Category Archives: John Kerry

Hot Air

Negotiating 101

Here’s what John Kerry and his entourage don’t get. Many, many Americans have their own definition of the term negotiating.

Kerry at Iran Talks

See, for most of the world, the word denotes a process wherein two or more parties sit around a table and talk about what they want. Naturally, the things each party wants are far different from those the other party or parties want. Ergo, how do they come to a reasonable understanding?

Well, according to most of humanity’s grasp of the concept of negotiation, they give and take, inch by inch, teensy steps at a time, until, at some point, all parties’ acceptable wants and needs are satisfied. Well, satisfied-ish.

This concept works on a global scale as well as in national and individual relationships.

Take The Loved One and me, for instance. Let’s say I had the irresistible urge to travel down to Mesa, Arizona next February, where I could sit in the warm sun and watch my beloved Chicago Cubs gambol across the Spring Training playing fields. Many thousands of Cubs fans do this each year. It’s one of those rare endeavors wherein they get not one but two priceless boons. They are able to escape the living hell that is a midwestern winter and they get to bask in the glow of their heroes and dream of the coming summer.

Cubs Spring Training

Look At That Pretty Sky

So, in our hypothetical situation, I’d say to The Loved One, “Darling, I’ve been meaning to ask you — and by the way, have I told you how much I love and cherish you lately? No? How silly of me — well, I’ve been meaning to ask you if you wouldn’t mind if I take a little trip down to Arizona to catch a bit of Cubs Spring Training. I won’t be gone long and — you know what? — I won’t even eat while I’m down there. In fact, I won’t even spend any money on a hotel room. Heck, it’s warm in Arizona, by golly, and I can just spend my nights in a sleeping bag on the desert floor! Honest, Angel, I really, really, really want to do this. It’s something I’ve dreamed about for years. Whaddya say, huh? Whaddya say?”

At which point, The Loved One would ponder my position, being the thoughtful and careful soul she is. After a few moments’ thought, she’d reply, “How about this? You don’t go down to Mesa, Arizona in February to sit in the warm sun and dream the impossible dream that your Cubs might win more games than they lose next summer and, in return, I’ll refrain from crashing a cast iron skillet over your head.”

“Hmm,” I’d say. “Sounds good to me.”

See how it works?

Understand, though, that The Loved One practices the art of negotiation as defined by many Americans.

To many in this holy land, negotiating has little to do with inch by inch increments and niceties like give and take. We’ve learned by observing the negotiating styles of people like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and other clever bargainers that negotiating means, Sign here or we’ll crash a cast iron skillet over your head.

Similarly, they’ll say as they sit around that bargaining table, No, we won’t let you do what you want to do and to stop you, we’re going to shut down the government, refuse to vote on your judicial and administrative appointments, and tell the world you’re a commie abortionist. And if that doesn’t work, why, hell, we’ll secede. Oh, by the way, did we mention we’ve got tons of guns?

To the Cruz crowd, America’s single most successful negotiating ploy took place in early August, 1945.

Nagasaki

Here’s Our Offer

So, any deal that does not include the abject humiliation and the paralyzing of the Iranian government is a total loss for us.

I’d rather negotiate with The Loved One than those dopes.

And Another Thing

At least one observer on the Right is saying the Iran Nuclear deal is merely a smoke screen designed to make the gullible public forget the horrifying atrocity that is Obamacare.

Sen. John Cornyn (R [Of Course]-Alabama [Where Else?]) sez, “Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care.” He horked up this pearl of wisdom, natch, on his Tweetin’ machine, ergo the pidgin English.

Damn that Kenyan mole! Doesn’t he know that once a president comes under fire for some controversial act or legislation, he is no longer permitted by law to do anything else in the whole, wide world, no matter what?

Thank you, Sen. Cornyn for setting these Confederate States of America straight.

Confederate Soldier

Fighting The Good Fight

Board News

The WFHB Board of Directors will meet tonight somewhere in City Hall at 7pm.

The room originally reserved for the meeting may be too small for the expected turnout of interested volunteers who hope to witness the Board talk about high-minded ideals and peace on Earth among….

Oh, okay, I’m being cynical. The Board just might commit to finding a new General Manager for the station by the end of the year. There I go, being zany again.

Your Daily Hot Air

Hey kids, just a few quick hits today because I’m in a hurry.

Union Now!

How cool is it that fast food workers in selected cities are going out on a series of one-day strikes this week?

The Big Mike answer and Official Pencil Policy Statement? Very cool.

Chase Guttman photo

NYC McDonald’s Workers On Strike Yesterday

Ever since Saint Ronald Reagan institutionalized this holy land’s policy of crushing labor unions by decertifying PATCO back in 1981, the labor movement has slid inexorably nearer to irrelevance. Dig: by general acclamation, the single most powerful workers group in the United States is the Major League Baseball Players Association. That is, a group of workers whose entry-level annual base pay is for the 2013 season is $490,000. That comes out to cool $30,625 per two-week pay period for the newest, rawest, and, perhaps, least productive worker in the business. Try to find a currency exchange that’ll cash that check.

But the MLBPA has consistently beaten the major league baseball owners at the bargaining table for the last 40 years. Baseball is the only major pro sports operation that doesn’t have a hard salary cap and big league ballplayers are entitled to the most liberal free agency system in all sports. Oh, and all contracts are guaranteed, meaning if a player is cut by a team, the team still owes him all the money due through the end on his contract. Pretty sweet, eh?

Of course, most things are pretty sweet for the 1% in this great nation.

Baseball & Money

Pretty Sweet

Then there’s the poor slob who’s pouring your cup of McDonald’s coffee, maybe even as we speak. He earns minimum wage. Which, as any kindergartner can calculate, is not enough to support a family of one, much less two, three, or more.

The big cheeses at Mickey Ds, Burger King, Wendy’s, and all those other salt-and-fat emporia are wringing their hands and dabbing at their eyes with their Kleenexes [boxes of which they purchased at drug-and-convenience stores that also pay their “valued associates” that same princely minimum wage], trying to convey to us through their subs that their businesses will crumble if they have to pay out a penny more in wages.

Bullshit.

I for one would be more than happy to pay a dollar extra per Big Mac just so’s the single mom flipping the horsemeat over a hot griddle can buy her kid[s] some shoes.

And if you wouldn’t, let me be the first to inform you that you are a jerk.

The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling

This needs to be said and I’ll be the first: Annie Corrigan of WFIU carries the best set of pipes in all of Indiana broadcasting.

Bernard Gordillo Brockmann photo

The Voice Of Bloomington

She is the consummate professional and her joyous, dulcet lilt wakes me in the morning like the call of the cardinal.

My only fear is she’ll soon follow the scent of real b-casting money to a larger market, a reward of which she’s more than deserving. Oh, Annie girl…!

Not So Fast

Pope Frankie made a big splash yesterday by holding an impromptu press conference on the airplane as his entourage high-tailed it out of Brazil.

Sinatra/Pope

Idols

Among other things, the new Vatican princeps said he wasn’t about to judge anyone for being a homosexual and that women ought to play a larger role within the Church.

Now, before we all start throwing huzzahs around, let’s remember it is still the policy of the of the Roman Catholic executive committee that homosexual acts are sins and women shall never be priests.

Here’s my Latin response to the putative groundbreaking pronouncements by the Pontiff: Facta, non verba.*

[* In English, Actions, not words.]

America Grows Up

Back to coolness. How cool is it that John Kerry is the 68th Secretary of State of the United States of America?

Kerry/VVAW

Kerry, The Antiwar Protester

Honestly! Kerry was one of the faces of the anti-war movement back when this nation was debasing itself and committing crimes against humanity in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the 1960s and ’70s. In April, 1971, Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the atrocities and general wrongheadedness of our excellent adventure in Southeast Asia. Later, he and other vets marched to the US Capitol and threw their service decorations at the place. At the time, Kerry said, “I’m not doing this for any violent reasons, but for peace and justice, and to try and make this country wake up once and for all.”

President Nixon and his gang of gasbags would have thrown a party had Kerry, then one of the leaders of Vietnam Veterans against the War, been run over by a bus. It’s a shocker that one of the rat-fuckers didn’t get that bright idea and try to recruit a down-on-his-luck bus driver to carry out the contract.

And now, Kerry is in charge of US foreign policy. We’ve still got a lot to be ashamed of and apologetic for in America, but we’ve come a long way, baby.

[BTW: Speaking of cool once again, imagine that a national talk show would have a civilized, rational, intellectual debate between representatives of opposing sides of a hot-button issue. The Dick Cavett Show was analogous to, say, today’s Conan or Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I don’t want to slip into that old Things-were-better-in-my-day routine but, jeez, at least some of TV acknowledged that the average American had an organ in her or his skull.]

Your Daily Hot Air

Sometimes I think World Net Daily was made up just for me.

For my entertainment. For my edification. For my sense of superiority over the gang of lunatics that puts it out.

From WND

Maybe this is what I’m missing out on by not being a sexist slob or a racist. Scads of folks across this holy land seem to feel they are better than others simply because said others either possess vaginas or dark skin. It must feel good to know in your heart that women are weak and stupid and blacks are criminal and lazy — and you’re not one of them.

Superiority must be a trip, right? Otherwise, what’s the point of being a sexist and/or racist?

So yeah, I feel superior — moral- and intellectual-wise — to the jabbering chuckleheads who populate the WND universe.

The WND pantheon includes busts of that great philosopher Chuck Norris, who has fap-fantasized about becoming the president of the Republic of Texas after it secedes (oh, please!), and the redoubtable Jerome Corsi. You may recall Corsi swearing up and down during the 2004 presidential campaign that John Kerry had faked his Vietnam wounds. And, more recently, he has posited that Barack Obama is some kind of a Kenyan fag abortionist or something.

Norris

Chuck Norris And Friends

The WND faithful also are regularly treated to the screechings of Phyllis Schlafly and David Limbaugh (who almost makes big bro Rush sound occasionally sane).

Yeesh.

WND is chock full of ads for gold (the preferred safe investment harbor for survivalists), magical vitamins and elixirs, fountains of youth, and even for the newly-martyred Paula Deen. The fly on this pile of horseshit is none other than former baseball pitcher John Rocker, who pens a regular op-ed column for the site.

John Rocker, for chrissakes!

Anyway, wouldn’t you know it, last week’s US Supreme Court decision to coerce all good, white, straight men into butt sex has the WND crew all aflutter.

Some self-described Christian lawyer named Matt Barber, a regular WND contributor, is convinced he’s going to be imprisoned sooner rather than later as a direct result of the gay marriage ruling. And you know what happens in the joint, don’t you?

Prison

Anyway, Barber recounts a hand-wringing email exchange he had with another self-avowed Christian lawyer, who remains nameless in his Monday column. After speculating that the gay marriage OK will lead to the obligatory state-sanctioned unions of brothers and sisters (ick) and rampant polygamy (just a tad less ick), Barber’s pen pal pronounces:

In my 35 years as a Christian, I never seriously believed we might end up in prison for our faith — except, perhaps, for something like a pro-life demonstration. This is the first time it seriously occurs to me that the trajectory of the nation is such that it is possible in five to 10 years.

Because, as you are well aware, the Christians are such an oppressed minority in this country.

Barber couldn’t agree with his friend more. He writes:

Do I believe Christians will face real persecution, such as loss of livelihood, civil penalties, physical abuse or even jail? Absolutely.

So, there you have it. Gay marriage equals Christian concentration camps.

And, yeah, I’m superior to these howler monkeys, moral- and intellectual-wise.

It does feel good. Thanks, WND.

Borrowers, Lenders & The Mob

Margaret, the Big Cheese at the Book Corner, Bloomington’s only independent bookseller where I peddle ’em Mondays through Wednesdays, will probably clunk me in the head for this one but, I gotta tell you, I’m becoming addicted to the library.

Book Corner

Not The Library

I’m reading a couple of books a week now, mainly because I’ve been borrowing from the Monroe County Public Library. I have zero idea why I haven’t done this before.

Think of it: your town or big city has within it a system wherein you can take books, CDs, or DVDs home for your personal use — for free. All you have to do is flash a library card.

You may say, Sure, Big Mike, we know all about it, but when’s the last time you did it?

I mean, even the fire department charges your survivors for sending an ambulance over when your heart explodes from a lifetime of sliders and Pop Tarts. The library doesn’t charge you a penny. How can it be that there isn’t a line around the block when the place opens in the morning?

Anyway, I’m just finishing up a book called When Corruption Was King, written by Robert Cooley with help from former Chicago Magazine editor Hillel Levin. Cooley was a mobbed up, kinky lawyer who was in bed with legendary Chicago First Ward bosses Pat Marcy and Fred Roti, who did the bidding of the city’s Outfit.

Roti

Alderman Fred Roti

The Outfit, of course, is Chicagoese for the Mafia, La Cosa Nostra, wiseguys, goodfellas, or whatever Hollywood wants to call organized crime. According to Cooley, the Outfit, through Marcy et al, controlled Cook County’s courts, much of the Chicago Police Department, and too many city agencies to list here. Suffice it to say if you wanted a quick building permit, a zoning variance that the neighbors had been fighting tooth and nail, or just to get your teenaged kid off for denting the skull of some hapless Puerto Rican with a baseball bat, your lawyer paid a visit to Pat Marcy and slipped a nickel or a few dimes into his pudgy hand.

A nickel, in Chicago parlance, is $500. A dime, natch, is a grand.

So, the First Ward boys were the extra-legal funnel through which all smart city business flowed. Marcy and crew took care of the average citizen in the know as well as the big boys who ran the city’s gambling, vice, and narcotics operations, among other colorful pastimes. Most Chicago crime experts believed Marcy was a “made guy,” meaning he was an officially approved member of the Outfit. And, no, the Chicago mob didn’t have any elaborate ceremonies and rituals, the likes of which were portrayed in The Godfather and every other crime movie made since. In fact, the Outfit was an equal opportunity employer, welcoming members of every ethnic group imaginable into its ranks, so long as they were good earners and were willing to snap a guy’s thumb when called upon to do so.

From "The Godfather"

Fiction

Cooley revealed the fixing of murder cases and the buying of state legislation through efforts of Marcy and his guys. Big circuit court judges who’d previously nurtured reputations as law-and-order hard-asses were in truth, Cooley and Levin wrote, guys who’d fix any case for a buck.

See, Cooley was a big player in these shenanigans until, he says, he got fed up, had a change of heart, and walked into the US Justice Department’s Chicago office unannounced and told the feds he wanted to play ball with them. Cooley then wore a wire when he did business with the First Ward boys. The evidence he amassed led to dozens of arrests and convictions and the eventual dismantling of the First Ward pigsty.

Cooley’s no Raymond Chandler or even John Grisham but his story is as riveting as anything they could come up with.

And, by the way, the kind of pervasive corruption that Cooley helped bring down in Chicago’s First Ward may be a thing of the past now but it was built upon the passing of cash from one hand to another.

The last I heard, cash still buys things. Enough of it can still buy permits, justice, and legislation. Only now, the system is nationwide, or even global, as opposed to Pat Marcy’s petit-realm. Look at the so-called Monsanto Protection Act for proof.

We need a new Robert Cooley.

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Friday

THE QUOTE

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” — Rebecca West

West

NYAH, NYAH

So, the Republicans now have their pound of flesh.

Feeling all sissified by the results of the November election, the political decision makers within the Party of God racked their brains for a few days and then hit upon a forward course.

Does it include becoming more inclusive toward black and brown people, women, gays, the poor, and those whose IQs are north of 30?

2012 Republican National Convention

Republicans

Well, no. At least not yet.

How about a concerted effort to purge the party’s ranks of antediluvian racists — both crypto- and overt? Or accepting the fact that geologists, zoologists, biologists, and other learned souls just might know a little bit more about the nature of our physical world than do bizarrely-coiffed backwoods Bible-thumpers?

Nah.

Our friends the Republicans have decided their best first step forward was to stand firm against that greatest threat to our nation’s very existence: the putative nomination of Susan Rice to the post of Secretary of State.

Rice

Susan Rice

And whaddya know? They scored big time!

Rice, the current Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the United Nations, has informed her boss that she’s withdrawing her name from consideration to replace the outgoing S of S (and 45th President of the United States-in-waiting), Hillary Clinton.

Rice’s boss, the anti-Christ Barack Obama, was in for a bruising mud wrestling match had he tabbed Rice to don Clinton’s sash. And when all is said and done, even if Rice’s nomination were indeed approved by the Democratic-majority Senate, she’d have been viewed around the world as a weak PR agent for this holy land simply because so many fought against her.

Woo-hoo, we showed him, the Republicans are now telling themselves.

And guess what — the likely rebound nominee is said to be John Kerry.

Imagine that! The Republicans have indicated they’d be four-square in favor of approving Kerry. You remember him, don’t you? The traitor who protested against the war in Vietnam, only after he’d committed fraud to gain a pile heroism medals while there? The Republicans saved us from him in 2004.

Kerry/Lennon

Dangerous Johns: Kerry & Lennon

Now they love him. And why not? He’s a white male.

ANNIE’S LITTLE SECRET

The republic has survived yet another threat to its very existence. We’ve awakened four mornings in a row and discovered that the Earth remains in its orbit even after actress Anne Hathaway’s cooter was viewed by all concerned Monday night.

The temporarily-gaunt star of Les Miserables wore a gown made of coffin lining as well as some S&M accoutrements, all of which pass for haute couture, to the premiere of her big new blockbuster in New York.

She arrived at the red carpet in a positively presidential-looking SUV limousine. Her bodyguard leaped out and helped her exit the vehicle. She swung her legs out in an oh-so-ladylike fashion. Sadly (or not, depending on your level of sexual and emotional maturity) her knees separated and, thanks to a strategic split in her gown, her external reproductive organs were exposed and, within a nanosecond, were illuminated by a camera flash.

Hathaway 20121210

Naturally, the image of her fancy bit immediately flashed around the planet.

Just as naturally, Anne Hathaway is aghast even as tens of millions of adolescent boys are furiously masturbating to the point of pain.

“It was devastating,” she told Vanity Fair’s Ingrid Sischy.

Fair enough.

Hathaway — whom, by the way, I intend to marry should The Loved One ever come to her senses and throw me overboard — went a step further on NBC’s Today Show: “… I was very sad that we live in an age when someone takes a picture of another person in a vulnerable moment and rather than delete it and do the decent thing, sells it. And I’m sorry we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality of unwilling participants….”

Fair enough again. I guess.

Only we’re not talking about powerless young girls being bought and sold in the Middle East (see chart). Nor are we talking about someone pointing a camera through a hotel room peephole so he can peddle nude pix of an unsuspecting sports reporter.

From the Woman Stats Project

Yes, it’s a crying shame that pix of Hathaway’s Little Secret should turn out to be such a valuable commodity but isn’t she being a tad disingenuous here?

I mean, I love the woman. She’s well on her way to becoming the Meryl Streep of the 2030s. She’s generally considered dignified.

But she has a knockout body and she knows it. And she trades on it. Google images of her and you’ll see tons of her flesh. Nothing tasteless, mind you. But anyone who cares to can examine her breasts and other parts of her anatomy.

Again, she’s no Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan but, still, she understands what exposed female flesh means in Hollywood. It’s like a being a lawyer and having been a member of the right fraternity in college.

Anyway, it was Hathaway herself who went commando. Which is usually harmless, except when you’re wearing a gown that’s slit some eight and a half yards from talus to ilium.

Hindsight is 20/20 but from this outpost, her best bet would have been to ignore the breathless and puerile questioning of the likes of Matt Lauer and let the incident pass without comment. She should have let the whole issue die a deserved death.

From "The Today Show"

Matt Lauer Grosses Out The Universe While Interviewing Hathaway

And maybe — just maybe — we’ll all grow up and stop tee-hee-ing when somebody’s business gets exposed.

A LADY LEXICON

The fun gals at feministing.com have provided us with an invaluable guide to the euphemisms for the human vagina.

That’s the technical term for it, of course. Vagina comes directly to us from the Latin, meaning a sheath for a soldier’s sword, which our old pals the Romans called a ferrum — literally, iron — but commonly used the word to refer to the penis.

Cicero and Co. had a way with words, no?

Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Sheathe Your Swords, Men Of Rome.”

So do we. Our words reveal our fears and distastes. Apparently, the vagina is scary and distasteful to far too many sword-bearers around this funny globe. Dig how many terms confer frightening, weird, and/or disgusting connotations on that place we’ve all passed through.

Study this. There’ll be a pop quiz later this semester.

From Feministing

SHE’S A BAD MAMA JAMA

By Carl Carlton, this song rocketed up the Billboard soul chart in 1981.

She’s poetry in motion/

A beautiful sight to see.

I get so excited/

Viewin’ her anatomy.

At least he wasn’t being a sneak about it.

The Pencil Today:

“Who’s gonna take me seriously with this on my head?” — Leanza Cornett

WHO’S THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL?

I never watch the televised presidential debates for the same reason I’ve never cared about the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Or even any human beauty pageant, for that matter.

You know, these TV debates became important only because of what happened in the fall of 1960. Sen. John F. Kennedy, the Dem nominee for president that year came into the scheduled series of debates — the first time the events would be televised nationally — as the punk kid trying to elbow his way past the sitting vice president and foreign policy maven Dick Nixon.

The wags figured the debates would be a slaughter, with the wily Nixon taking the brash rich boy out for a spanking.

Things didn’t turn out that way.

JFK won the election because, during that first debate, held at the WBBM-TV studios in Chicago, he appeared cool, calm, sun-tanned and healthy. Whereas Nixon was gaunt and pale, having recently suffered through some health issues.

Not only that, Nixon fidgeted and sweated. Kennedy was charming and composed.

Beauty And The Beast

Boom — knockout for the challenger. So Kennedy won the beauty pageant and the White House.

Seems a rather silly criterion upon which to base a vote for the leader of the western world, no?

Anyway, don’t cry for Nixon, America, because he capitalized on his dorky, dweeby, homeliness and his loss to the uber-wealthy, elite Kennedy, to vault into the presidency eight years later. Nixon basically told the voting public, Hey, I’m a schlub — just like you.

\

The electorate bought it and, coupled with the fact that the Democratic Party was in the midst of a five year long suicide attempt, we elected ourselves a paranoid, self-loathing, suspicious, unindicted co-conspirator to be our leader. As a reward, we got Watergate, an unprecedented bombing campaign in Southeast Asia, Pat Buchanan, Karl Rove, and the original Rat Fuckers.

Oh, and a couple of pandas from China for the Washington National Zoo.

But I digress.

In the 1980 presidential candidate debates, Ronald Reagan out-prettied Jimmy Carter, which wasn’t very hard to do. Carter was somber and serious, talking about nuclear weapons and energy and the Middle East. Reagan was the chipper cheerleader.

The nation was ready for a pep rally.

When Carter brought up some controversial decisions Reagan had made as California governor, Reagan good-naturedly scolded him, saying, “There you go again.”

Grumpy & Happy

The debate would be remembered for those words as well as a line Reagan uttered during his closing comment: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

Reagan routed Carter in the election.

In 2004, John Kerry whaled on President George W. Bush in their first debate. I actually watched that show, although I can’t for the life of me remember why. Anyway, I was astounded to discover that I actually felt sorry for Bush. He looked lost, physically diminished even, as the erudite Kerry tore down his arguments one by one.

All the experts agreed: Kerry had won the debate big time.

Dopey & Doc

What do you think happened? A large percentage of jes’ plain folks in this holy land felt Kerry was too smart, an egghead. Poor old Georgy Boy was just a guy trying to do his job running the country and some Harvard-educated snob comes along and tries to tell him what to do. Bush’s polling numbers actually improved after what I’d figured was a knockout blow.

Now, my side of the political spectrum is always honking about “issues.” The debates must be about hard facts and real problems and definitive plans, they say.

Yet many folks on the Dem/Left/Progressive team last night commented that Barack Obama wasn’t “aggressive” enough, whatever that means. Should he have slugged Mitt Romney at some point in the night?

I suppose that would send ratings through the roof. Maybe that’s the future of presidential debates. The candidates can go after each other on a remote island. Whomever captures the other wins. That would be something Americans could understand.

But last night’s debate was a wonk-fest. Obama and Romney argued like seniors on the high school debate team. Which, I figure, is what debate is all about.

But now the Obama side wants glitz and glitter and a he-man show of strength. They want that ultimate zinger, the kind that Ronald Reagan could deliver so well and so easily.

Times and sides change.

For the last few days, wits and pundits have been predicting that Romney would narrow Obama’s lead with his performance in the first debate. How they knew this in advance I can not say (other than to point out that news creatures need to invent new angles when conventional wisdom starts getting ripe.)

Sure enough, the post-game commentary and the pronouncements this morning have Romney coming out ahead last night. He looked like he belonged up there, the consensus goes. As opposed, I guess, to Romney showing up in shorts and a T-shirt. Romney, the experts say, looked presidential.

Maybe Obama should have slugged him.

I bet Obama will slug Romney in the next debate. Metaphorically, of course. Then Obama will see his numbers grow again. The final debate will be a tepid affair, with both guys deking and jabbing, but neither willing to risk going for the big blow so close to the election.

My hundred bucks on Obama still looks safe.

THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARSENALS

One thing none of the three debates will address is the issue of guns.

That matter’s been settled and put to bed. We have agreed as a nation to allow our citizens to arm themselves to the teeth against…, um, against what I don’t know.

Well not all of us have agreed. Not I, for one. And not Nikki Giovanni, the writer and commentator. Here she is on Democracy Now!, spitting into the wind (click on the image for access to the vid; sorry, I couldn’t embed it):

SUPERSIZE ME

You’ve been reading about that news anchor in Wisconsin who lambasted an emailer for calling her fat, haven’t you? Or you’ve at least seen the vid on YouTube, right?

The woman is being praised from all quarters for standing up to what can only be described as bullying in the guise of a faux concern for the health of nation’s youth.

I’m all for her. Only I would have saved her a lot of breath. Had I been tasked with writing the news script for her response, I would have handed her a sheet with the original email on it, which she’d read, then the instruction for her to look straight into the lens and say, “And you, sir, are an asshole.”

Simplicity is best, don’t you think?

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

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

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, outside WFHB StudiosPublic participation in creating a ten-foot sculpture called “The Angel,” Rain or shine; 9am-5pm

LECTURE ◗ IU SPEANBC News’ Phil Lebeau talks about the auto & aviation industries; 9:30am

STUDIO TOUR ◗ Brown County, various locationsThe Backroads of Brown County Studio Tour, free, self-guided tour of 16 local artists’ & craftspersons’ studios; 10am-5pm, through October

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallMike Stern Trio; 2:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Bear’s PlaceGyrogenics Quartet reunion; 5:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s Pub — Jason Fickel & Ginger Curry; 6:30pm

WORKSHOP ◗ BloominglabsIntro to Programming, 10-week course beginning tonight; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Casablanca”; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleKara Barnard, Chuck Willis; 7-9pm

LECTURE ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryNaturalist Jill Vance talks about the wild turkey; 7pm

POLITICS ◗ Brown County Office Building, Gould & Locust Lane, NashvilleMeet the candidates for county offices; 7-9pm

STAGE ◗ Bloomington Playwrights ProjectComedy, “Rx”; 7:30pm

STAGE ◗ Brown County Playhouse, NashvilleDrama, “Last Train to Nibroc”; 7:30pm

LECTURE ◗ IU AuditoriumChaz Bono talks about gender identity, free; 8-9pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s Place Eric Lambert; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford Hall — Doctoral recital, Ruti Abramovitch on piano; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceNew Old Cavalry; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopR. Stevie Moore; 9:30pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists; through October 14th
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • 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:

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

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits opening September 28th:

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

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

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

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

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

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

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

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

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

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

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

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

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I believe that as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.” — Robert F. Kennedy

THE LIVES WE LEAD IN A LIFETIME

Bobby Kennedy was shot in the head 44 years ago tomorrow. He lingered, unconscious, for a day, then died.

At the time of his death, Bobby Kennedy was a caring, dedicated, sensitive man.

But for much of his adult life, he’d been a jerk. He’d been ruthless, clannish, a moralizer, pathologically ambitious — the list can go on.

Tragedy changed Bobby Kennedy. The death of his brother catapulted him into deep depression. He had, for lack of a more scientifically accurate term, a nervous breakdown. He emerged on the other side of it a different human being.

Kennedy was  Roman Catholic. For all the Church’s sins — and there are many — one praiseworthy aspect of it is its insistence that there is redemption.

I’ve experienced redemption once or twice. Maybe even three times. So, I would assume, have you.

No, not religious redemption. Human redemption. For lack of a more scientifically accurate term.

THE PENCIL’S DAILY EVENTS LISTINGS

Click. And GO!

ANYBODY WHO DISAGREES WITH ME IS MENTALLY ILL

A movie reviewer from my old haunt, the Chicago Reader, has panned “The Avengers” in his capsule review.

Naturally, he’s been flooded with emails and other communiques calling into question his sanity and accusing him of possessing the foulest character. After all, this is the United States of America wherein everybody’s opinion on a movie is of paramount import.

The “calling into question his sanity” part elicited a revelation from reviewer Ben Sachs, though.

Ben Sachs

Sachs told the reading public that indeed his brain wiring is screwy — he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2004. No one outside his circle of friends and family knew about his problem until he was goaded into this public confessional by a commenter named Morganthus who called him “emotionally imbalanced,” an assessment based only on Sachs’ dislike of “The Avengers.”

“How did Morganthus know?” Sachs wrote.

Wow.

A Typical Movie Reviewer In His Office At The Mental Institution

In fact, Sachs even explored the role his mental illness plays in his judgement as an arts arbiter. “I liked the movies, literature, and music that I did because they gave form to emotions I couldn’t organize in real life,” he wrote. He wondered if Morganthus somehow sensed this.

That’s a very charitable attitude on the part of Sachs. I can’t imagine that someone who gets so riled up about a movie review that he’ll write in a comment questioning the reviewer’s psychological stability is actually a perceptive soul hoping to help.

Nevertheless, this Morganthus fellow’s rant resulted in Sachs’ fascinating bit of introspection. Read the entire piece; it’s not terribly long.

[h/t to Roger Ebert for pointing out Sachs’ piece on Facebook.]

FAIR IS FOUL AND FOUL FAIR

Wisconsin voters go to the polls tomorrow. Gov. Scott Walker’s future is in their hands. Will they fire him? The outcome is even money right now.

I don’t know what I like less — Scott Walker or recall elections.

For all Walker’s sins — and there are many — he broke no laws. He was elected fair and square by Wisconsinites. Now, suddenly, he can be removed from office just because he pushed through legislation and made executive decisions a lot of people didn’t care for?

Folks, that’s democracy. The concept does not imply that once we elect a guy or gal we get everything we want. Isn’t that rather childish?

Now, if I lived in Wisconsin, I’d stand on my head to help defeat Walker in the next regular election.

This whole hoo-hah reminds me of two things. One is professional quacker Rush Limbaugh crying like a schoolchild after Barack Obama’s election in 2008. “What about the other 46 percent?” he bleated.

The simple answer to his simplistic question was: They’re out of luck until they become 50 percent-plus-one. Rules of the game, baby.

The other thing I thought of was the startling number of my liberal friends who swore they’d move to another country if George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004. A former co-worker who’d moved to Rochester, New York, said it to me one afternoon and I challenged her. “Is that just hyperbole,” I asked. “or do you really mean it?”

“I really mean it,” she said. Rochester is just across Lake Ontario from Canada, she explained, so it wouldn’t be that big a deal. She neglected to mention if the Canadian government had pledged to honor all her wishes after her move.

Dems Flee The US After George W. Bush’s Reelection

I cared for George W. Bush even less than I care for Scott Walker. Bush will go down, I’m certain, as one of our worst presidents.

His two elections saddened and discouraged me. I could only wonder why a modern nation of some 300M people could select as their leader such a chucklehead. Not that I’d be dancing in the streets had either Al Gore or John Kerry won but, the way I look at it, a stubbed toe is better than being kicked in the gut repeatedly.

Anyway, Bush hooked and crooked his way into the White House the first time he ran and then played the war card to win a second time. But he was still my president because I’m a participating member of the American electorate.

Not That I Was Thrilled About It

Say what you will about the late John Wayne, when asked his reaction to the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960, he said, “I didn’t vote for him but he’s my president.”

Sounds a tad more adult than today’s blatherings, no?

Anyway, rules of the game, right? As long as recall elections are within the rules, I hope Walker gets his ass beat.

BALL OF CONFUSION

Vote for me and I’ll set ya free!

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.” — Margaret Chase Smith

NEW POSTING SCHEDULE

We’re posting twice a day now. The first, at 7:30am, Eastern, will be our our GO! event listings. The second is Your Morning Hot Air.

GO! Has Its Own Daily Post Now

Expect YMHA to appear anytime between 9am and 1pm.

The Electron Pencil, the best damned Bloomington website in the history of the interwebs!

ANNIE AND BLOOMINGTON’S BIG WHEELS

Bloomington’s favorite voice (and one of the town’s favorite people, period) Annie Corrigan sat down with Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls‘ skaters Bombshell Shock, Terror D’Bits, and the fabulous Kaka Kaliente for an interview on WFIU radio this weekend.

Listen to the interview online while you wait for BHRG’s next home bout.

WFIU’s Annie Corrigan

BTW: the civilian names of the above-mentioned skaters are, respectively, Casey McGrath, Raina Palivka, and, of course, Tyler Ferguson.

Tyler’s a long-time friend of the Pencil. We had a scare when the BHRG A-team, the Flatliners, took on the brutes from Milwaukee known as the Brewcity Bruisers a couple of weeks ago. Tyler was nearly flattened on several occasions during the bout.

And since she’s not a cartoon character, it’s doubtful her mates would have been able to pick up the cardboard-thin Tyler (No. 17 in the photo) and shaken her out to normal dimensions.

Yeesh!

GETTING A LEG UP ON THE OPPOSITION

So, Bob Kerrey is running for US senator from Nebraska once again.

Kerrey served as that state’s US senator from 1989 through 2001. Before that, he served a term as Nebraska governor. In fact, while running the state’s affairs, Kerrey engaged in a torrid one with actress Debra Winger, who happened to be in Nebraska filming scenes for the movie, “Terms of Endearment.”

Affair Of State

The two lived together for a time in the governor’s mansion, causing reporters to bay like hounds. Early on in the affair, Kerrey responded to a question about the nature of his relationship with Winger. “What can I say? She swept me off my foot.”

Look closely at the quote and note his intentional use of the singular form, foot.

See, as a lieutenant (junior grade) in the US Navy and a SEAL team member, Kerrey had participated in a firefight on an island in the Bay of Nha Trang. Hoping to surprise a Viet Cong encampment, he led a couple of SEAL teams in scaling a sheer cliff and descending upon the enemy from its heights. As the teams came under intense fire, Kerrey was thrown backward by a grenade explosion.

He was bleeding profusely and barely clinging to consciousness but still maintained control over his team and communicating with other SEAL team. The SEAL teams eventually ousted the Viet Cong encampment and Kerrey, his leg shattered, continued to direct their mop-up operations. Kerrey was evacuated by helicopter after the fighting stopped.

Kerrey was brought into surgery and awoke to find that much of his right leg had been amputated.

Ergo, “foot.”

Bob Kerrey was awarded the Medal of Honor, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.

Bob Kerrey Receives The Medal Of Honor

Sort of an odd coincidence, no? Kerrey’s homophonic fellow Democrat John Kerry also was injured in Vietnam and won multiple valor awards for his service. Kerry copped the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts.

You may recall that professional madman Jerome Corsi and the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth staged a notoriously mean-spirited campaign as Kerry ran for president in 2004, claiming the Dem candidate had not been injured at all in Vietnam and had lied about his actions to earn his medals.

I wonder if they’re gearing up to go after Bob Kerrey now.

Perhaps they’ll charge that Kerrey hired socialist doctors to saw his leg off back in 1969, the first step in a long, elaborate plot to infiltrate the US Senate in 2013.

We’ll keep watching for word from the lunatic asylum.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Like its politicians and its war, society has the teenagers it deserves.” — Joseph Priestley

WANTING TO REBEL IN THE WORST WAY

Let’s look at something from the viewpoint of a dopey kid who’s burning up with the desire to piss people off.

It’s an easy task for me because that’s precisely the kind of dopey kid I was. That urge to thumb my nose at grownups and society at large was so overpowering that I got myself busted. It wasn’t until a couple of tough guy detectives pounded on the back door of my family’s home and slapped the cuffs on me when I was 17 that I realized the whole F.U. I was shouting at the world might not be a strategic success.

Believe me, having my belt and shoelaces confiscated, sitting in a cell where the toilet has no seat because inmates can kill themselves with it (I still don’t know how they can do it), and being offered the traditional bologna sandwich and a glass of water for dinner profoundly changes one’s attitude toward senseless rebellion.

Anyway, a couple of Bloomington teenagers presumably faced that same reality check this week. The two high school students, a boy and a girl, were hauled in on suspicion of drawing a swastika and writing the word Hitler on a poster at the Jewish studies program office in Goodbody Hall.

Apparently, the kids were hanging around the IU campus, bored, and decided to liven up the decor. The IU police say crude drawings of female parts were also found around Goodbody, drawn with the same type of black marker that the anti-semitic stuff was scrawled in.

I could have been that boy (if I had a girlfriend at that age). So I ask myself, Why would I have done it?

When I was 15, 16, and 17, the Vietnam War was just winding down, Watergate was just gearing up, and the country was just emerging from the chaos of assassinations and race rioting. I concluded this was a sick nation, that I was one of the select few souls perceptive enough to grasp that elementary fact.

Sick Nation

My parents were the two stupidest people to walk the face of this Earth. How they survived the mere act of getting to work in the morning baffled me. My teachers were idiots — all they were concerned about was the length of my hair. The cops were fascists. Politicians were crooked. Corporations were run by greedy pigs who’d sell out their grandmothers for a profit. And even the music on the radio was execrable — I mean, honestly, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree”? And what about “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”?

For pity’s sake, can you blame me for wanting to overthrow the world?

The Last Straw

I was too much of a dope to understand that I could have channeled my rage in some constructive way. I hadn’t the slightest idea what I could have done to, say, force the executives of Ford Motor Company to mend their ways, or convince the Illinois governor not to slurp at the public trough.

The only thing I could think of was to roar.

Yeah, I was dopey, but I didn’t really mean anybody any harm. I wasn’t about to take a gun (which I had access to, thanks to some of my associates in small-time crime) and go out blasting for the lark of it.

Hell, I could hardly muster the bile to punch a guy in the face, although that talent was considered requisite in my neighborhood.

So what was I to do to inform the citizens of this holy land that I considered them consummate boobs?

I fell back on the old reliables: busting windows, splattering paint on walls, petty theft, flashing the finger at passing squad cars (all the while making sure they wouldn’t see me doing it), and other teen boy annoyances.

“Yeah, This’ll Show ‘Em!”

Those two Bloomington kids might well be harboring some of the same grievances I did. Hell, cops are still dousing protesters with pepper spray these days. Corporations are still run by greedy pigs. Pointless wars are still being fought. And Illinois governors are still going to prison.

Work Hard, Study, Mind Your Elders And You, Too, Can Grow Up To Be Governor

The two kids may not know exactly who Otto Kerner was or Rod Blagojevich is, but rest assured they know pols still are adept at digging their hands in our pockets when we aren’t looking. It’s a safe bet to assume, as well, that the two Bloomington teens feel their parents are spectacularly uninformed and incapable of tying their own shoelaces.

And maybe — just maybe — they needed the world to know just how contemptible they think it is.

So, pretend you’re a kid with a half-formed sense of morality. What’s the worst thing you can draw on a wall that illustrates how despicable you think the adult nation is?

A good starting point might be a penis or a vagina, no? That’ll shake ’em up. They’ll realize what idiots they are when they catch sight of that, huh?

Okay, now that we’ve made our point clear on that score, how about politics? Let’s see now, who was the most evil politician of all time?

Duh! Adolf Hitler!

“This Is What I Think Of You.”

Man, nothin’s gonna show these pigs what we think of ’em better than writing the name of history’s most evil man on a poster and drawing a swastika.

You think you’re gonna pull me into your bullshit world, man? Take that! Hitler. Hah!

You may counter that I’m being too forgiving here. Perhaps these two kids have had their brains turned to mush by the rantings of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Perhaps one or both of the kids really hates Jews.

I doubt it. My guess is that neither of the kids knows exactly what a Jew is.

They most likely only know that writing Hitler’s name on a wall pisses people off, big time. And it’s a sure-fire way to make the announcement that we are not you.

I hope the kids had an epiphany when they had their belts and shoelaces taken away.

BIRTHERS NEVER DIE

Can you believe it? Birthers are still around and still making bleating noises.

Birthers.

Jerome Corsi is one of them. You’ve heard of him. Several of his books have made the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.

Corsi

Which is ironic because they’re as far from nonfiction as the number one bestseller called “Heaven Is for Real” by that Nebraska preacher named Burpo about his kid’s fever dream fantasy that he died and came back from paradise.

Corsi, of course, is the fabulist who popularized the Swiftboat canard against 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, and has since thrown his lot in with the likes of Orly Taitz, who is to sanity what the hot dog station at the Circle K is to gourmet cooking.

Taitz

Corsi earned a doctorate in political science from Harvard, which proves only that even Ivy League institutions make mistakes.

Taitz, meanwhile, roams the streets freely, always one step ahead of the men with butterfly nets.

Corsi’s latest flight of psychotic fancy is called “Where’s the Birth Certificate: The Case that Barack Obama Is not Eligible to Be President,” published last year even as Barack Obama produced his long-form birth certificate.

Per Corsi’s peculiar logic, that is not the birth certificate.

Whatever the hell ever that means.

Anyway, New Jersey Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, a Republican (duh!) from Morris, has jumped on the Manchurian Candidate bandwagon. The state legislator says Corsi, who gave an SRO speech at the Morristown Masonic Lodge that Bucco attended Tuesday, piques his interest.

Corsi, according to Bucco, raised “interesting points I wasn’t aware of, and it made me believe this thing isn’t going away.”

Bucco, by the way, is an alternate spelling of the Italian word for hole. As in the things in both his and Corsi’s heads. Taitz’s cranium is a sieve.

Osso Bucco — Literally, Bone With A Hole

Bucco is the deputy Republican leader in the New Jersey House. Corsi’s speech was sponsored by a gaggle of Tea Party groups as well the Morris County Republican Party.

So this is fairly mainstream stuff. Within my lifetime, the cranks of this holy land have become respectable — which says absolutely nothing about them but everything about us.

See, there’ve always been those who fixate on marginalia. There were guys I used to see at City Hall, for instance, who rode their rusty three-speed bikes to every single City Council Zoning Committee meeting, convinced they were the average citizen’s bulwark against corruption. You know the type — they loiter in the county building halls and mumble hello to passing county board members and whoever is foolish enough to acknowledge them immediately becomes the object of the loiterer’s mantra-like anecdote for the next few weeks: “I was talking to so-and-so at the county building and she says….”

Or how about the insomniacs who listened to all-night syndicated talk radio shows? They knew that the government was sitting on alien visitation evidence in Roswell.

Proof!

They reside at the flange of the sanity’s bell curve.

For most of our history, the ramblings of these folks have been the aural equivalent of the croak of a toad in a wetland ten miles from the nearest outpost of civilization.

Now, though, that toad croak must be breathlessly covered by TV, radio, and newspaper reporters across the nation.

How did that happen?

Is it the inevitable result of me-generation huffing and puffing from the 70s?

You know, everybody’s opinion counts? Feelings are paramount? Facts are fascist? If you believe it, it’s true?

Self-help authors made millions pontificating in this manner. Remember Robert Bly and John Bradshaw? Later practitioners included Marianne Williamson and, more recently, Rhonda Byrne, she of “The Secret.”

Believe And It Will Be So

They all preached that you create your own reality.

And no matter how much the Right derides the touchy-feely, post-hippie, 70’s generation, most of them grew up in that era. If they didn’t care for est training and I-am-woman-hear-me-roar, they surely dug the patronizing message that whatever you think or believe is valid.

Well, guess what folks — it ain’t.

No matter how passionately you feel, the world is not flat. The Apollo moon landings were not staged. Alien bodies were not hidden in a hangar at Area 51. And Barack Obama was born in Hawai’i.

 

 

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