Category Archives: Mitch Daniels

Hot Air

They Love The Fight

Here’s a blurt: If you’re taking sides in the latest episode of the Israeli/Palestinian Hatfield/McCoy Feud, you’re part of the problem.

Gaza Violence 2014

Whose Explosions Do You Prefer?

Political Chairs

So, here comes news that Evan Bayh maybe, possibly, we’ll see, wants to be governor again. He’s sitting on a cool $10 million in his campaign war chest, which is the finest and best qualification for elective office in this holy land.

No one knows for sure if Bayh’s hot for the state’s top hot seat, but he ain’t sayin’ no way, mang. Bayh’s playing it coy by saying he’s too busy sending his sons off to college right now and he can’t be bothered with thinking about high offices. I believe him; surely, the lads needs their bags packed, their hair combed, their blue jeans pressed, and care packages prepared as they move on toward this next big step in their lives. Who else is going to handle those chores other than Indiana’s former senator and governor?

Generally, when pols play coy, that means they’ve made their minds up already and are merely waiting for the most opportune moment to announce their shiny new campaigns. And Bayh’s tilt for guv will be as shiny as any money can buy. Experts say his big wad makes him a formidable foe for the current occupant of the Hoosier guv’s mansion, Mike Pence. All Pence has going for him is a record of delivering to Indiana voters precisely what he promised them when he ran in 2012.

I call it a toss-up at this extremely early stage of the game.

Evan Bayh

Who? Me? Aw, I dunno.

Pence’s name, BTW, is still being bandied about by touts who are trying to dope out the 2016 presidential race. Smart guys here and there tossed his name around during the 2008 and 2012 contests, although no Pence for Prez activity ever crashed the nation’s internet servers.

Add to that the fact that Pence’s predecessor as governor, Mitch Daniels, also was seen as Republican presidential candidate timber. So what is it about Indiana governors that make them potential Oval Office occupants? Just off the top of my head, Indiana’s not a state infested with crime syndicate figures whose reach extends into the sitting Governor’s pockets, so Daniels, Pence, et al appear free of scandal in that sense. I’d always felt one of the main reasons Mario Cuomo never really ran hard for president was because his necessary dealings with New York’s mobsters would be thrown in his face at every campaign stop.

Indiana, too, is among the most anonymous of states. The Hoosier governor can go about his business without the corporate news media prying into his every orifice on a daily basis. So even if Pence, for instance, sabotages the state’s own Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz, national wags and wonks will simply shrug and say, So what? It’s Indiana.

All an Indiana governor has to do is look presentable, stay out of whorehouses and opium dens, and play coy about his presidential ambitions and next thing everyone knows he’ll be plumped as the next big thing. Hoosiers, BTW, are southern enough to appeal to a general electorate that prefers its presidents to sound more like Jimmy Stewart than Enrico Fermi, but not so much so that one can conclude they’ve just climbed down off a watermelon cart. Bill Clinton’s twang almost made him sound too southern for America’s liking, only his hillbilly patter was ameliorated by his Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale background. Pence and Daniels sound just right.

And, maybe, so does Bayh. Surely Bayh knows a return to the governor’s mansion will ignite talk of the White House for him. Here’s a safe bet: Should Bayh wrest the job away from Pence in 2016, and should Hillary Clinton let the White House slip through her fingers that same year, he’ll be a front runner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

If I Were A Rich Man

John Oliver, for my money, is now outdoing his former boss, Jon Stewart, in the area of trenchant political commentary spiced with humor and smart-assed-ness. Oliver’s fairly new show, Last Week Tonight, is the go-to source for current events on the teevee today.

The other day, he explained why Americans vote against their own interests and in favor of those of the uber-rich time and again. My lefty friends constantly ask on the interwebs why we support policies that’ll benefit, say, the Koch Bros. while screwing ourselves. The answer’s simple. I’ve said it time and again and John Oliver said it too. Listen:

Ball Of Confusion

I know, I know, my pious friends and loyal readers are going to want to kick me in my ample posterior for this. And what follows will merely be a preaching to the choir among my fellow non-believers, but I thought I’d share this chart prepared by graphic designer Andy Marlowe diagramming the many contradictions found in the Bible.

Bible Contradictions

Each arc represents a refutation, repudiation, or outright denial of some statement found earlier in the text that is the basis for the worldview of more than a billion people on this Earth.

“The truth,” reads the Gospel of John, Chapter 8, “shall make you free.” OTOH, that statement’s surely negated elsewhere in the Bible.

[h/t to Maryll Jones.]

Your Daily Hot Air

A Bigger Responsibility

Personal to Huma Abedin: Your husband has a problem. A big one. He needs help. And you are helping him pretend it doesn’t exist.

Weiner Pix

Anthony Weiner As Carlos Danger

He doesn’t need to be running for mayor of New York just now. Perhaps he should get a nice, stable job helping poor people cope with a culture and economy that’s stacked against them. Then, at night, he can work with a therapist to try to understand why he must send pix of his junk out on social media and why he must sex chat or sext with strangers while married to you. Once he figures that out, he has to change that behavior. If he does, then — and only then — should he consider running for the chief executive position of what is essentially the capital of America.

Huma, you’ve been portrayed in sympathetic magazine portraits as a strong, smart, capable woman. Standing by your man as he grasps for power and continues to cuckold you is not evidence of any of those traits. Appearing at his side and repeating that you’ve forgiven him again and again are not signs that you are brave. Quite the contrary.

 Abedin

Huma Abedin

As a woman in the high profile world of politics, you are a role model for young girls. They should see you moving legislation, organizing voters, bettering this world. Not being an accessory for a hyper-ambitious husband who’s got a monkey on his back.

Now, the both of you, go solve your personal problems.

You’re welcome.

A Rock And A Hard Place

Unless I missed it — and I don’t think I did — the IDS has positioned itself above the fray in the Mitch Daniels/Howard Zinn dust-up.

Save for a couple of student-penned op-eds posted online two days ago, Indiana University’s campus newspaper hasn’t run anything regarding the story that has gained national attention.

Image from Mother Jones

Zinn & Daniels

In case you’ve been holed up, waiting for the scion of an antiquated, pompous British faux-ruling system to appear, the news broke last week that former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels stood on his head while the state’s boss to make sure the late Zinn’s alternative tome, A People’s History of the United States, would not pollute our precious children’s minds in the classroom.

Every news outlet from the Huffington Post to the Daily Caller, and from the New York Times to Democracy Now! has weighed in on the story. Snippets from the emails Daniels exchanged with the state’s Superintendent of Public Education showed up in newspapers across the nation and on broadcasts both local and international.

The irony of it all is the Daniels, now the president of Purdue University, tells anyone who’ll listen that he’s four-square in favor of academic freedom. That is, apparently, unless it allows somebody to challenge the Ayn Rand-ist, free market fetishist, Murrica-is-blessed-by-god view of our holy land’s history.

You’d figure the IDS might jump on the story, considering there’s a question as to whether Daniels was trying to muscle IU to to ban Zinn. Now, I’ve read the emails in toto and I don’t see anything specifically directing any state employees to twist IU arms in the matter. Nevertheless, evidence exists that Daniels was mighty unhappy that Zinn’s book was being used in university history courses.

The IDS is in a unique position to get to the bottom of this. No matter that we’re in summer break right now. The paper still publishes online and hard copy versions. In fact, the IDS was right on top of the story that has been breaking Bloomington’s heart this week: a motorist apparently left a dog in a car with the windows rolled up for a couple of hours Monday. The high temp that day was around 90. The pooch died.

Lousy as this dog story is, it really doesn’t compare with the Daniels/Zinn thing. The IDS also covered the story of the Ohio State University football player who was busted at a Bloomington sports bar Sunday and the case of a 19-year-old who was caught diddling with a 14-year-old in Lower cascades Park Monday. I’m sure everyone involved feels these stories are of paramount importance.

But this is a major state university. And when evidence suggests the former governor has tried to call the academic shots, well, now we’re talking pressing and historic news. Why hasn’t the IDS been all over it?

You can bet I’ll do my best to find out during my next shift writing news at WFHB Thursday.

Wonderful World

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m back.” — Michael Jordan

GOD, THE JERK

Can anyone dispute it?

Case in point.

The guy who performed the world’s first successful organ transplant, Dr. Joseph E. Murray, has died. Officials at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston announced his death yesterday.

Murray (center) Performing The First Successful Organ Transplant

Surgeons had been trying to transplant organs for decades before Murray hit upon transplanting the kidney of an identical twin into his brother in 1954. That was the key. All previously transplanted organs had been rejected by the receiving body. Murray was the guy over whose head the light bulb snapped on.

He figured it was genetics that caused all the rejections. If only, he concluded, you could transplant an organ from a donor whose DNA precisely matched the receiver. Ergo, twins.

It Just Might Work

After that, doctors all over the world quickly learned how to transplant other organs and how to swap parts between non-kin. Now, of course, organ transplant is routine.

Anyway, Murray told an interviewer once that he faced a lot of heat when he was doing his groundbreaking work. People called him Doctor Frankenstein, natch, and other shook their fingers — and their Bibles — at him.

Yup. The pious of this holy land warned Murray in no uncertain terms that god was steamed over his work. It was unnatural to take the kidney from one human and place it in another. It violated god’s law.

Teed Off — As Usual

I, for one, am thrilled that Murray ignored them. “We were just doing our work,” he said.

Since that time some 600,000 people have had their lives extended by organ transplants. The figure surprises me; I would have imagined many, many more folks would have received new kidneys and hearts and skin.

Here’s another thing I can’t quite grasp: As long as we as a species have decided to invent a god — that is, the creator of the Universe and the guy who has given us a guidebook for our behavior — why did we have to invent such a jerk?

I’M TIRED — ERGO, TERRIBLY ILL

Let’s stick with medicine. Only this has to do with how that particular science too often can become little more than a tawdry business.

I drove my sister up to Indy yesterday afternoon so she could catch her flight back home to Florida (where it was expected to be sunny and in the low 70s; I hate her.) By the way, The Loved One and I handled Thanksgiving weekend’s Glabbie Invasion fairly well. In fact, the whole gang seemed on reasonably good behavior: no blood or weapons were drawn and Gov. Daniels was able to demobilize the National Guard units he’d put on alert Wednesday night just in case.

It’s Okay, Boys, You Can Go Home Now

On the way back, I flipped through the channels and was able to pick up 670 The Score, one of the sports stations out of Chicago. A commercial came on for something called Nuvigil® which, technically, is the generic pharmaceutical compound, armodafinil, and is produced by Cephalon Inc.

Armodafinil is prescribed for people who suffer the dread disease, Shift Work Disorder.

Yes, the mad scientists and captains of industry who run Big Pharma have now transformed the yawn into an ailment.

Quick, Call An Ambulance!

Shift Work Disorder has become so ingrained in the doctor’s office culture that it’s referred to almost affectionately as SWD. You know as well as I do that whenever something becomes an acronym, it has become part of our human genome.

So now the fact that people who work overnights and have trouble getting enough sleep are viewed as suffering from a horrible malady and — whaddya know?! — need these new, miraculous little pills.

In fact, there’s a mysterious symptom of SWD that bedevils its sad victims. It’s called ES. Lord above, please don’t ever let me have to bear the horrors of ES. Scientists, chemists, and doctors must work around the clock to battle this scourge.

Somehow the heroic folks of Cephalon who put out the outfit’s website have mustered the courage to actually define ES. Yes, they have steeled themselves to type the words Excessive Sleepiness.

He Needs Pills, Stat!

The marvels of modern science! Who would have though that if you work nights and aren’t able to get enough sleep you’d become, well, sleepy?

Now, the sane among us agree that the optimal cure for SWD and its little brother, ES, is to look for a day job but, of course, that would preclude the need for Cephalon Inc.’s new, miraculous little pills.

It’s funny. There’s a group of people who have long had to work late into the night and have had trouble getting to sleep after their work shifts. They’re called musicians.

Musicians are notorious for having drug problems. Read any rock or pop or country star’s autobiography and nine times out of ten it’ll include several chapters on the author’s mighty battle with substances.

And just as invariably, they ascribe their early propensity to self-medicate to the twin needs of getting themselves up for their performances and then getting themselves down so they can sleep. They take speed or cocaine to prepare for the night’s gig and then they gulp downers or smoke pot or drink Southern Comfort (the foulest spirit ever distilled, BTW) to lull themselves into the arms of Morpheus.

Dr. Richards, I Presume

It’s an ugly vicious cycle, brought on by the performer’s need to make piles of cash in the short period that they may be popular and to provide ongoing employment for the dozens of people who depend on them. This kind of drug-taking is frowned upon.

Yet Nuvigil is advertised all day long and doctors prescribe it by the bushel-full.

Yet another thing I can’t figure.

GO AWAY, WOULDJA?

As long as I’m harping on the imponderables, how about this?

Who does Grover Norquist think he is and why in the world should we pay an iota of attention to such a grim-visaged, rigid, morally superior ideologue?

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Affluence creates poverty.” — Marshall McLuhan

GAME ON

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

She Works Hard For The Money

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

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

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

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

TYLER EARWORMS ME

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

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

Please Forgive Me

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

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

“I dunno,” Tyler said. “Somewhere.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry, Kids

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

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

ROMNEY’S SMART

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

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

Ladies And Gentlemen Of The Negro Race….

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

You College Kids Hate Me, Donchya?

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

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

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

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

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

The White Lightning Boys

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

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

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

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

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

“Jiro Dream of Sushi”

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

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

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

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

The Comedy AtticChelsea Peretti; 8 & 10:30pm

Cafe DjangoEarplane, Latin-Brazilian jazz; 8pm

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

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

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

The Player’s PubCrossover; 8pm

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

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

The BishopFilm, “Own Worst Eenemy”; 9pm

The BluebirdDot Dot Dot; 9pm

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

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

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

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

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

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

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

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

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

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

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

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

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“All politics is local.” — Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill

HAIL TO THE CHIEF

Admit it, the first time you heard or read the words Mitch Daniels and president this morning, your heart skipped a beat.

Once you caught your breath and realized he’s only going to become the big boss at Purdue University after his gubernatorial term concludes, you might have thought, Good, now we won’t have to worry about him running for Prez of the USA in 2016.

Ladies And Gentlemen, The President Of…

Not so fast, kiddies.

I direct you to your history books. A fellow named Dwight Eisenhower took the gig as president of Columbia University after he’d helped whack the Nazis in World War II. He held the job for a year, during which it was clear he was far more interested in using the post as a platform to position himself as a statesman than he was in running the university. Next thing people knew, he was being dragged into the 1952 Republican National Convention, saying Aw, shucks, and running for the White House.

Part of Ike’s reasoning for taking the Columbia job was, as he put it, to advance the cause of education in a democracy.

Follow me here, now. Mitch Daniels has taken his lumps as the governor who oversaw massive budget cuts for Indiana schools. Daniels’ rep as a benefactor of public schooling was shot all to hell.

Now, mirabile dictu, he’s going to lead one of the state’s two most high profile educational institutions after he leaves Indianapolis.

Sounds to me like a very nice strategy for a guy who wants to repair his image. In fact, he might hope to become known as a respected educator by the year 2016.

PLAYTIME

Click.

SMILE FOR BRIAN

Happy 70th birthday to Brian Wilson.

Brian Wilson

The leader of the Beach Boys was one of the musical geniuses of 20th Century America. The BB album “Pet Sounds” has been lauded as one of the five best discs in the history of the rock era.

The harmonies he arranged throughout the Beach Boys’ run verged on the spiritual at times.

If the very idea of Beach Boys’ music makes you smirk, I suggest you give some of their cuts a listen once again. Try to hear them as music rather than as cheesy cultural artifacts of the 60s. You’ll be surprised.

More Than This

THE CONSCIENCE OF A NATION

The Bloomington City Council is thinking of making a statement about a policy that’s anything but local once again.

Our elected municipal leaders want to make sure the world knows they disapprove of the US Supreme Court Citizens United ruling that essentially gave corporations and big organizations the same free speech rights as individuals. You know, the corporate personhood idea that the Reagan/Bush/Bush court so lovingly bestowed upon us.

Some Of Our Best Friends Are Corporations

It reminds me of the letter the council sent to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer a couple of years ago when she was fixing to sign that state’s draconian immigration bill.

My guess is Gov. Brewer tossed the letter into the circular file.

I mean, honestly, did our councilors really hope that Brewer might read the letter, take her glasses off, stare out her office window, and muse on the moral implications of the bill? Did they expect her to whisper to herself, “Golly gee, these people really make sense”?

Now That I Think About It…

Now the Council wants to proclaim itself in favor of a constitutional amendment to un-declare corporations as people.

My only hope is they didn’t spend too much time debating the point.

(And, just to clarify my position, the Citizens United decision was among the dumbest-assed things the US Supreme Court has done in decades.)

GOD ONLY KNOWS

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“You can’t just sit around and make protest albums all your life; eventually it comes to the point where you have to do something.” — Paul Kantner

THE RIGHT’S GLOVES ARE OFF

So, Mitch Daniels went all the way Sunday morning. He appeared on Fox News (where else?) and called for the elimination of public sector unions.

That’s Rich, Mitch

Next week, Donald Trump and Mitt Romney will appear on Fox to call for the elimination of the 50 states. They will be replaced, under the Hair Hell/Mitt Plan, by fiefdoms run by the leading corporations on the Fortune 500 list.

On June 24th, Ron Paul will present his proposal to declare the national deity whichever plutocrat happens to occupy the Richest Man in America spot each particular week.

Sometime in July, Saint Ronald Reagan is expected to arise from the dead, speak briefly on the Fox News Sunday program, and then ascend into heaven.

AROUND TOWN MONDAY

Click.

THE DOLLAR IS DOWN

Prosperity gospel” bunk artist Creflo Dollar harangued his congregation yesterday about his arrest on charges of physically abusing his 15-year-old daughter.

He denied everything, natch. “I want the church family to know that all is well in the Dollar household,” he thundered.

Charged With Battery, Family Violence, & Child Cruelty

Here’s a personal message to Dollar: Your own daughter caused you to be cuffed, printed, and given a room in the Lockup Hotel. Your own daughter. All is not well in your household.

By the way, the holy loon’s wife is named Taffi Dollar. Did a comedy writer come up with this stuff?

Daffy & Taffi

His congregation numbers some 20,000 trusting souls. He is reported to have owned a couple of Rolls Royces. He flies around in a private Gulfstream jet. He lives in a million dollar home in Georgia as well as a $2.5M pad in Manhattan. He tells his sheep that Jesus and his old man want them to be rich, rich, rich, just like him. Then he asks them to send him dough. Loads of it. How much? No one can say precisely. MinistryWatch.com has rated him F in financial transparency.

The New York Post reports that his church rakes in $65M a year.

Oh, and his ministry doesn’t pay any taxes.

Wouldn’t you love to do to him what his daughter says he did to her?

FUNNY

Mad magazine is still at it. (h/t to Brady Haston from Tennessee.)

TEA PARTY-ISTS ARE LOONS BUT THEY’RE SMART

Bill Maher’s right. (Go to the 2:42 mark in the vid.)

He smacked the Occupy Wall Street and street protest crowds Friday.

OWS and the rest of the dance-on-the-pavement bunch who think The Man is afraid of them because they wear bandannas over their faces have to start thinking about real change in a real world.

NATO Protesters In Chicago

Playing cowboys and Indians on the streets may be fun but it gets nothing done.

Let’s start holding Town Hall meetings.

Let’s start registering voters.

Let’s run voter shuttles on election day.

Let’s start packing school boards, county commissions, city councils, and other small legislative bodies

Then let’s focus on the House and the Senate.

Let’s withdraw our money from gargantuan banks.

Let’s start credit unions.

Let’s pack municipal, state, and federal legislative sessions.

Let’s apply real pressure.

Whee! I’m Changing The World!

Here’s Maher: “It seems to be working for the Tea Party. I mean, think of it, three years ago the Tea Party was just a few hundred diabetics angry at blacks and gays for making them feel old. But now they have 62 seats in Congress.”

Believe me, NATO ministers and investment bank CEOs and corporate rapists don’t care who you are under that bandana nor do they care what your placard reads.

Or Your Chest

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Republicans have nothing but bad ideas and Democrats have no ideas.” — Lewis Black

OFFICIAL STATE GUN BILL REQUIRES A SEQUEL

So, the deep thinkers who populate the statehouse have sent a bill to Governor Mitch Daniels’ desk declaring something known as the Grouseland Rifle as the Official Indiana State Gun.

Daniels is expected to sign the bill.

A Hoosier Treasure

I hereby request my local state legislators, Vi Simpson and Peggy Welch, co-sponsor a follow-up bill that names an Official State Gunshot Wound.

I’ve done a little (believe me, a very little) research on the topic. According to the National Institutes of Health, the most common gunshot wounds occur in the extremities. Why? Search me.

Perhaps too many people who have no formal training mess around with firearms.

So, I suggest the Official State Gunshot Wound be a hole blown in the shooter’s own left biceps. Every time an aspiring gun lover accidentally puts a slug in his own arm, he’ll be brought to Indianapolis to display his wound to legislators. His photo will appear in the Indy Star, he’ll be taken for a nice lunch at Shapiro’s Deli, and he’ll get two free tickets to whatever game is in season.

And A Treasured Wound

He’ll be declared a True Hoosier, an honor I just invented. As such, he’ll receive a plaque as well as a little sticker he can affix to his drivers license.

Hoosier pride.

FAREWELL, LITTLE GUY

Super Tuesday, huh? Not so super for good old Dennis Kucinich. Perhaps the only remaining unabashed liberal (or progressive, or whatever) politician left in this holy land, Kucinich lost his Democratic primary battle with fellow Congressbeing Marcy Kaptur.

K & K: House Colleagues No More

Redistricting had combined Kucinich and Kaptur’s districts and the longest-serving woman in Congress wiped the floor with her opponent in her home county, providing her margin of victory.

Kucinich was probably the one national pol nearest to me in philosophy, save for his initial antediluvian views on abortion. He was a strong opponent of the Iraq War, pushed for universal health care, was big on workers’ rights, and even once proposed a Cabinet-level Department of Peace. Still, I never would have wanted him to be president.

He ran for the White House, you know, in 2004. That’s when he suddenly realized he was for abortion rights. I don’t demand that my fave pols walk in lockstep with me on every single issue, and I suppose I cut Kucinich slack because his early abortion stance likely was based upon the ideal Roman Catholic notion of respect for all life. He did oppose the death penalty as well so he seemed to be consistent in that regard.

But President Kucinich? Never. He would have been chewed up and spit out by the big-money boys. That’s the sad thing about today’s America, I guess. The nearest we can ever come to having a real liberal (or progressive, or whatever) in the White House would be the pair of Rockefeller Republicans who’ve carried the Democratic banner to victory in the last 20 years.

Anyway, Kucinich’ll be gone from Washington come the new year. And the nation continues its inexorable move to the right.

STAND-UP RICK

Come on admit it: With Rick Santorum’s chances of gaining the Republican nomination fading ever so gradually, you know you’ll miss him when he’s gone.

As long as it remains highly unlikely he’ll ascend to the chancellorship in November, Santorum serves as the evil jester of the 2012 presidential race.

Take these little tidbits dug up by the folks at Mother Jones. When Rickey-baby was running for Senator from Pennsylvania back in 1994, he had lots to say about single mothers. Not that theirs was a thankless task, nor that we as a people ought to lend a hand to women trying to raise families and keep jobs without the assistance of partner daddy-o’s.

Wrecking The Nation

No. Santorum told supporters at one point, “We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it’s falling apart because of single moms.”

Oh.

A couple of weeks later, he amplified this view. “What we have,” he explained, “is moms raising children in single-parent households simply breeding more criminals.”

Let’s not even trouble ourselves with his faulty logic and his obsessive need to blame people’s sexual behavior for everything that’s wrong in the lord god’s creation. Just consider his use of the word breeding.

You know, as in what we humans do with livestock.

Breeding

There are a million scary places in this world but the scariest of all just might be the inner recesses of Rick Santorum’s mind.

THE HILLER POST

Bloomington’s own Nancy Hiller writes in her blog about the first time she saw Arianna Huffington speak publicly back in 1978.

The young Huffington took to the rostrum in England, where Hiller spent part of her callow youth. Hiller writes glowingly of the then-28-year-old future media magnate. Hiller also expresses gratitude for The Huffington Post naming her tome, “A Home of Her Own,” one of its Books We Love last year.

Now, Hiller’s the ideal role model for young girls. She has struck out on her own to create a successful business, she makes art, and she has thrived in a trade usually dominated by men.

It’s understandable that Hiller would speak kindly of Huffington, who also has made it big in a man’s world. I’m happy Hiller’s getting ink (and electrons) for her terrific book. And, hell, I’m a regular reader of The Huffington Post. But I’m gonna throw a bucket of ice water on this Arianna love fest.

Born Arianna Stassinopoulos, she has been working her way up the ranks of the world’s most opportunistic human beings for all of her 61 years. She has tied her star to men who could advance her career since she was a schoolgirl.

Fresh out of college, she hooked up with British television personality Bernard Levin, known as the most famous UK journalist of his day. He was also a game show panelist. She helped Levin become an adherent of a woo religion and he helped her write books and get them published. She called him the love of her life.

In the mid ’80s, she took a job as the closeted wannabe-politician Michael Huffington’s beard. She got tired of that charade in 1997 but has been known as Arianna Huffington ever since.

Huffington started her American media career as a conservative commentator when Bill Clinton was in office. Lots of conservative talking heads made hay back then. But as time passed and it appeared there was only room for the likes of Rush Limbaugh and some other blowhards, she switched to the liberal side. It was an inspired career move.

She started up The Huffington Post and built it into a powerhouse. She sold the shebang in 2011 for $315M. That’s a pretty nifty payday. Oh yes, payday. A concept whose absence she employed to make that concern wildly successful. Arianna Huffington was a capitalist visonary: she finally found the way to get labor to work for free.

I suppose what I’m really trying to say is Nancy Hiller is a far better person than Arianna Huffington.

It’s Huffington who should be expressing admiration for Hiller rather than vice-versa.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.” — Criswell

ROLLING INTO THE 2012 SEASON

Wait, what? You weren’t there Saturday night? Come on, people — what’s the matter with you?

Tools Of The Trade

The Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls opened their 2012 regular season at the Twin Lakes Recreation Center. The place was packed, I tell you.

Bloomington’s two traveling derby teams, the B-league Code Blue Assassins and the A-league Flatliners faced off against their counterparts from the Ohio Roller Girls. The CBAs staged a thrilling rally in the final three minutes to overtake Gang Green in the opening bout. The Flatliners, though, fell behind early in the first half and, despite mounting a comeback of their own, couldn’t catch Ohio by the final buzzer, losing 115-90.

The BHRG actually has a mascot now and the kids in the crowd loved it. The mascot doesn’t have a name yet so you might just want to get on over to the team’s Facebook page and make a suggestion. And, hey, the Roller Girls’ ads are becoming slick enough to stand up against the best Apple or Ford has to offer. Okay, I exaggerate, but only a bit. Check out this one for Saturday’s bout:

Wily veteran Truly F Obvious was roaming the roller colosseum Saturday night, natch. She’s retired this year after breaking her arm a couple of times last season. She proudly showed me her scar. She’s got a few bucks’ worth of hardware implanted in her now, holding her radius and ulna together for the rest of her life. Truly made me grasp her forearm, then she twisted it so I could feel the iron. I almost passed out.

Battle Scar

Bleeding Heartland, now in its sixth season, is getting better every year. They were ranked 16th in the North Central region of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association in 2010 and jumped to 13th last year. Could this be the year they crack the top 10?

Their next home bout is Saturday, March 31st, against the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls of Grand Rapids, Michigan. If I don’t see you there, I’ll assume you’re dead. What kind of flowers should I send?

PRESIDENT MITCH DANIELS REVEALED TO BE A KOCHOMATON

There’s still a free specialty drink from Soma Coffee on the line for the lucky aspiring wag who submits the best prediction of how nuts the Republicans will become by the 2016 presidential race (if you click the link, scroll down to “C’mon, Let’s Play”).

I’m figuring the GOP will be trying to decide between Chuck Norris, Marco Rubio, and Ivanka Trump for the nomination. The Dems — book it — will be running Chelsea Clinton.

See? You can let yourself get crazy — just like the GOP!

If you think the party that once claimed Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt as standard-bearers is psycho now, just wait. What are they gonna wanna outlaw next, breasts?

GOP 2016 Slogan: “No Mamms!”

One entrant, Susan Sandberg, worries that the Republicans will run Mitch Daniels in four years. He’ll win, she says, and turn this holy land into a “sexless, artless, colorless, intellectually-starved country.”

Eek.

Bloomington’s own singing sensation Krista Detor submitted her nightmare scenario that builds on Sandberg’s dystopia. Detor writes, “… in 2018, a resistance fighter will be propelled back in time to alert us to the hard truth that Mr. Daniels is actually a cannibalistic automaton, controlled on alternating days by the Koch Bros.” Detor writes a happy ending, though. The resistance fighter will slay Daniels in a light-sabre battle. The Dreamworks people will want to make a movie based on the story and will beg Krista to score it. But our own plucky musical muse will turn them down so she can work for the 2020 presidential campaign of Lucy Lawless.

BTW: Krista Detor coined what might become the most fabulous word in the English language (after the F-bomb, of course.) She calls the android Daniels a Kochomaton.

I hope her vision comes true just so we can use that word regularly.

To enter the contest email me, post it on my Facebook wall, or click on Leave A Comment at the top left of this page.

SCIENCE AS ART

Here’s what you ought to do Wednesday from 6:30-8:00pm: mad scientists Alex Straiker and Jessica Lucas will host an opening reception for their artwork at Finch’s Brasserie.

Straiker will feature photomicroscopy of stained brain cells. He studies the effects of cannabinoids on the brain at the IU Psychological and Brain Sciences Department. Lucas has taken magnificent photos of teensy botanical structures as part of her work in the IU Biology Department.

Plant Root Hairs

Science is fun — and gorgeous. Drop by and ogle the art. If you’re not there, we’ll talk about you.

CHICAGO (THAT TODDLIN’ TOWN)

Man, when I was just starting out in this writing racket, I’d be pounding the Chicago pavement, knocking on doors at the Tribune, the Sun-Times, Chicago mag, the Reader and all the rest, trying to convince any soft-hearted or desperate editor to take a chance on me.

That was back in the mid-80s, before the internet, before the 24-hour news cycle. Dig: I even used a typewriter at the time. Smith-Corona, baby.

Jeez, I’m Old

At the end of any typical day, after getting thrown out of half the editors’ offices in town, I might need some liquid comfort.

If I wanted to cry in my beer with Jeff the Bartender (who was a fine writer and academician in his own right), I’d do Billy Goat’s Tavern under Michigan Avenue.

Every time the door would open, I’d check to see if the Prince of the Papers, Mike Royko, was coming in. Maybe, just maybe, if he could hear what a whippet-quick wit I was, if I could toss off some devastating bon mot, Royko might pull me aside and say, “Y’know what, kid? You got the stuff.”

Never happened.

Royko

If I just wanted hear music and hang around lesser media lights and TV anchors, I’d hit Andy’s Jazz Club on Hubbard Street. If I was lucky, Barrett Deems, Louis Armstrong’s old drummer, might be hitting the skins. It’d be too loud for me to display my verbal chops and, besides, I knew enough to know TV people’d never be interested in me. So I just drank my gin and tonics and floated on the sounds.

This version of “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” by the Oscar Peterson Trio reminds me of those days downtown. The city was everything I’d dreamed it would be back then. Any door in the world could open up for me if only I kept knocking.

Chicago and I celebrated birthdays yesterday — the Windy City turned 175 and I hit 56. Now I know the best door that ever opened was the one that let me in me here, little old Bloomington, Indiana. Go figure.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Let us remind our poor men folk in deed and song:

There are two types of men in this womanly world:

Those who know they are weak,

Those who think they are strong.” — Philip Strax

SO FAR AWAY

Didja catch the sky show this weekend?

The thumbnail moon has been doing a celestial dance with the planets Venus and Jupiter. Man, it’s a fantastic tableau.

Tonight’s Arrangement

All three orbs are doh-si-doh-ing in the far western sky at sunset and for about an hour and a half thereafter.

Imagine: you can glance up at the clear sky at, say, 7:30pm any evening this week and literally see an object — Jupiter — that’s a hair less than 600 million miles away. Think of it this way, that’s 240,000 times the distance from New York to Los Angeles.

Some Walk

Or, to put it another way, it’s more than 5200 times the number of miles the average American walks in a lifetime.

Don’t miss the show, folks.

“I BEG YOUR PARDON”

Just got finished reading Kurt Vonnegut‘s “God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian.” Fun book. Took me an hour. Give it a shot.

It’s a compilation of audio pieces Vonnegut did for Public Radio’s WNYC in New York. The idea being Vonnegut, working with the suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian, repeatedly gets just enough lethal injection medication to bring him to a series of near-death experiences.

Life & Death

He travels down the bright blue tunnel and meets St. Peter at the gates of heaven and is able to interview various dead folk. He speaks with such luminaries as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Shakespeare, and Clarence Darrow as well as people you wouldn’t expect to have merited entrance to paradise; Vonnegut interviews Adolf Hitler and James Earl Ray, too.

There is no hell in Vonnegut’s conceit, so everybody who dies gets to go to heaven. Hitler, for his part, tells him the world should erect a stone monument to his memory, perhaps at the site of the United Nations in New York. The monument should be inscribed, “Entschuldigen Sie” — I beg your pardon.

Anyway, the quote at the top of this post comes from one of the people Vonnegut meets in heaven. Dr. Philip Strax was the guy who convinced American women and their doctors that mammograms were essential in detecting early, treatable, forms of breast cancer. He and a couple of associates, Sam Shapiro and Dr. Louis Venet, published their ground-breaking study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1966.

No telling how many women’s lives have been saved by the Strax et al paper. Strax’s own wife died of breast cancer at the age of 39 and he devoted the rest of his life to fighting the disease.

One Way To Look At Things

Check out any magazine and you’ll naturally come to the conclusion that Americans have breasts on their minds from morning until night. Men, in case you didn’t know, even dream about them. At least Phil Strax turned a preoccupation with mammaries into a service to humankind.

C’MON, LET’S PLAY!

Friday, I put the challenge out there: Let’s play a game wherein we try to guess how outlandish the Republican Party will become by the 2016 presidential race.

After all, things have become so psychotic around POG world headquarters that smart-asses like me can hardly even make jokes about them anymore. The Republican candidates are the joke.

Comedy Competition

It can only get worse. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone thinks that the Republican attack strategy which has worked so well for more than 30 years has become so pervasive that this year’s nominees have turned on each other. The Republicans, Taibbi implies, have become cannibals.

So, I put out the call for Pencillistas get all creative and try to imagine how psychotic the GOP (oh, right, I forgot — the POG) will become in four years.

The game, which I dubbed the Electron Cool Test, is easily played. Just come up with some nightmarish slogan, a weird candidate, or a bizarre scenario that the Republicans will foist upon us the next time we stage a presidential beauty contest after 2012.

I started things off by suggesting Chuck Norris, Marco Rubio, and Ivanka Trump will be the frontrunners when primary season 2016 commences. They will face none other than Chelsea Clinton in my fever dream.

Commander-in-Chief

Pencillista Nona Schultz foresees the Republicans gobbling themselves to near-death this year, making them bit players in the political arena for years to come. “This is my delusion and I’m sticking to it,” she writes.

Bloomington City Council member Susan Sandberg pulled a comfy chair up to the keyboard and clacked out a dystopian novella. Running mates Mitch Daniels and Chris Christy will character-assassinate poor young Chelsea (who’ll indeed be 35 by 2016) and squeak past her in the election.

A Heartbeat Away

Daniels will preside over an economic depression forcing many Americans into bread lines. America under the former Indiana governor will be a “sexless, artless, colorless, intellectually starved country,” Sandberg writes.

Sheez, Susan, way to bum us all out.

It’s on you now, Pencillistas. What do the Republicans have in store for us in four years? Simply type your entry in the Leave A Comment section.

And remember, the winner will get a free specialty drink from Soma Coffee on a Saturday morning of my choosing.

FORGET THE ELEPHANT

The elephant has been the mascot of the Republican Party for some 140 years.

That’s a shame because elephants are among my fave critters on Earth. Republicans, not so much.

So I suggest a switch. Follow me, now.

The Party needs an animal mascot that’s native to the United States — the elephant, of course, is not.

The animal must be the largest of its kind. Republicans, like Texans, like things big.

It can’t be a vegetarian, like the pachyderm. No, it must eat meat (or at least living, moving, noise-making creatures.)

It must have a certain burly quality, perhaps an upper body that’s heavily muscled. Republicans like their idols to be he-men.

Finally, the animal must have a mean disposition and weapons to back it up. After all, what’s a Republican without weapons?

Therefore, I hereby propose that the animal known by the zoological term Conepatus leoconotus be named the new animal mascot for the Party of God.

Conepati live in such definitively American spots as Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. If that doesn’t scream out GOP, I don’t know what does.

They have strong front legs and shoulders, like Chuck Norris. They have long, thick claws which, in the animal world, are the equivalent of firearms. The NRA should love these guys.

Speaking Of Symbolism

Finally, Conepati, when annoyed or frightened, spray a foul-smelling substance from a gland located near their anus. What could be more Republican than that?

Conepatus leuconotus is more commonly known as the hog-nosed skunk.

Perfect.

Grand Old Party

These critters are the whitest among the many varieties of skunks. Republican, right? Oh, and they have a dark underside.

Hey, Newt Gingrich might already be a hog-nosed skunk.

There. I’ve solved the mascot problem for the GOP. Now I’ll get cracking on the Dems — although it’ll be hard to top the jackass as a symbol for that gang.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it’s important.” — Eugene McCarthy

SMALL TOWN HEARTS

One more observation from the sad tale of Diane Singleton, who was found dead near a creek Monday evening after wandering away from home earlier in the day.

More than 100 people volunteered to search for her Monday. The volunteers included friends, family, her fellow church-goers, her husband’s co-workers and students, and many others. Once again, Bloomington-folk have proven themselves to be caring and willing to go out of their way for their brothers and sisters.

Searching (photo by Jeremy Hogan/Herald Times)

Which is in stark contrast to the likely reaction of people in my old hometown Chicago. Sure, the word would have gotten around and people would have shaken their heads and clucked their tongues upon learning of the woman’s disappearance. “That’s a horrible shame,” a typical Chicagoan would have said. “I wish I could do something to help. Say, let’s get over to the Purple Pig for dinner — I’m dying to taste those prosciutto escarole bread balls.”

WON’T THEY EVER LISTEN?

A lesser human than I am would become frustrated.

Once again, the world is refusing to listen to me. I mean, I’ve got all the answers, which I gladly share with the Earth’s seven billion residents on a daily basis here.

See, I’ve harped on this too many times to count already. Still, people continue to waste their time and effort doing things that…, that…, well, that are stupid.

To wit: someone named Felicity Aston has become the first woman to ski solo across the Antarctic. I remind you that the Antarctic is more than a thousand miles wide. It is the world’s largest desert. Mean temperatures during the summer (it’s the equivalent of late July there right now) range from -5 to -31F.

Summer

Locations in Antarctica experience a phenomenon known as whiteout. Here’s a description from an Antarctica travel site (go figure): “”Whiteouts are another peculiar Antarctica condition, in which there are no shadows or contrasts between objects. A uniformly gray or white sky over a snow-covered surface can yield these whiteouts, which cause a loss of depth perception — for both humans and wildlife.”

Early explorers learned to keep an eye on their fellow travelers, looking for signs of disorientation due to hypothermia. People can literally go mad in the frigid air and the howling winds.

Bet you’re itching to click on that site so you can plan next January’s vacation, no?

It’s in this frozen hell that Felicity Aston decided to ski, alone, for 59 days, in order to get from one end of the continent to the other.

A continent, by the way, that’s fairly well mapped, considering there’s nothing there.

So Felicity Aston isn’t doing the world a favor by pushing into an unknown land, striving to discover new flora and fauna, hoping to learn something about the biome that might benefit civilization.

No. She skied 1,084 miles, dragging her supplies on a couple of sleds behind her because…, well, because.

Aston

NPR Morning Edition’s Steve Inskeep interviewed her this morning as she waited for the last flight out of Antarctica before the weather turns bad (turns bad?) for the year. She spoke of days when she was unable even to see her feet because of the driving snow. She could only keep her head down and watch her compass as she schussed across the ice shelf on those days.

Inskeep asked her if she was happy to get back to base camp and interact with people again after nearly three months of solitude. She replied, unsurprisingly, no. She did say, though, that she had to remind herself not to pee wherever she felt like it, as she did during her journey.

Nice of her.

At the conclusion of the interview, Inskeep told her, “Congratulations.”

Lucky I wasn’t the interviewer. I would have told her, “So what?”

FAVORITE SON

Mitch Daniels gave the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress last night.

When it comes time for the GOP to select a vice presidential candidate in August, the party could do a hell of a lot worse than Daniels. They probably will.

Daniels

WE TREASURE DAVID BAKER — BUT NOT AS MUCH AS…

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few weeks, you know that David Baker celebrated his 80th birthday on December 21st.

The Indiana University and Bloomington communities have been toasting him since November. The Jacobs School of Music threw a gala birthday bash for him Saturday night at the Musical Arts Center. Speeches were made, Michael McRobbie presented Baker with the President’s Medal of Excellence, students and fellow faculty members serenaded him, a proclamation by Mayor Kruzan was read declaring January 21st David Baker Day in Bloomington, and the Jacobs School announced the establishment of the David Baker Jazz Scholarship.

Baker, natch, is a legend and one of the top people in his field in the world.

So, troublemaker that I am, I decided to check the Herald Times database of public employee salaries, just — you know — for kicks.

Baker, as near as I can determine, made nearly $147,000 as a professor in the jazz department at the Jacobs school last year.

Good. I’m glad he gets paid handsomely for his contributions to that peculiarly American art form. I hope that the residents of the planet Kepler 22b, when they finally translate our radio transmissions, hear some of Baker’s music. They’ll get a good first impression of our crazy, mixed up world.

And how crazy and mixed up is it?

IU football coach Kevin Wilson made half a mill last year for the singular accomplishment of leading the Hoosiers to a 1-11 record. Tom Crean, the basketball boss, made 600 Gs. Of course, Crean’s guys are a tad more adept than the gridders.

I’m just sayin’.

SUMMERTIME

Miles Davis plays George Gershwin‘s tune from the opera, “Porgy and Bess.”

That’s all I need to say.

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