Category Archives: Health Care Reform

Highest Office In The Land Hot Air

Paper Tyrant

Can we lay to rest once and for all the absurd fiction that Barack Obama is a fierce tyrant who at any moment will seize all our guns, march us off to re-education camps, and otherwise crush us under his jackboot?

You know, the picture of him as the despot who’ll change this holy land forever as promulgated by Me Party-ists, Right Wing talk radio hosts, Fox and Friends personalities, and other reality-challenged stutterers and judderers?

Obama

Because, after all, the first Kenyan-born, communist, socialist, abortionist, coke-snorting, gay-sex-loving Commander in Chief wasn’t even able to convey to his staff and the heads of all appropriate federal departments that his signature health care reform had damned well better roll out smoothly or somebody’s ass would be on fire.

BHO’s background, as the sane among us realized from the get-go, was not that of even a sergeant-at-arms but more as a maître d’. He was a community organizer, for pity’s sake, something that squawking heads like Sarah Palin made hay out of back when she had pretenses to relevance. That means he was schooled and expert at gathering everybody ’round and hearing their opinions and suggestions, no matter how fercockter they may be. Community organizers are loath to tell anyone to shut up, to get with the program, to refrain — please! — from insisting for the twenty-three-thousandth time that such and such an alderman or mayor be forthwith brought up on charges of crimes against humanity.

Community organizers are conciliators. They’re listeners. They’re includers. Even if those who are to be included bring as much to the party as your wacky pack-rat uncle who refuses to go online because…, well, because.

They are not martinets. Nor are they mighty brigadier generals who’ll mold a disparate bunch of farm boys and street corner toughs into a single-minded fighting machine.

They persuade people to press doorbells.

They do not say things like, Goddamn it. This project better come out right. If not, I’m gonna eat you for breakfast!

And this is the guy who hundreds of thousands of loons fear will put the nation in shackles?

“Serenity” at 30,000 feet

I know you’re dying for news like this: JFK who was whacked 50 years ago this week, apparently died happy. At least that’s what the ever-reliable New York Post has to say.

The Prez and Jackie, according to a piece in yesterday’s tabloid, “joined the mile high club” during a flight from San Antonio to Houston the afternoon before his fateful drive toward the triple overpass. According to writer Philip Nobile, historian William Manchester wrote that as Air Force One flew over Texas, the Kennedys “enjoyed their last hour of serenity” in their private cabin.

Dallas, November 1963

The Serene Couple

Gird yourself for  tons more dispatches along these lines as the half-century celebration continues this week.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Some believers accuse skeptics of having nothing left but a dull, cold, scientific world. I am left with art, music, literature, theater, the magnificence of nature, mathematics, the human spirit, sex, the cosmos, friendship, history, science, imagination, dreams, oceans, mountains, love, and the wonder of birth. That’ll do for me.” — Lynne Kelly

THAT’S RICH

The most ironic story of the last few days is the news that Washington, DC, host city of the 2012 International AIDS Conference, has an HIV-positive rate of some 3 percent. That’s similar to some nations of Africa, a continent, we’ve been told, which is rife with HIV and AIDS.

AIDS 2012 Opening Day Marchers, Yesterday

It’s the perfect illustration of how weird and busted our health care system and overall economy are. Richest nation in the history of the world — millions of people uninsured, poverty-stricken, uneducated, and sick.

Oh, that invisible hand.

THE NATION’S HAND-HOLDER

Barack Obama showed up in Aurora, Colorado yesterday to console the families of the victims of that legal gun owner, James Holmes.

Obama In Aurora

You, know, Ronald Reagan perfected this aspect of the presidential portfolio. Say what you will about Saint Ronald — and I’ve said plenty about the most terrifying president of my lifetime — he was brilliant as our chief cheerleader, mourner, and tucker of the nation into bed at night.

Mike Royko once wrote that Reagan was a miserable prez for domestic issues and a riverboat gambler when it came to foreign affairs, but he was so good at the above-mentioned tasks that he ought to have been named king for life. He could handle all those warm and fuzzy duties while staying as far away as possible from the more pressing work of the White House.

And that was George W. Bush’s undoing. His abominable showing after Hurricane Katrina led to his downfall, the fracturing of his party, and the election of Obama himself. Reagan would have spent many an hour letting the folks of New Orleans he was with them.

Bush, for his part, seemed blase about the whole deal, his most memorable utterance being that famous frat-boy backslapping, “Brownie, yer doin’ a heckuva of a job.”

It’s Yucky Down There

Obama’s got this part of the job down pat.

HILLER THE WOODSMITH; HILLER THE WORDSMITH

Our own Nancy Hiller has a big piece coming out in the October edition of Fine Woodworking (#228).

From Fine Woodworking Magazine

The author of “A Home of Her Own” is a terrific keyboard banger.

A little shameless promotion here: we’ll be carrying the mag at the Book Corner. Oh, we’ve got the book, too. See you there.

CRAZY — TERRIFYINGLY CRAZY

This weekend I noticed a number of references on Facebook to the deranged theory that the Aurora, Colorado shooting was a false flag op carried out by one-worlders eager to strip the the planet’s citizenry of their sacred armaments

The theory goes like this:

The United Nations is pushing its Arms Trade Treaty. See, some of the nations of Earth are making tons of dough selling pistols, rifles, automatic weapons, rocket launchers, mortars, and every other conceivable firearm short of nuclear bombs to the poorer countries so those little guys can shoot themselves up good.

The UN is saying, Hey, let’s slow this biz down a little, huh.

Business As Usual

Natch, the gun people in this holy land think this is the absolute worst infringement on our rights imaginable. They feel the UN treaty is only the first slide down the slippery slope to the seizure of all guns from all god-fearing Americans.

Don’t ask me why they think that. I can’t begin to explain the psycho-sexual love people have for guns around these parts.

Yeesh!

Suffice it to say, though, that the Great United States, Inc. is the world’s largest exporter of firearms. Every war in every corner of the Earth is being fought with Americans guns.

It couldn’t be that those simple folk fretting about our sacred rights are being set up by American gun manufacturers and dealers, could it?

Anyway, this weird, weird conspiracy theory holds that James Holmes is sort of a Manchurian Candidate who was hypnotized or drugged to do his dirty deed Friday night, thereby whipping up the namby-pamby nannies of the nation to shriek for gun control.

Yeah, I know, it can’t get any more psychotic.

In fact, I put a post up on Facebook myself the other day saying the next person who espoused this lunacy would be de-friended by me immediately and gleefully.

My old trivia competition pal Andy Wallingford of Louisville took note of my post. He sent me a message and a photo.  “Remember,” he wrote, “when conspiracy theories were fun?”

The US Air Force Tunnel Borer

The conspiracy theorists have put forth a variety of reasons the United Sates Air Force would own the machine picture above. The top among them include the idea that the federal government is creating a vast series of underground mountain tunnels in the western United States, wherein our leaders can retreat and live in splendor while the rest of us die horrible deaths from disease, war, poison gas, asteroid collisions or some other such calamity.

Another theory holds that the tunnels have been created to house extraterrestrials who are working in concert with the feds to be able to skitter underground to all the nations on Earth and then implant their seed in unsuspecting humans.

Try to forget the fact that the proponents of these theories might be living on your block and just enjoy their beauty and unfettered creativity.

Look, I fantasize making sweet, sweet love with Anne Hathaway. My fever dream has about as much chance of coming true as those of the conspiracy theorists.

Oh, Big Mike…

GOOSEBUMPS

My favorite baseball player of all time, Ron Santo, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday afternoon.

Santo’s Plaque

Here’s a portion of the acceptance speech given by his widow, Vicki Santo.

For the entire speech, go here.

Beautiful words: “God, how he loved the Cubs, and the Cubs’ fans.”

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

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

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

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

Skepchick

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

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

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

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

fish_school On Sodaplay

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

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

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

City Hall, Common Council Chambers — Wage Theft Summit, open to the public; 1:30-3:30pm

The Player’s PubSongwriters Showcase: Host TBA; 8pm

The BishopDJ Donovan; 8pm

◗ IU HPER, room 107 — Ballroom dance lessons; 8:30pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

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

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

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

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

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Affluence creates poverty.” — Marshall McLuhan

GAME ON

I have a feeling Rep. Todd Young (R-Indiana) is getting a little concerned about Shelli Yoder.

She Works Hard For The Money

The Dem challenger, you may recall, came out of nowhere a couple of weeks before the primary filing deadline and proceeded to trounce four opponents, two of whom were actually serious candidates.

Yoder’s been criss-crossing the 9th District, shaking hands, marching in parades, and listening to folks talk about the state of the nation in diners and church basements. She’s been raising dough, too.

The former Miss America second runner-up is looking more and more like the real deal.

Ergo, the Todd Young campaign is hitting up contributors for what might turn out to be a contest. He’s raised $1.2M so for this election season, according to the Herald Times.

TYLER EARWORMS ME

The inimitable Tyler Ferguson (Kaka Caliente of the Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls) blew into Soma Coffee this AM, singing “Mandy.”

You remember “Mandy” don’t you? The Barry Manilow hit of 1974 wherein, according to legend, he sings lovingly — some say a little too lovingly — of his lapdog. He wasn’t, of course; the song was written by someone else years before Manilow turned it into his first chart-topper.

Please Forgive Me

Anyway, Tyler/Kaka was pumped because the selfsame Manilow, she gushed, will be playing in these parts soonly. “You can get tickets for ten dollars!” she said. “I’d pay that for him. Nothing more, though.”

Where? I demanded, so I could leave the region while he was in it.

“I dunno,” Tyler said. “Somewhere.”

Which, come to think of it, is the definitive Tyler/Kaka answer.

So, here’s the deal. Manilow will play in Indy on August 3rd and in Louisville, July 27th. Bloomington will be, in other words, surrounded by Barry Manilow.

And now I have “Mandy” looping in my brain.

WE’RE BROKE (EXCEPT FOR THAT TWO BILLION BUCKS WE FOUND)

I’ve never pretended to understand high finance. It’s as baffling to me as Higgs Boson is to a kindergartner.

All I know is Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and his legislative co-conspirators within the last couple of years have moaned and groaned about how the economy has ruined state finances and, therefore, school funding must be slashed to the bone.

Sorry, Kids

Now, all of a sudden, there’s a $2.15B surplus in the Indiana state treasury? And now, all of a sudden, the state’ll be to be mailing out $100 checks to each and every taxpayer in the state? During an election year?

Are you confused about this, too? I have a sneaking suspicion, though, it all makes perfect sense.

ROMNEY’S SMART

Say what you will about Mitt Romney, he played a brilliant hand when he spoke to the NAACP the other day.

In fact, he took a page out of the playbook of the Republicans and Cro-Magnon Democrats of the ’60s by putting himself in a position to be booed by attendees of the venerable civil rights organization’s annual conference the other day.

Ladies And Gentlemen Of The Negro Race….

The likes of Dick Nixon and George Wallace occasionally would speak before hostile crowds and withstand their jeering just to remind their core constituencies which side they were on. Wallace was particularly adept at the tactic; he loved ranting and raving before college crowds, knowing full well he’d get verbal tomatoes (and sometimes the actual vegetable/fruit) thrown at him. His anti-intellectual base would read of the rude response in the papers or see it on TV news and be reminded how much they hated pointy-headed liberals.

You College Kids Hate Me, Donchya?

Romney told the NAACP shindig that President Obama’s health care reforms were garbage. Natch, the NAACP-ers gave him the raspberry.

Some wags say Romney failed miserably in his effort to court black voters. Now there’s a misreading of the situation for you. Honestly, do you think Mitt expects to get any meaningful portion of the black vote?

Neither do I. But now the Me Party-ists and the shootin’ iron-totin’ back country Republicans know for sure that them blacks (saying the word with scorn and rage) are agin’ Romney almost as much as real Americans hate Obama.

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

Stable Studios, Spencer — Bluegrass festival 2012, tonight: Open jam — tomorrow: The Travelin’ McCoury’s, The White Lightning Boys, Rumpke Mountain Boys, Flatland Harmony Experiment, New Old Cavalry, the Stuttering Ducks, The Seratones; 1pm-midnight

The White Lightning Boys

◗ IU Dowling International CenterEnglish Conversation Club, for non-native speakers of American English; 1pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsOpening reception, ‘Our Fine Feathered Friends” exhibit by William Zimmerman, John Gould, James Tracy, Joanne Shank, and Julia Ferguson; 6pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Music Series: String academy final student recital; 6-8pm

◗ IU Art MuseumJazz in July series, Mahluli-McCutchen Quartet; 6:30pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”; 7pm

“Jiro Dream of Sushi”

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Whipstitch Sallies; 7-9pm — Bonz; 9:30-11:30pm

◗ Monroe Lake, Paynetown SRADedication for new Activity Center, ice cream social; 7-8:30pm

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

Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Musical, “Footloose”; 7:30pm

The Comedy AtticChelsea Peretti; 8 & 10:30pm

Cafe DjangoEarplane, Latin-Brazilian jazz; 8pm

Max’s PlaceSad Sam Blues Jam; 8pm — Ziona Riley; 10pm

◗ IU Musical Arts CenterSummer Arts Festival: Symphonic series, conductor Carlos Kalmar, works by Rossini, Dvorak, and Brahms; 8pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series, “Elles”; 8pm

The Player’s PubCrossover; 8pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series, “Gerhard Richter Painting”; 8:30pm

Bear’s PlaceThe Brown Bottle Flu, Hotel, War, Coralus; 9pm

The BishopFilm, “Own Worst Eenemy”; 9pm

The BluebirdDot Dot Dot; 9pm

Uncle Elizabeth’sVicci Laine & the West End Girls; 10pm & midnight

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

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

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

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

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

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

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

THE READING MENACE

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

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

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

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

Harper Lee, Contributor To Delinquency

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

BULLIED BOY

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

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

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

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

Nazi?

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

Wait, what?

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

SCARY COP

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

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

“America’s Toughest Sheriff”

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

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

Not even Stephen King could come up with this stuff.

ONLY 90 MILES AWAY

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

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

Yep. Fidel Castro.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not The Most Respected Political Commentator Around

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

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

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

TURN BACK THE HANDS OF TIME

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

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.” — Gore Vidal

NEVER MIND WHAT WE SAID; LISTEN TO WHAT WE SAY

Nothing like a bogeyman to unite a bunch of scaredy cats, no?

Back in the late 1980s when the Reagan presidency was being readied for its final nap, a bunch of conservative economists and policy wonks (including ideologues from the Heritage Foundation) got together to create a plan for health care reform.

This funny little gang was all in a tizzy because many Democrats at the time were pushing hard for a single-payer health insurance system.

Since the gang understood that such a government-run system would naturally lead to Stalinesque purges of the population with death tolls reaching into the tens of millions, they needed to come up with an alternative pronto. And so they did.

They came up with a health insurance mandate. The goal, they crowed, was to find a “market-oriented” alternative to the Dem/commie plot and to protect the righteous citizens of this holy land against “free riders” — you know, all those ne’er do wells who don’t have health insurance and then, when they happen to suffer a little sucking chest wound from a shotgun blast or some other trivial hangnail, all of a sudden want to be treated in an emergency room on our dime.

“Are You A Free Rider?”

So under this alternative, blessed-by-god plan, the conservative ideologues proposed that every American be compelled to purchase health insurance. The Republicans loved it; the plan would be a boon for their sugar daddies in the health insurance rackets. Over the years, a couple of future GOP aspirants for the White House named Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich would hold pep rallies for the health insurance mandate.

Meanwhile, the Dems decided they couldn’t survive anymore without becoming Republicans, so they adopted the plan as well.

Then, under George W. Bush, who lost the 2000 presidential election by half a million votes, thereby winning the 2000 presidential election, America embarked on a tri-fold policy of fighting disastrous wars, ignoring the plight of a major city that had been nearly wiped out by a hurricane, and giving free reign to degenerate Wall Street gamblers so they could sink the world’s economy.

“Can You Believe It? They Said I Won!”

The American electorate thought this strategy to be lacking. So they elected a Democrat to be president. Now remember, the Democrats had come to the conclusion that they could never triumph over the Republicans without themselves becoming Republicans. Accordingly, the new Democratic president championed ideas that would have made Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and even the sainted Ronald Reagan proud.

The only problem was, the new president was half black. The real Republicans wet their pants. After changing their shorts, the Republicans announced that their sole goal in this challenging, complex, threatening world was to sabotage Barack Obama.

So, my dear friends, that’s how we get to this strange day. The Heritage Foundation, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and every other conservative and/or True Republican in these Great United States, Inc. are waving their pompons in favor of the US Supreme Court overturning the health insurance mandate proposed by the half-black, half-Republican Barack Obama.

Is it any wonder why fewer than half the eligible voters in America are expected to go to the polls this November?

The Pencil Today:

THE (VIDEO) QUOTE

Courtesy of the White Rabbit.

RICK ‘N ROLL

A couple of things about my favorite Martian, Rick Santorum, before I get into the meat of today’s post.

  1. Yesterday, speaking before a crowd in Arizona, Rickey-girl slammed the Obama health care bill, natch. But he acknowledged that part of Obama’s reasoning was that every citizen should have the right to health care. Haharights. “When the government gives you rights, they can take those rights away,” he spewed. I’ve never thought about it that way before. I guess Martin Luther King, Jr. and all his cronies, were they still alive, would regret the enactments of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. Because, after all, who cares about rights when they can be taken away?
  2. Pennsylvania’s man-in-the-closet is taking heat for casting aspersions on Obama’s “theology.” He has declared he will not step back from the statements because they came from his heart. You know, that’s why Republican Cro-Magnons are attractive to a lot of voters. They won’t back down. It’d be refreshing to hear a Democrat once in a while saying, Screw it, I said it and I believe it, no matter how many people think I should apologize.

BALLOT BOXERS

Speaking of Democrats, the Monroe County party faithful gathered together last night in the Fountain Square ballroom to pat themselves on the back and tell each other how badly they’re going to spank the GOP this coming November.

Even Mayor Mark Kruzan emerged from his cocoon to press the flesh.

Kruzan Has Been Seen In Public Before

Dem hopefuls running in the May primary for city, county, and statewide offices were introduced by the somnolent county party chair Rick Dietz during last evening’s finger-food love fest.

BTW: perhaps Dietz does a fine job maintaining the records of the party, or maybe he finds the best deals on yard signs and bumper stickers. But when it comes to rallying the troops, Steven Wright would be a more emphatic orator.

Anyway, the star of the show was the mustachioed John Gregg, who’s running for governor. He grabbed the mic out of Dietz’s hand when he was introduced and wowed the crowd. The man has charisma in addition to that big furry thing on his upper lip.

A Hirsute Governor?

The five brave souls running for US Congress from Indiana’s 9th District met the flock as a unit for the first time. In fact, some of them met the flock for the first time, period.

At least three of the contenders threw their hats into the ring within the last few weeks. They’re all earnest and most of them paid lip-service to the memory of liberal Dem representative Frank McCloskey as well as the sainted Lee Hamilton. But from this vantage point, it seems likely the only one with a ghost of a chance to unseat Congressboy Todd Young is Shelli Yoder.

McCloskey: Local Hero

I came down hard on Yoder Monday. She’s best known as Miss Indiana 1992 and earned a second runner-up spot in that year’s Miss America drool-fest. Apparently, she’d earned her second-lieutenancy by smoking up the pageant stage in her swimsuit.

Being a licensed and certified smart-ass, I felt compelled to make fun of her beauty-queen past. But smart pols like Regina Moore and Linda Robbins dig her the most, so I can’t discount their evaluations.

On the other hand, I spoke to a couple of female pols last night who want to see more from Yoder — and they weren’t talking skin, either.

Here are the Dems running for the nomination:

I haven’t got time right now to reveal my impressions of the gang (there’s the little matter of catching my bus to get to the Book Corner) but I’ll run them all through my wringer within the next few days. It should be fun.

SEX, SEX, SEX!

Back to the-man-whom-Google-made-famous, Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times decided to check out his website. Steinberg reveals the results of his research in today’s column.

Steinberg

His conclusions? What I’ve been saying all along, these theocratic right wingers think about sex, sex, sex, and more sex.

To be frank, I do, too. As do you, I’ll bet. But, speaking for myself, I don’t flagellate myself for those thoughts.

And yeah, I tried the whole whipping-for-fun trick once. Didn’t do much for me. Still, I don’t run around screaming that my S&M pals ought to be banished to a desert island.

Maybe, Rickey-girl should try it. Could it be that’s what he really wants?

THE REAL RICK?

 

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.” — Margaret Sanger

THE GOOD CATHOLIC

So, the feds want to require most employers to provide full health insurance coverage to their employees.

Sounds good, no? Not only that, the current administration wants to make sure all women are guaranteed equal coverage including, among many, many other services, access to contraception.

What could be wrong with that?

The maxi-skirt-wearing officials of the Roman Catholic church went all aflutter over the new rules. They, of course, live in the year 541 Anno Domini and, as such, must hew to a higher law commanding women to be fertile and populate our pre-Dark Ages world.

The priests and bishops — all men, despite their habiliment — shrieked when they realized even hospitals and universities affiliated with their Rome-based corporation must pay premiums for women to use birth control.

Why, these sinful females want to have sex — ugh! — for the fun of it.

How can we leave matters of birth control to women when, after all, as Stephen Colbert has informed us, that is a private matter between a husband and his parish priest.

Anyway, this whole deal reminds me of a story. It’s true but don’t ask me how I know it because I won’t tell you.

There was this woman who got married young back in the late 1930s. She was just 16 years old when she ran away with a boy who was two years older than she was. They’d grown up in Chicago, in different ethnic neighborhoods, and their brief romance was Romeo and Juliet-ish.

This woman — let’s call her Anna — found herself pregnant within weeks of her elopement. By the time she was 19, she and her husband had two kids.

Since both Anna and her husband were high school dropouts, their family income was far below what we would refer to today as the poverty line. Anna’s husband’s paycheck would have been stretched to feed and house just the two of them. With a growing brood, there was hardly a penny leftover after the bills were paid.

So Anna and her husband decided to use contraceptives. Anna’s husband took some of those spare pennies and went to a drugstore outside their neighborhood, where he wouldn’t be recognized, and purchased a supply of condoms.

Now, the use of condoms, both Anna and her husband understood, was a sin. Their parish priest rarely delivered a sermon without reminding his flock that the only acceptable method of family planning was the rhythm method.

Any other form of birth control was tantamount to murder, he’d say.

Anna knew what she had to do. The Friday afternoon after she and her husband had first used a condom, she walked to the church and waited for a confessional box to open up. She saw a neighbor lady exit the box. The two women directed their gaze at the floor, not acknowledging each other, as they were sinners. Anna slipped inside the confessional box, kneeled down, crossed herself and said, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”

And then she told him what she and her husband had done.

The priest gasped as if he’d never heard such an admission in his life. He ordered her and her husband to stop using condoms. He reminded her that if almighty god wished to grace her with a dozen little children, she should be eternally grateful. He directed her to do penance, which she faithfully carried out.

But Anna knew she and her husband could not reasonable support even half a dozen gifts from god. So, the next week she kneeled down in the confessional box again and told the priest she had sinned.

This time the priest seemed exasperated. He delivered his lecture again, this time with more firmness in his voice. He assigned her twice the penance as the last week. Again, Anna performed her penance.

And again, Anna and her husband used condoms when they had sex.

And for a third Friday afternoon in a row, Anna kneeled in the confessional box and confessed what she and her husband had done.

This time, the priest became enraged. He shouted at her.

“What kind of woman are you?” he demanded. “Do you expect to come here every week and be absolved of your sin? Will you never make an effort to to stop committing this sin?”

He paused for breath. Anna felt tears streaming down her cheeks. But the priest wasn’t finished.

“Don’t you realize what the use of condoms makes you?” he cried.

He didn’t wait for her to answer, for he provided it himself. “A bad woman! A puttana*!”

(*Puttana: Italian for whore.)

“I’ll remind you again, children are a gift from god,” he roared. “You must stop using condoms!”

Anna knew several neighbors were in the church pews, waiting for their turn to confess. She knew they could hear every word the priest shouted. She knew they’d carry the news of her sin throughout the neighborhood. She snapped.

“Stop saying that, please,” she said. “Stop it! If you think it’s so easy to raise a dozen children, you do it!”

The priest was speechless. Anna continued.

“You’re a hypocrite.” she said. “You and the Pope, both. Maybe you oughta sell some of the Pope’s shoes and raise these kids. We can’t. We’re only doing what we can!”

With that, Anna stood up and stormed out of the confessional box and, for a short time, out of the Catholic church.

She came back to the church after she’d read in the Reader’s Digest that many Roman Catholic women were using contraception. And they weren’t quitting the church.

So Anna started going back to Mass, although she never again kneeled down in that particular priest’s confessional.

Anna had two more kids, a few years after the first two, when she and her husband were more financially capable of raising them.

Despite leaving the Church for a brief period when she was 20 years old, she remains devout to this day. She prays throughout her day. She says she is certain she’ll see god when he decides to take her. She looks forward to seeing him.

And she knows he has forgiven her for talking back to a priest.

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