Category Archives: Fairness Doctrine

Hot Air: Rush to War

Rush Limbaugh is gone and that’s that. He became part of our collective consciousness about 30 years ago and that was far too long for such a verbal vandal to hold sway. And hold sway he did.

I had a friend named Terry for whom I worked back in the early- and mid-’90s. Terry idolized Rush. I spent a lot of time in Terry’s little red pickup truck as he blared WLS in Chicago carrying the man’s program in the afternoon. Every day. Every single goddamned day.

Terry and I argued like cat and dog back then. Seemingly every sentence out of Rush’s gaping face hole drove Terry to exclaim “YEEE-aaaah!” and me to scream, “You’re both fuckin’ deranged.”

Truth is, Terry and I dug the ongoing fight over Rush. Neither of us really saw him as the voice of a huge swath of the American population. To me, he was just an over-the-top, lonely voice broadcasting from some uncivilized backwoods to a few thousand equally lonely borderline sociopaths. To Terry, he was the courageous voice of righteousness whom the vast majority of Americans were ignoring.

We enjoyed our fighting over him because it seemed more a game than a cultural touchstone. Sadly for our country, that’s what Rush became. He was as important to the growth of the Tea Party, Trump, the border wall, climate change denial, misrepresenting Black Lives Matter, hatred of women, obsessive anti-Clintonism, and all the rest of the dog whistles and overt calls to idiocy he spewed for lo these many decades as any other living human being.

It can be argued he was one of the single most important people in the history of the country. As recently as last year, his radio program attracted a daily average audience of 15.5 million, a jaw-dropping number considering how much the overall radio audience has shrunk since the dawn of the internet. One of St. Ronald Reagan’s pet projects, tearing down the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, allowed radio stations all over the country to air Rush’s viewpoints without having to present opposing opinions. It was deregulation run amok and led to a dramatic growth spurt for Right Wing blowhards in all forms of media. Rush was the chief blowhard. He earned, it has been estimated, more than half a billion dollars yelling into his microphone over the years.

Melania Trump Hangs the Medal of Freedom on Rush.

A current friend of mine has said Rush became popular because he raised his middle finger to all those “politically correct” hall monitors who wanted to tell the rest of us what to do. My friend is right. Rush’s listeners detested college eggheads telling them what to think and say — as if some TA at the likes of Oberlin College held any sway over breakfast diner conversations in Topeka, Kansas. But Topekans and millions of others like them felt aggrieved, felt assaulted for chrissakes, that they had to feel guilty for calling Black people colored or woman bitches among their pals. Thanks to Rush, they were granted the imprimatur to substitute instead the N-bomb and the C-bomb.

They felt free at last. Much like a three-year-old pulling out his penis in front of the dinner guests.

More truth: Having lived in this college town, Bloomington, for a touch more than ten years now, I can attest that “political correctness” — or, as I prefer to characterize the phenomenon, orthodoxy v. heresy — is alive and well and, in fact, probably more insidious than ever. That said, Rush’s strategy of fighting it employing racism, nativism, misogyny, male idolatry, anti-intellectualism, and every other evocation of hatred and incuriousness in his sick arsenal is not so much refreshing as flat out evil. What we need is a voice that says “Fuck you, don’t condemn the whole of me because you disagree with a sliver of my perspective. I’m still in the fight with you.” Key words: “with you.”

But that brand of “good behavior” isn’t turning us into wholly self-centered, hateful, incurious, regressives. It’s just annoying and we can handle that. It was the reaction to “political correctness” that’s destroying us.

More than anything else, Rush led the charge to skew, perversely, the very nature of public discourse. Hand in hand with Newt Gingrich, aided by the former Speaker’s infamous Gingrich Memo, people who dissented from their orthodoxy no longer were opponents but satanic child molesters.

No wonder so many Dittoheads and Right Wingers armed themselves to the teeth and are itching for the coming civil war.


The Pencil Today:


“Bullets cannot be recalled. They cannot be uninvented. But they can be taken out of the gun.” — Martin Amis


Two things about the mass shooting outside Denver early this morning:

  1. I demand that reporters and announcers cease and desist obsessively referring to the opening of the new Batman movie. It’s as though they’re already writing the dramatic narrative for the shooting: To wit, it’s a movie dealing with darkness and evil and, poetically, a dark and evil event followed. No. It was an atrocity and it doesn’t need poetic spin
  2. I’ve said this too many times already: America, stick your guns up your ass.

It Happened At The Movies


So, farmers in Indiana and much of the rest of the Midwest will lose their crops this summer, thanks to the drought and the unusually high temperatures.

Experts say drought conditions are exacerbated by higher temps which cause faster evaporation.

Experts also say human activity is causing global warming and global weirding.

Goddammit, how many times do the sane among us have to say this?

We sell Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe‘s book, “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,” at the Book Corner. For the longest time it was on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list (which is ironic considering the book’s premise).

Inhofe has been verbally vomiting on this topic for more than a decade now.

Back in 2006 in an interview in the Tulsa World newspaper, Inhofe had this to say about global warming:

“It kind of reminds… I could use the Third Reich, the big lie. You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that’s their strategy.”

Whoever “they” are is never revealed. Make no mistake, though, it’s a conspiracy. Neither does Inhofe explain why any group of misguided souls might want to conjure up such a hoax.

The Environmental Protection Agency, according to Inhofe, is just another Gestapo. He often cites biblical passages to back up his “arguments” against global warming

Inhofe’s stance on the “hoax” has changed only slightly over the years. What he now characterizes as the greatest hoax he only ranked number two in his early years in the Senate. The biggest hoax at that time, he felt, was the idea that the framers of the US Constitution were in favor of a separation of church and state

Inhofe’s slogan when he first ran for the Senate in 1994 was “God, guns, and gays” — as in, they were the three most important topics on which he’d concentrate.

From God’s Lips To The Senator’s Ear

In short, the man is a dick.

Want more evidence? Try this, something he spewed during a debate on gay marriage:

“I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.”

Anyway, there isn’t much the average citizen who can read and write can do about tailless monkeys like Inhofe. But I’ve found one thing: I always make sure his book is hidden behind a bunch of other books.

Every little bit helps.

Oh, another thing we can do is vote. For instance, Indiana gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence often appeared with Inhofe on right wing radio and TV shows. The two also worked on joint legislation including quashing the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting.


The majority of human beings on this planet were not alive when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin gamboled on the moon back in the summer of 1969.

The Lunar Excursion Module “Eagle” landed on the surface of the moon 43 years ago today, at 2:18pm our time. Some six and a half hours later, first Armstrong, then Aldrin bounded down the LEM’s ladder to leave their footprints on extraterrestrial dirt.

I was 13 at the time. I was also transfixed. Swear to god, I stared at the moon that Sunday evening, hoping against hope that I could see something like the LEM’s rocket engine firing.

That first moon landing remains one of the defining moments of my life. It happened during the summer of Woodstock, Kennedy at Chappaquiddick, the Manson Family, and the Cubs surely on their way to their first World Series appearance in my short lifetime. I considered all of them part of a package. Peace, love, politics, music, hippies, horror, unbridled joy, crazy hope, and crushing disappointment.

Unbridled Joy

I once assumed that everyone — even those born after ’69 — considered the moon landing something, well transcendent.

Many don’t.

I was walking down Michigan Avenue with my brothers and his three sons one Sunday afternoon ten or so years ago. We approached the Tribune Tower which is famous for having bricks, stones and other chunks of famous buildings embedded in its walls. There are pieces of the Alamo, the Berlin Wall, Westminster Palace, the Great Wall of China, the Great Pyramid at Cheops, the Parthenon and many, many others.

There also is a moon rock on display. It’s not embedded in the wall, of course, considering it may be the most expensive hunk of stone in existence. It’s behind a several-inch thick slab of bullet-proof glass next to the main entrance of the Tower.

I’d passed it dozens or even hundreds of times in my life and never had neglected to stop and look at it. There is a hunk of the moon, I’d think as I gawked. Holy fk!

Moonrock Encased In Lucite At The Tribune Tower

So, as the five of us came off the Michigan Avenue bridge I said to the boys, “I wanna show you something so cool you won’t believe it.” Ranging in age from their early to late teens, they seemed skeptical. Only the appearance, say, of Batman himself or the spectacle of a man leaping from the top of the Tower to his certain death was likely to impress them.

Still, I believed this piece of a celestial body 238,000 distant would give them goosebumps.

It didn’t. I may as well have pointed out a common house brick. The only one of my nephews who was moved to even comment on the rock said, “So what?”

I was crushed.

BTW: Author Joy Shayne Laughter quoted this morning from some anonymous philosopher (neither of us could remember who said it), “We went to the moon on 126K of RAM. Now, it takes six megabytes to open a Word doc.”


Pay no attention to the Muddy Boots Cafe calendar listing that has the band Elmo Taylor playing there Sunday night.

I was all set to plug the appearance here when Tyler Ferguson, rhythm guitarist for the band, came into Soma Coffee and plopped down next to me.

“So,” I said, “Sunday night at Muddy Boots, eh?”

Elmo Taylor

“What the hell are you talking about?” she snapped. Today seems to be a chocolate day for the usually ebullient Ferg.

It turns out Elmo is not playing at Muddy Boots this weekend. ET junkies take heart: the band is playing at McCormick’s Creek State Park amphitheater at 7:30, Saturday night.

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

Ivy Tech, Bloomington Campus — Breakfast Learning Seriea: Depression, Suicide, and Our Aging Population”; 8am

◗ IU Dowling CenterEnglish Conversation Club, for non-native speakers of American English; 1pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsOpening reception, “Abstracts on Canvas,” by Rick McCoy; 6pm

◗ IU Art MuseumJazz in July, Monika Herzig Acoustic Project; 6:30pm

Monika Herzig

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Oslo, August 31”; 7pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Indiana Boys; 7-9pm

Bloomington SpeedwayIndiana Sprint Week; racing begins at 7:30pm

Oliver WineryLive music, Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel; 7:30pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It with You”; 7:30pm

Buskirk-Chumley TheaterMary Chapin Carpenter; 8pm

◗ IU Musical Arts Center Summer Arts Festival: Symphonic series, works by Strauss, Mahler & Schubert, conducted by Cliff Colnot; 8pm

The Player’s PubLottaBLUESah; 8pm

◗ IU Woodburn Hall Theater — Ryder Film Series: “Elles”; 8pm

Juliette Binoche in “Elles”

The Comedy AtticHannibal Buress; 8 & 10:30pm

Cafe DjangoMr. Taylor & His Dirty Dixie Band; 8:15pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Gerhard Richter Painting”; 8:45pm

The BluebirdTodd Snider; 9pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Cade Puckett; 9:30-11:30pm


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

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

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

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

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

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

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

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