Category Archives: FBI

Hot Air

The Daily Double

Two posts today, one on cancer and the other, this.

BTW: You must have noticed by now that I’ll be journaling my cancer experience pretty much daily from now until — please, please, please! — I’m declared cancer-free. In fact, I’m charging up the battery in my camera as we speak so I can bring you images of the people who will care for me, the machine that’ll nuke me, and things like the mask I’ll have to wear under the beam, etc. (Hey, I’d even show you a picture of my neck where the tumor is but it’s too small to be picked up by the camera; it’s about the size of a black olive pit.) The cancer journal posts will always be entitled Malignant while these screeds will continue to be called Hot Air. So if the very idea of cancer freaks you out, skip the Malignant posts but keep reading H.A., O.K.?

A Temporary Back Office

Today I’m writing at a new coffee joint, Crumble, in the little shops plaza at the Renwick development. My normal (new-ish) headquarters, Hopscotch, over on the B-line Trail at Dodds St., is closed this week for construction. Owners Jane and Jeff are expanding into the next storefront space so that’ll be a great boon for those looking to park their fannies in the joint.

Crumble is clean, bright, and neat. The music is so unobtrusive as to be nearly inaudible. It’s half-filled with healthy folks speaking in hushed tones. The coffee mugs are spotless, the silverware shiny. The baristas are as civilized and helpful as hotel concierges. Plus, they don’t appear prone to want to foment civil insurrection.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.44.25 AM

Not Dank And Dark At All — How Depressing!

In short, the joint is hellish. Not my idea of a coffeehouse at all. The first indication I got that this place’d be so radically different came when I was walking up from the convenient, ample parking lot  toward the front door. A guy driving a fancy luxury Audi pulled up in front of the place in a clearly marked no parking zone (there are signs all around and huge cross-hatching painted on the pavement), turned his hot rod off, lazily exited it, and strolled in as if he had all the time in the world and none of the guilt.

Anyway, the coffee is good, I had a terrific pear and honey muffin, and the big window next to me is affording me the opportunity to sunbathe in the middle of winter. So there’s good and bad here.

Somehow, I hope, I’ll be able to get work done at this place for the time being.

Oregon’s Bird Cage

If the FBI and the rest of the US Justice Department hadn’t gone all gun crazy at Ruby Ridge in Idaho and the David Koresh compound at Waco, Texas in the early 1990s, all these Bundy loons and their ilk making brat-ish trouble in Oregon would have been locked up where they belong long ago.

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Ryan Bundy, Playing Cowboys & Indians

[Image: Rebecca Boone/AP]

But since the gov’t decided to attack the Branch Davidian encampment with a fire-spewing tank resulting in the deaths of some 76 humans including a bunch of kids who hadn’t yet developed into the psychotics their elders already were, and FBI snipers picked off Christian fundamentalist and survivalist Randy Weaver’s wife and son, the G-men have been unduly shy in dealing with white maniacs.

Hell, one white maniac blew up an entire goddamned federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 in revenge for the Koresh and Weaver debacles. The rest of separatist militia nation has come together and multiplied like noxious weeds since that time. The election of Barack Obama, natch, helped push this madman movement along.

I don’t know how strong or threatening these survivalists and anti-government types are but the US suffered two  horrible PR blows in a row in Waco and Ruby Ridge. And gov’t agencies fear bad PR far more than they fear domestic terrorism.

The last thing the feds wanted to do was get into a gunfight at the Bundy ranch and they sure as hell ain’t gonna get into a shootin’ war over a bird sanctuary in the dead of winter now.

BTW: the Waco and Ruby Ridge fiascoes ought to be ample evidence that you just can’t go bombing and shooting your problems away, as many are suggesting we do to ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban.

Linda’s Place

Hey, IDK if you’ve happened upon Linda Oblack’s regular and compelling “Goings On At My Place” Facebook posts but, man, this stuff is goo-o-o-od.

I keep telling her she ought to start her own website and make regular posts. Linda was an editor over at Indiana University Press until she retired a couple of years ago. Her writing is at least equal to — and in many cases, superior to — the best of the publishing house’s stable of authors. Sorry, Michael Martone, but you’ve got competition, baby.

Join me in haranguing her until she comes around to this blogging racket, okay?

Hot Air

Woe Is Us

Someone who’s reasonably close to me (a blood relative, to tell the truth) sent me another in a series of outraged email blasts last night about how Christians in this holy land are outnumbered and persecuted.

It goes something like this:

1) President Obama canceled America’s traditional National Day of Prayer, “under the ruse of ‘not wanting to offend anyone.'” Whatever that means.

2) Next thing you know, President Obama is cool with “a National Day of Prayer FOR THE MUSLIM RELIGION.” The caps are not mine, of course. This Muslim prayer fest was supposedly held “on Capitol Hill, beside the White House,” which, alert readers will note, is a location that doesn’t exist. The White House is approximately 1.6 miles from the US Capitol.

3) The e-blast concludes, “I guess it Doesn’t matter If ‘Christians’ Are offended by this event – We obviously Don ‘t count as ‘anyone’ Anymore.” All sic — I make typos in these posts, sure, but nothing this fercockt.

Anyway, the self-pitying going on in these memes is breathtaking. Nobody loves us, the President is out to get us, the Muslims get all the good days of prayer, and, poor us, we’re just nobodies.


I immediately consulted Snopes and PolitiFact and even a site called The Christian Century, all of which debunk the entirety of the email. Thus armed, I began to pound out a response to my relative saying, Sheesh, man, this is all hogwash and, on top of it, if you’re gonna disseminate bald-faced untruths, at least make them a bit contemporary; this particular meme came out in 2012 and was debunked so fast the original emailers’ forefingers hadn’t even come up off the Send button yet.

Then the second thought hit me. You know, I told myself, no matter what I say, my Christian relative isn’t going to believe me. Nor will he change his mind about how President Obama loves the Muslims way better than the poor, poor Christians.

So I deleted the draft response I’d started typing.

Sometimes just shutting up is the best response.

[BTW: Don’t think I’m passive-aggressively speaking to my relative through this post. I’m not. He doesn’t read the Pencil. Poor guy.]

The Wild, Wild West

So, in researching the above entry, I came upon the website of one Allen B. West, who trivia fanatics might recall ran for president in the early Republican primaries in 2012. West is about as wingnutty Right as they come. Rick Santorum prob. reads West’s screeds and goes, “Whoa, dude!”


Allen West

West yesterday wrote about an “outrageous ‘coincidence.'” Apparently, Barack Obama, friend to all Muslims, especially those who behead Westerners, sent some kind of thank you message to a mosque in Oklahoma City “which just happens to be the mosque of the Oklahoma beheader, Alton Nolen.”

Nolen is the guy who allegedly beheaded a co-worker in a Sooner State factory the other week. Naturally, we must conclude President Obama was thanking the members of the mosque for producing one among their number who could slay an innocent American in the most gruesome way imaginable.

West read about this on the thankfully-dead Andrew Breitbart’s “news” site. The equally wingnutty Daily Caller echoed the scoop.


I’d have figured this kind of craziness would have stopped by now. I mean, B. Obama is going to be out of office in a short two and a quarter years. He can’t run again. The Lunatic Right does not need to concoct crazy stories or make illogical leaps about him anymore.

Yet they’re still doing it!

I know this is going to sound odd, coming from a guy who volunteered for the Obama campaign in Kentucky in 2008, but I’m getting to the point where I can’t wait for January 2017 to come around. Assuming, of course, the Far, Far Right will stop spewing their insanity once BHO moves out of the White House. The silence will be golden.

Then again, our next Prez may very well be a woman. Hmm. I may have spoken too soon.

Security Matters

Just to put our current Secret Service scandal in perspective, I guy I know who was born in Germany and still lives half the year there came into the Book Corner today and asked me a simple question:

Do you lock your doors at home?

Why sure, I told him. He said, “I do too.”

See, this fellow’s been away from B-town for a few weeks and he’s just catching up with the national news. The fact that a man climbed the fence surrounding the White House, ran some 75 yards across the lawn, entered the building, and then was able to prance around in the place before he was eventually captured — all the while carrying a knife in his pocket — simply amazed my German acquaintance.

“Why,” he asked, “wasn’t the door locked?”



Sometimes we miss the simplest things when trying to figure out the issues of the day.


Our spy guys have been caught unawares any number of times within the past half century or more.

Sure, we buy into the myth that the world is teeming with spies from many nations, all peeping into office windows and over transoms, learning what the enemy is up to to protect us from some arch-criminal gang that wants to nuke New York or Beijing.

True enough, even I feel better imagining a cadre of loyal Americans who are protecting me, my family and friends, and my fellow citizens from the horror of the mushroom cloud — this despite the fact that it’s virtually impossible for any group other than a rich nation to design, build, maintain, aim, and deliver a nuclear bomb. And even if, say, al Qaeda or ISIS should shoplift a thermonuclear device, their ability to handle it, arm it, fuse it, and make it transform Indianapolis into a gargantuan frying pan just doesn’t exist.

Mushroom Cloud

No Worries

So, the truth of the matter is that our spies’ job pretty much has devolved to making sure the other countries on this planet don’t interfere with our corporations’ ability to do business anywhere they’d like with as little interference as possible. Yet, even in those countries where our business is so important that our armies, air force bases, and aircraft carriers are positioned just so to scare the poo out of their leaders, lest they get funny ideas like, Hey, that oil under our land is really ours, our spies are far worse at their jobs than reporters for TMZ are at theirs.

Otherwise, how to explain the sudden, unforeseen rise of ISIS?

Spies are weirdos. They’re sneaky, good liars, addicted to adrenaline, and willing to undertake operations that just might land them in a foreign prison or killed. They are not tuxedo-clad Lotharios who play baccarat at Monte Carlo and have excruciatingly specific guidelines for how their martinis are mixed.

From "Dr. No"


Also, spies all too often possess the loyalty of a tomcat. Flipping a spy from the other guy’s side to yours is about as easy as opening a tuna can when you hear a meow outside your back door.

This holy land’s spies devote their formidable energies to dirty tricks rather than real intelligence gathering. Let’s bring the discussion down to a more local level. Back in the late 1960s, the Chicago Police Department, like many big city cop ops, ran something called the Red Squad. It was a secret group of cops whose job it was to infiltrate groups whom the city’s bosses had decided were threats to peace and order.

They grew their hair, wore beards, left their badges and service revolvers at home, clad themselves in worn jeans and army fatigue jackets, and tried to mix in with hippie and Yippie protesters. They stood out like sore thumbs. Some leaders of the 1968 Democratic Convention protests even used the Red Squadders assigned to them as drivers.

Knowing this, the Red Squad more and more devoted itself to cultivating rats within the Black Panthers and the SDS. These squealers very often had personal axes to grind. They had vendettas against group leaders they felt had slighted them in some way or who’d stolen their girlfriends even. One or two of them were flat-out nuts — as in, certifiably insane.

Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was murdered by police and FBI agents along with one other man one early December morning only after he’d been dosed with a strong tranquilizer by a rat the Red Squad had on its payroll within the organization.

That same guy earlier had suggested the Panthers buy an anti-tank missile launcher and fire it at the fifth-floor City Hall office of Mayor Richard J. Daley. The other Panthers told him he was deranged.

Back on the national and international level, America’s spies organized and paid for Iran’s 1954 revolution, tried to sneak an exploding cigar in Fidel Castro’s humidor, assassinated the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo and Chile’s Salvador Allende, hectored Martin Luther King in hopes he’d commit suicide, and otherwise engaged in capers like dosing American citizens with LSD, just for the fun of it. They armed the mujahideen in Afghanistan, propped up Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and did their best to subvert Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.

All the while they were missing some awfully key developments: the loyalty that Ho Chi Minh was engendering among most Vietnamese, the planning of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed that led to the 9/11 attacks, the threat posed by the underwear- and shoe-bombers before they boarded US airliners — the list goes on and on.

I, for one, would like a little more intelligence coming from our intelligence community rather than hijinks straight out of a dimestore novel.

Our Father, Who Aren’t In Heaven…

Just a little reminder for those who insist on claiming that atheism is a religion:

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 11.19.53 PM

Um, no, it isn’t.

Glibberty Glabberty Gibberish

Charter Pencillista Shayne Laughter told me the other day she was talking about this communications colossus with her mother when the two of them began laughing uproariously. See, they’d fallen into trying to say the words “Glab’s blog” five times in a row, fast.

Try it yourself.

I think I’ve just hit upon the Pencil’s new marketing slogan!

The Pencil Today:


“Turn on to politics or politics will turn on you.” — Ralph Nader


Retired porn star Jenna Jameson has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Don’t you love it?

“When you’re rich,” Jenna reasons, “you want a Republican in office.”

Family Values

To balance things out, the incomparable Ron Jeremy is behind the President. Poor Barack.


If this doesn’t scare the bejesus out of you I don’t know what will.

In a piece on the radical right in America, al Jazeera claims that Republicans quashed a 2009 Department of Homeland Security report suggesting hate groups began to proliferate in the United States after the election of Barack Obama.

Not that the groups weren’t proliferating before that, mind you. Only that their rate of proliferation was bumped up dramatically by the presence of a brown man in the White House.

I’d say the GOP has some ‘splainin’ to do.


We still don’t understand the meaning of hatred in this country. ABC News ran this online headline yesterday:

Still No Motive?

Does the swastika have different meanings for different people even at this late date?


Many years ago, even the most polarizing figures in this holy land were permitted to have nuanced and even seemingly self-contradictory viewpoints. They didn’t run in fear from the Thought Crime authorities within their political parties or the punditocracy.

For instance, one of the heroes of the hard-hat, blue-collar, bungalow-belt Silent Majority was Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago. He ran a highly disciplined political machine. He tolerated little in the way of dissent. He was a tough guy.

The Boss

He’d called for his police to shoot to kill arsonists and shoot to maim looters during race riots. He turned his police force loose on demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic Convention. By the early 1970s he ranked just below George Wallace, Spiro Agnew, and Jack Webb in the law and order pantheon.

Yet he was a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War and, even more surprisingly, guns. According to Rick Perlstein in “Nixonland,” Daley was in Washington, DC testifying before a congressional committee in the summer of 1972. “Take the guns away from every private citizen,” he said.

Can you imagine any darling of the right even suggesting private citizens should be limited to possessing several dozen assault rifles these days?


Author and journalist Achy Obejas (say it, AH-chee oh-BAY-hahss) spent a few years at Indiana University before she dropped out and went to work covering politics, GLBTQ issues, night life, and a host of other beats.


Achy points out the latest lunatic pronouncement from a member of the holier-than-thou gang. It seems Bryan Fischer, one of the paid squealers for the American Family Association, has called for good, god-fearing citizens to save children being raised by same-sex couples.

Well, perhaps the word save isn’t quite right here. How about kidnap?

Achy’s got a horse in this race. Her wife, Megan, gave birth to a son last year. Achy swears she’s never been happier.


Here a sample of some graphic ad work a then-unknown artist named Theodore Geisel did back in the 1930s and 40s:

Recognize the style? Geisel later became Dr, Seuss.

See more at “25 Advertisements by Dr. Seuss Before He Was Dr. Seuss” on BuzzFeed.

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

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

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

“What If?” From XKCD

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

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

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

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

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

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

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

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

Bear’s PlaceJazz Fables: Mr. Taylor and His Dirty Dixie Band; 5:30pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Americana Showcase; 6-8:30pm

Monroe County Public LibraryMonthly meeting, Bloomington Transportation Options for People; 6:30pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “To Rome with Love”; 7pm

Cafe DjangoJeff Isaac Trio; 8-10pm

The Comedy AtticTim Wilson; 8pm

Serendipity Martini BarTeam trivia; 8:30pm

Max’s PlaceWake the Dead; 9pm

The BluebirdApollo Quad; 9pm

The BishopHome Blitz, Bloody Mess, The Tsunamis; 9:30pm


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

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

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

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

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

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

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

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:


Acadame, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught.” — Ambrose Bierce


“The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.”

So there you have it. The official damnation of Penn State University by former FBI chief Louis Freeh’s gumshoes.

The Freeh report was released this morning.

And, no, this is no outside slam job. Freeh et al were hired by Penn State to dig into the sludge that threatens to drown the institution.

This is more satisfying even than the guilty verdict Jerry Sandusky earned after years of sodomizing 10-year-old boys. He’s a sick man. But his superiors at Penn State gave him license to fuck and blow children and to force them to blow him.

Now, riot over that one, Penn State faithful.

PSU Erected A Statue Of The Unindicted And Thankfully Dead Joe Paterno


Have you caught Jimmie Walker’s latest act yet.

The “actor” who played JJ on the 70’s CBS-TV sitcom “Good Times” is doing the grand tour promoting his memoir. It’s called “Dyn-o-MITE: Good Times, Bad Times, Our Times,” the catchword, of course, being his great contribution to American culture.

Walker doesn’t like Barack Obama.

“Sometimes even a brother, you have to let him go,” Walker told Bill O’Reilly yesterday.

Walker, you may recall, won precisely zero Emmy Awards for his portrayal of a jiving, shucking Negro on the show. Walker’s JJ made Stepin Fetchit and Little Black Sambo look like George Washington Carver.

Now he’s talking politics. On Fox News, no less.

Oh, just a little irony here. Walker was the beneficiary of a Great Society program when he attended a federally-funded writing class for unemployed youth after he graduated from high school.

We taxpayers want our money back.



Bloomington did not make the list of coolest college towns on

Here they are, in order:

  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Austin, Texas
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Berkeley, California
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Washington, DC

Georgetown Students Can See Mitch McConnell On The Streets On Any Given Day

  • Santa Cruz, California
  • Oxford, Mississippi
  • Eugene, Oregon
  • Amherst, Massachusetts
  • Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Iowa City, Iowa
  • Athens, Georgia
  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The Tuscaloosa Motel 6

  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Gainesville, Florida
  • Los Angeles
  • Durham, North Carolina
  • Clemson, South Carolina
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Atlanta

Honestly? Washington, DC?


Jeez, you’d think Leo Cook’s weekly Bloomington’s Got Talent! show at the Bluebird alone would earn us a spot on the list. Go figure.

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

◗ IU Simon Music LibraryGuest lecturer Professor David Castilo speaks about 18th Century Brazilian music; 5pm

Bear’s PlaceJaniece Jaffe; 5:30pm

Janiece Jaffe

Third Street ParkOutdoor concert series, Bloomington Community Band; 6:30pm

◗ IU Ford HallLatin American Music Center Guest Series: Recordist David Castilo plays Brazilian music; 7PM

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Homebrew; 6-8:30pm

Panache DanceLocal First July mixer, wine, cheese, and Samba dancing; 7-8:30pm

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

Monroe County History CenterArchitectural history researcher Bill Coulter speaks about how to trace the history of your building; 7pm

The Player’s PubTwo for the Show; 8pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Music Series: Recital participants in the IU Summer Percussion Academy; 8pm

The Comedy AtticChelsea Peretti; 8pm

Chelsea Peretti

Serendipity Martini BarTeam trivia; 8:30pm

The BluebirdNew Old Cavalry; 9pm

Uncle Elizabeth’sKaraoke; 9pm


◗ 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

The Pencil Today:


“I got my head bashed in at a demonstration against the Vietnam War. Police were losing control because they were up against a world they really didn’t understand.” — Terry Gilliam


Gotta tell ya, folks, I hate to see Little Rickey Santorum go, for the loss of his entertainment value alone.

Now the presidential race is down to two politico-economic fraternal twins, each of whom is about as exciting as a can of beige paint.

Definitely Not Beige

If it wasn’t for guys like Santorum, I’d have to actually take the Republicans seriously and you know how disconcerting that prospect would be for me.

Digging the Santorum campaign was like having a daredevil hobby — bungee jumping off tall bridges, say, or rowing across an ocean. Exciting, sure, but if things go wrong, you’re screwed.

In this case, the worst-case scenario would have been a Santorum presidency

So, bye-bye Rickey. We knew you all too well.


Does it surprise anyone that the first media creature George Zimmerman has spoken with is Fox News’ Sean Hannity?

Sympathetic Ear


I missed this. Saturday, April 7th was Daniel Ellsberg‘s birthday.

You want a hero? You got him.


Here’s the story of Ellsberg’s heroism as told by Howard Zinn in his compelling graphic narrative book, “A People’s History of American Empire.”

Zinn and Ellsberg became friends in 1969 during the anti-war movement. Ellsberg earlier had worked for  the RAND Corporation, which was assigned by the US Department of Defense in 1967 to write up a history of the Vietnam War. Ellsberg actually did much of the grunt work researching this nation’s involvement there.

He learned that President Harry Truman authorized the funding of France’s colonial war against Vietnam independence fighters as far back as  the 1940s. President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s threw US support behind Vietnam strongmen who opposed free elections in that country.

Throw in a pile of other falsehoods, exaggerations, forgeries, and intentional inaccuracies on the parts of generals and politicians executing the slaughter in Southeast Asia, and Ellsberg understood that our stated aims there were a colossal sham.

Thanks to the study, Ellsberg saw that President Lyndon Johnson’s assertion that the North Vietnamese had started a war just for kicks in the summer of 1964 was an out and out lie.

Johnson, see, had said some North Vietnamese in a little motorboat had attacked a couple of American cruisers just sitting in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and minding their own business. Johnson parlayed this whopper into getting Congress to sign him a blank check and the next thing you knew, a half million American soldiers were fighting for who knows what in Southeast Asia.

Johnson, Finally Grasping What Vietnam Had Become

Ellsberg and some other RAND researchers privately agreed that they had to say something to the American public about our country’s shenanigans in Vietnam.

They figured Middle American folks would trust them, sub-contractors to the Pentagon with 7000 pages of damning documents in their hands, rather than wild-eyed hippies carrying peace placards.

So they sent a letter to major newspapers around the country calling for an end to the war. The New York Times and the Washington Post both published the letter, but nobody really gave a damn about it.

Meanwhile, the United States military went on happily killing and bombing in Vietnam. Then there was a Green Beret murder scandal and the My Lai Massacre. Ellsberg already was wracked with guilt for his country over what he knew and these atrocities only pushed him over the edge.

Destroying The Town In Order To Save It

He contacted another former RAND colleague and together they photocopied the 7000 pages with the goal of releasing the classified documents. The two agreed it was worth going to jail for exposing government secrets if it might shorten the war somehow.

Their hope was the release of the papers would turn even the most die-hard patriots against the war. They contacted the offices of a few congressmen and found no one willing to touch their hot docs.

Finally, they went to the New York Times with their bundle of papers. After a few months, the Times went ahead and published what would become known as the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg was charged with theft and violations of the Espionage Act. He faced 115 years in prison. He turned himself in to the FBI in Boston on June 28, 1971, after having run off many more copies of the Papers and distributing them to other newspapers.

Setting The Type For The New York Times Pentagon Papers Edition

While Ellsberg was on trial, it was learned that the Nixon White House had ordered mugs to burglarize his psychiatrist’s office in hopes of finding incriminating notes against him there, and other mugs to harass him at public appearances. The federal judge declared a mistrial in Ellberg’s case due to these government interferences.

He was lucky.

He was also, as I mentioned earlier. a hero.


The Buffalo Springfield played this song on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, February 26th, 1967.

The Pencil Today:


Bingo from C. Wright Mills: “People with advantages are loath to believe they just happen to be people with advantages.”

C. Wright Mills Photographed By His Wife, Yaroslava


The Herald Times reports this morning that vandals stole a tree from Bryan Park.

The tree,  a blue spruce, was donated by a neighbor some 22 years ago. The neighbor was able to look at the tree each morning through his apartment window. He’d nursed the tree through some tough times and considered it his “baby.”

A Typical Blue Spruce

And yesterday he discovered that some punks — apparently — had sawed the whole damned thing down and hauled it away!

If that isn’t bad enough, city tree boss Lee Huss says it’s not terribly unusual. Huss says some twelve trees a year are stolen.

Man. Have I not awakened from my beauty sleep yet and this is just one of those stupid dreams?


Did you catch the puff piece on Soma Coffee in the weekend IDS?

If not, here it is.


Chad Carrothers, the big boss at Firehouse Radio, says January Jones resigned as WFHB News Director to, in her words, “spend more time with my family.”

Sheesh. I can’t even make a smart-assed comment about that other than to say any good news hound — and January was a fine news hound — knows that’s what you say when what you really want to say will burn bridges.

Her resignation was, in Chad’s words, “unsolicited and unexpected.”

The news operation at our town’s community radio station undoubtedly will suffer without her even though Assistant News Director Alycin Bektesh is among the sharpest pencils in the drawer and would be a fab choice as January’s permanent replacement.

I’ll redouble my efforts to get January’s take on the split.


Go see another comic by Randall Munroe, the brain behind the strip “XKCD.”


◗ The radical attorney Jerry Boyle, who’s been running around downtown Chicago for a couple of months now trying to keep the town’s Occupy people out of hot water, posts a Venn diagram of the US Government-Goldman Sachs unholy union.

I’ll have to repro the diagram here. Dig it, and then tell me our elected officials will do their utmost to rein in those cash cowboys.

Man! It’d be like Jack and Bobby Kennedy putting Sam Giancana in charge of the Justice Department.

◗ Delia Chandler of Brighton, UK, reminds us Sunday was the anniversary of the assassination of charismatic Black Panther leader Fred Hampton — in his bedroom — by Chicago cops, the FBI, and members of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office in 1969.

Don’t be confused by the line in the Democracy Now! teaser calling it the 40th anniversary of the rub out. Amy Goodman‘s piece ran in 2009.

◗ Bloomington video auteur Chris Rall discovers some good clean spiritual fun for the kids.

Bleeding Heartland Roller Girl Shanda Rude takes her life in her hands by blaspheming Oprah. Or at least pointing out — approvingly — that Bill Maher has soiled the name of the most powerful woman on Earth.

Check the vid — if you dare. Maher skewers Oprah’s consumer goods orgy during her farewell week prior to being assumed into heaven.

Me? I didn’t worry about watching it — I’m slated for hell already.

◗ Finally, uber-Cub fan Al Yellon, proprietor of the Bleed Cubbie Blue fansite gushes over the long-awaited election of Ron Santo to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

If you’re wondering about my own feelings on Ronnie’s canonization, you need only read my piece on his death, almost exactly a year ago.

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