you see, is a bad guy to many Kentuckians. To many Murricans, for that matter. Even though he’s the President of the United States. And the titular head of the Democratic Party. Alison Lundergan Grimes’ party.

I hope she goes down in flames.

Grimes

Poster Girl

Remember the line from The Big Lebowski in the bowling alley parking lot where Walter Sobchak says to The Dude, “Nazis? Say what you will about National Socialism, at least it’s an ethos.”

The Republicans are not Nazis, no matter what certain drama queens on my side of the fence say. But they are a party that’s been hijacked by loons, whack-jobs, wingnuts, religious fanatics, anti-intellectuals, militarists, and Ayn Rand lovers. Hell, Mitch McConnell himself has made anti-intellectual hay by telling crowds around Kentucky that the Dems in Washington are being run by “college professors and community organizers” — as if there’s something wrong with that.

And the first thing the Democrats should have said was “You’re goddamned right, Mitch! You got a problem with college professors and community organizers?” Alison Lundergan Grimes should have said that.

It’d be an ethos.

But no. Alison Lundergan Grimes couldn’t even tell a debate moderator whether or not she voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. As if to admit doing so would be an embarrassment. Yet the Democratic Party funneled tons of dough into her campaign.

Idiots.

Anyway, the Republican Party may be overrun with climate change deniers, xenophobes, gunslingers, Fox News watchers,  slut-shamers, evangelicals, and other such reprobates and cartoon characters, but at least they’ve got an ethos.

Even if that ethos includes the wish to throw up a fence between this country and Mexico, to run in terror from every Muslim they see or imagine, to burn as much fossil fuel as we can just for the hell of it, to allow billionaires to buy elections, to deny contraceptives to women but to make sure our health insurance cos. pay for boner pills for men, to fever dream that there’s some kind of war on Christianity and Christmas, and…, oh, I could go on and on. But you get it, don’t you? They believe in things.

What does Alison Lundergan Grimes believe in? Other than she’s not Barack Obama. Which we all could have figured out just by looking at either one of them.

You’ll have to forgive me: I’m typing in sentence fragments because I’m mad.

Why?

Because my party sucks.

There.

I want the Democrats to lose today. And they’re gonna.

They’re going to lose because they’ve refused to scream from the mountaintops that the Affordable Care Act is now covering millions of Americans who, prior to its enactment, did not have health insurance. They’re going to lose because they should have been hammering us with the fact that unemployment has dropped to under six percent since Barack Obama, that bad guy, took office. They should have shouted, gleefully, that the national debt has dropped from over a trillion dollars in 2008 to less than 500 billion dollars this year. Why didn’t the Dems brag that with Barack Obama as president, four times more jobs have been added in this country than were added in George W. Bush’s entire eight year term? Or that US oil imports under Barack Obama have plummeted by more than 50 percent? And wind and solar power production in America has increased by 241 percent since 2008?

Or even that, with Obama courageously giving the go-ahead, US soldiers staged a daring raid and bumped off Osama bin Laden?

What more do you want from a guy who had to “work” with an opposition that promised to sabotage him and his presidency the moment he took the oath?

Did you hear Democratic candidates saying any of this?

Alison Lundergan Grimes is simply the poster girl for the run-from-Barack strategy employed by too many — way, way, way too many — Democratic candidates this year. Mind you, they’re not even running from some wild-eyed radical of the Left; they’re running from a fellow who’d make Richard Nixon or Dwight Eisenhower proud. Lyndon Johnson, on the other hand, would have employed some awfully harsh words in describing him.

The Dems, kiddies, are embarrassed about themselves. They’re embarrassed for having once embraced labor unions. They’re embarrassed because they don’t think it’s a sin to have an abortion. They’re embarrassed because they wonder how we can work with Mexican immigrants, with Middle East Muslims, with Russians. They’re embarrassed because they don’t want to stone homosexuals. They’re embarrassed because they want to spend more money on teachers and schoolbooks and less on thermonuclear bombs. They’re embarrassed because the Republicans are peopled with beet-faced parsons, mean old ladies, and tough guy coppers who’ve devoted their lives to shaking their fingers at them.

Hagee/Schlafly/Arpaio

Scolds: John Hagee, Phyllis Schlafly & Joe Arpaio

They’re embarrassed for all the wrong reasons.

Hot Air

Them’s The Rules

Pay close attention, Pencillistas. I will not tolerate ad hominem attacks, name-calling, gratuitous slurs, the ramping up of emotionalism, and other violations of my personal code of civility in the comments section of this communications colossus.

Yesterday some pejoratives were thrown around. Stop it. Period.

Peace Cop

The Seekers

In one of P.G. Wodehouse’s stories, Bertie Wooster’s young cousins, Claude and Eustace, hope to join a ridiculously frivolous college fraternity called The Seekers. In order to gain entrance to the group the two must bring in souvenirs from a day trip to London. They begin by trying to steal a truck but the truck driver puts up a good fight and so they look elsewhere for their tickets to the club. As the day goes on, they shoplift a huge fish from a market, they round up a gang of stray cats, and they cop a top hat off the head of a prominent psychiatrist whose car their taxi is stuck next to in a traffic jam.

Wodehouse

Wodehouse

Claude and Eustace then park their swag in Bertie’s apartment while he is out. Lo and behold, Bertie that afternoon will be entertaining that very psychiatrist for lunch. It turns out the psychiatrist also has twin neurotic distastes for fish and cats. Naturally, he concludes that Bertie is insane.

It’s all a lot of goofiness, which was the hallmark of Wodehouse’s work. None of Wodehouse’s fictional conceits, though, was as goofy as the true story of another group, also known as The Seekers, in 1954.

The Seekers were an apocalyptic cult that was certain the Earth was going to end on the winter solstice that year. They’d been so informed, they claimed, by messages from extraterrestrials who communicated telepathically with a woman named Dorothy Martin. Dorothy would then record said communications through a process called “automatic writing,” which can best be described as speaking in tongues with the aid of pen and paper.

Scads of folks believed Dorothy’s dire warnings about the endtimes. Many sold all their possessions, quit their jobs, and prepared for the big finale. Eventually, Martin informed The Seekers that a flying saucer would rescue those who believed in her warnings, whisking them away from the globe as it broke apart.

The Seekers

The Smart Ones

Alert Pencillistas will note that the end never came on December 21, 1954. When The Seekers were asked about the failure of Martin’s prediction, they “reasoned” that their own belief in the apocalypse, as well as their trumpeting of its coming to the rest of the benighted world, had warded it off. Their courage and sensitivity, they believed, had saved the world.

Chris Mooney recounts this story in a piece in Mother Jones on the fact that many of us don’t believe, well, facts. Entitled, “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science,” Mooney’s piece tries to explain why climate change deniers, 9/11 truthers, Birthers, and all the rest seem so plentiful in our holy land these days.

Honest to gosh, there are real reasons for people being unreasonable. Even when confronted with the incontrovertible fact that their belief was nonsense, The Seekers continued to believe in it. How can that be? Scientists call this particular puzzle “motivated reasoning.” It’s in all of us, this urge to cherry-pick facts to support something we desperately want to believe even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Take me, for instance. When Paula Jones back in 1994 accused Bill Clinton of sending for her to come up to his hotel room and then he proceeded to pull out Little Bill several years before, I was certain it was a lie of monumental proportions. Clinton was my guy; I’d voted for him. I wanted to believe he’d never in a million years do such a thing. I wanted to believe the Republicans had made up the story out of whole cloth because, well, they’re bad guys. That became my motivated reasoning.

I was wrong. Clinton, it turned out, was a cock monkey. Paula Jones surely was one of many who’d had Wee Willie waggled in front of her.

Jones

I like to pride myself on my capabilities of reason and analytic thought. But I’m merely human. Mooney posits that motivated reasoning is all too human. Read the piece and perhaps you’ll gain an understanding of folks who can’t seem to see the story for the facts.

Wither The Dems

Book maven and political observer RE Paris reacted to my post about Evan Bayh possibly running for governor — and more — yesterday. Bayh, in her view, is as bitter a spoonful of cough syrup as Bill Clinton was. She writes:

It’s pitiful when the party you have voted with all your life gives you no reason to vote for them [anymore] — and your vote is always… They’re better than the other creeps.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Not Your Granny’s Party

 

The Electron Pencil:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Astronomers. like burglars and jazz musicians, operate best at night.” — Miles Kington

LOOK TO THE SKIES

If you’re a space geek and an early riser here in Bloomington (a scant club, I admit), you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the International Space Station over the next couple of weeks.

With the late sunrises at this time of year the sky remains dark even after some of us unlucky souls are planted at our desks, casting dirty looks at our fellow miserable coworkers. But if you’re alert and can spare the energy to look upward you can see the mighty ISS shooting overhead between the hours of 5:30 and 7:30am.

Here’s NASA’s schedule of sightings from Bloomington:

The ISS is home to a half dozen astronauts: three Russkies, three brave and handsome Americans, and one Japanese. Sorta neat how Russian and American spaceguys (and gals on occasion) are now cooperating for long months aboard an orbiting laboratory, isn’t it?

The International Space Station At Sunrise

This is especially so considering that the true aim of each country’s space program back in the 1950s and very early ’60s was the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Eventually, thousands of ICBMs were pointed at cities in the two nations for the purpose of incinerating them with thermonuclear weapons.

It’s a wonder any of us who grew up in those psycho, edgy years are even acquainted with sanity now.

For that matter, who among our parents and grandparents alive during the Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima years would have dreamed Japanese and Americans would be among the tightest of geo-political pals in the 21st Century?

Believe it or don’t, there is a bit of good in this mad, mad world.

RYDER’S TOP TEN ISSUE

My pals R.E. Paris and Dave Torneo and I are three of the featured writers in the Ryder magazine annual Top Ten issue.

R.E. breaks all the rules and selects some three dozen books that fascinated her and, in her learned view, are representative of trends in the publishing universe. Her choices range from the “Steve Jobs” bio by Walter Isaacson to Stephen King’s “11/22/63,” an alternative history that supposes John F. Kennedy had survived his wounds on the eponymous date, and to the Islamic fairytale graphic novel, “Habibi.”

Dave, one of the most serious readers I know, writes about his ten best books of the year. He actually read the 800-page “Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1941-1956.” Man, Beckett probably kept the Royal Mail in the black all by himself. Torneo also dug Teju Cole’s “Open City” and Ross Gay’s “Bringing the Shovel Down.”

Beckett

Me? I pointed my smart-assed knives at the city and state’s elective office holders, pricking the top ten political stories of the year. (And, yes, the pun is intentional, on three levels). By happy coincidence, one of my top stories is Bloomington’s rewriting of its gun laws to coincide with Indiana’s. I note that it is now legal to pack heat in the Monroe County Public Library.

Comforting, isn’t it?

Guns N’ Books

Anyway, pick up the Ryder this month or you’ll be woefully ignorant for the rest of the year.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

A no-spamily, no brattle zone.

◗ Special educator extraordinaire Erin Wager-Miller directs our attention to movie hunk George Clooney’s take on the difference between the two parties in this holy land. The Dems, Clooney feels, can’t sell themselves as well as the Republicans.

Here’s a closeup of the quote:

SKY PILOT

Eric Burdon & The Animals‘ 1968 song was not about the elation of soaring through almost unimaginable altitudes (which I’d thought when I first heard it as a 12-year-old). It was an anti-war polemic about a military chaplain in Vietnam who blesses a unit of soldiers preparing to go out into the jungle for an overnight raid.

Now, nearly half a century later, we still pay military chaplains to sprinkle holy water on men and women to go out to kill and be killed. And, just as in Vietnam, this nation’s bosses still can’t give us valid reasons why in the hell they’re doing it.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

From the movie, “The Apartment,” by Billy Wilder:

C.C. Baxter: “Did you hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.”

Fran Kubelik: (smiling) “Shut up and deal!”

TRAPPING THE WORLD IN MY WEB

So, I got some news yesterday morning. Good news. Problem is, I don’t know if I should brag or play it cool.

Aw, you know me. I’ll brag.

According to my WordPress.com Site Stats, The Electron Pencil has been viewed by people in the following countries: the US (natch), Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Thailand, the Philippines, Iraq, India, the UAE, and Australia.

The Mighty Electron Pencil Tower, In My Backyard

This being the Internet, I assume at least some of those hits are accidents, people misinterpreting a category listing for porn, or scammers trying to empty my checking account. Still, that’s 17 countries spread across all six habitable continents.

Cool, huh?

ONE LESS WHOOPING CRANE

Some son of a bitch shot another endangered whooping crane dead recently. The incident was reported Friday to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. One of only 500 or so of the rare birds left in the US, the crane was found in the Muscatatuck River basin near Crothersville in Jackson County.

The current population of whooping cranes has increased from an alarming low of 21 in 1941. Of the birds now living in the US, some 70 percent are wild; the rest live in zoos and private sanctuaries.

Some whooping cranes can grow as tall as five feet. They graze in marshes and fields, pecking for small animals, fish, berries, and grain.

Adults are brilliant white with black wingtips and red and black masks. A whooping crane liftoff is a spectacular site.

A Whooping Crane In Flight

Did I mention the guy or guys who killed the crane are sons of bitches?

AIN’T THAT AMERICA?

Here is the defining snapshot of our holy land thus far in the infant year, 2012:

Billionaire big-city boss Michael Bloomberg smooches talent-free superstar Lady Gaga at the Times Square ball-dropping ceremony. Moments like these make me think it’s midnight in America, babies.

ROMNEY’S MATE

Look, Mitt Romney’s going to be the Republican nominee for president. He’s that party’s only near-centrist and he’s the savviest politician among the lot of them still in the running.

He’s The One

Remember how he dropped out of the 2008 race even though he was running virtually neck and neck with the eventual nominee, John McCain? Romney’s political instincts told him that the 44th Presidency was going to be defined by nothing so much as the nearly moribund economy.

I mean, Barack Obama’s in hot water only because the fallout from the Great Recession still is raining radioactivity upon us. People blame him for service cutbacks and unemployment even though he inherited from his four predecessors the conditions that caused those ills.

Four years ago, Romney figured, Why should I be the one to take that heat?

Smart choice.

So, when the GOP convenes in Tampa in August, that crafty pol will be the one telling the nation how fabulous things will be with him in the White House.

And Romney will hold up the arm of his running mate. But who will that be?

Mark it, dude, it’s going to be the right winger from our worst nightmares. The GOP’s most energetic base still considers Romney to be Abbie Hoffman with an expensive haircut. He’ll have to throw them the veep of their choice as a bone.

I get this creepy feeling we’re going to be longing for the good old days of Sarah Palin next November.

HELLO 2012

New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair at Chez Pencil. The Loved One and I stayed in and made some homemade pizza vanish.

We watched a couple of movies that, by happy coincidence, contained New Year’s Eve scenes: Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” and Charles Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush.”

The Little Fellow Awaits His New Year’s Eve Guests

The years, oddly, seem to be getting shorter. I wonder if calendar makers are cutting back during these tough economic times.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

A no-spamily, no brattle zone.

Retro-junkie and film/vid producer Mike Flores posted a link to this old Bob Hope wisecrack last week.

Funny thing is, Hope could have told the joke exactly the same way except substituting “Republican” for “Democrat” and the other half of the country would have roared and said, “How true!”

We all think we’re brilliantly perceptive and the other side is either stupid or mesmerized.

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR

This is a gem, a clip from a 1965 documentary on Frank Sinatra. Say what you will about him, he was an artist. This clip, in fact, features three artists: Sinatra, of course; the conductor Gordon Jenkins; and the announcer, Walter Cronkite.

Sinatra in the studio was demanding, mostly of himself. His phrasing and articulation were stunning. His ear was almost inhuman in its sensitivity.

Sportswriters talk about superstars who raise the game of their teammates. That’s what Sinatra did for the other musicians in the studio with him.

Well, we didn’t blow ourselves up in 2011. We’re still here and plugging away, albeit clumsily and often stupidly. In that sense, it was a reasonably good year. Let’s see if we can get another thing or two right in 2012.

The Pencil Today:

SHRIEKS AND GROANS

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot, nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded, who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.” — William Tecumseh Sherman, US Army general.

THE END OF… SOMETHING

The United States of America is now, officially, no longer engaged in hostilities in Iraq.

It would have been nice to say the war is over.

But Congress had never declared our little affair in Iraq to be a war.

So I don’t know what it was. Nor do I as yet know why this holy land invaded that country.

Something happened for some reason. Whatever it was — and why it was — resulted in these scenes shot by Carolyn Cole for the Los Angeles Times.

It is my duty as a writer, journalist, and essayist to inform the living people in the photos above that what they’ve experienced was not war.

I suspect they’d say it was hell.

OBAMA AND CHENEY FIND COMMON GROUND, WILL WORK TOGETHER

Scrolling through Facebook yesterday I learned that both President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney are Nazis.

Apparently, the party of Hitler has become very broadminded.

Working Together: Blacks And Whites, Democrats And Republicans

It also must espouse something all right-thinking Americans want — a good productive bipartisan sense of cooperation among our nationally elected officials.

Just goes to show that redemption is possible no matter how heinous a person or group has been in the past. Who knows? Maybe, say, Donald Trump will experience an epiphany and begin to work tirelessly on behalf of the poor and the sick.

“I Want To Help All My Less Fortunate Brothers And Sisters!”

Or North Korean strongman Kim Jong-il may call for world peace.

Anything can happen if both Obama and Cheney have been welcomed into the ranks of the Nazis.

Either that or the respective Facebook posters are full of horseshit.

THE MORE TRUTHS, THE MERRIER

Adolf Hitler lives on as a cherished symbol — not of brutality, racism, genocide, and tyranny, but as the poster boy for whoever you happen to disagree with.

You see, breathless exaggeration is the semi-official national language of the 21st Century.

Here’s an example. Millworkers, stonecutters, and machinists have been on strike against Indiana Limestone Company in Oolitic for a month tomorrow. Early in the morning on December 2, a non-striking employee driving a pickup truck drove into the picket line at the entrance to the facility.

WTIU Report

Upon first hearing sketchy details of the incident, a reasonable soul might wonder, Had a hired thug been ordered to mow down strikers with his pickup truck? Was he trying only to intimidate them? Or had it even been an honest accident?

And how about this? The pavement outside Indiana Limestone was either littered with crushed bodies of victims or one or two guys got bruised up a bit.

Let’s go to two different information sources to learn the truth.

The incident was reported shortly after noon Friday on the WISH-TV website. “A picketer was struck by a vehicle…,” the report began. It went on to say, “The incident happened around 6:30 am Friday and sent the picketer via ambulance to IU Health Bedford Hospital. He was treated and released.”

Phew! That was a close one. Thank heavens it was no tragedy.

Right?

No so fast.

Here’s the scoop from a press release issued by Millworkers Local 8093 Tuesday: “… Union members… were peacefully picketing… when company thugs savagely attacked them, swerving a truck into their picket lines at a high rate of speed, hitting several of the strikers and sending one… to the hospital…. [The picketer] is still undergoing medical treatment and it is not known if he will fully recover from the injuries he sustained in the attack.”

Yeesh.

Labor Violence

Somebody’s lying here. Not spinning. Not obfuscating. Flat out lying. It could just as easily be a corporate media outlet as it is an overexcited press release writer.

If the gap between labor and management is half as great as that between the two accounts of the incident, the strike may go on for years.

Too bad the two sides can’t learn to work together the way two prominent new members of the Nazi party do now.

The Pencil Today:

WHICH TURKEY DO YOU WANT IN THE WHITE HOUSE?

My left-tilting friends and acquaintances seem to be divided into two camps these days.

Some of them are hanging on to the Democratic Party by their fingernails, holding out hope against hope that the electorate can keep enough Dem legislators in the halls of power so that, for instance, women aren’t forced to wear some Christian version of the burqa.

Others have given up completely on the jackass gang.

Bloomington Common Council member Susan Sandberg, for one, is firmly entrenched in the former group. Well, natch, she feeds at the public trough, living high on the hog, shouting “Let’em eat cake!” as her carriage careens around the corner at Kirkwood and Walnut. It’s shocking how the princely sum of $14,000 a year can corrupt a person.

She’s the Dems’ darling in this micro-lopolis.

Then there’s my old pal Jerry Boyle, the radical attorney from Chicago. He’s so down on the Democrats in general and their standard-bearer, one Barack Obama, aka POTUS, that he’s washed his hands of the lot of them. He’s gone so far as to call Obama a “traitor” to the left, which would make sense only if Obama had been a leftist at one time or another. I’ve yet to come across evidence he’s ever been.

Those as ancient as I am remember the term “Rockefeller Republican” from the sixties. There can be no better modifier of the man in the White House today.

Now, Susan Sandberg will be standing on her head during the next 49 weeks, trying to convince voters to put Dems in office. Jerry Boyle already has publicly advocated letting Obama et al flop next November. In fact, Jerry has hinted that maybe the smarter vote is Republican. His reasoning? Let the GOP be in charge when the whole house of cards tumbles so they can take the rap for it.

Which seems to me akin to cutting your nose to spite your face as well as the faces of some 308 million other poor souls.

I’m not thrilled with the Obama presidency. He’s proven himself much too comfortable cozying up to the unindicted corporate and banking felons who whipped the economy into its current grave state.

Obama: “Some Of My Best Friends Are Robber Barons!”

He’s less a leader than a consensus-seeker, which might be an asset if the other side had any inclination to consent. They don’t. It’s better, on Planet GOP, to demonize Mexicans who sneak into the country, to throw around terms like “socialist” without knowing what it means, to blame all our problems on NPR, and to wring hands obsessively over the very idea of two men tongue kissing.

That said, I’ll vote for Obama no matter whom the Republicans nominate. For one thing, I have to keep up my lifelong record of never having voted Republican. Go ahead, tell me I’m close-minded — you bet I’m close-minded. I long ago slammed shut my cranial door on the party that could fight tooth and nail against something so innocuous as the Equal Rights Amendment.

It’s one thing to have an open mind but you can’t have it so open that your brains fall out.

So, I’m thankful today that we have a (half) black president who is nominally a Democrat. He ain’t everything I’d want but, then again, neither is life.

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