Category Archives: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Hot Air

The Richard Thompson Hangover

So, if any of you out there has a trace of vim and vigor left after last night’s Richard Thompson show at the Buskirk Chumley Theater you just might be able to, y’know, do another thing or two in Bloomington over the next couple of weeks or so. It’s a long shot, but it may be possible.

To wit:

1) You may rouse yourself from your post-bliss stupor and take in An Evening with the Creator of Gasland: Josh Fox. He ain’t no R. Thompson but he’s creative, serious, an intellectual, and an activist for all the right causes. His documentary, Gasland, was nominated for an Academy Award® in 2011. It deals with the effects of natural gas drilling and fracking in this holy land. Fox’s film will be shown at 6pm Saturday, October 25th, at the Unitarian Universalist Church. At 8pm Fox himself will discuss all the issues involved with the audience. The cost? Free.


Josh Fox Is Sorta Sexy, Too

2) If you can bear to reenter the Buskirk Chumley Theater so soon after last evening’s rapture, you can catch a mixed-media presentation by Bloomington’s own Tim Bagwell entitled Stop War! An Anti-war Observance of Veterans’ Day. It’s another free dealio that begins at 8pm, Monday, November 10th. Bagwell served as a Marine in the Vietnam War and is now a poet. He has rented out the Buskirk on his own dime to put on this presentation.

Of course, it’s understood that our town’s population of women of a certain age need some time to recuperate from their collective experience last night. That Richard Thompson fellow — I dunno what it is, but he’s got it. I’d pay a few tens of thousands of dollars for a small vial of the stuff.

Marti Crouch On Interchange

Whatever you do, don’t miss tonight’s installment of Doug Storm’s Interchange on WFHB radio. His guest will be former Indiana University instructor and researcher Marti Crouch. They’ll talk about GMOs, natch, among other biotechnology hot topics.


Nobody Ever Learns Nuthin’

Hot shot bassist Gordon Patriarca of Chicago shares a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt. The line is shocking in that it perfectly describes what this holy land has become even though the President said his piece some three quarters of a century ago!

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.


Eleanor & Franklin

They had begun to consider the United States as a a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.

“We know now….” Do we?


Hot Air

Hide And Seek

Alright-ee-o — here’s a list of as many Malyasia Air Flight 370 theories as I could find (before I was driven to stick a fork in my eye.):

● From the New York Daily News:

The North Koreans snatched it and plan to put a nuke onboard and fly it over some as-yet unnamed target.

● From the Christianist apocalypse fetishists at End Times Headlines:

Members of the Chinese Martyrs Brigade hijacked it because…, well, maybe because they were feeling cranky that day.

● From crunchy, organic, tinfoil hat site Natural News:

Some “entirely new, mysterious and powerful force is at work on our planet which can pluck airplanes out of the sky without leaving behind a shred of evidence.”

Peter Cushing

I Shall Rule The World!

● Sticking with the wingnut Left, 9/11 Truthers are pouring out of the woodwork thanks to the disappearance. From Truther News:

The Chinese grabbed the jet and will soon use it to carry out a 9/11-style attack in the US.

● From Before It’s News:

Representatives of the US corporation Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. were on board and they carried with them the company’s technology that can make a jet “disappear” from radar screens. They’re doing this, natch, to prove to the world it can be done.

● From Agenda NWO (that stands for New World Order, for those of you not up on your garden-variety paranoiac groups):

In this video, the announcer tells us the jet carried passengers from the Ukraine, Russia, and the United States. Also, while it was flying across Malaysia, a “military jet” was simultaneously crossing Malaysia air space. So, therefore, um…, who knows? But isn’t it all suspicious?

● And, of course, the ultra-demented Alex Jones chimed in on his InfoWars site:

The jet was teleported through a “stargate” that uses principles of the quantum theory to blah, blah, blah.

[Big Mike note: Whenever someone who is not a physicist with a specialization in quantum mechanics bandies about the word quantum, ignore him or her.]

Okay that’s enough now. My eyeball jelly is starting to run down my cheeks.


Let’s talk Bill of Rights. Another Bill of Rights.

President Franklin Roosevelt, during his State of the Union address of January 11, 1944, proposed an Economic Bill of Rights, which he also called a Second Bill of Rights.

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He said:

We have come to the clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence…. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day, these economic truths have become self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all, regardless of station, race, or creed.

He went on to call for, among other things

  • The right to a useful, well-paying job
  • The right to afford adequate food, clothing, and recreation
  • The right to decent housing
  • The right to adequate medical care, as well as overall good health
  • The right to insurance against poverty in old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment
  • The right to a good education

Franklin Roosevelt, you may recall from your post-school readings of history, was accused of being a socialist, a communist, someone whose goal was to destroy America, and a traitor to his class. All because, as he said, “…[W]e must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.”

Hardly a thing has changed in nearly a quarter of a century. Sure, we’ve got unemployment insurance and Medicare, but the same type of people who demonized Roosevelt are trying to convince us now that we ought to dump those “failed” plans. And today, people who throw around the word freedom promiscuously and with impunity tell us we can only be free if we have piles of guns, more of them than we’d ever need, and our businesses are unregulated.

That’s freedom? Nah. That’s idiotic.

Anyway, watch Roosevelt talk about his Second Bill of Rights.

The Answer To All Our Problems

Ready for some science fiction? Okay. By 2020, there will be a working machine in southern France called a tokamak. Basically, it will be a magnetic chamber suspending a human-made star in midair within a hermetically sealed housing.

This artificial star will be able to generate energy. If its designers and patrons all have their way, it will replace conventional nuclear power, oil-burning, natural gas, fracking, and hydroelectric power as the planet’s primary means of making our coffee grinders and hair dryers go.

The machine itself will weigh 23,000 tons. Its design specs take up 1.8 terabytes of memory. When the machine is switched on, it will generate at its core a temperature of 200,000,000 ℃ Like every other (natural) star in the Universe, it will run on hydrogen. In the process of generating power, it will convert that hydrogen to helium.

Its waste, in other words, will be that harmless gas, already the second most plentiful substance in existence.


Where Is Rod Serling When You Need Him?

Now, ready for reality? The machine I’ve just described is now under construction. It’s called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). It makes CERN’s Large Hadron Collider look like an iPod. Scientists and administrators from 35 countries, including the United States, Russia, European Union, Japan, South Korea, and India are working feverishly on the project. So much so, many of them feel compelled to take stress leaves.

And it’s no wonder. The countries involved in this project representing more than half of living humanity and will be expected to pony up some $20 billion. And, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, the tokamak in France is the single most ambitious, complicated, and expensive scientific engineering endeavor in human history. So, naturally, scientists and bean counters working on it are losing sleep, their hair and, quite possibly, their minds.

Too bad Rube Goldberg isn’t around to help.

Rube Goldberg Fly Swatter

Click Image To Enlarge

I get all this information from an eye-opening article written by Raffi Khatchadourian in the March 3 edition of the New Yorker. Read it. You don’t need a particle physics or astrophysics background to grasp the thing.


Artist’s Concept of the ITER

This machine just might be the answer to all our fuel and pollution problems. Or it’ll be a monumental bust. Or — yikes! — it’ll blow us all to smithereens.

We’ll see. We’re willing to take a lot of risks to keep our coffee grinders and hair dryers humming.

[BTW: Here’s a bucket of cold water splashed on the whole ITER idea by the science-in-journalism wonks at MIT.]

Hot Air, From Me To You

What If…?

Here’s a crazy hypothetical. Let’s say I just got a job that will pay me $1,000,000 a year.

You know what I’d do? I’d work a year and then never work again. Admit it, you’d probably do the same.

Think of it: At a mill a year, the first of my 26 bi-weekly paychecks would net me a few bucks shy of $27,000. Now, I have a reasonably modest lifestyle so that 27 Gs would be quite enough to cover all my basic living expenses for the year. All the necessities: housing, food, utilities, pizza, chocolate, would be covered. So that means I’d have approximately two-thirds of a million skins left over to spend any way I’d want.

I’m a reasonably prudent adult at this time (at least compared to what I was, say, 10 years ago) so I’d take a half mill and put it in some nice, safe investments. Then I could live off the yearly dividends and gains. The rest of the dough, nearly a quarter of million bucks, I’d spend on silly things like motorcycles, trips to Alaska for the summer solstice, scale models of Apollo 11 and 1950s hot rods, and health insurance.

In other words, I really don’t need a penny more than a million dollars. Nobody does.


Yet guys who make, say, $10 million a year in Hollywood movies or pro football or the legalized larceny that falls under the umbrella moniker, Wall Street, would cut your throat and those of hundreds of your neighbors if it would help them make $11 million next year.

Don’t ask me why. All I know is a mill would be plenty for me.

This holy land, sadly, is run by guys who’d cut a few hundred (or a few hundred thousand) throats to add to personal net worths that they couldn’t possibly spend in ten lifetimes. Funny thing is, a lot of these guys don’t really care much about money and what it can buy. Their need for more, more, more of the green stuff is more a pathology than a means to an end.

For instance, I remember reading a profile of the notorious 1980’s junk bond king Michael Milken, who spent a few years in the joint for conjuring up innovative financial maneuvers that, well, screwed everybody but him. Milken, the profile revealed, made upwards of a half billion a year. Billion. With a b. And this was in the 80s, mind you, when gasoline cost something like a dime per tanker truck-full. (Or is that truckful? I’m too lazy today to look it up.)

Anyway, despite possessing such a skyscraping pile of cash, Milken was surprisingly tight. He wore cheap Thom McAn shoes. His wife served dinner on grocery store paper plates. Clearly, he didn’t see the accumulation of money to be a means to an end. It was an end.

But there are plenty of rich guys — D. Trump comes to mind — for whom money is but a road to vulgar, flamboyant displays of status and achievement.

Other guys — the Koch boys, for instance — see dough, mounds of it, stacks and stacks, veritable Rocky Mountain peaks of it, as the means to rule the world.

No matter what money means to the rich, they want to keep it. And they want more of it. And woe to anybody who gets in their way.

They even view someone like Barack Obama, who is 97 percent the friend to them that George W. Bush was or Mitt Romney would be, as a socialist or commie. That three percent the Prez is shy of is enough to turn them into plotting paranoiacs.

They view BHO the way you and I might see punk gang bangers who break into our homes to steal our new flatscreens.

See, the loss of our new flatscreens means next to nothing in the grand scheme of our lives. It’s only an annoyance; the burglary itself is more harmful emotionally than fiscally. Same with the Koch Bros. and a president who isn’t behind their pursuit of all the currency on Earth with every fiber and cell of his being. They’ll still be rich, rich, rich no matter what Obama does to curb their acquisitiveness — which ain’t much.

Obama, though, harms them emotionally, the way that gang banger harms you and me. We want that gang banger apprehended, charged, convicted, and sentenced. We want him out. Same with the Koch Bros. and BHO.

Something similar happened in the 1930s. The world was in the grip of the Great Depression. Just plain folks were starting to think that maybe, just maybe, this idea of socialism might not be so bad. Card-carrying Communists, with the backing of the Soviet Union’s spook agencies, were infiltrating town hall meetings and union gatherings. The national mood was turning decidedly against the plutocrats.

Grassroots revolts elsewhere on the planet produced demagogues like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini who told their gullible crowds that Jews and Russians and a bushel-full (bushelful?) of other loathsome creatures were responsible for all their troubles. The demagogues said “Gimme all the power I need and I’ll take care of you.” The crowds gave it to them.

Mussolini, apparently, was quite a popular fellow here in the United States in the early 30s. He was straightening out the notoriously lax Italian financial, transportation, and manufacturing systems. He was a strongman who was making his homeland itself strong.

Just as there were many here (Charles Lindbergh, for instance) who thought Hitler was a cool guy, Mussolini was hailed as a great success. In fact, according to Sally Denton in her book, The Plots Against the President, Mussolini was viewed by many Americans as the most prominent and respected world leader, outside of our own prez.

Scads of powerful men here urged the recently-elected President Franklin Roosevelt to assume dictatorial powers, just as Mussolini had. Hell, these guys wanted the US to be strong again, too, just like Italy was becoming. Among those urging Roosevelt to take up the fascist mantle were the industrialist du Pont family and newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst (the model for the movie Citizen Kane).

When Roosevelt turned out to be more in tune with the unscrubbed unemployed, the industrialists, the press magnates, and all their pals decided we need a grass roots revolt here as well. They tried to recruit the angry, rebellious World War I veterans who’d marched on Washington twice and had set up Occupy-style shanty towns in view of the US Capitol. They even identified two respected US Army generals whom they believed might be willing to lead an assault on the White House. The two were Douglas MacArthur and Smedley Butler. MacArthur shrugged when they approached him so they turned to Butler. They told him they had plenty of dough to bankroll the grassroots insurrection, that big, big men were behind the idea. Anybody  who smells Tea Party in this recipe, raise your hand.

They said the idea was to oust Roosevelt by force or, if he opted to play with them, he could become a figurehead who would shake hands and watch parades while a designated all-powerful boss ran the real show.

Butler told them to take a hike and then he dropped a dime on them to Congress. The House held hearings on the affair, tut-tutted, and then, next thing anybody knew, the whole affair disappeared from everyone’s consciousness. It can be assumed that legislators, the FBI, and Roosevelt’s own emissaries contacted the plotters and told them, “We’re on to you. Now drop the whole idea and we’ll forget it ever happened.”

So, the citizens of this holy land went on to live happily ever after.

We might read of this incident as something that could only happen back in those benighted, black-and-white days of great-grandad and grandma.

But why couldn’t it happen here and now?

Dig: Just last month the “Two Million Bikers to DC” demo roared into the nation’s capital to rev their engines, flex their muscles, and sneer at Muslims. Even though they fell far short of their 2M goal, the organizers convinced many thousands of ironheads to converge on DC for a political purpose.

Dig: Next month “One Million Truckers United Drive to DC” will, its organizers hope, shut down the capital on Veteran’s Day. Truckers from all fifty states will honk their air horns, fill their cabs with flatulence, and sneer at President Obama who, apparently, has decided to persecute them via high gas prices.

It’s a lock there won’t be a million long-haulers in DC on November 11th, but would you be willing to bet against a turnout of say 15,000? That’s a lot of truckers (and way too much flatulence).

Coincidentally, many, many, many of these grassroots folks seem to embrace their firearms about as much as a new husband embraces his wife on his honeymoon night.

So, you’ve got tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of people who are certain that Muslims are to blame for all our problems, that the president (who himself is a Muslim) has it in for them, who are willing to give up a week or so of their busy lives to show the nation what wonderful patriots and Christians they are. Oh, and tons of them are packing heat.

Mussolini knew what to do with mobs like this. With the help of wealthy industrialists, he rode on the backs to dictatorship. Hitler knew what to do with them as well. He channeled their hatred of a religious group and rode it to the Chancellorship.

Here’s hoping big money boys like the Koch Bros. are a tad more decent than that. Time will tell.

Your Daily Hot Air

Flying Saucers And Pink Dresses

Yesterday, of course, was the 66th anniversary of the fabled crash of the UFO into the desert in southeast New Mexico.

Roswell Headline

It seems that UFO conspiracy theories have petered out in recent years because we have better, juicier fever dreams to keep folks with hyper-active imaginations awake at night. Keep in mind that Dick Cheney personally directed the 9/11 attacks and Barack Obama was bred by foreign Muslims to take over this holy land. These two fairy tales are a tad more urgent and compelling than a government cover-up of the crash of the family flying saucer driven by some drunken ET teenagers out for a joyride. (h/t to Maxwell Bodenheim of Forest Park, Illinois, for this explanation.)



Anyway, the 50th anniversary of the second oldest conspiracy theory I can think of is fast approaching and this one just may overshadow, at least for a time, the sins of Cheney and Obama. That is, the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963. (The oldest consp/theo is probably the plot by FDR and the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff to stage Pearl Harbor so’s the USA could jump that much more quickly into WWII. I’m telling you, these conspirator types are brilliant.)

The JFK theory tied together pretty much all the bogeymen that scared the poo out of the widest range of the American citizenry in the mid-60s. The Russkies, Castro, the Mob, right wing generals, the CIA, LBJ, Nixon, the federal reserve, representatives of huge defense contractors, and even anti-Castro exiles met in some secret location to get their stories straight on the impending whacking of the Prez. Not only was this gang brilliant, their ability to coordinate such a massive planning confab — flights had to be booked, hotel rooms reserved, boxed lunches brought in; all in secret — was awe-inspiring. Just getting Castro and his exiled opponents in the same conference room must have been nothing short of a miracle.


LBJ And The Man He Whacked

The city of Dallas is planning a big shindig for the 50th to be held smack-dab in Dealey Plaza, where the hit took place. It’s not known if organizers will stage a reenactment but I’d bet against it. OSHA regulations put in place since the assassination probably would preclude having an actress in a pink Chanel suit climb on the trunk of the limousine.

Imagine, though, the field day the conspiracy theorists are going to have, come this fall. Already, Bill O’Reilly’s two assassination-porn books, Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, are New York Times bestsellers. Sales of the latter likely will go through the roof starting in September.

Here are a few fun facts about Jackie Kennedy’s famous dress. It’s in a vault in Maryland, embargoed until the year 2103. Jackie’s mom sent the suit and the purse her daughter carried that fateful day to the National Archives shortly after the assassination. The suit has never been cleaned. Oh, and Coco Chanel, despite never having commented on the fact that one of her creations had suddenly become a gruesome icon, did say some years later that, because of her penchant for wearing miniskirts, Jackie “wears her daughter’s clothes.”

Jackie Kennedy

Jackie And The Pink Suit

Coco sure knew what the important things in life were, no?

A website dealing with all things Jackie actually has an entire page devoted to the pink suit.

And, natch, the chic ghoul can buy a replica pink suit on eBay; it’s a steal at $189.99.

That pink pillbox hat Jackie wore? It’s missing.

One of the archivists in charge of the suit said a couple of years ago, “It looks like it’s brand new, except for the blood.” Which is like saying December 7th, 1941 was a perfect day in Oahu, except for that mess down by the docks.

I was seven years old when Lee Harvey Oswald did his thing. I was vaguely aware of the existence of President Kennedy. I only knew the nuns at St. Giles had red-rimmed eyes when they told us we were to go home that gray Friday afternoon. My second-grade classmates and I momentarily believed the word assassination signified something really good, considering we’d never heard it before and it allowed us to bolt school early.

When I got home, my mother was compulsively vacuuming in front of the TV. She was crying. I’d never seen her cry before. I figured she personally knew JFK. Otherwise, why would she be so busted up that he’d died?

That, I can safely say, was a loss of innocence. Believe me, we’re going to be sick to death of hearing that phrase by November.

Abraham, Martin & John

To this day, this song brings tears to my eyes. It was released soon after Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated in 1968.

The Pencil Today:


“You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.” — James Thurber


Looks like that big fist of rain up around the Chi-town area is getting ready to come down upon us.

We’re still not ready to complain about another washed-out weekend, though.

NOAA Satellite View, 9:15am, EST


In the category of People Will Believe Any Bullshit Anyone Tosses At Them, this book cover has to rank among the top ten:

And just to show how bizarre Homo Sapiens sapiens is, a London-based gossip columnist in 1956 described Milwaukee’s greatest piano player thusly:

“… [A] deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavored, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love.”


Upon reading this, Wladziu Valentino Liberace sued the gossip columnist and his newspaper, The Mirror, for libel. And won!

Liberace on the witness stand swore he wasn’t a homosexual (even though the columnist had not explicitly accused him of being gay) and said — I remind you, under oath — that he’d never had a homosexual experience.

And you wonder why some people believe Barack Obama was born in some terrorist madrasah in Kenya run by Karl Marx’s heirs, abortionists, and pedophiles.


And then there’s this from I Fucking Love Science. Many people were sorely disappointed the other night when the moon did not, as advertised, turn blue.

See, there was supposed to be a blue moon a week ago today. The Twitter-verse went full-tilt apopolectic when our celestial nightlight did not shine in the wavelength range of 475 nanometers.

Colors On The Electromagnetic Spectrum

Anyway, tons and tons of deep thinkers flooded the hell that is Tweet-ville with irate complaints that the moon was, well, still white.

To wit:

And you wonder why some people believe it was Barack Obama who crashed the economy.


Still wondering if the Romneys understand what it’s like for the rest of us? That is, those of us who didn’t grow up uber-wealthy?

Read this:

This is not to say a rich guy can’t have empathy. Franklin Roosevelt never missed a meal in his life but he had a feeling for those who had.



Originally recorded by Aretha Franklin, this version was done some 30 years later by Neko Case, perhaps the only woman who could do justice to it other than the Queen of Soul.

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.

From I Love Charts

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

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

Science Is Awesome (formerly I Fucking Love Science)A Facebook community of science geeks.

Present/&/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.

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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.

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