Category Archives: Fidel Castro

Hot Air

The Next Appeal

Much of America jumped for joy upon hearing the Obergefell decision last week. Other Americans, though, groused, clenched their fists, and vowed to…, um…, to do something.

Those of us who think we’re familiar with this holy land’s system of writing, enacting, and interpreting laws might react with a derisive snort to the Religious Right’s pledge to act. As we understand it, once the US Supreme Court rules on a disagreement over a law, well, that’s that. There is no higher authority than the Supremes.

Ah, but that’s not so, say the Holy Rollers. There is god.

Anti-Same-Sex Marriage

The Big Daddy-o in the Sky is mightily pissed, they tell us. Almightily pissed. They know because they talk him him regularly. The fact that their conversations always are one-sided means little to the pious of our nation. Somehow they know what his immensity is thinking. He’s thinking about unleashing earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics, and other annoyances upon our blighted land because we’re now allowing same-sex couples to get married.

Don’t mess with god, the Very Right sez. He’ll hit you so hard your mother’ll fall down.

Teehee, the rest of us say.

Put the brakes on your snorting, sez me. Don’t laugh at the Religious Right. They’ve got a power behind them greater even than god. They’ve got the Koch Boys.

Murrica’s second richest clan engineered the Citizens United decision — declared, natch — by that very same Supreme Court in 2010. CU gives the Kochs the mechanism by which they can control elections hereabouts. And do you know what remedy some Republicans are touting? The election of US Supreme Court justices.

As in, Hey, vote for me, I’ll set you free! Imagine Donald Trump on the Supreme Court. Or Glenn Beck. How about Sarah Palin? You know, of course, one doesn’t have to be a lawyer to be a US Supreme Court justice, don’t you? The Constitution says nothing mandating lawyers as bench warmers.

Palin

Habeas Who? Nolo What?

But if, say, Sen. Ted Cruz has his way, some specially anointed water-carrier for the Kochs just might make it into a black robe. Cruz is telling the world via his recently-released political memoir that we must start having general elections for Supreme Court justices.

Acc’d’g to him, the justices should reflect the will o’the people. Acc’d’g to reality, such elections would more likely reflect the will of the Koch Boys. And if the Kochs figure a candidate for the Supremes — who just happens to be a flamboyant god-ist — will serve their lofty interests, they’ll throw their dough behind him. Dough wins elections.

Let’s be frank: It’d be a sure bet a guy who’s philosophically simpatico to the Kochs would be a crucifix waver. Davey and Chuck know better than anyone the history and efficacy of the American plutocracy using Jesus to further its interests.

Those of us giddy that the US Supreme Court has ratified the freedom of any two adults who want to chain themselves together in wedlock had better watch out. The Religious Right has god behind them. And god has the Kochs behind him.

The Explosion Of Privatization

So, another Space-X rocket ship has exploded upon taking off. It’s a shame. Now the astronauts in the International Space Station will have to wait for their latest copy of Entertainment Weekly magazine.

Space-X is the rocket booster manufacturer and operator that scored a contract with NASA to resupply the ISS in the aftermath of the Space Shuttle era. The idea being private industry can do the job immeasurably better than a gov’t agency. That’s the philosophy behind privatization, right?

Right. Elon Musk put together the Space-X aerospace corp. with one of its stated goals being putting a crew of humans on Mars. Eventually. Till then, though, Space-X’d do the heavy lifting for the ISS.

In the last eight months, though, two Space-X vehicles have blown themselves to smithereens. That is, the last two Space-X ships are now nothing more than metal splinters. Make no mistake: space travel is a risky business. Hell, I can’t even lift myself off my recliner without help half the time. A rocket booster must lift tons and tons of stuff, pushing it up to 25,000 mph to escape the Earth’s gravitational pull. The Falcon 9 vehicle that blew up yesterday is designed to carry up to 27.5 tons of food, water, magazines, and toilet paper. That’s even more than I weigh.

Nobody can do it without taking the chance that the damned thing’d disappear in a burst of flaming fuel. Not a gov’t agency. Not a private corporation.

When NASA was first trying to launch rockets into space in the late 1950s, the ratio between successful liftoffs and blow-ups was a terrifying 1-1. In the ensuing six decades, though, the US gov’t agency in charge of space stuff learned how to send people and things off the Earth with a reasonable expectation of success. Oh sure, there’ve been disasters — Apollo 3, the Challenger, and the Columbia — but whenever NASA experienced such a spectacular failure, it had to shut down operations for long months and even years and explain to the American people why it screwed up. As for the non-governmental Space-X outfit, the American public will forget about Sunday’s explosion by the day after tomorrow. That is, those who even were aware of the explosion in the first place.

At least NASA had to put the lives of astronauts and the negative PR fallout from a mission failure on the front burner. The pols who authorized the billions of dollars for the agency’s operations insisted NASA launch a safe vehicle, and costs be damned.

That was then. Now, with privatization, cost is king. Private corps. put profit on the front burner. If one safety check or another cuts too deeply into the total expense of a mission, well then it just might have to be made more flexible, shall we say, or even nixed altogether. Shaving cost is the god of for-profit business. Maximizing revenue is its heaven.

I have no idea at this moment if Musk’s Space-X cut corners to put together its Falcon-9 vehicle. I assume NASA and the company itself will conduct a thorough investigation. But, guaranteed, that investigation will be done outside the public eye. And its findings will make about as much splash as the news that the City of Bloomington is using a new brand of paint for its parking meters.

Suffice it to say I’m no fan of privatization.

Magical Monocrat

Funnyman Aaron Freeman points out a prediction made by then-Cuban prime minister Fidel Castro in 1973:

The United States will talk to us when you have a black president and the world has a Latin American pope.

Some folks are saying this is evidence of the revolutionary boss’s psychic powers — or at least his ability to read the geopolitical tea leaves. I say, Bah. His “prediction” was really code for “When hell freezes over.” I doubt he would have ever guessed that Satan would be shivering while he — Castro — was still alive.

Castro & Doves

Fidel & His Famous Dove Trick

Now, if he would have said, “… when homosexuals can marry in the US and the Pope rails regularly against the evils of capitalism…,” then we could talk about his extra-sensory perceptions.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m not against the police; I’m just afraid of them.” — Alfred Hitchcock

THE READING MENACE

Books are dangerous things. That’s what quite a few jittery folks in this holy land think.

There are enough bibliophobes around to cause heaps of trouble for librarians who are brazen and perverted enough to stock their shelves with certain titles that any god-fearing soul knows will weaken the nation and destroy the family.

Herewith is the American Library Association’s list of 2011’s ten most challenged books in these Great United States, Inc.:

  • The Lauren Myracle series including “ttyl,” “ttfn,” and “l8r”
  • The Kim Dong Hwa series “The Color of Earth”
  • “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  • “My Mom’s Having a Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy” by Dori Hillestad Butler
  • “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie
  • The “Alice” series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
  • “What My Mother Doesn’t Know” by Sonya Sones
  • The “Gossip Girl” series by Cecily Von Ziegesar
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

Harper Lee, Contributor To Delinquency

Any of these books may well turn your child into a young socialist or aspiring terrorist. If you are an older person and you even inadvertently read one of these tomes, you’ll suddenly find yourself wishing to acquit black men falsely accused of crimes, use indelicate language, and — worst of all — possibly think about sex.

BULLIED BOY

Drop everything you’re doing right now and pick up a copy of the Indiana Daily Student or click over to the IDS website. Read the unsigned editorial about the personal struggle of a self-described chunky Hispanic latent homosexual who endured years of bullying at the hands of his schoolmates.

If it doesn’t make you cry, you’re probably dead.

The author of the piece points out that a conservative Christian Cro-Magnon man named Douglas Wilson is slated to speak at IU Friday. Wilson thinks current anti-bullying efforts let gay and lesbian kids off the hook. They’re bad seeds, he concludes.

I checked out Wilson’s website. Man, this guy is a piece of work. He links the late IU sex researcher Alfred Kinsey with Nazism. He also espouses age-old Puritan chestnuts like a wife should be submissive to her husband (but not in the fun, light bondage way, either).

Nazi?

Here’s an example of Wilson’s “thinking” on Barack Obama’s health care reform bill: “When they urge the passage of Obamacare because this person will now ‘have coverage,’ they overlook the fact that nothing good can come from men wanting to be God.”

Wait, what?

Wilson’s wife also has a blog. They’re both the kind of folk who need to cite a Bible passage for every thing they say. Only their Bible doesn’t seem to have a passage advising them not to terrorize kids who are struggling with their sexuality.

SCARY COP

I’ve long suspected noted brute-with-a-badge Joe Arpaio is playing with a short deck. Now I know it’s true.

The longtime Maricopa County (Arizona) sheriff jumped on the Birther bandwagon months ago. He’s upping the ante now. Arpaio’s current take on that particular psychotic reaction makes earlier Birther charges seem almost sane.

“America’s Toughest Sheriff”

Tough guy Joe now says the Republicans are in on the scheme!

Yep. GOP senators and even the motley crew running for the Republican nomination for president all have have thrown in their lots with the conspirators who took a Kenyan baby and groomed him to become the President of the United States.

Not even Stephen King could come up with this stuff.

ONLY 90 MILES AWAY

Does the thought strike you that this great nation is riding a time machine backward?

Guess who’s in the headlines again, 54 years after the Cuban revolution, 50 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and fully four years after he quit as Cuba’s boss because he was getting too old and feeble to terrify anybody anymore.

Yep. Fidel Castro.

America, I’ll Be Living In Your Nightmares For The Next Fifty Years!

I’m not part of Castro’s fan club. There’ve been good and bad things to say about his bully-boy reign. Sure, everybody can read and health care coverage is universal in Cuba. But just try being a dissident and see how far that’ll get you on the island.

Anyway, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, who has no filter between his reptilian brain and his mouth, the other day was talking about the Marlins new stadium which is located in Miami’s Little Havana district.

Perhaps Guillen, not normally known as a sage political observer, figured Hmm, lots of Cubans around here. I’d better say something nice about Castro.

So he gushed about the Havana strongman. “I love Fidel Castro,” he brayed. “I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years but that son of a bitch is still here.”

Suddenly, Guillen found out that the nearly one million Cubans who live in Miami are the ones who’ve wanted to slice Fidel’s throat this last half century. Don’t ask me why, but there’s hardly a group on Earth with longer memories and holding a deeper grudge than the people who fled Cuba after Castro took over.

Miami has rarely seen a storm like the one that’s blowing over town right now.

Local pols are screaming that Guillen should be fired. A state legislator is calling for “punitive measures” against him, according to the Associated Press.

The owner of Miami’s Major League Baseball team has suspended Guillen for five games.

No one knows if this will be enough to satisfy the baying hounds who right now are ringing Marlins Stadium, calling for Guillen’s head.

Look, Guillen’s a big-mouthed dope. So are Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus and every other professional gabber who has delivered racist, sexist, insensitive, insulting, or deliriously uninformed diatribes. But we don’t punish people for stupid talk in my country. We don’t take their jobs away from them.

If we did, everybody would be in hot water and nobody would have a job.

Not The Most Respected Political Commentator Around

Wait a minute…, everybody is in hot water and nobody does have a job. Oh well, you know what I mean.

Back to this going back in time bit, though. Wasn’t it just a few years before Fidel Castro blew into the national consciousness that we proud Americans were punishing folks and taking away their livelihoods just for talking or thinking the wrong way?

It looks like old Joe McCarthy has never really gone away.

TURN BACK THE HANDS OF TIME

Tyrone Davis’s soul hit from the spring of 1970.

The Pencil Today

CLASS WARFARE: THE BATTLE OF SOMA

The first shot was fired last week, according to an anecdote I overheard at the venerable Bloomington caffeine-jones institution.

Liberté!

One participant was scarred, possibly permanently, suffering a coffee-stained suit. The attack was  dastardly, sudden. The victim is bravely attempting to carry on.

Here’s the tale from a completely impeachable source — although I verified the incident with the victim.

The dean of a certain high profile Indiana University school was picking up his usual morning life-giving substance at Soma. As he approached the front door to leave, another customer was about to enter.

This second customer pushed open the front door with asymmetric shock, as — oh, say — an economist might describe it.

Greenspan: “Hey, Watch How You Throw That Door Open.”

Sadly, due to the door-opener’s irrational exuberance, the door swung into the dean and caused him to spill coffee over his business suit.

The dean in question, by the way, is a nice guy, a gentleman, and well-respected even outside his discipline. On the other hand, his discipline is not universally cherished by some angry citizens these days. (As opposed to, say, the 1980s and 90s.)

Gekko: “Throw That Door Open And Damn Everyone Who’s In Your Way!”

Anyway, the dean jumped back and looked plaintively at the young man who threw the door open.

The young man eyed the dean, whose suit befitted a man who earns some $350,000 per annum (HT to the H-T annual listing of salaries.) The door opener apparently lumped the dean in with the justifiably-villified uber-rich hyenas whom the Republican Party, the Koch-fueled Me Party-ists, and the Ayn Rand fetishists doggedly feel deserve their billions and billions and billions and….

The young man said, coldly, “Hey, you’re part of the one-percent; just go buy yourself a new suit.”

With that, the young man strode toward the counter and ordered his drink. The dean remained in place for a beat, his mouth agape.

Che & Fidel: Noted Spillers Of Coffee On College Deans

The aggrieved dean seems to be recovering. He told me, “I’ll be alright. I’ve been called worse things.”

A GRAY NOVEMBER FRIDAY AFTERNOON NEARLY A HALF CENTURY AGO

November 22nd dawned chilly and overcast in Chicago some 48 years ago today.

It was, on the other hand, a warm day bathed in brilliant sunshine in Dallas.

The nuns at St. Giles sent us all home early that afternoon. The principal, Sister James Mary, made the announcement over the PA. We were shocked as we listened to her. Her voice seemed to be cracking with emotion.

We second graders had never before imagined nuns to be capable of feeling any emotion other than rage.

When I got home, my mother was vacuuming. I watched her for a few moments. She seemed to be rolling the vacuum over the same spot, obsessively. She was crying.

I’d never seen Ma cry before.

If you weren’t alive and aware on that long ago Friday, the only analogy I can make to convey the life-changing nature of that day is to cite September 11, 2001.

The hell of it is, now I’ve personally lived through two such days. I have absolutely no interest in living through another.

BLOOMINGTON’S TALENT COMING TO THESE PAGES!

We’ve already got crackerjack author Joy Shayne Laughter here. And the latest opus from those cinematic geniuses Chris Rall and Tony Brewer is here too.

Over the next couple of days, we’ll be presenting work by music aficionado Ryan Lee Dawes and we’ll begin running a brand new comix series by Grover & Sloan.

Here’s a sneak preview of G&S’s “Cats and Machines” series:

Cats And Machines

Oh hey, did I mention that research scientist Dr. Alex Straiker of the IU Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences will grace these pages with his vivid images of neuron microscopy? He mixes science with art as well as any creative alchemist ever has.

Stayed tuned or it’ll be your loss. So there!

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