Category Archives: Guns

1000 Words: Wartime

Let’s not kid ourselves anymore. We’re in a civil war.

It’s being carried out right now only by those on the outermost fringes of society. But it’s real. It’s happening.

People are being killed. That, of course, is the basic definition of war. During World War II, for instance, anywhere from 60 to 90 million people lost their lives. The carnage was so widespread and indiscriminate that those whose job it was to actually count the bodies threw their hands in the air after a while and basically said Let’s go with round numbers. And, while we’re at it, we’ll always round up.

That was a hot war. The hottest our war-loving species has ever engaged in. The war we’re in right now, largely confined to the shores of this holy land, isn’t hot. It’s still fairly tepid. It’s a crap shoot as to whether this civil war will come to a boil. Maybe we’ll get lucky and cooler heads will figure out a way to douse it. Then again, maybe not.

Time will tell.

Now our reporters and opinionators are providing us almost daily running casualty totals, reminiscent of the Walter Cronkite and Huntley/Brinkley era when newspapers and TV screens’d display the latest death totals in Vietnam, as if they were points on a scoreboard. We’re winning, the totals appeared to say. On any given day, it’d be, oh, 1575 Vietcong dead versus, say, 175 Americans. Woohoo!

Contemporary casualty totals don’t emanate from rice paddies and dense jungles but from shopping malls, schools, gay bars, churches, community centers, movie theaters, drag show venues, and any number of other heretofore unremarkable gatherings of everyday folks.

Everyday folks who are being killed at a rate unheard of in our history, as long as one ignores the countless Jim Crow era extrajudicial executions — but that was a whole other war.

The deaths these days are being carried out by a thin but growing swath of society that feels a need to eliminate another swath of society they see as The Enemy.

And isn’t that precisely what war is all about?

Michelle Goldberg writes in today’s New York Times that the war may well have begun as far back as May 1995, nearly 30 years ago, when Timothy McVeigh truck-bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 and injuring 680. McVeigh’s Wikipedia page reads, in part:

A Gulf War veteran, McVeigh sought revenge against the federal government for the 1993 Waco siege as well as the 1991 Ruby Ridge incident and American foreign policy. He hoped to inspire a revolution against the federal government, and defended the bombing as a legitimate tactic against what he saw as a tyrannical government.

For years, McVeigh was viewed as a kook, a one-off, a deranged terrorist who was swiftly apprehended and dispatched to hell six years after his horrifying act. Thank god, America whispered, we don’t have to worry about that kind of thing anymore.

Only, we do.

“McVeigh,” Goldberg writes, “who was a member of the K.K.K. and harbored a deep resentment of women, hoped that blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building would inspire an army of followers to make war on the government. This didn’t happen immediately, although, as the historian Kathleen Bewle has written, there was a wave of militia and white supremacist violence in the bombing’s aftermath. But today, an often-inchoate movement of people who share many of McVeigh’s views is waging what increasingly looks like a low-level insurgency against the rest of us.”

Even if the latest mass shooter has no idea who McVeigh was, he’s likely the man’s spiritual brother. The world, McVeigh “reasoned,” was going to shit and it was incumbent upon him to do something about it. Too often, when authorities pour through the journals and diaries, the social media posts and the hate group memberships, of the latest mass shooter, that same “reasoning” emerges.

None of today’s wholesale killers wear uniforms but they’re soldiers nonetheless. They’re killing “the rest of us” by the hundreds and thousands. If that ain’t a war, I don’t know what is.

America’s official Civil War didn’t pop up as if by magic with the attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. There’d been any number of clashes, skirmishes, atrocities, and acts of terrorism committed in the decades before that date. The Civil War, it can be said, began in 1851 or even 1841. The start date of any war usually is arrived at by some manner of agreement among historians. Who’s to say World War II didn’t start with the Japanese Rape of Nanking in 1937? This even though it’s generally held that the war started when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. Tell the people of Korea, of Manchuria, of Czechoslovakia, of Austria that the death and destruction they suffered before the invasion of Poland wasn’t war.

Let’s not tell the hundreds, the thousands killed in American mass shootings there’s no war going on either.

Fed a steady diet of grievance, panic, and hatred by Right Wing “news” channels and websites, urged on by provocateurs like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tucker Carlson, and driven by their own deep-seated psychopathologies, today’s mass shooters are merely the advanced guard in what may well become an organized fighting force coming, as Goldberg writes, for the rest of us.

Should some Reichstag Fire-like tragedy occur on these shores within the next few years, say some nut takes a shot at Donald Trump or somebody with tenuous ties to Black Lives Matter plants a bomb at the next NRA convention, more and more people will join with those on that outermost fringe of society to, as they see it, set the world straight

Maybe Goldberg’s right and the first shot was fired in Oklahoma City in 1995. Maybe it was in Memphis in 1968. Maybe Kent State and Jackson State in 1970. How about Philadelphia in 1985?

We’re at war with ourselves even if we don’t recognize it yet.

Maybe we’ve been at war against each other for a hundred or even two hundred years. All I know is in this year of somebody’s lord, 2023, we sure as hell love our guns a lot more than each other.

1000 Words: Sometimes…

…I just don’t know.

What I do know this moment is I screamed at the radio this AM. That’s something I haven’t done in years, at least since November 2016 when…, well, you know what happened in November 2016.

Today the news, about as disturbing but more immediately tragic for a group of parents, relatives, friends, neighbors and compassionate others, was all about a yet another loon with a high-powered firearm offing a half dozen innocents in a Nashville, Tennessee school. Three adults and three nine-year-old students caught lead because some personification of evil couldn’t think his way past whatever previous slights or insults have been dominating his warped brain for the last few years.

News coverage of such events has become boilerplate: the horror, the details, interviews with law enforcement officials, a statement from the president, “not much is known at this time about the shooter.” If, indeed, AI should become the new standard replacement for human reporters, mass shootings will be the repetitive story it will cover as well or better than its flesh and blood predecessors.

Anyway, the radio. The human anchor covering this latest carnage had to, had to, ask the human reporter on the scene the single most annoying question posed during the fallout from any kind of horrifying misfortune: “How,” she asked, “are the people of Nashville dealing with this tragedy?”

I snapped. It’s long been a bugaboo for me. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gritted my teeth when, listening to a report about, say, an apartment fire that claimed the lives of several children and the reporter asking the neighbors or even the parents, “How do you feel about all this?”

Is that taught in J-school? I’d been under the impression that “news” was something extraordinary, meaning had those neighbors or parents replied, “This block’ll be better off without those bratty little bastards,” that would be news. Getting the grieving to say they’re grieving, to admit their lives are shattered just now, that it’s doubtful they’ll ever get over the trauma, well, that’s given, for pity’s sake.

The reporter may as well have asked the person, “In which direction did the sun rise this morning?”

Here we are again. This is piling on. Not only do we have more guns than people in this benighted holy land, not only do far too many people believe guns are the answer to every problem imaginable, not only do we lap up two-fisted shooters on movie and TV screens, not only does one of our two major political parties pander to the Gun Fondlers of America all the while flipping the bird to the weakest, lamest, most unfortunate among our sisteren and brethren, and simultaneously shrieking to high heaven that the single most pressing issue facing our great nation today is a few men dressing as women but, dammit, here’s another woeful tale of children — nine-year-olds — being slaughtered in their classroom. It’s too much, I tell you.

The straw that broke my patience’s back was that radio reporter asking, “How are the people of Nashville dealing with this tragedy?”

I bellowed, “They’re sad, you fucking idiot!”

The cat jumped. The windows rattled. The Loved One called out, What’s going on?

Despite the fact my hands were sudsy and soaking wet from washing the morning dishes, I grabbed at the transistor radio (yes, I still have a transistor radio; two of them, in fact) and flipped it off as dramatically and emphatically as possible, considering the act only entailed my forefinger moving the on-off switch a few millimeters to the left. There!

Every once in a while, I take a deserved break from the news. My sanity depends on it. And thus begins my latest hiatus from rotten news, fucking idiot reporters, and any mention of the man who made headlines in 2016.

Okay, lemme redirect things around here. One of my passions, as all loyal Pencillistas know, is science. Now, I respect and revere scientists. That is, their work in their respective scientific sub-fields is worthy of esteem. I do not uniformly or universally respect scientists as human beings. In fact, far too many of them are or have been…, well, jerks.

The prime examples are James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins, who won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the helical nature of the DNA molecule, perhaps the basic building block of life as we know it. The three stood on their heads to deny their colleague, Rosalind Franklin, her fair share of the glory. Franklin was the one who actually eyeballed the structure of the molecule and described it to the other fellows. But, being men, they patted her on the head and ran off to grab all the plaudits.


The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) reports that fewer than 30 percent of the world’s scientists today are female. “Numerous studies have found that women in STEM fields publish less, are paid less foir their reserach and do not progress as far as men in their careers,” the UIS report states.

That all said, let’s celebrate the most recent female to win a Nobel Prize in one of the STEM fields. Last year, Carolyn Bertozzi of Stanford University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, shared the Nobel in Chemistry for her work in both “click” and bioorthogonal chemistry.


Her Nobel mini-bio reads:

Chemists strive to build increasingly complicated molecules. For a long time, this has been very time consuming and expensive. Click chemistry means that molecular building blocks snap together quickly and efficiently. Around 2000, Carolyn Bertozzi started utilising click chemistry in living organisms. She developed bioorthogonal reactions which take place inside living organisms without disrupting the normal chemistry of the cell. These reactions are now used to explore cells, track biological processes, and improve the targeting of cancer pharmaceuticals.

Let’s celebrate even more the currently anonymous grade school girls who might learn about Bertozzi and hope to become scientists one day.

North Carolina fifth-grader Aubrey Slaughter wins her school’s science fair for her “Movement & Power: Homopolar Motor” Display.

Hot Air

Just Folks

Just in case you’ve forgotten, Bloomington not long ago was a sleepy, small college town. Even though we have developers coming in here hoping to build more hulking monolithic apartment blocks along the burgeoning mini-canyons on Walnut and College avenues, and even though our pop. is fast approaching 100k, we still retain bits of that endearing, quaint, small-town-ness.

To wit: This past week, both Claire McInerney and John Bailey, reporters for NPR-affiliate WFIU have come into the Book Corner to make purchases. Each used a credit card, affording me the opportunity to see who she and he were. Each time, I reacted with pleasant surprise: Oh, you’re the voice from the radio, or some such thing.

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McInerney & Bailey

And both Claire and John reacted with such delight that I felt as though I was in a scene from It’s A Wonderful Life. Claire beamed so broadly I thought the ends of her grin might meet at the back of her head. John thanked me repeatedly as if I’d told him his Pulitzer Prize had arrived in my mailbox by mistake.

See, I come from Chicago and even the minor-est media figures there are well-practiced in either canned gratitude or annoyed harrumphing at being recognized. In the big town, expressing joy when someone says they know you through radio, TV, or the newspapers is tantamount to admitting you’re a rube.

Well, you know what? I dig rubes. At least Bloomington’s brand of rube-ishness. It’s a hell of a lot more likable than studied jadedness. I hope we don’t lose that quality for many years to come.

USNS John Lewis

The US Navy is naming its new oil tanker ship after legendary civil rights activist and US Congressbeing from Georgia, John Lewis.

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Lewis Gets His Ship

How cool is that? I bet when that Alabama state trooper was clubbing him to the ground, breaking his skull in the process on Bloody Sunday back in 1965, the last thing on Lewis’s mind was the possibility that his country would name a ship after him.


Lewis Gets His Head Busted

Of course, Lewis has always maintained a sense of optimism about and belief in this bizarre holy land. I envy him his fidelity. My occasional frissons about Murrica’s goodness and exceptionalism are fairly balanced out by glumness. We shoot each other up seemingly on a daily basis, our legislative processes are manipulated by banksters and corporatists, too many of us still fear black- and brown-skinned people, and the gap between the rich and the poor widens by the minute.

Yet Lewis still loves America. He appeared at the Indiana University Auditorium last September, along with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, his collaborators on the March series of graphic novels recounting his activist career. You could sense his ardor for this lovable/detestable land from the moment he opened his mouth.

I don’t believe I possess the strength of character and will to believe that Lewis has. Were I he, I’d hold a grudge against a country that broke my head simply because I wanted my people to be able to vote. I wish I were as strong as John Lewis.

Gun Crazy

So, here’s prima facie evidence that I shouldn’t love and forgive this holy land so readily. In the aftermath of President Obama’s heartfelt, sincere sermon regarding our national love affair with (or sexual fixation on) firearms, Seymour State Representative Jim Lucas — a Republican, duh! — has reintroduced a bill to allow people to carry shootin’ irons on state-supported college campuses. He sez he wants his “wife and daughter to be able to protect themselves especially on dark evenings walking alone.”

His bill aims to end state firearms carry licensing as well as to prevent all state agencies from banning guns on their properties or inside their facilities. The bill specifically mentions colleges and universities.


The Wild Bunch Goes To College

With all due respect (read: none), I might suggest Lucas, his wife, and his daughter actually attend a college campus and try things like reading books wherein they might learn about the nature of crowds, the physics of ballistic projectiles passing through bodies and inanimate materials, the effect of panic on people who might be tempted to protect a classroom by blasting away at some intruder, among other fascinating and informative areas of study.

In other words, you are one dumb son of a bitch, Jim. Again, with all due respect.

Hot Air

What Cops Do

Really, calling the cops is white people’s security blanket.

Your home gets burglarized, you call the cops. You do this even though you know they’re not gonna put three shifts on the case to track down your flat screen. Still, you feel better when they show up.

You get into an accident, you call the cops. They come by and take your report — something you could have done simply by driving to the nearest police station. When they show up, you feel as though justice will be served as they haul in the idiot who slammed into your hot rod. Which, of course, they don’t do.

Some lunkheads start pounding each other out on the sidewalk, you call the cops. By the time the squad car rolls up, the lunkheads are gone. The cops tell you they’ll keep a lookout for them. Sure.

The cops are there, mainly, to hold your hand. They make you feel safe. They give you the illusion that the scary, chaotic incident you just witnessed or experienced is really under control, their control — your friends, the men in blue. Now you can go back to sleep.

It’s not that way for people living in black slums. Most residents of tough, poor, inner-city neighborhoods are afraid to open their doors to the cops. This was brought home dramatically Saturday when Chicago police, responded to a call about an emotionally disturbed young man raising hell in his father’s apartment on the city’s West Side. The young man, Quintonio LeGrier, was running down the stairs of the apartment building while carrying a baseball bat when one or more of the responding officers opened fire, hitting the college student with six slugs. A seventh shot took the life of a 55-year-old mother of five, Bettie Jones, who’d opened her apartment door to see what all the fuss was about.

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Bettie Jones

The kid LeGrier had lived a horseshit life. He’d been abandoned by both parents and was the victim of physical abuse. He’d recently lost a close foster brother to a random shooting. He’d also had a very recent history of troubles, allegedly being involved in three separate scuffles at Northern Illinois University where he was studying electrical engineering. He’d experienced alarming mood swings in recent months.


Quintonio LeGrier

The crisis called for caring professionals with special training in handling emotionally disturbed individuals. Problem was the only people who came to the West Side apartment house were cops carrying loaded firearms, cops whose first impulse was to squeeze their triggers.

What is it that would cause a cop to open fire on an emotionally disturbed young man carrying a baseball bat? Other than his skin color, natch. And it really doesn’t matter if the shooting officers were white or black, the racist culture within the police department of Chicago and pretty much every force around this holy land trumps racial brotherhood. Black cops are just as petrified of crazy niggers as white cops are today. Because, really, that’s all young black men are anymore — to a certain segment of society.

Bettie Jones’s childhood friend Jaqueline Walker had a question for the cops in the aftermath of the shootings: “Why you got to shoot first and ask questions later?”

Quintonio LeGrier’s mother posed her own heart-breaking query about the cops in the wake of her son’s death. “What are they trained for? Just to kill?”

Hot Air

War Birds

Niccolò Machiavelli knew it as far back as the 15th Century, yet today’s leaders, apparently, remain unaware:

Wars begin when you will but they do not end when you please.

Even though marching into the Middle East to kick the living crap out of the various fundamentalist loons like ISIL, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and whoever else believes they’re doing the great work of god seems like a quick and easy answer, it won’t be. Unless the chickenhawks of the Republican Party who blathered the other night about carpet bombing cities, sand glowing in the dark, hunting down and utterly destroying terrorists, and other masturbatorial fantasies want to fight their pretty little wars forever, the smart move right now is to stay the hell out of the morass.

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Easy Peasy!

I’ve changed my mind since the early days of ISIL. At first I was all for pounding those religio-psychos into the dirt. But it ain’t gonna happen. It can’t happen. War is never simple or easy or even final.

Come to think of it, maybe Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio et al do indeed want everlasting war. It’s becoming clearer by the minute that they and too many other legislators serve, more than any other constituency, their arms-manufacturing, defense-contracting sugar daddies. War is great business.

Sticks And Stones

University of Chicago Press editor Renaldo Migaldi points out a CounterPunch piece from a few years back that utterly belies the assertion that the citizenry needs guns to protect itself from a tyrannical gov’t. Author David Swanson writes:

There is no correlation between personal liberties in a nation and its gun ownership. Campaigns of resistance to tyranny are more likely to succeed, and that success is more likely to be lasting when those campaigns are nonviolent.

And by nonviolent, Swanson means w/o shootin’ irons. Swanson cites the revolts in Serbia and Egypt that toppled rulers without shots being fired. He reminds us that the East Timorians attempted rebellion for years by armed means but did not succeed until they laid down their pieces.

Simple, honest citizens carrying guns flat out don’t win shooting contests against their gov’t overlords. It didn’t happen in the New World English colonies. It didn’t happen in the “War of Northern Aggression” (where the rebels considered the Union an oppressive force). It didn’t happen in Tsarist Russia. It didn’t happen in Cuba. It didn’t happen in Egypt. It didn’t happen anywhere. Any nation where a rebellion occurred successfully, it was either another country or group of countries who came to the aid of the rebels (the French, for instance, in the American Colonies) or the tyrants were simply replaced by an equally bloodthirsty gang of bullies (the Stalinists or the Castro bunch).

Mass street movements endorsed by pretty much all segments of society save the power elite are the only successful revolutionary movements that work. And by work I mean kick out the despotic bastards and replace them with more reasonable bosses. Think Vaclav Havel’s Velvet Revolution. Think Ghandi’s Swaraj.

The government — any government — will be able to outgun you. Thinking you can hold the gov’t off with sidearms and long guns is fairy tale thinking. Now, if the citizenry were able to amass billions of dollars’ worth of armored vehicles, artillery, ballistic missiles, and weapons of mass destruction, maybe there’d be a case for a fair fight. But John Wayne or John Rambo riding in on a horse to save the republic from malevolent bureaucrats is a conceit that works only in movies. Childish movies, I may add.

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Pick The Winner

The right to bear arms in order to protect against tyranny is a canard cooked up by lobbyists and pimps for gun manufacturers to ensure no one will ever impede their cash flow. So far it’s a strategy that works — at least in this holy land.

Home For The Holidays

The exodus of Indiana University students from our fair megalopolis will be complete after today. We’ll be able to listen to the birds chirp w/o the interfering din of kids using the term like every other word. We’ll walk our fair streets safe in the knowledge that some tinted-glass monster SUV won’t come careening around the corner to flatten us. Christmas break is the most wonderful time of the year. Well, that and spring and summer breaks.

By the time the students return next month, there’ll be changes at The Pencil’s new back office, Hopscotch Coffee. (BTW: Nothing against Bob and Kari Costello’s Soma Coffee House which served admirably as field HQ for this mighty communications colossus from 2009 to this past summer but it was time for a change of scenery.) Jane Kupersmith’s and Jeff Grant’s year-plus-old caffeine station on the B-Line Trail at Dodds St. has been doing such land-office biz since opening its doors that they’ve been forced to take over the storefront next door. Workers are pounding and sawing on the other side of the wall where I sit and type even now (thanks for the headache, boys!) Kupersmith showed me her construction calendar this AM and it looks as though work’ll be finished by Friday, January 8th. Meanwhile, customers will be able to gas up and pound on their keyboards in the original space even as those workers break through the north wall of the place the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Sweet News

Speaking of hot entrepreneurs, how about that Joni McGary and her Lucky Guy Bakery?

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Better Living Through Chocolate

While I was away from these precincts finishing up the Charlotte Zietlow book, Joni was busy setting up a brownie empire stretching from here to Indy. Pretty much every fashionable food joint and shop in our town is carrying Joni’s goods. She’s been putting mileage on her car peddling her wares in the big city as well as smaller burghs surrounding B-town as well.

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Walnut Brownies Ready For Packaging

I thoroughly endorse Joni’s brownies, even if my buzz-kill doctor insists I cut down on my intake of sugary substances. What do doctors know anyhow?



Hot Air

Kill Joy

If anything of value can emerge from the South Carolina church shooting Wednesday, it’s the sheer entertainment we’ve gotten from the Wingnut Right’s reaction to it.

I mean, imagine how flummoxed the Fox News et al crowd has to be over this terrorist attack. Nine blacks (the American equivalent of one-half a 22-year-old suburban blonde) are killed by a white boy gun fondler whose beef against them is they represent the bestial horde that’s raping Cauc. women and “taking over” this holy land. Honestly, in the bizarro world of the Far Right, is this even a crime? Hell, the porcelain dolls who pass for news commentators on Fox and other ultra-conservative media outlets are hammering away at these grievances every day anyway.

So, while the sane among us were decrying this white supremacist attack, the Fox/Far Right people were dithering over its meaning. Golly no, it wasn’t a racial attack, a number of them bleated; it was…, um, er, more of an attack on Christianity — yeah, that’s the ticket! And the little loon who pulled the trigger wasn’t enabled by our devil-may-care gun laws; in fact, some “wits” proffered, the whole shebang wouldn’t even have gone down if the parishioners had been packing heat themselves, as should all god-fearing, Murrica-loving, primarily pale-skinned citizens.

Fox News

For nearly two full days, the Goebbels wing of the know-nothing crowd seemed nauseatingly (albeit explicably) muted about the attack. That is, until this AM when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley finally found a reason to shout about it.

Perhaps it occurred to her as she showered. I know many of my own epiphanies come upon me as I lather up. However it happened, Haley realized she and the state could kill the kid.

How exciting! Haley announced that, goddamn yes, the sovereign state of So. Car. would indeed seek the death penalty when the kid goes on trial.


A Ray Of Sunshine

See? Now the Fox-ers and their ilk can get all het up over this…, er, um, little incident.

Hot Air

The Police Are A Leftist Tool — Who Knew?

[Just a reminder: The Pencil is on hiatus right now as Big Mike — me — devotes time and energy to a fabulous book project, the details of which will be forthcoming as publishers are sufficiently fawned over and contracts are signed. Stay tuned for news on that front.

Meanwhile, I’ll be putting up little tidbits on occasion, just to keep the circuitry of this communications colossus in working order. I expect to be back telling the world what it ought to do full time within weeks or a couple of months at the most. Try your best to survive without my inerrant pontifications until then, okay? Okay.]

Sometimes I don’t even know what the stereotypes are that we liberals and progressives are supposed to live up to. So, I couldn’t let this pass without comment.

I was enjoying a heated verbal fistfight on social media yesterday, the gist of which was Isn’t it crazy that certain voices on the Right are blaming President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and Mayor De Blasio for the assassination of those two police officers in New York Saturday? Natch, Right Wing commenters got all huffy and doubled down on the canard, going so far as to suggest Obama et al secretly want to destroy America, etc. You know, the usual boilerplate demonizations and mad pronouncements.

Anyway, the TKO came when one Conservative guy who’d already seemed ready to pop a vein decided to set everybody straight. Look, he said, we wouldn’t even need the police if it wasn’t for you soft-assed, dependent Lefties! Yeah, because if everybody had a gun there’d be no need for police. But you Libs have to have big daddy government do everything for you, up to and including protect your home and family.

Big Gun

Who Needs The Cops?

So, there it is. Now we’re responsible for the police. Who, BTW, seem to be shooting up everybody and everything on our side of the fence of late. I guess we love punishment.

Hot Air

Black Helicopters Take Out Bambis

So, the White Buffalo outfit whacked some deer Monday night and Tuesday morning — apparently. The City’s being closed-mouth about the operation. Do not enter signs were put up at the last possible moment, I suppose so that culling protesters wouldn’t flock to the Griffy Lake area and perhaps catch an arrow or even a slug in the gluteus maximus.

Griffy Lake

A couple of trucks from the Exotic Feline Rescue Center and the Hoosier Hills Food Bank were seen parked in the vicinity, meaning some big cats and unwealthy humans’ll be dining on venison soonly.

I can report the spread of a conspiracy theory. One woman has publicized a story she got from her nephew that the FBI was involved in the cull and some 150 critters were assassinated. The nephew also told his aunt that each deer was gutted on the spot and the guts were left for coyotes to munch on.

Folks, it ain’t just the wingnut right that’s got its head screwed on backward.

Risky Business

Have you caught the news from So. Korea that the ferry line CEO whose vessel capsized in April, killing 304 people, has been thrown in prison for ten years? Not only that, seven other company officials were given  prison sentences of two to six years. And another couple of guys got suspended sentences for participating in the cover-up.

Sewol Disaster

The Sewol Disaster

The poor bastards. I bet they wished they’d have run their ferry company here in America. In which case, following a similar disaster, at least three of them would have been hired by Fox News as shipping and/or business analysts. The rest would probably have gotten their own reality TV shows.

I guess the South Koreans just don’t understand business.

McKim’s Missives

I don’t know where he finds the time to do it but Monroe County Council member Geoff McKim puts out an absolutely indispensable blog covering the nuts and bolts of local gov’t. His IN53 – MOCOGOV site is a neat example of elected officials at least giving the impression that they give a good goddamn about you and me, the voters.


Geoff McKim & Brood

For instance, a post this week addresses  $87,575 in proposed spending on a couple of maintenance vehicles for the Monroe County Parks and Recreation Dept. so it can take care of its hiking trails. Admittedly, that’s not anywhere near as sexy a news story as, say, Barack Obama’s birth in Kenya or some Tea Party pol professing that rape babies are god’s gift.

What we fail to recognize all too often is that these are the real issues in government. Spending a few thou here and a few thou there is what council members, representatives, state senators, and other beauty contestant winners argue about and do every day.

This Means War

It’s sort of comforting to know that Phyllis Schlafly is still on the case. The superhero fighter against the Equal Rights Amendment back in the ’70s and, before that, a prime mover in the birth of the neo-conservative movement in this holy land, she’s got some thoughts on Barack Obama’s immigration speech last night.

Even before the Prez issued his exec. order granting temporary amnesty for certain unauthorized aliens to remain here, ol’ Phyll told the World Net Daily folks that he was about to embark on a course of action as shocking and devastating to our sacred republic as the attack on Ft. Sumter or Pearl Harbor.

Man! I munna start digging a bomb shelter in the back yard this very morning.

US Civil War

Amnesty = Unspeakable Slaughter

Schlafly referred, of course, to the opening salvo of the Civil War — and, golly gee, we might be in for another such bloodbath because of Obama and his amnesties:

Schlafly, like fellow conservative luminary Richard Viguerie, speculates that an executive amnesty might touch off a sort of modern-day conflagration.

The truth of the matter is these Right Wing loons are pretty tumescent over the prospect of another Civil War. Witness, for instance, the run on St. Louis-area gun shops in the lead-up the the Michael Brown killing grand jury report.

Y’know, if ever I have questions about the rightness and efficacy of being at least somewhat allied with the Democratic Party, I remember the other party boasts deep thinkers like Schlafly and Viguerie. All of a sudden I say to myself, Hey man, those Dems’ll do.

Hot Air


People occasionally bleat, “If we didn’t have guns, we’d still be colonies of England.”

To which I might respond, “So what?”


What has become the United Kingdom is a parliamentary, constitutional republic. That’s pretty much what the United States is now, only without a bunch of pretentious, bloated, old, white peers shouting Here, here at each other. In this holy land, we have a bunch of pretentious, bloated, old, white self-proclaimed populists shouting Gimme, gimme at each other.

So yeah, maybe without guns we’d still be subjects of a useless, purposeless crown. How is that worse than being subjects of an obscenely rich plutocracy of transnational corporation CEOs?

The people of Scotland the day before yesterday voted by a healthy margin to remain under the ceremonial thumb of the Queen of England. Prior to the vote, there’d been a loud, seemingly wildly popular movement for independence. Scottish independence has not been, of course, the only mass call for autonomy in this mixed-up world in recent years. There’ve been successful independence movements in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Brunei, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Timor-Leste, Latvia, Belarus, Slovenia, Estonia, Ukraine, Moldova, Macedonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and even the Federated States of Micronesia, all since the late 1970s.

South Sudan

South Sudanese Soldiers Celebrate Independence

Each of the aforementioned new nations became proudly independent, often at the cost of hundreds of thousands of its citizens’ lives and limbs. Not all newly independent states achieved their autonomy through the use of ammo, but most did. Very often, other, much more powerful nations gleefully assisted those seeking sovereignty if only to weaken or humiliate the countries the rebels were fighting. In fact, we would not be the United States were it not for the help of our friends from France. And the Confederate States of America might be a thing today if only Great Britain and France had pitched in to the Southern cause during the Civil War.

Funny thing is, it’s hard to glean just exactly what each of the proud, new independent nations gained, besides pride, of course, a new flag, and a national cemetery bursting with fresh customers.

In any case, the Scots opted not to fire guns at the Brits. They voted, huzzah. And the independents lost. Generally in such a case, there’d be a wailing and gnashing of teeth from the losing side, followed by the sound of guns and bombs. That’s the way, we’re taught, independence works. You try to talk your way to autonomy and then you blow the other guy’s brains out.

It hasn’t worked that way in Scotland. In fact, here’s what Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish independent movement said after Thursday’s vote:

It is important to say that our referendum was an agreed and consented process and Scotland has by a majority decided not at this stage to become an independent country.

I accept that verdict of the people and I call on all of Scotland to follow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland.


Salmond To The UK: You Win

What the hell kind of revolutionary is that? Salmond resigned his post as Scotland’s First Minister this morning. What a wuss! Why didn’t he go down with guns blazing?

Perhaps it’s because he’s a civilized human being.

One of the very few in this crazy, mixed-up world.

Bloomingfoods Union

If you support the right of workers at Bloomingfoods to at least consider unionizing, here’s a Democracy for America petition for you to sign:


Click Image To Access Petition

Lotus Fest Saturday

Here’s your Lotus Fest 2104 lineup for tonight:


  • Buskirk Chumley Theater 114 E. Kirkwood Ave.
  • First United Methodist Church 219 E. 4th St.
  • First Christian Church 205 E. Kirkwood Ave.
  • First Presbyterian Church 221 E. 6th St.
  • Ivy Tech Community College Tent 6th St. between Walnut & College
  • Old National Bank/Soma Tent 4th & Grant streets
  • The Bluebird 216 N. Walnut St.
  • 3rd St. Park 331 S. Washington St.

Saturday, September 20th

● Noon to 5pm: Lotus in the Park 3rd St. Park

∙ 12:15pm: Kaia

∙ 1pm: Banda Magda

Banda Magda

Banda Magda

∙ 1pm: Radha Lakshmi

∙ 1:45pm: Arga Bileg

∙ 2:30pm: Sancocho Music & Dance Collage

∙ 3:15pm: Lotus Dickey Song Workshop

∙ 4pm: The Revelers

● 6:30pm: FullSet Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 6:30pm: Arga Bileg First United Methodist Church

● 7pm: Banda Magda Bluebird

● 7:15pm: Catherine MacLellan First Christian Church

● 7:15pm: Tsuumi Sound System Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 7:15pm: Las Cafeteras Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 7:30pm: Nagata Shachu Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 7:50pm: Kaia First United Methodist Church

● 8:50pm: The Revelers Bluebird

● 8:50pm: Vanesa Aibar & Company Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 8:50pm: Derek Gripper First Christian Church

● 8:50pm: Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line First United Methodist Church

● 8:50pm: Mames Babegenush Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 8:50pm: Aurelio Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 10:25pm: Emel Mathlouthi Buskirk Chumley Theater


Emel Mathlouthi

● 10:25pm: Singing for the Planets First Christian Church

● 10:25pm: FullSet First United Methodist Church

● 10:25pm: Orkesta Mendoza Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 10:25pm: Movits! Old National Bank/Soma Tent

Hot Air

Just The Facts, Ma’am

Loyal Pencillistas know I’m a defender of Genetically Modified Organisms, AKA GMOs. That puts me in a distinct minority in this food fetishist town. People here know me as a liberal-bordering-on-radical and so are aghast when they discover I don’t see GMOs as the tools of the devil.

They say: But what about Monsanto? To which I reply: Sure, Monsanto’s about as evil as, say, Halliburton or Academi (the former Blackwater.) Monsanto makes tons of dough on its patented GMO seeds and uses the most bullying tactics possible to make certain every farmer, every gardener, hell, every kid who plays in the dirt buys its product. Plus, Monsanto actively squashes competition, infringes on free speech, impedes investigations, harasses critics, and literally writes laws that legislators on its payroll can then obediently introduce and pass.

Monsanto is, in short, a bad guy.


A Monsanto Corn Sprout [photo by Peter Newcomb/Reuters]

The ways Monsanto is forcing GMOs upon the world may be despicable but that that doesn’t mean their new species per se necessarily spell the end of civilization. That’s my position.

That said, it was my good fortune to meet Dr. Martha Crouch, better known as Marti, at the Book Corner Monday. “Hey,” I nearly shouted as I read the name on her credit card, “you’re you!”

“Indeed I am,” she replied, smartly.


Marti Crouch, Surrounded By Green, Naturally

I explained how I’ve heard about her through countless folks who’ve taken me to task for defending GMOs. I then asked her to educate me. “I’d be more than happy,” I said, “to change my mind if you’d take the trouble to persuade me — and I buy your argument.”

Marti Crouch is the “real thing” — so sez Pencillista Nancy Hiller. She’s earned herself a national rep. Here, for instance, is a description from a short piece about her appearing in Mother Jones magazine back in 2000:

Martha Crouch, a biology professor at Indiana University in Bloomington and once a pioneering biotechnologist, studied her entire life to reach the pinnacle of her profession. She earned a Ph.D. in developmental biology at Yale before landing at Indiana University, where she teaches and once ran a lab dedicated to cutting edge plant research. In 1990, her lab made the cover of The Plant Cell, the leading journal in the field of plant molecular biology. Instead of launching Crouch into professional nirvana, however, the article marked the end of her research career.

Crouch had tenure and was well-known in her field. But she had awakened one day to the realization that her research was being co-opted by corporations which hoped to apply the science for profit. Further, the manner in which those firms used her discoveries was destroying the natural processes that attracted Crouch to the study of biology in the first place.

In the piece, Crouch is quoted as saying, “You are basically treating the agricultural environment as if it was a factory where you are making televisions or VCRs.”

She’s no longer teaching science because she stopped doing research (IU looked askance at her public denigration of the commercial exploitation of her research.) If anyone can sway me, she’ll be the one.

Marti Crouch has sent me the first of what promises to be a long series of info-packed articles and tracts. It’s an excellent introduction to GMOs from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Consider it GMOs 101. Here it is.


Click Image For Full Article

Even if you think you know all you need to know about GMOs, you should read these pieces. Hey, you may learn something! I know I’m hoping to.

Let the conversation begin.

White Fright

h/t to both Chuck Rogers and Jerry Boyle for this one:

From ValleyWag/Gawker

Click Image For Full Story

Need I even tell you how much this disgusts me?

Wahoo, Drew & Cool Kat

Congrats to Drew Daudelin, the new news reader/producer over at WFIU.


Daudelin (r) With Teller of Penn & Teller

I met Drew at WFHB where he volunteered five days a week to edit each Daily Local News script. The kid was good, I’m telling’ ya. He brought the writing level up dramatically while he was there.

Now, apparently, he’s making real dough. Good for him.

You may also have caught Kat Carlton reading the news during local breaks on Morning Edition the last few months as well. She, too, prepped at WFHB, in fact writing up news stories right next to me on several occasions. Just watching the way she carried herself, I could tell she was going places.



That Alycin Bektesh, WFHB’s redoubtable News Director, she’s got a nose for talent, no? A thought: Maybe WFIU should become a major contributor to WFHB, considering the latter is now the talent pool for the former.

Criminally Cynical

Remember the teenaged girl in Texas who survived the massacre of her family a few weeks ago? The one who gave a heartfelt speech at her family’s memorial? The latest poster child for gun sanity?

Stay Funeral

Cassidy Stay (center) At Her Family’s Funeral

Her name was (and is) Cassidy Stay. The shooter, if you don’t recall, was searching for his ex-wife and held her sister’s family hostage until they told him where she was. They refused to and as a result were executed, Nazi-style, with bullets to the backs of their heads. Cassidy survived the carnage.

At the memorial Cassidy (who played dead during the gunman’s rampage) said:

I really like Harry Potter. In “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” Dumbledore says, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times.” I know that my mom, dad, Bryan, Emily, Becca and Zach are in a much better place and that I’ll be able to see them again one day. Thank you all for coming and for showing support for me and my family. Stay strong.

Gun control advocates, naturally, lauded Cassidy to the skies and asked, for the zillionth time, why we have to endure yet another firearms atrocity.

Just as naturally, gun nuts on the far end of that particular spectrum didn’t look as kindly upon the teen girl and those who hero-ized her. In fact, a certain number of people believe Cassidy never was shot at all and that her family was killed in that old reliable trick of the jack-booted gov’t, the false flag job. Not only that, the gun control crowd, acc’d’g to this train of “thought,” works hand in hand with purported “victims” of gun crimes merely to make money. Want detail? Check this vid out. It just may be the most cynical thing you’ve ever seen or heard:

A reminder, kids: There aren’t two sides to every question.

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