Category Archives: Iraq War

Hot Air

Peace

Huzzah for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who took a bullet to the head for the unforgivable sin of wanting to go to school. Malala today was announced as this year’s Nobel Peace Prize co-winner.

Malala

She Is Malala

The local Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where Malala lives, sent a hitman out to find her one day when she was headed to school. She’d already gained prominence as an activist for allowing Muslim girls to attend school in the region. She had to be stopped, the Taliban decided. The gunman boarded her school bus, asked for her by name, and proceeded to fire three slugs from his Colt .45 at her.

She survived the attack somehow and then became known worldwide as she recovered. A German internet and satellite news channel called her “the most famous teenager in the world.” She wrote a bestselling book entitled I Am Malala.

The youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, Malala continues to press for educational access for Muslim women. The Taliban, I might remind you, exists at its present strength mainly because President George W. Bush and his neo-con cronies shifted American military might from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iraq for the war they always lusted for.

It’s a safe bet Georgy-Boy will never win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Who Was That Guy?

Comes October and memories of the Cuban missile crisis. I was too young to remember much of it save for the ghastly, worried look on my mother’s face for the duration of the two-week affair.

I did say at one point, “I hate Castro.” She told me I shouldn’t hate anyone even if their actions are hateful.

I also recall seeing newspaper headlines referring to “Russ.”

Headline

I Hated Russ

I thought Russ was a guy. And a bad guy, to boot. I hated him as well, only I didn’t tell my mother about it.

How did headline writers come up with the idea of calling the Soviet Union “Russ”? Yeah, I know, it’s a diminutive of Russia, but still, why Russ? USSR is pretty much the same width as Russ so it can’t be a space thing.

Russ. Weird.

Boom!

Not too long before the Cuban missile crisis, the Mob blew up a restaurant across the street from my childhood home.

It was the middle of the night and I was sleeping in the same room with my sister Charlotte who was perhaps 19. The boom was deafening and then there was the sound of shattering glass all around the house. The tinkle of glass continue up the block, house by house, in quick succession as the blast wave travelled outward.

Every window in my fam.’s house was blown out. We’d had what would now be considered gorgeous, priceless, leaded stained glass windows in our bungalow. At the time, though, such old fashioned things were considered cheap and undesirable. My parents always talked about saving up enough money so they could get those windows replaced. The Mob took care of that for them.

1621 N. Natchez Ave.

The Bungalow I Grew Up In

Every figurine my mother had was blown off its sconce as well. We could hardly take a step without crunching a shard of glass or ceramic. We all dashed outside to watch the restaurant burn. As the neighbors gathered, all of them in their slippers and robes, one woman shrieked, “I thought it was the atom bomb! Thank god it wasn’t!”

Wow. How big must the atom bomb be, I thought, to be worse than this?

The next morning, an insurance agent from the restaurant sat at our dining room table and wrote out a check for all new windows. My father held the check in his hand and gazed at it lovingly after the insurance man left. “Here’s our new windows,” he said and he and my mother laughed.

The restaurant? It was quickly rebuilt and became a hangout for Outfit guys. None of the neighbors ever really mentioned the incident again. It was Mob business and it was never good policy to stick one’s nose too deeply into it.

Playing Our Parts

One of two Norman Rockwell paintings dealing with baseball was called “Tough Call” (1949). In it, the umpires study a threatening sky, trying to decide whether to call the game or not. Behind them, the managers of the Pirates and the Dodgers put on a show for each other: the Pirates manager, whose team is ahead, is shivering, about to catch his death of pneumonia, hoping to convince one and all the game should be halted; the Dodgers skipper is grinning in the lone ray of sunshine, his cap off. Look at this gorgeous, clearing day, he’s surely saying. Naturally, he wants to game to continue.

Rockwell

Bottom Of The Sixth

Rockwell’s always been fancied as America’s painter. We could do a lot worse. Rockwell’s scene construction and geometric blocking, featuring the classic triangle delineating his directional movement, have been compared to those of the great Renaissance artists. Plus, his subject matter was as soaring and mythical as any painted by Titian, Bellini, or Veronese.

The only difference was, their visions were directed upward, to the heavens, whereas Rockwell’s were anchored firmly on this holy land’s Main Street. In either case, the worlds they portrayed did not exist, and for that matter never existed, except in the artists’ minds.

Anyway, I bring up Norman Rockwell for the two managers he painted. They’re both looking at the exact same day, the same sky, the same clouds. The breeze on their skin is the same temperature. The rain drops plunk equally on each man’s cap bill.

Yet, to prove their opposing points, they act as if they’re on opposite sides of the Earth.

You couldn’t find a better representative of what passes for today’s political discourse. There are no more conversations, no more contemplations, no more compromises. There is only good and evil. I’m right, you’re wrong, and thus it will always be.

A report I heard on the radio this morning (sorry, I can’t find a link to it just yet) got me to thinking about this. It seems the rare earth elements that make up much of our hybrid cars’ batteries are, naturally, in super short supply.

As I recall, a metals expert says that China is the world’s biggest supplier of those elements right now. If the US wants to stabilize their prices as well as put in a strategic backup supply of the metals, it’ll have to mine for them. Yet, the expert says, those who howl the loudest for electric-powered cars are the same people who howl the loudest whenever someone wants to dig a mine. You can’t have it both ways, the expert says.

Rare Earth Metals

[Clockwise from top center]

Praseodymium, Cerium, Lanthanum, Neodymium, Samarium, & Gadolinium

Which makes sense.

We all pretty much agree that mining is a destructive activity. What we don’t agree on is the fact that we need to do it. We need iron. We need coal. We need uranium. We need Europium, Holmium, and Lutetium.

Mining in any form has become a dirty word to a certain subset of the citizenry, as dirty, say, as GMOs, nuclear power, and other current bugbears of the progressive set.

Mining company execs say stripping the topography of flora and topsoil is the greatest thing in the world. Ecologists say it’s the scourge of the planet. Like the two managers looking at the same sky, they see different things.

Chinese Lutetium Mine

A Lutetium Mine In China

Everything’s black and white. Muslims are sweethearts; Muslims are cutthroat terrorists. Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were angels; Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were vicious thugs. The unemployed are victims of a stacked deck economy; the unemployed are lazy.

Everybody sees everybody else as the enemy.

We’re going to have to live with some mining while simultaneously curbing the abuses of mining companies. We’re going to have to eat GMO foods while making sure Monsanto doesn’t take over the world.    We (those of us who consider ourselves liberals or progressives) have got to accept that Republicans, fundamentalist Christians, free marketeers, gun lovers, anti-abortionists, anti-contraceptionists, creationists, people who hate paying taxes, those who want to privatize schools and roads and the police all live in this land. And, of course, those folks have to live with us.

This great divide, this abyss between the Right and the Left wherein each side thinks the other is out to destroy the United States of America can only last for so long before we start firing guns at each other. In fact, that may already have begun, here and there, in hot spots around the nation.

That Norman Rockwell, he really knew America.

Hot Air

Chase-ing Foreigners Away

I ran a blind item here a couple of weeks ago about “[o]ne of Bloomington’s most respected and beloved citizens” who claims she was given the bum’s rush by her bank because she is “closely related to someone who works for a foreign government.” Reps of this person’s bank (she spoke with a number of people on the phone regarding the matter) said they were sorry for giving her the thumb but that’s the way their bank interpreted the Patriot Act.

I elected to withhold the names of the person and the bank until I could speak with someone from that institution (although I did slip in a huge clue by mentioning the bank in question in another context.)

Anyway, I’ve finally contacted the bank and now have its side. So, here’s a fuller version of the story:

The ex-customer whose account was disco’d is Zaineb Istrabadi, a senior lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University. Her ex-bank is Chase, the US consumer and commercial banking arm of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Zaineb was told that because her brother Feisal Istrabadi once worked for the government of Iraq, Chase would terminate her account. Born in the US in 1962, Feisal attended IU as an undergrad and graduated from the Maurer School of Law in 1988. He was in private practice until 2004, during which time he worked closely with members of the opposition to Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.

Istrabadis

Zaineb Istrabadi (L) & Feisal Istrabadi

[Zaineb photo — Herald Times]

After Hussein’s overthrow by US-led forces in 2003, Feisal was rewarded by the new Iraq government with an ambassadorship to the United Nations. He returned to Bloomington in 2007 to take a job with his alma mater law school, where he is a professor of practice. He specializes in “research on the processes of building legal and political institutions in countries in transition from dictatorship to democracy.”

Feisal’s own Chase account, acc’d’g to Zaineb, was terminated “years ago,” ostensibly because he’d worked for the government of Iraq.

Zaineb, who lives with her ailing mother, says she received a call one morning from her Chase branch office. After some hemming and hawing, the rep said, “Your business is no longer welcome at Chase.”

Zaineb says she’s been a customer of the same bank for at least 10 years. JPM Chase was the third company to own the bank during her term as a customer there. The way Zaineb sees it, she should have been considered a Chase customer for all those ten-plus years.

When Zaineb asked why Chase was taking this action, she was told the Patriot Act was to blame. Or, at least, Chase’s interpretation of same. Zaineb adds that all the Chase reps she spoke with were “extremely apologetic.”

Nevertheless, Zaineb was left looking to park her cash in another bank, which she’s done. She’s also hurt and angry. She says she’s contacted some Arab-American advocacy groups to see what hell they might be able to raise about the situation.

For its part, Chase says it’s operating within the guidelines imposed on it by federal regulators. A Chase employee on the regional level told me, “It’s not the Patriot Act,” that led to Zaineb’s account termination.

Zaineb, acc’d’g to this Chase employee, “is a politically exposed person according to our regulators.” This person says Chase will not offer accounts to anybody with connections to “non-US people” working for foreign governments. This person says the practice is “due to the regulators.”

The person explains: “The regulations are so strenuous around these accounts that we never do business with these accounts anymore.”

Here’s Chase’s corporate line: “This decision is not a reflection on how these customers have handled their accounts, but rather a result of our focus on internal controls.”

Chase Bank is regulated by the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a bureau of the Department of the Treasury. Parent JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a multinational banking and financial services holding company with assets of more than $2.5 trillion. That’s trillion. With a T. It is regulated by the Federal Reserve. The regulations my Chase source is talking about come from the OCC.

Chase Architecture

Zaineb Istrabadi’s experience with her ex-bank is not unique. Arab-Americans around the country are receiving termination notices from their banks. The Arab-American Civil Rights League has filed a class-action lawsuit against Ohio-based Huntington Bank in the US District Court in Detroit. The Council on American-Islamic Relations–Michigan appealed to the OCC to investigate Chase Bank‘s mass account terminations this past spring. The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida has asked the US Justice Department to sniff around for racial or religious discrimination in the national rash of account closures. Sofian Zakout, who heads American Muslims for Emergency and Relief Inc., had both his business and personal accounts terminated. A Minneapolis dentist begged TCF Bank to allow him to reopen his joint account with his wife but was rebuffed.

Much of this purging of Arab-Americans from banks’ customer rolls is due to various institutions’ interpretations of the OCC’s regulations. Here’s how Chase Bank interprets them:

Chase is no longer offering personal and business banking accounts to current or former senior non-U.S. officials, their immediate families, or close associates, given the significant and ongoing regulatory requirements to maintain the accounts. 

Regulatory guidance requires that banks perform specialized oversight and monitoring of these types of clients – requiring a significant amount of resources to support a relatively small group of customers. 

The above paragraphs arose in response to a June, 2013, guidance document issued by the Financial Action Task Force. The FATF describes itself this way:

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an independent inter-governmental body that develops and promotes policies to protect the global financial system against money laundering, terrorist financing and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The FATF Recommendations are recognised as the global anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CFT) standard.

Some 34 nations as well as the European Commission and the Gulf Cooperation Council are members of the FATF. They are joined by dozens of associate members and observer organizations. It’s an all-star cast of players in the international monetary game.

In short, certain foreign gov’t officials and their kin are under suspicion. Their financial transactions must be strictly monitored. Such oversight costs time and money. The banks, ergo, figure it ain’t worth it.

Bye bye, Istrabadis — and countless other Arab-Americans. It’s not clear at this point if the same monitoring is required, say, of consuls and ambassadors from the United Kingdom or Monaco. In any case, Zaineb Istrabadi wonders how any foreign official working in the United States can pay her or his credit card bill. “How do they do their banking?” she says.

She only knows she and her brother are not doing their banking with Chase anymore.

Hot Air

Crime Of The Century

So, al Qaeda and its brethren are taking over Iraq right before our very eyes.

Nice, huh?

ISIS Commandos

Iraq’s Nightmare (Photo: Reuters)

Looks like those +125,000 dead Iraqis as well as 4400 dead US soldiers gave their lives for nothing.

Nothing, friends. Not a thing.

Did I mention we’d spent up to $4 trillion USD on that decade-long slaughter?

All because Georgy-Boy Bush and his coatholders and co-conspirators scared the bejesus out of us with talk of mushroom clouds and poison gas attacks — that weren’t going to come because bad old Saddam Hussein was nowhere near possessing such weapons (the nukes) or having the ability to deliver them (the gas) to New York City, Ellettsville, Wrigleyville and points west.

We fought that pointless, bullshit war because the Bush administration — which hadn’t been elected by a majority of American voters, in case you’ve forgotten — believed it was its god-given duty to remake the Middle East so that multinational engineering firms and oil companies could more easily and happily extract dollars therefrom. The fact that Georgy-Boy’s Poppy had not delivered said hegemony to the global plutocracy also was a motivating factor; the Bush family’s Big Dick legacy was preserved, thanks to the rivers of blood Shock and Awe produced.

Bush

Believe Us, America

Sadly, our holy land must reconcile itself to the reality that we have committed yet another crime against humanity.

Not that terribly many of us care.

Hide Your Hate, America

And speaking of America’s crimes against humanity, we did our best to rectify a big one 50 years ago this summer. On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the comprehensive Civil Rights Act into law.

July 2, 1964

LBJ Gives Martin Luther King The Signing Pen (Photo: AP)

Throughout the first half of the year, though, the US Senate wrestled over the bill and, quite frankly, its passage was far from assured. Republican senators from southern states filibustered from late March through early June to prevent a vote. Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virgina) alone filibustered for more than fourteen hours on June 10th. Before that, Senator Richard Russell (R-Georgia), told his colleagues, “We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our states.”

A small group of senators from both parties crafted a compromise bill that eventually passed, leading to the Johnson signing.

The bill, it should be noted, forbids discrimination by federal and state agencies against people on account of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also banned discrimination against those groups by businesses that provide “public accommodation” — hotels, for instance, and restaurants. The bill called for an end to unequal application of laws and eligibility requirements in voter registration as well as in school admissions.

Imagine that respected senators could stand in loud and forceful opposition to those ideals and not be pilloried. Things are different today, of course. People have learned how to hide such bigotry behind code words and misdirection.

At least we don’t tolerate blatant assholery anymore.

Unseasonably Warm Hot Air

Comet, Heal Thyself

Too bad about Comet ISON, no? Goddamned Obamacare.

Comet ISON

R.I.P.

Zero From The ‘Aughts

Perhaps this is obvious to everybody else, but it just occurred to me this morning as I washed the dishes that the first decade of this 21st Century really and truly sucked.

Dig: The decade/century/millennium began with a double whammy of slam. The great tech bubble blew up, costing countless entitled middle- and upper-middle class white computer geeks their previously privileged spots atop the human pyramid. And a lot of middle class investors lost their little all after betting that tech stocks would carry them through their dotage. Then there was the non-election election of George W. Bush, a putsch pushed along by Supreme Court justices installed by his daddy-o and their patron saint, Ronald Reagan.

The next year, our holy land’s spies and spooks fell asleep at their CCTV security consoles and allowed a couple of dozen lunatic fundamentalist religionists to stage the scariest disaster movie scenes ever seen in New York City and Washington, DC.

What followed, natch, was an overreaction of monumental proportions as this holy land turned into a fighting, spying, hating-on-ragheads military machine. Now, I’d bet more money is spent on making sure American air travelers don’t sneak bottles of mouthwash onto airplanes than is earmarked for useless things like school libraries.

Meanwhile, Americans were urged by their popularly un-elected president to go back to shopping, chop-chop, just to show the world how much we love, love, love freedom. And Americans fell into line, buying anything and everything, including TV screens wide enough to display the entirety of the Grand Canyon. We Americans got so giddy pissing our hard-earned dough away that we began looking upon our happy homes not as safe harbors from the cruel world and anchors of our communities but as ostentatious, in-your-face ATMs-slash-McMansions. We bought and sold houses the way teenaged boys trafficked in baseball cards in the 1980s.

And then that bubble popped, leading to the greatest economic collapse since the Greatest Economic Collapse.

But wait — before that, the president, who, I might remind you, had been elected by a minority of voters, told us Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was perhaps a half hour away from decorating the skies above our greatest cities with pretty and colorful mushroom clouds. To prove his assertion, he sent out his minions and assistants to tell us and the world blah, blah, blah, blah — none of which had a whit to do with Iraq’s capacity to build nuclear weapons, and so we promptly fell into line and gave the Prez the go-ahead to commit our nation to a decade-long pointless war. We did get to see Saddam Hussein’s tonsils, though.

Hussein

Say Ah-h-h

Anyway, back to the housing bubble. Wall Street banksters, quants, and fellow travelers discovered fascinating new ways to fleece investors with mortgage-backed securities and, while they were at it, make scads upon scads of dough for themselves no matter whether their financial instruments were successful or not, preferably unsuccessful because…, well, it’s pretty much impossible to explain why, but the banksters and quants and the rest are sitting pretty right now while the rest of us are still dusting ourselves off.

The banksters and quants and the others were punished by being named to high-level economic advisory positions in the Obama White House and as regulators of the operations they’d transformed into casino games. That’ll show ’em.

Casino

“This Is A Sound Investment, Sir.”

So, today, municipalities that had invested in their crooked schemes are broke, school budgets are being slashed, social service agencies are closing their doors, and the poor are being blamed for all of it. The fiends.

As this was all going on, there arose in this great nation a grass-roots political movement dedicated to the age-old ideals of selfishness, savage competition, refusal to share any wealth whatsoever, anti-intellectualism, and reactionary demagoguery with a sprinkling of racism and misogyny thrown in. They called themselves the Tea Party, which seemed rather euphemistic. I might have suggested they call themselves a Bunch of Big Pricks.

Tea Party

Apple Pie Americanism

Working feverishly behind the scenes, this nation’s spies and spooks, embarrassed by their failure to nab the 9/11 plotters before they struck, expanded their capabilities to eavesdrop on your Thanksgiving email exchanges with your aunt in Kokomo. By the way, you might want to let her know that three cups of sugar in her cranberry orange sauce is a tad much.

And, hey, here are two unforgettable names from the -zeroes: Joe the Plumber and Terry Schiavo.

So, kiddies, that was the ‘Aughts in a nutshell.

You might think I’m being pessimistic but, honest, the future actually looks brighter to me. Things couldn’t possibly get any worse.

Could they?

Your Daily Hot Air

A No Vote For Warren

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I love Elizabeth Warren. Love her.

Lo-o-o-o-o-o-ove her. I wanna marry her. Don’t worry; so does The Loved One. Wants to marry her, that is. We’d have a three-way marriage. We have a spare bedroom at Chez Pencil and Lizzie (as we’d affectionately address her) could sleep and change her clothes there in privacy.

Warren/AP Photo

Swoon (AP)

T-Lo and I would take turns making her breakfast. Then we’d sit there, just listening, our chins in our hands, as she, Lizzie, would expound on this or that problem or proposed law. Sigh.

So now I can say this without fear that someone would dare to think I don’t support everything she stands for:

Elizabeth Warren will never, ever, ever become the President of the United States of America.

There.

Not only that, Elizabeth Warren would make a horrifyingly bad president.

She’d be a one-termer. And, you think the Me Party wing of the GOP is dedicated to stifling the occupant of the White House now? Oh, babies, just wait until some dame who doesn’t genuflect before the banksters gets in there.

Again, I dig Lizzie the most. But she’s too smart, too eager to talk facts and figures rather than fairy tales and bedtime stories, and is too much of a hard-ass for the banksters and the Right to bear.

Anti-Warren Meme

They’re Starting Already

Look what they’ve done to Hillary Clinton over the past couple of decades. And she, Hillary, is pretty much one of them.

Hillary, IIRC, is a commie, lesbo, man-hating, murderer. What slanders could they come up with for my Lizzie, who is so much not one of them that I’m surprised they all came from the same planet, which they probably didn’t.

Honestly, I’ve been sitting here for the last ten minutes trying to think of worse accusations the wingnut Right could make against my Lizzie. So far, I’ve drawn a blank. Then again, I’m not as creative as the likes of Rush Limbaugh.

Here’s the thing: Elizabeth Warren (sigh) is the polar opposite of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The current Prez and the former Sec’y of State would say or do pretty much anything to maintain their respective toeholds in the game. Dig: Clinton voted for Georgey-boy Bush’s Iraq resolution. And Obama loaded up his administration with so many Goldman Sachs unindicted conspirators that the investment bank now holds its company picnic in the Rose Garden.

Much as I loathe those developments, that’s how people stay in the game if they want to become/remain POTUS.

Thus far, my sweet baby Lizzie appears to be incapable of such machinations.

If, by some weird turn of events, she became the boss of this holy land, she’d spend her entire four years fighting just to keep her head above water. That is, the muddy, sludgy, slimy liquid that passes for water in which Tories, crypto-racists, gun lust-ers, and rabid Christianists prefer to swim.

Polluted Water

For all Elizabeth Warren’s fine and good intentions, she wouldn’t get a thing done. Nothing.

I like her better as a senator.

Fetal Positions

You’re missing something if you haven’t read Neil Steinberg’s new blog Every Goddamn Day.

everygoddamnday

In today’s post, he recounts bumping into Joe Scheidler, the national director of the Pro-Life Action League, on Madison Street in downtown Chicago late Monday afternoon. Scheidler was participating in the PLAL’s annual summer demo, during which they carry placards featuring huge enlargements of aborted fetuses.

I recall running into the PLAL-ers any number of times when I lived in Chi. One July day I was stopped at a red light on Wacker Drive next to the then-Sears Tower and an anti-abortion demonstrator standing on the center island put his fetal hamburger picket sign right in front of my windshield.

“Get that mtherfking thing out of my face,” I hollered as I reached out the window and tried to rip it out of his hand. He dangled it just out of my grasp as if he were toying with a cat.

“You’re a sick prick,” I yelled. I had been looking forward to eating lunch and the sign had pretty much taken my appetite away. Believe me, you don’t want to be the poor soul who messes with my lunch.

Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Never Mess With My Lunch

The guy responded, “God bless you.”

“I didn’t sneeze, idiot,” I cleverly riposted.

Then I thought, damn it, I’m all bent out of shape and he’s still standing their with that religious zombie smirk on his face. The light changed and I peeled away. I never did eat lunch that day.

Anyway, here’s the exchange Steinberg had with Joe Scheidler (all sic):

“You have to admit, that being against abortion is a religious scruple,” I [Steinberg] said.

“I wouldn’t say, ‘scruple.'” he replied. “It’s in the Bible, part of the Ten Commandments: ‘Thou shall not kill.'”

“….a person,” I added.

“A baby is a person,” he said.

“A fetus isn’t a person,” I parried. “I wouldn’t want to take one to the movies.”

“The mom could go to the movies,” Joe countered.

Steinberg concludes his piece with a well-deserved indictment against the so-called pro-choice movement. If you’re “pro-choice” you’re not gonna like it. And you shouldn’t. And I hope it moves you to action.

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Monday

THE QUOTE

“Who would have ever thought blacks would get out and support the first black president? Who would have ever thought women would shy away from the party of transvaginal probes? Who would have ever thought gays would work against a party that treated them as immoral and subhuman? Who would have ever thought young people would desert a party that ignored science and hectored on social issues? Who would have ever thought Latinos would scorn a party that expected them to finish up their chores and self-deport?” — Maureen Dowd

Dowd

YOU AND IRAQ

Comic and politico Aaron Freeman has put out a call for anyone who can honestly say she or he was not taken in by the Bush Administration’s rationalizations for the Iraq War in late 2002 and early 2003.

Freeman

Aaron Freeman

You remember, don’t you? Georgey-boy, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, and even Colin Powell stood on their heads to implant the images of bloodthirsty brown people, mushroom clouds, and general panic in our imaginations in order to snow us into attacking the Saddam Hussein regime.

Perhaps the saddest moment of the buildup to war was Secretary of State Powell half-heartedly trying to sell the United Nations General Assembly on “evidence” that Hussein and his wild-eyed pals were thisclose to launching a big one against this holy land.

The funnyman — Freeman, not Bush — wonders why anyone would have doubted the word of the Bushies, considering the fact that most highly intelligent people he knew at the time bought the casus belli hook, line, and sinker.

9/11 Panic

So, take yourself back some ten years to those glory days of yore. Try to remember what you were thinking at the time. And don’t forget we were only a little more than a year past the 9/11 attacks. Be honest and tell us, in the poll below, if you bought the Bush line or you thought, even as we were gassing up our B-2 Stealth Bombers, that he and his gang were full of shit.

Oh, and leave a comment in the box labeled “Other” explaining why you thought one way or the other.

Thanks in advance.

POLL WATCHING

From phdcomic.com

THE SHORT OF IT

That’s all for today, kiddies. I been working my fingertips to the bone, trying to get the new Ryder magazine and film series website off the ground, along with publisher Peter LoPilato and developer Boice Tomlin. As a result, I feel lazy today.

Remember to stop in at The Book Corner. A few words of advice, though. Do not buy either of Bill O’Reilly’s bestsellers, “Killing Lincoln” and “Killing Kennedy.” Do not buy “50 Shades of Chicken.” And do not buy any of those I-died-and-went-to-heaven books.

Book Cover

Don’t You Dare!

Reading should improve your mind, not shrink it.

Otherwise, buy anything you want.

CHAIN GANG

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Monday

THE QUOTE

Dave: “Did you ever go to confession?”

Moocher: “Twice.”

Dave: “Did it make you feel better?”

Moocher: “Once.”

— Dialogue from “Breaking Away

Publicity Still from "Breaking Away"

TERROR ALERT!

We really haven’t given much thought to the idea of domestic terrorism since the financial crash of 2007/08 — which, by the way, was a government-sponsored, systematic terrorist act all its own.

In the weeks following 9/11 every single one of us was scared to death that mad Arabs would be flying airplanes into skyscrapers of every big city and parking trucks full of fertilizer-based explosives outside public libraries from Bedford to Skokie.

Bedford (IN) Library

A Target?

Even I, the World’s Smartest Man, who was telling people within hours of the Twin Towers falling that the attack was a one-off, that nothing even remotely like it would happen again within the foreseeable future, still harbored in my heart an irrational, petrifying fear that we were in for it.

Then, of course, we flexed our muscles and marched headlong into a bizarrely truncated war in Afghanistan, with our president, who was being compared to Churchill in the aftermath of the attacks (no lie), deciding to cut off the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and send our soldiers into the meat grinder that was Iraq.

Before long, and after toppling the governments of two sovereign nations, we began to think of ourselves less as victims and more as the people who ruled the world.

And we were, militarily, culturally, economically — just about every which way you cared to look at it. Then the investment bankers and their pimps in Washington saw their double-downs and double-crosses blow up like…, well, like a terrorist’s bomb. With a recession bordering on depression staring us on the face, we had zero time to think about crazy Arabs attacking us.

Blankfein, Dimon, et al

Domestic Terrorists

Still, this holy land spends hundreds of millions of dollars — nay, billions — on blue-uniformed, inadequately trained, cheap labor to protect our airports, and bureaucrats, pencil-pushers, and wonks to man our Department of Homeland Security.

You’d think we’d just spent the past decade-plus enduring attacks from every side.

We haven’t. Not only that, we have been living, fatly, in the safest country in the world, in terms of wild-eyed outsiders coming here and blowing us up. Never mind that our own citizens are shooting each other up like those of no other nation in the history of the Earth.

It’s beside the point that crazy Arabs are as gnats compared to crazy Americans who prey on their fellow citizens.

Anyway, Reason magazine has run a compelling piece on terrorists and us. Here’s a taste: Did you know that fewer than 500 citizens of this holy land have been offed by outside terrorists since 1970? That, of course, is not counting 9/11, which many might counter is like saying the Hoosier men’s basketball team beat Coppin State by 87 points Saturday night if you just disregard the 51 points the Eagles scored.

On the other hand, our entire Homeland Security apparatus is based upon the outlier. It would be like Saint Tom Crean revamping the whole IU team and developing a new style of play because Coppin played tough in the first half and scored a few points.

Who knows, maybe the tens of thousands of people employed by DHS, the draconian Justice Department practices, and the PATRIOT Act have protected us from untold numbers of 9/11s. It’s impossible to know.

Read the piece, though. You won’t get any answers but, more importantly, it’ll raise questions.

COPPIN COACH’S COOL HANDLE

I know next to nothing about college basketball. Oh, I know that IU’s big gun is named Cody Zeller (did I spell his name right?) And, let’s see now, um, the Hoosiers are ranked Number 1 in the nation.

How could I live in this town and not know these two things?

Other than that, college hoops is played by somebody else’s kids, ergo I don’t care.

So I had to do some research to find out what the Hoosiers had done this weekend.

In doing so, I discovered that the coach of Coppin State has the coolest name imaginable: Fang Mitchell.

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun

Fang Mitchell

Fang Mitchell! The only other human being I’ve ever heard of with the name Fang was Phyllis Diller’s husband. And that was a gag.

Oh, and one of Soupy Sales’ animal buddies was named White Fang. Here’s a description of White Fang from Wikipedia:

“‘The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA,’ who appeared only as a giant white shaggy paw with black triangular felt ‘claws’ jutting out from the corner of the screen. Fang spoke with unintelligible short grunts and growls, which Soupy repeated back in English, for comic effect. White Fang was often the pie-thrower when Soupy’s jokes bombed.”

From "The Soupy Sales Show"

Soup Sales & White Fang

Fang Mitchell’s got quite a moniker to live up to.

THE KID FROM BLOOMINGTON

Speaking of Hoosiers, The Loved One and I went out on a movie date Saturday night, while the rest of Bloomington humanity was crammed into Assembly Hall to watch IU crush Coppin State by 87 points (again, disregarding the 51 the Eagles actually scored.)

We saw “Lincoln” and T-LO cried at the end, natch, even though we already knew how it would turn out.

Anyway, we remained in our seat during the credits so the tomato could stem her leaking and, lo and behold, we learned that Jackie Earle Haley had appeared in the movie.

You remember him, don’t you? The geeky, short kid who played Moocher in “Breaking Away”?

Scene from "Breaking Away"

Moocher, Between Cyril (Daniel Stern) & Mike (Dennis Quaid)

Poor kid, he went and got married in the movie even though he was just a teenager. That scene of him going into the Monroe County Courthouse with his girlfriend sent a shiver down my spine.

Funny thing is, JEH actually did get married in 1979, the year “Breaking Away” was released. He was 18 that year.

Haley plays Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, part of a trio of emissaries who seek to negotiate a peace with Lincoln.

Scene from "Lincoln"

Haley In “Lincoln”

Moocher was the perfect role for him. Haley was born and raised in suburban Los Angeles but, honestly, he should have been a Hoosier. More specifically, he should have been a son of Bloomington. Or, better, Ellettsville.

I’ve lived in these parts for more than three years now and I’ve seen several dozen Moochers around and about. The first time I saw “Breaking Away” (only last year, by the way) I felt certain JEH was some local kid the producers had discovered to play the part.

It turns out Haley was a child star with credits going as far back as “Marcus Welby, MD” and “The Partridge Family.” Still, he screams South Central Indiana for me, the way Peewee Reese screams Louisville and John Belushi screams Chicago, the other towns in which I’ve lived.

I suppose if I had to pick an actual Bloomingtonian to scream Bloomington for me, it’d be Hoagie Carmichael, and that wouldn’t be a bad choice at all.

He edges out that man about town, Leo Cook.

Leo Cook

Leo Cook, On Vogue In An Alternate Universe

ASTRO-FIZZIES

From Science Is A Verb, via I Fucking Love Science:

Science Is A Verb

If you missed it this morning, try to catch it just before dawn tomorrow. Take note, though, that people are spreading this viral piece of misinformation about the event. As usual, reality isn’t enough for Americans so we have to concoct nonsense to entertain ourselves.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Don’t know if it’s good or bad that a Google search on ‘Big Bang Theory’ lists the sitcom before the origin of the Universe.” — Neil de Grasse Tyson

TAKE A DEEP BREATH

Have you seen the site White People Mourning Romney yet?

An Image From White People Mourning Romney

The Loved One sent me the link last night and, to say the least, it takes my breath away. Couple that with conservative guru Richard Viguerie saying Mitt Romney lost because he didn’t hammer it home that Barack Obama is a “radical” who is out to destroy our holy land and you get the gist of the angst Tuesday’s election caused much of the nation.

I wrote on Facebook the other day, “Personal to Republicans like Karl Rove & Glenn Beck and everybody who thinks the nation is gonna collapse now that Obama’s been reelected: Get hold of yourselves, people!”

It does seem on first blush that many Republicans and Me Party-ists and Libertarians have become opera singers and drama queens about an event that occurs every four years.

While driving The Loved One to work this morning, I said something on the order of, These people are lunatics. She had a flash of equanimity, though, and pointed out that we’d be singing a very similar tune, only with different lyrics, had Romney won.

She’s right.

Then again, I thought of George W. Bush “winning” the 2000 election. I could have consoled myself by saying, “Well, it’s only four years, we’ll get ‘im next time.” The problem was Bush bollixed the Afghan War and then tricked the nation into the Iraq War. Whatever my worst fears were about Bush at the time of his “victory,” those misdeeds far exceeded them.

I don’t expect Obama to manufacture evidence to whip up war hysteria. The thing that petrifies the Right is his willingness to spend dough on social services.

Even if he bollixes that agenda big time — say he creates some useless, bloated federal authority overseeing the health care system — it still won’t come close to comparing with a couple of wars that have thus far cost hundreds of thousands of civilian and military lives.

So, on third thought, yeah, the people wailing and gnashing their teeth and predicting apocalypse — literally — over another four years of Obama are pretty much lunatics.

BILLIONS AND BILLIONS

Today is Carl Sagan‘s birthday.

Sagan was one of the coolest guys of the late 20th Century.

Carl Sagan And Johnny Carson

He popularized science to such a degree that he was a regular guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

By the way, Sagan’s signature line, “billions and billions”? He never said it. He revealed that tidbit in his book entitled — what else? — “Billions and Billions.”

Sagan’s early passing was a great loss, especially in this era of anti-intellectualism and distrust of science. On the other hand, we’re not totally adrift — the big boss at the Hayden Planetarium, Neil de Grasse Tyson, is a worthy successor. He only needs a signature line — that he never said.

FIRE

Now the news comes that a half dozen Tibetans have set themselves on fire in recent days to dramatize their unhappiness with the Chinese, whose Communist Party has been convening in Beijing.

That makes a total of some 60 Tibetans who’ve lit themselves ablaze in the last two years.

Buddhist Nun Palden Choetso Immolates Herself Earlier This Year

Make no mistake, The Chinese are a bunch of bullies when it comes to Tibet. For that matter, they’re bullies in just about every issue, foreign and domestic, they address.

Is it my Western mindset that causes me to think it’d make more tactical sense to, I don’t know, set fire to the enemy rather than yourself?

Is suicide ever called for in a political dispute?

2000 LIGHT YEARS FROM HOME

Psychedelia, baby!

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Friday, November 9th, 2012

LECTURE ◗ IU Maurer School of Law — “The Transnistria Conflict: Not Frozen,” Presented by Matt Rojansky, deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment; Noon

LECTURE ◗ IU Ballantine Hall — “Latin America and China: Primary Goods, Populism, and Political leverage,” Presented by Andrae Marak of Governors State University; 12:30pm

LECTURE ◗ IU SoFA — “Artists’ Books: When the Goblet Becomes the Wine,” Presnted by Bill and Vicky Stewart of Vamp & Tramp Booksellers; 4:30pm

ARTS & CRAFTS ◗ University Baptist ChurchBloomington Glass Guild Holiday Show; 5-9pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Joo Pak on piano; 5pm

ARTS & CRAFTS ◗ First United Church of Bloomington27th Annual Fiber Art Show & Sale; 5-9pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center Recital HallDoctoral Recital: Mathew Cataldi on piano; 5pm

ARTS & CRAFTS ◗ St. Mark’s United Methodist Church15th Annual Bloomington Local Clay Holiday Show & Sale; 5-9pm

ART ◗ The Venue Fine Art & GiftsOpening reception for the exhibit: Brian Gordy Watercolor Realism; 6pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Truly Filmic Underground Shorts,” Experimental film; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Two Angry Moms“; 6:45pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center Recital HallStudent Recital: Christopher Arkin on trumpet; 7pm

BOOKS ◗ Boxcar BooksPoet Eugene Gloria reads from his book, “My Favorite Warlord“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallSenior Recital: Felicia Wisniewski on harp; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleWhipstitch Sallies; 7-9pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall TheaterRyder Film Series: “17 Girls“; 7:15pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center, CourtyardPre-Concert Carillon Recital; 7:15pm

STAGE ◗ IU Halls TheatreDrama, “Spring Awakening“; 7:30pm

STAGE ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, in the Rose FirebayDrama, “The Rimers of Eldritch,” Presented by Ivy Tech Student Productions; 7:30pm

STAGE ◗ Bloomington High School NorthComedy/drama, “Ondine“; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeFractures (ohio), Give & Take, My Sweet Fall, Another Untold Story; 7:30-10pm

STAGE ◗ IU Ivy Tech Waldron Center, Auditorium Comedy, “Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 Steps“; 7:30pm

OPERA ◗ IU Musical Arts Center — “Cendrillon (Cinderella),” Presented by IU Opera Theater; 8pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticGreg Hahn; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubGreg Foresman; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallGuitar Class Solo Recital: Students of Ernesto Bitetti; 8pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Assembly HallHoosier men’s basketball vs. Bryant University; 8pm

BENEFIT ◗ Rhino’s All Ages Music ClubLive music, silent auction, and various events, For the Thunderbirds Junior Roller Derby team; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Keep the Lights On“; 8:15pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopYellow Ostrich, Strand of Oak; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallSenior Recital: Lauren Raby on flute; 8:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall TheaterRyder Film Series: “All Together“; 8:45pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdHairbangers Ball; 9pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Holy Motors“; 9:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceSacred Priest; 9:30pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticGreg Hahn; 10:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceTuff Tones; 11pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “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
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits through December 1st:

  • “Essentially Human,” By William Fillmore
  • “Two Sides to Every Story,” By Barry Barnes
  • “Horizons in Pencil and Wax,” By Carol Myers

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits through November 16th:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf
  • Small Is Big

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits through December 20th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners
  • Gender Expressions

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 LibraryExhibits:

  • The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library“; through December 15th
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child well-fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth.” — Joan Chittister

WHY DON’T YOU MARRY HIM?

This is the best endorsement of Barack Obama yet.

Pee-wee Herman has come out four-square for the incumbent.

If you can’t trust Pee-wee, who can you trust?

THOSE WHITE CROSSES ON 3rd STREET

I’m told the pastor of St. Charles Catholic Church on 3rd Street is big — really big — on the abortion thing.

As you know if you’ve followed these screeds for the last year or so (yep, it’s been that long), I’m pro-abortion.

There. No mincing of words for me. None of this “pro-choice” mealy-mouthing. If you’re a woman and you don’t think you can handle a kid, do something about it. Give it up for adoption or, if you can’t bear going through with the entire pregnancy, avail yourself of a surgical procedure that is legal, to one extent or another, in all 50 states of this holy land as well as most of the nations on Earth.

The anti-abortionists, by and large, bug me. I find it hard to believe they are so reverent of human life that they feel god’s love even for the multi-cellular human zygote. That said, I’ve got to hand it to the Catholic Church.

The St. Charles Catholic Church Front Lawn

The Vatican instructs its faithful that life is sacred. To prove it, big boss Joseph Ratzenberger, AKA Pope Benedict XVI, and his predecessors have stressed that not only is abortion an evil, but so is war and capital punishment. Fair enough, I won’t quibble with that kind of philosophical consistency.

Problem is, we hear too much about what an abomination abortion is from the Catholic rank and file but when a state executes a man or woman — say in Texas, which is really, really good at it — churchgoers seem fairly mum.

Anyway, St. Charles’ top man, Thomas Kovatch, apparently has really got the flock going on his pet sin. The parish has erected 3,315 little white crosses on the church’s front lawn, one for each of the fetuses aborted every day in America. I checked on the church’s figure and found that it has taken the Guttmacher Institute‘s estimate of 1.2 million abortions performed in the United States in 2008 and simply divided by 365. Again, fair enough.

I’ll be looking for similar displays dramatizing the number of dead resulting from our Mideast Wars and our criminal justice system’s lethal injection program over the next year. The ball’s in your court, Thomas Kovatch.

[Ed.’s Note: When The Loved One and I stopped by the church this morning to take photos, we noticed the signs said 4000 fetuses are aborted a day. I took the above figure from the church’s weekly bulletin.]

STIFLED GENIUSES

Just in case you haven’t seen this (which, I presume, means you’ve been in a coma for the last two or three days):

Chart From Mother Jones

You know, we on the Left tend to portray the wingnuts on the Right as sub-primates but, honestly, this graphic indicates that they’re quite an imaginative group.

And, when all is said and done, the “journalists” over at Fox News also have long demonstrated their collective creative streak.

Dang, these folks ought to be writing mysteries, alternative histories, and graphic novels. They’d put out great stuff.

Just goes to show how perverse your life can become when you stifle your creativity.

THE BEAUTY OF LANGUAGE

You know who’s the hottest new sex symbol?

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s sign language interpreter, Lydia Callis.

Dig:

She turns signing into art.

So shoot me, I’m a guy.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.


Sunday, November 4th, 2012

CLASS ◗ Dagom Gaden Tensung Ling MonasteryIntroductory Course on Buddhism; 10am

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoBrunch Show: Peter Kienle on guitar; 11pm

FEST ◗ IU Cedar Hall, Union Street Center2nd Annual Traditional Powwow, Native-American arts, crafts, foods, etc.; 11am-6pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallSenior Recital: Kaitlyn Reho on clarinet; 1pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center, Recital HallStudent Orchestra Recital: Timothy Kantor on violin, Micholas Mariscal on cello, Clare Longendyke on piano, Tal Samuel, conductor; 1pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallMaster’s Recital: Brendan Shea on violin; 2pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Chocolat“; 3pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallDoctoral Lector Recital: Hugh Conor Angell, baritone; 3pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallFaculty/Guest/Student Recital: Mu Phi Epsilon Founders Day Program; 4pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallSenior Recital: Jeremy Sison on trombone; 5pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubTom Roznowski; 6pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Grigor Khachatryan on piano; 6pm

MUSIC ◗ Bear’s Place — Ryder Film Series: Double feature, “Two Angry Moms” & “Keep the Lights On“; 7pm

STAGE ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, Auditorium — Comedy-drama, “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleDavid Sisson; 7-9pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallStudio/Class Recital: Edmund Cord Studio; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeAdriana and Maya; 7-9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdMatisyahu; 8pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “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
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits through December 1st:

  • “Essentially Human,” By William Fillmore
  • “Two Sides to Every Story,” By Barry Barnes
  • “Horizons in Pencil and Wax,” By Carol Myers

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits through November 16th:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf
  • Small Is Big

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits through December 20th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners
  • Gender Expressions

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 LibraryExhibits:

  • The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library“; through December 15th
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person.” — Tennessee Williams

CAN A POLITICIAN EVER BE GOOD?

Newshound Joy Shayne Laughter stopped by the Book Corner for a visit before going into the WFHB studios to interview a nationally-known digital doyenne yesterday afternoon.

We got around to talking about Facebook and we both agreed that sometimes we have to take a time out from it because, well, it has this weird capacity to turn even the sweetest soul into a jerk. And the two of us are nothing if not sweet souls.

I’ve been tempted a hundred times to write on someone’s wall, “Jesus Christ, what kind of stupid moron are you?!” Much to my surprise, the seemingly grounded and mature Joy admitted that she, too, finds herself on the brink of lashing out in like fashion at people on FB.

Facebook turns everybody into a bully to some degree or another. And god forbid any elected official should sneeze the wrong way — he’ll be strung up before he can reach for his handkerchief.

Case in point: Yesterday Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey praised the federal government and President Barack Obama for their quick response in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Before the president could say, Don’t mention it, this meme image appeared on Facebook:

So, in essense, the Facebook zeitgeist now holds that no one on Earth can ever have a change of heart. There are no epiphanies. Redemption is for the birds. No matter what tragedy befalls you, you must hold fast to every embarrassing, opportunistic, politically expedient statement you’ve ever uttered, otherwise, you’ll be the object of ridicule for millions.

Who knows, maybe Chris Christie in a couple of weeks will proclaim that Barack Obama is Benedict Arnold, Sacco & Vanzetti, and Timothy McVeigh all rolled into one. It could happen.

But in this moment of horror, isn’t it possible that Chris Christie has just learned something?

Can it be that from now on, thanks to this horrifying storm, he’s become a better man?

Or in this Facebook age are we all obliged to be assholes forever?

I’M SQUARE

Here’s a confession: I have no idea what the term “gangnam style” means.

In Lieu Of A Gangnam Style Pic: Marilyn Monroe And Her Pumpkins

Here’s another: I’m not going to try to find out either. Overall, I feel quite good about this decision.

G.I. DON’T LIKE JOE

Just heard a Joe Walsh ad on the radio last night. He’s running for US Congress against Tammy Duckworth in Illinois’ 8th District. He’s also the guy who declared during a candidates’ debate a week and a half ago that he’s against abortion even if the mother’s life is in danger.

That alone would lead a reasonable person to assume Walsh is a pretty sharp-edged character. As in this imaginary exchange:

Walsh: Sharp, But Not As A Tack

Doctor: “Joe, I’m sorry but your wife’s situation has taken a bad turn. She’s having what we call an ectopic pregnancy. The situation is dire. There’s a strong possibility that if we go ahead with this delivery, she won’t make it.”

Joe: “Doctor, that’s terrible. What can we do about it?”

Doctor: “Well, Joe, we live in Illinois, which allows us to terminate the pregnancy. As it stands right now, the odds are stacked mightily against your wife. What do you say, Joe?”

On second thought, I won’t presume to guess what Joe might say in such a tragic situation. But I do know what he said at the debate. He claimed there is no such thing as a pregnancy that can endanger the life of the mother, an assertion that medical science holds to be about as wrong as wrong can be.

Yes, Joe, This Can Kill A Woman

I’d like to think that just because Joe Walsh says bombastic things during political debates, it doesn’t mean he would act so bombastically in real life.

Joe Walsh likes to use words the way others use stilettos. He had to know his statement would cut many, many women to the bone.

The script for his radio ad was similarly filled with razor verbiage. That’s really nothing new. He has accused Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in combat, of not being a real hero because she mentions her disability on the campaign trail. In Joe Walsh’s world a soldier who gets her legs blown off should just shut up about it.

Walsh To Duckworth: Quit Bitching

Do you get the feeling Joe Walsh doesn’t care much for women?

Anyway, Walsh’s ad hammers home the point that Duckworth served for a time in disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich‘s cabinet. Blagojevich, you’ll recall, is not only the latest governor emeritus of the Land of Lincoln to occupy a suite in the penitentiary, but is perhaps the most brazen and venal of that gang.

Toward the end of Blagojevich’s term as reprobate-in chief, he named Duckworth the state’s Director of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Duckworth jokingly remarked that Blagojevich gave her the job so she could do favors for her friends. Those friends, of course, were military veterans and, well, the director’s job by definition is to do favors for them.

Everybody had a good laugh over that one.

But now Joe Walsh uses that audio clip in his advertisements, hoping to make Duckworth sound like a cheap political hustler in the Blagojevich mold. Look what Rod Blagojevich and Tammy Duckworth did to the state of Illinois, the ad bleats. Now she wants to do the same thing to the country in Washington.

A Shady Connection?

The idea being she’ll try to sell political appointments and squeeze campaign contributions out of big shots in exchange for favorable legislation, just the way her former boss did.

Problem is, Duckworth’s reputation is sterling. She wasn’t implicated in the Blagojevich todo — in fact, few outside of the former Governor’s immediate conspiracy circle were.

That doesn’t matter to Joe Walsh.

By the way, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce just endorsed Walsh. Oh, and Duckworth worked for a couple of years in Barack Obama’s federal Department of Veteran’s Affairs. So Joe works for obsessive profiteers and Tammy worked for a former community organizer.

Makes me think of a line I read recently: “I’ll take the character of a community organizer over that of a venture capitalist any day.”

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.


Thursday, November 1st, 2012

VOTE ◗ The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Maurer School of Law — “Narratives of Infanticide: Mothers, Murder, and the State in Nineteenth-Century America,” Presented by Felicity Turner; 4pm

CLASS ◗ Lake Monroe, Paynetown SRA Activity CenterNew Rules for Deer Season: Are You Ready for Opening Day?; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “The Connection“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallEarly Music Institute Chamber Music Concert; 7pm

HISTORY ◗ Monroe County History CenterLetters from the Front, Written by James F. Lee to members of His family in Monroe County: Bringing the Civil War Up Close and Personal, Presented by Steve Rolfe of Monroe County Civil War Round Table; 7pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Assembly HallHoosier men’s basketball vs. Indiana Wesleyan; 7pm

SPORTS ◗ IU GymnasiumHoosier wrestling vs. Manchester; 7pm

FEST ◗ IU Latino Cultural CenterDia de los Muertos; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubMonika Herzig Trio; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU AuditoriumStraight No Chaser; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallTrombone Choir, Carl Lenthe, director; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallClarinet Choir, Howard Klug, director; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdG Love & Special Sauce; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceNew Old Cavalry; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopPaul Collins, Purple 7, The Sands; 9:30pm

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
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • Ab-Fab — Extreme Quilting,” by Sandy Hill; October 5th through October 27th
  • Street View — Bloomington Scenes,” by Tom Rhea; October 5th through October 27th
  • From the Heartwoods,” by James Alexander Thom; October 5th through October 27th
  • The Spaces in Between,” by Ellen Starr Lyon; October 5th through October 27th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf; through November 16th
  • Small Is Big; Through November 16th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits:

  • 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 from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

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

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

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

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

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