Category Archives: Gerald R. Ford

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The Republican vision is clear: ‘I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.'” — Elizabeth Warren

WOMEN, SPEAK UP!

From a Harry Enfield skit: “Yes, overeducation leads to ugliness, premature aging, and beard growth.”

The skit shows a stuffy dinner party where the men pontificate on the economy and the women sit there looking pretty. That is, until one women decides to offer her opinion. Here’s a vid of the skit:

Harry Enfield is a British comedian who has appeared on the BBC since the late 80s. The skit comes to The Pencil in a roundabout way, originally cited by The Telegraph essayist Bryony Gordon and brought to these shores by Roger Ebert.

Gordon uses the skit to illustrate a surprising finding in a recent study. You might think, she writes, that women today are considered just as intelligent as men and capable of contributing to a discussion at any time and on any subject. How quaint Enfield’s little dinner party faux pas looks now.

Asks Gordon: “Right?”

Sez Gordon: “Wrong!”

Gordon

She quotes from the study published in American Political Science Review that indicates women keep their lips zipped still, even in these more enlightened times, when in the company of men.

Gordon says, “Women, this must stop! We must pipe up when we feel like piping down, and not presume that it will make us ‘frightening’ and ‘intimidating’ to men.”

As Ebert says, “Well, it’s true.”

SELF-CENSORSHIP

Funny thing is, a number of comments following Ebert’s posting of the Gordon essay were from women who said, in essence, Dear me, those brutish men we work with rarely let us cut in and when we do they say nasty things about us.

I’ll Never Speak Up Again!

To which I reply, So what?

BUILDING BULLSHIT

You know how the Republicans have been standing on their heads to make hay of Barack Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment?

“It” Being The Billionaires’ Economy

Of course, the only way they could make their hay is by quoting it so far out of context he may as well have said, “I invented the Internet.”

Anyway, the whole We Built That meme goes all the way back to the last century. It’s long been the kill cry of corporate pirates, bloated plutocrats, and outright capital-sociopaths.

Take, for instance, the bleating of former uber-investment bank capo Sanford Weill. See, Citicorp in 1998 merged with Travelers Group. Only problem was, federal law at the time prohibited firms from being both investment banks and insurance companies. It all had to do with risk, securities, speculation, “creative” financial instruments — you know, the very things that crashed the world economy in 2007-08.

Sanford Weill

But the bosses of the new outfit figured, “What do we care for the law?”

They paid off a former president and a then-Treasury Secretary among many others to grease the merger through what was at the time sniggeringly referred to as the “regulatory process.”

So Citicorp and Travelers thumbed their corporate noses at the law of the land as well as the health of the economy for the rest of us and created the Frankenstein monster called Citigroup.

In other words, they created wealth through the cronyism, bribery, trickery, and criminal acts.

Yet when a very few dared question the machinations that created that merger monster, Sanford Weill, who became the chief boa constrictor in charge of the shiny new Citigroup toy, would balance his limbless body on a soapbox and cry out, “We didn’t rely on somebody else to build what we built!”

The Gang’s Hideout

Just like the leader of a home invasion burglary ring tells his gang that they’re, well, ambitious men who don’t let trivialities like the law stand in their way.

Keep beating the “We built that” meme into the ground, Republicans. You’re in great company.

[Just a reminder: After Citigroup lost its clients’ shirts in the big crash (for which it was partially responsible), it demanded and got some $45 billion in federal welfare. Yep, they built that.]

BE A BLASPHEMER

Today.

Awfully timely, no?

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Brought to you by The Electron Pencil: Bloomington Arts, Culture, Politics, and Hot Air. Daily.

FAIR ◗ Monroe County Fairgrounds, Commercial Building West29th Annual American Red Cross Book Fair, +100,000 used books, CDs, DVDs, games, maps, sheet music, etc.; 9am-7pm, through October 2nd

WORKSHOP ◗ Dagom Gaden Tensungling MonasteryFree introductory course on Buddhism; 10-11am

SEMINAR ◗ Various venuesThe Combine, 3rd annual display of talent , innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit, featuring speakers, workshops, idea pitches, and mixers; through Sunday, September 30th, today’s events:

The Sprout BoxFinish Day, participants complete their tech projects; Noon-10pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Bill Armstrong StadiumHoosier women’s soccer vs. Northwestern; 1pm

OPEN HOUSE ◗ White Violet Farm, Sisters of Providence Center in Saint Mary-of-the-WoodsCelebrating National Alpaca Farm Days, see 53 alpacas and their caretakers; 1-4pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallBaroque Orchestra with director Stanley Ritchie, performing Fux & Handel; 2pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema“Sleepwalk with Me”; 3pm

MUSIC ◗ Oliver WineryAged to Perfection: Voces Novae chamber choir performs Bruckner, Elgar, Sullivan, & Verdi; 3pm

MUSIC ◗ Trinity Episcopal ChurchChoral Evensong, performed by choristers from Trinity & the IU Jacobs School, works by Walmisley & Hurford; 5:30pm

COMPETITION & BENEFIT ◗ Buskirk Chumley Theater6th Annual Bloomington Chef’s Challenge; 6pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubPenrose Trio; 6pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema“Road Comics: Big Work on Small Stages,” documentary producer Susan Seizer will appear; 6:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Bear’s PlaceRyder Film Series; “Neighboring Sounds”; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ St. David’s Episcopal Church, Bean BlossomConcert for dedication of new church organ; 7pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticNeil Hamburger; 8pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • What It Means to Be Human,” by Michele Heather Pollock; through September 29th
  • Land and Water,” by Ruth Kelly; through September 29th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • “Samenwerken,” Interdisciplinary collaborative multi-media works; through October 11th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits opening September 28th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others:Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections form the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

ART ◗ Boxcar BooksExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Papercuts by Ned Powell; through September

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • “Doctors and Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical professions

The Electron Pencil. Go there. Read. Like. Share.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings.” — Helen Keller

THE ABORTION WAR RAGES ON

I voted in my first presidential election 35 years ago. I pulled the lever for Jimmy Carter over Gerald R. Ford. That November, 1976, I felt heady and powerful, having helped sweep the stink of Dick Nixon out of Washington.

I looked forward to a future that would include peace, a home and plenty of food for all my fellow citizens, affordable higher education for all, unfettered access to birth control and abortions, legalized marijuana, and, of course, jet packs.

What A Cool Future!

So here we are in 2012, fighting a war that makes Vietnam look like a historical hiccup, hunger and homelessness rampant, yearly college tuitions reaching $50,000, still no legalized pot, and anti-abortionists in charge of one of the two major political parties of this holy land. Oh, and no jet packs.

Anti-abortionists gathered outside the Monroe County Courthouse yesterday afternoon to proclaim to the world how much they love, love, love every human being on this planet — as long as those human beings are not comprised of any more than several hundred cells.

“We Love You.”

The annual Rally for Life has been going on for more than a decade around Courthouse Square. Yesterday, the anti-abortionists were met with counter-protesters who shouted, waved signs, and painted slogans on their bellies.

The fun came to an early halt when the so-called Lifers decided it was too windy and misty to testify about their adoration for embryos any longer.

My fave sign at the rally? One guy held a placard proclaiming, “My sperm is not a person.”

THE COUCH POTATO PARTY?

So, Mitt Romney and his super PACs used TV advertising to knock the hell out of Newt Gingrich in November and December. Then Gingrich used TV ads to knock the hell out of Romney this past week.

Now nobody knows who the Republican candidate for president is going to be. Nor can anybody figure out why the primary race so far has been such a roller coaster ride.

Has it occurred to anybody that Republicans just might be more dedicated TV watchers than anybody else in these Great United States, Inc.? Couldn’t it be that — despite their protestations to the contrary — if they see it on TV, it’s gotta be real?

Of course, the only things Republicans don’t trust on TV are science shows and the news (except for you-know-which channel).

PRAY FOR GUIDANCE

Joe Paterno, we learned yesterday during the sickening post-mortems following the child-sodomy-tolerating football coach’s death, used to lead his teams in prayer before every single game.

Answered Prayer

So prayer, we must conclude, is a worthy activity when one hopes to score more touchdowns than Ohio State but ain’t worth the effort when trying to decide if one should call the cops after being confronted with eyewitness evidence that a pal was busy anally raping a ten-year-old boy in the shower room.

And prayer certainly didn’t help JoePa decide to bar Jerry Sandusky from using Penn State facilities for further May-December trysts (oops — I meant February-December).

FIRE WITH FIRE

If you live in one of a dozen or so primary election states, the prayer set is going to shove gory images of fetal body parts in your face in a couple of weeks. That is, should you decide to waste several hours of your precious life by watching Super Bowl XLVI.

The Puppy Bowl: A Better Usage Of Your Time

Yep, extremist Randall Terry, who is running for president (he’s expected to come in first in the Martian primary) has bought ad time in 13 primary-state TV markets during the big game broadcast on February 5th.

Terry, you may recall, founded Operation Rescue, the terrorist organization whose Kansas branch greased the way for the 2009 assassination of Dr. George Tiller.

The Terry “campaign” is running the explicit ads in response to pro-choice blogger Sophia Brugato, whose 10fortebow Twitter page donated $10 to abortion rights groups every time Denver Broncos quarterback (and prayer fanatic) Tim Tebow scored a touchdown this past season.

So, What Is It With Football And Prayer?

The “candidate” says if Brugato can raise dough for “killing babies” then he and his fellow mobsters must “fight fire with fire.”

BTW: Does it come as any surprise that a fellow like Terry might be averse to homosexuality, so much so that he has essentially disowned his son for the sin of being gay?

You know, family values, and all that.

REMARKABLE DEEDS

Parents these days are afraid to let their teenaged kids walk to the convenience store, right? Soccer moms (remember that term?) today must drive their precious spawn a block and half to the Circle K for their weekly supplies of Red Bull, condoms, and rolling papers.

That’s why this 16-year-old Laura Dekker chick’s just-completed excellent adventure is so jarring.

With the blessings of her parents, little Laura took a solo, around-the-world trip in her sailboat. She’s the youngest person ever to do such a thing, which may or may not help her advance in the business world when she becomes an adult — a landmark, I remind you, that is still some five years in the future.

Laura Dekker Got To Break Curfew 517 Nights In A Row

I’ve beaten this horse time and time again but it refuses to die. These narcissistic “accomplishments” are of zero value to anyone on this good, green (for the time being) Earth.

Celebrating these deeds and honoring their perpetrators as if they’d discovered a cure for autism is flat-out nuts.

I have a suggestion for the next pre-teen who wants to climb Mt. Everest or newlywed couple who wants to spend their honeymoon bonking high above the ground in a trans-Pacific hot air balloon ride: How about volunteering to work in a food bank or helping bring bedpans to elderly patients in your local hospital for a few weekends instead?

Now that’s heroic.

DIALOGUE

Mortgage banker Kathe Elliott-Doremus (one of the good ones — yes, such creatures do exist) FBed a fascinating nugget from the vault, Chicago’s “Dialogue, Part 1 and 2.”

Amazing, isn’t it, how nearly great that band was for a tantalizingly brief moment in time?

In fact, it was a Chicago Transit Authority (its original name until the real CTA threatened to sue) song that first introduced this aspiring teen radical to the term, “The whole world is watching.” The band’s eponymous debut album featured the twin-track “Prologue, August 29, 1968” and “Someday, August 29, 1968” which begins with raw audio from the Battle of Michigan Avenue. I stared at that convulsive event, rapt, on television when I was 12 and dreamed I could be there at Michigan and Balbo, in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, slugging it out with Mayor Daley’s cops.

Wishing I Was There

I was too young to make that scene. I would have had my skull dented, sure, and who knows where I would have headed after that. I could have become just another drug casualty or I might have been the next Tom Hayden.

Anyway, CTA seemed a harbinger of everything good and cool about pop music in the very early 70s. Lots of horns, a healthy dose of jazz, a political echo seemingly in each of its songs. But then — and I have no idea why — they turned to saccharine. It’s said Chicago is the second-most successful American pop band in terms of record sales after the Beach Boys. Most of those sales were of the treacly crap from their endless succession of unnamed, Roman-numeral-designated albums issued after that first release.

And then lead singer Peter Cetera struck out on a solo career, the output of which made Chicago’s pablum sound like the Dead Kennedys.

Chicago Transit Authority, Before They Turned Rancid

“Dialogue Part 1 and Two,” strangely enough, comes from Chicago V, showing that the band’s members still entertained a hint of the notion that music could be exciting.

Appropriately, Cetera’s is the voice of the Dialogue’s apathetic college student. He and co-lead singer Bobby Lamm talk about the state of the nation. “Don’t you ever worry,” asks Bobby Lamm, the socially-aware student, “when you see what’s goin’ down?”

“Well, I try to mind my business; that is no business at all,” Cetera responds.

Later, eerily presaging our times, Lamm asks, “Don’t you see starvation in the city where you live, all the needless hunger, all the needless pain?”

“I haven’t been there lately, the country is so fine. My neighbors don’t seem hungry ’cause they haven’t got the time,” blathers Cetera.

Finally, Cetera advises Lamm, “Well, if you had my outlook, your feelings would be numb. You’d always think that everything was fine. Everything was fine.”

And isn’t that the perfect crystallization of what passes for thought in the this holy land in the year 2012?

Today: Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WHERE’S THEIR UNION?

I’ve been a union supporter all my life.

Heck, I became a union guy just a few months after graduating high school. See, I knew I was too much of a rebel/hood/knucklehead to succeed in college at the tender age of eighteen so I wisely deferred my higher education for a couple of years.

I went out to work instead. Took a job with the City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation. My clout was 36th Ward Democratic Committeeman Louie Garippo.

In Chicago back in the 70s, if you wanted work for the City, you first had to go see your clout (also known as your Chinaman) and promise you’d do everything in the world to help him get out the vote in exchange for his sponsorship. I vowed to stand on my head, if need be, to get Mayor Daley (the First) reelected — oh, and whoever else might be running on the Dem slate in future elections.

During our interview, Louie Garippo got a dreamy look in his eye and said, “We’re gonna take back the White House next year.”

I nodded. The presidential election of 1976 would be the first in which I could vote. I couldn’t wait. I had no idea who I wanted but I knew for an iron-clad fact it wasn’t Gerald R. Ford. Yeesh.

Garripo went on. “If all goes well, we’ll have another one of the Kennedy boys in there.” Louie looked me in the eye. “You know,” he said, “your mother loved Jack Kennedy.”

Ma Loved Him

I nodded again. “Okay,” Louie said, “here’s what you do. You go see Elmer Fillipini tomorrow at 9:00am. Ya got that? Do not be late. He’ll tell you what to do.” Fillipini was the supervisor of the 36th Ward Streets & San office.

Louie wasn’t finished with me, though. “And do me a favor,” he said. “Get a haircut, fer chrissakes. You look like one’a them goddamn hippies. You’ll make your mother happy.”

I got up to leave and we shook hands. As I was walking out the door, he tossed another caveat my way.

“Remember,” he said, “don’t embarrass me.”

I nodded a third time.

At 9:05 the next morning I was filling out my first union card. The Laborers Union. Very, very cozy with The Boss, Daley. Not that we would suffer for the coziness; not even out of my teens, I would be making more money than my old man. When I told him what I was going to earn an hour, daddy-o actually got a hurt look in his eye. I always felt bad about that.

Anyway, The mayoral primary of 1975 was coming up fast. Renegade alderman Bill Singer was running against The Boss. Singer and his pals like the Rev. Jesse Jackson had already beaten Mayor Daley in a battle three years before. Singer, Jackson, et al successfully ousted Daley and the his Machine cronies from the 1972 Democratic National Convention. The one that nominated George McGovern to run that November. You remember McGovern, don’t you? Lost the election in one of the greatest landslides in history. Couldn’t even carry his own state.

So, Singer had decided to take on Daley in the primary. He was young. He was a rebel. He had longish hair. He hung out with brothers. As far as I was concerned, he was perfect. I started wearing a Singer lapel button — to work.

Not smart. Elmer Filippini called me in to his office for a private meeting. He wasn’t happy.

“Dontchu care about yer job?” he snapped.

I shrugged. My only regret was that I was embarrassing Louie Garippo.

I lasted three months in that job — not because Elmer or Louie forced me out but because I was an irresponsible lunkhead.

Believe it or not, I grew up. I eventually got into the writing and journalism rackets. Joined more unions. The National Writers Union and the Newspaper Guild.

Reporters On Strike, 1964

To this day I’m always on the side of the unions. I don’t like bullies. Management always seems to be the bully.

The highest-profile labor dispute going on right now in this holy land is the National Basketball Association lockout. In an industry raking in a couple of billion dollars a year, labor and management can’t figure out how to slice up the pie.

Billionaire jerks fighting with millionaire jerks over a few bucks.

Still, I’m steadfast behind the National Basketball Players Association. Management, remember, is always the bully. Even if the players are jerks.

Gotta tell you, though, there are a lot of folks suffering over this. Some of our friends in Indy are trying to figure out how to buy Christmas presents this year. Heck, some of them might be trying to figure out how to pay the rent.

Hot dog vendors. Jersey hawkers. Ushers. Ticket sellers. Beer pushers. Loads of people who consider themselves extremely fortunate when they bring home a hundred dollars after a Pacers game.

No Games, No Hungry Fans, No Pay

The NBA last year paid out $800 million to its wage slaves on the gym floor. That constituted 57 percent of all basketball related revenues for the season, meaning the owners claim to have pocketed some $600 million. The NBPA claims the owners are fudging their books. I’d bet they are. You don’t get rich enough to own a major league sports franchise by possessing the morals of a Boy Scout.

There’s a lot of cash up for grabs in this fight. But there isn’t enough for a hot dog vendor to splurge on Christmas this year.

RUNNING IN PLACE

Speaking of elections, the honorable Regina Moore bounced into The Book Corner last week to stock up on reading material. The city’s parking ticket boss immediately got into a conversation with a young woman who still sported Hallowe’en-themed nail polish.

The two batted around the topic of nail painting for a few minutes then I asked Moore how she was feeling about today’s election. “I feel good about it,” Moore said. “I think we’re gonna be okay.”


Bloomington City Clerk Regina Moore

I told her I was happy she seemed so confident. Then it hit me. “Hey, wait a minute,” I said. “Is anyone running against you?”

“No,” Regina Moore said.

Nor is anyone running against incumbent Mayor Mark Kruzan.

Democracy, Bloomington style. Ya gotta love it.

Still, get out there and vote. It’s the least you can do.

KAYOED

Smokin’ Joe Frazier took a ten-count last night. The former heavyweight boxing champ died after a bout with cancer.

I’ve got to admit I never cared for Frazier. Not for anything he did or the kind of man he was. It was just that he was the guy who knocked one of the heroes of my youth to the canvas back in 1971. Frazier was the first man to hang an L on Muhammad Ali, besting him in 15 rounds at Madison Square Garden that year.

Frazier Labels Ali In One Of Their Three Fights

I loved Ali. I couldn’t have cared less about boxing but I embraced Ali because he had the cagliones to refuse to be inducted into the Army after being drafted in 1967. He risked everything for his beliefs. “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Vietcong,” Ali famously said. “No Vietcong ever called me nigger.”

Plus, Ali was a poet and a showman. Had he been a run-of-the-mill pug, I wouldn’t have given him a second thought. But, because he raged against The Man, I elevated him to my sports pantheon, which also included Curt Flood, Jim Bouton, Dick Allen, and John Carlos and Tommie Smith.

John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Arms Upraised

Ali came back from his exile from the sport and won back the title. Then Frazier outpointed him. I moaned, Who the hell is Joe Frazier, anyway?

Now, no Vietcong ever called Muhammad Ali nigger, but Ali called Joe Frazier a “gorilla” prior to one of the bouts, the three of which have become almost mythic battles. Frazier was deeply hurt by the epithet. Ali also called him an “Uncle Tom” and “ugly.” Frazier’s manager told him to pay Ali no mind, that “The Greatest” was only hyping their match.

Frazier said, Maybe, but how would you like your kid to come home from school and tell you the kids had been calling him “gorilla” and “Uncle Tom”?

I hope to learn that Ali apologized to Frazier before last night. He’d be a hero again for me.

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