"The blog has made Glab into a hip town crier, commenting on everything from local politics and cultural happenings to national and international events, all rendered in a colorful, intelligent, working-class vernacular that owes some of its style to Glab’s Chicago-hometown heroes Studs Terkel and Mike Royko." — David Brent Johnson in Bloom Magazine
Live vid of Davis’ pals and supporters hooting and hollering over the Senate president’s attempts to squeeze a vote in before the midnight deadline actually drove The Loved One out of bed whereupon she dashed into my garage office, shouting “Are you watching? Are you watching? This is historic! Turn it on!”
I hate to be the buzzkiller here, but there is history and there is Texas history. Leave it to Molly Ivins to educate us:
Dig, man, the plaster-saint theocrats of the Texas state legislature flat out don’t want women to feel pleasure. Go ahead; argue with me. You’ll lose.
FYI, in case you live in a cloister: a dildo is a dick-shaped implement that many females use for personal reasons. Here is an actual dick:
[This just in: Texas men have already declared war on Davis. Or maybe this is just a side battle in their ongoing War on Women. Anyway, Davis’ Fort Worth office was firebombed overnight. Nothin’ sez “pro-life” like throwing a firebomb.]
Time to put up or shut up. If you haven’t voted yet, get going.
In Monroe County, you may vote at The Curry Building, 214, W. Seventh St. Or you can go old school and vote at your precinct polling place.
BIG MIKE MAKES THE CALL
Alright, let’s get down to cases.
Here’s what’s going to happen today. I’ve already told you Barack Obama’s going to win. Now I’ll give you the margin.
We’ll Do It Again In January
The winning margin for the Democratic candidate for President of the United States in the popular vote will approach five percentage points.
That’s right. My guy will be reelected by a rounded-off plurality of 52-47 percent. That odd one percent will go to the usual lineup of perennial candidates and write-ins for Mickey Mouse.
A number of states have broken their own records for number of early voters. Big voter turnout is good news for Obama.
Here’s the dramatic prediction, though: Obama will win the electoral college contest in a landslide with some 300 votes.
I feel confident in these projections, as confident as I felt when I predicted the Chicago Cubs would go to the World Series in 2004.
… THE BEAUTIFUL
There’s plenty to be outraged and disgusted about in this holy land. Still, hidden somewhere deep beneath the the jingoism, the greed, the entitlement, the delusion, the willful ignorance, and the maddening piety, lies a republic of the people.
Had he been alive when this whole crazy American idea got off the ground, Ray Charles would have been a slave, considered to be somewhat less than fully human. By the time he died in 2004 he’d become the designated psalmist for the nation.
It’s worth thinking about the truest quote I’ve ever read about this nation. It was written by another person who’d been written out of America’s charter, a woman, Molly Ivins. By the time she died in 2007, she’d become the plain-speaking conscience of the nation.
“It is possible,” she wrote, “to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”
We consider ourselves free in this holy land, and I suppose we are when compared to the rest of the world.
But there is no freedom without bondage. The old baseball manager Earl Weaver once said you can’t be a true rebel unless you’ve lived under the yoke of one kind of imposed order or another.
We profess to have loathed the tyranny of the British Empire when in reality the yoke we bore back in the 18th Century was that of King George III’s mental illness. It can be argued we really had no profound disagreement with the British and regarding the concept of freedom.
We wrote “… that all men are created equal.”
Yes, men. They’re all that counted when our Articles of Confederation, our Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution were written. White Men. White men who owned land.
The British themselves were slowly but surely coming around to the idea that male landowners ought to be able to govern themselves. We were just in a little bit more of a hurry about it all.
That was an amazing concept for the times. If we think it’s rather quaint — what about women and blacks and homosexuals and everybody else who isn’t Anglo, pale-skinned, and carrying X and Y chromosomes in their cells? — we have to remember that we’ve come a long way.
“It is possible,” Molly Ivins wrote, “to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”
We’re still struggling. But, again, there is no freedom without bondage.
… and freedom tastes of reality.
People talk about The American Dream as if there is such a thing; that is, one shared aspiration among our 300-plus million citizens and the countless others around the world who want to get in on our good thing.
I’ve met enough disparate people to know there are almost as many American Dreams as there are Americans.
Still, the mythmakers may be right. There is one overriding American Dream that supersedes all those other, idiosyncratic dreams.
For all the people who laugh at Donald Trump — his hair, his bombast, his “Hey Ma, look at me!” persona — virtually every one of them wants to be him.
That’s the true American Dream. To be rich. To be so rich you can tell the world to fk off.
To be so rich you’ll never have to work another day in your life.
To be so rich that when the cable goes out you can bully the customer service rep on the phone and get someone out to fix it even on Christmas Day.
To be so rich you don’t even have to vote.
To be so rich beautiful young women or men (whichever you prefer) will be willing to see you naked despite the ravages of time on your body.
I saw a black guy once on the Fourth of July all decked out in red, white, and blue, his car festooned with American flag decals and the insignias of the unit he served in Vietnam with.
I was tempted to ask him why he was so demonstrably in love with this country. After all, he was old enough to remember when it was illegal in many states for him to have sex with a white woman. Illegal!
He was old enough to have seen Lyndon Johnson sign the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts in 1964 and ’65, laws that essentially recognized him as a human being — something this holy land had not done without reservation since its inception.
How in the world could a man who’d experienced so much insult, both institutionally and from his individual countrymen, be loyal to the state that made all that insult possible?
What is it that he sees in the United States of America? What would make him put his life on the line to prop up a corrupt little nation in Southeast Asia — one he’d probably rarely heard of before he was shipped out there — just because American politicians told him he ought to?
Why was he willing to dress up in that land’s colors?
We were at a gas station in Louisville, Kentucky at the time. He jumped in his car and drove away before I could talk myself into querying him. Too bad.
And even if I had asked him all those questions, would he have answered truthfully? Would he toss around catchwords like freedom, independence, and liberty?
Maybe, just maybe, he loves America because he dreams that here he can become a rich man.
My dream? Only that we dream of something more.
YOU DREAMER, YOU
Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.
◗ Downtown Bloomington and around Courthouse Square — 4th of July Parade; 10am
◗ Courthouse Lawn — Independence Day concert, Bloomington Community Band; 11:30am
◗ The Bishop — America, Fk Yeah: A Night of America, For America; 4pm — patriotic films, “Red Dawn”; 8pm — “Rocky IV”; 10pm — “Team America: World Police”; midnight
◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center — Exhibit, “I’m Too Young For This @#!%” by John D. Shearer; through July 30th
◗ IU Art Museum — Exhibit,“Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts by Qiao Xiaoguang; through August 12th — Exhibit, wildlife artist William Zimmerman; through September 9th — Exhibit, David Hockney, new acquisitions; through October 21st
◗ IU SoFA Grunwald Gallery — Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st, 11am
“In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.” — Fran Lebowitz (h/t to RE Paris)
GOOD RIDDANCE, ANDREW BREITBART
“I’ve never killed a man but I’ve read several obituaries with glee.” — Mark Twain
Andrew Breitbart is dead. The Earth is now a better place.
Like Twain, I don’t care much for gloating when a bad guy dies but in this case, Whoopee!
Gone, Baby, Gone
Breitbart was a character assassin, an amoral ideologue, an agent provocateur, and, well, a dick of the highest order.
Here’s the difference between a warthog like Breitbart and a human being of decency. When Shirley Sherrod heard about his death, she said, “The news of Mr. Breitbart’s death came as a surprise to me when I was informed of it this morning. My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart’s family as they cope during this very difficult time.”
Sherrod: A Gracious Victim
This from a woman whose career serving in government was derailed by a phony-assed, maliciously edited video produced by none other than Mr. Breitbart.
And speaking of phony-assed, maliciously edited videos, it was Breitbart’s airing of the ACORN footage that led to that social service organization’s eventual bankruptcy and demise. Nice work, Andy-baby, pissing on all those folks who need food, housing, and legal services for your own professional advancement.
Naturally, the Republican candidates for president are mourning his passing as though a great public servant is gone from the scene. Rick Santorum calls his death a “huge loss, in my opinion, to our country.” Mitt Romney remembers him as a “loving husband and father.”
“Aw, He Was Such A Nice Guy.”
Reminds me of when any notorious Outfit boss kicked the bucket back in Chicago. No matter that he’d been responsible for corrupting labor unions, forcing the Mob’s way into legitimate businesses, and murdering loan sharks, recalcitrant shopkeepers and potential witnesses, his neighbors would say he was such a nice guy and a real fine family man.
Hey, people, even A. Hitler was kind to his dog Blondi. That doesn’t excuse him for his evil acts.
Anyway, Breitbart — though not Hitler or a capo, but profoundly destructive in his own way — joins such luminaries as J. Edgar Hoover, George Wallace, Orval Faubus, Curtis LeMay, and Lee Atwater in the pantheon of dead evil Americans.
It’s irrelevant that he was “a loving husband and father.”
“Welcome To Hell, Andy!”
PAYING THE PIPER
Now that Mayor Mark Kruzan doesn’t have to worry about reelection for a while, he can level with Bloomington voters about the state of the city’s finances.
They ain’t good.
Kasey Husk of the Herald Times reports this morning that Kruzan says there are “dark clouds on the horizon” for us.
Potential Cover Shot For Bloomington’s Annual Financial Report
The reason Kruzan waited until now to drop the bomb on us, apparently, is the potential that voters could have blamed him for the economic mess we’re in. That would have been stupid, of course, but then again no one ever accused the electorate, either here or nationally, of being remarkably brilliant.
Smart Enough To Know We’re Not All That Smart
Hell, an entire major political party is fired up by proud anti-intellectualism. (I won’t even link to that party — you can guess which one I mean.)
So no, the city’s empty pockets aren’t Kruzan’s fault.
But we know where the blame primarily lies — all those clever, conniving, duplicitous investment banking house unindicted felons who played our economy for hundred of billions of dollars in fees and bonuses and left it dry.
Check out Michael Lewis’s book, “Liar’s Poker” for an early snapshot of the unregulated, greenback-worshipping, hyenas that populated Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Wall Street money-squeezers back in the mid- and late-80s.
Not a one of those reprobates has ever served a minute in jail. Yet guys like Mark Kruzan have to worry that voters may turn on them because of the sins of Wall Street.
We can only hope there is a hell so that Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, and the rest of their aiders and abettors can join Andrew Breitbart in it.
IT’S ALL RELATIVE
With Russia’s presidential election three days away and Vladimir Putin looking like a shoo-in, we’re being inundated by news stories and commentary about what a despot the former KGB spook is. Deep thinkers are howling about how un-democratic the supposedly-now-democratic heart of the former Soviet Union is.
No doubt Putin’s goons have had “meetings” with dissenting journalists, his spies have added a dash of “strychnine” to the soup of neighboring pols or fed polonium pellets to expat whistle blowers, and his PR flacks are hard at work manipulating the minds of Russian couch potatoes.
That’s all true. Plus, Putin is such a charismatic tough guy that when he met the notoriously untraveled George W. Bush, this holy land’s president-at-the-time tumbled into a deep man-crush over him.
Yesterday, though, I caught another side of the story. Former IU writing professor Erlene Stetson and her husband visit us at the Book Corner nearly every day when they’re in town. Her husband was born in Germany and they keep homes in both countries.
The husband — whose name I never catch because we start talking about world events and history immediately, leaving little time for idle chit-chat and social niceties, so let’s call him Mr. Stetson — started ruminating about Putin and Russia.
“It is amazing,” Mr. Stetson said, “how things have changed in Russia.”
He was talking about the Russia of today vis-a-vis that of such sweethearts as Joseph Stalin and his successors.
Mr. Stetson pointed out that even if the Russian press and TV outlets are manipulated and intimidated now and again, they’re still a hundred-fold freer than the old state media apparatus was under the Communist General Secretaries.
He also says the recent mass protests against Putin and Russian voter fraud would never, ever have been tolerated in the Soviet days.
Eastern Europeans of a certain generation view the new Russia in a state of near-awe these days, according to Mr. Stetson. Not that they envy Muscovites and the like, just that the relative relaxation of traditional Russian authoritarianism is so jarring in comparison to the bad old days.
Of course, it’s easy to look good when the object of comparison is a tyranny that, under Stalin, murdered tens of millions of people to maintain discipline, advance ideology, and just for the fun of it.
This reminds me of revisionist historians who decry the so-called Fathers of Our Country for owning slaves and treating women as decorative appendages.
White men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did indeed “own” human beings, including their lovely brides.
Viewed through today’s lens, Washington and Jefferson appear to be monsters.
In their own day, though, the framers of the US Constitution were the most progressive thinkers on the face of the Earth. They eschewed divine authority and legislated nobility out of existence. Yes, the only US citizens that counted were white male land-owners.
But that was a hell of a leap forward from previous social set-ups. We’ve been taking leaps in fits and starts ever since.
As the late, astute Molly Ivins once wrote, “It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”
“The Lord” and Money — perhaps this should be our national anthem.
“Just when you thought there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you’re wrong.” — Molly Ivins
Here’s all you need to know about the anti-abortion crowd. Last night, four of the devout men — emphasis on men, just in case it slipped your notice — running for the Republican nomination for president genuflected at the altar of the “pro-life” god in South Carolina.
That would be the god, I remind you, who frets obsessively over the safety of those blobs of cellular material the “pro-lifers” call “persons” and then promptly ignores once the blobs develop into what the rest of us would consider human.
Anyway, Personhood USA gathered “pro-lifers” together so they could tell each other how righteous they are and to listen to Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Ricky-girl Santorum, and Rick Perry each claim to be holy.
Good to know that when our economy is teetering on a precipice, when the country seems to be in the throes of a seizure, when there’s not enough money to keep schools and libraries running properly, when climate change and nuclear proliferation threaten our very future, the pious folks of Personhood USA can keep their focus on women’s uteri.
Last night’s seminar was actually a dialectic musing over precisely when a human being comes into existence. Believe it or not, it’s a question that racks the brains of these folks. Not too long ago, they pushed for a law in Mississippi that would declare “personhood” begins at the moment the egg is fertilized.
So, in other words, if you snuff the life out of a fertilized egg, you’d be committing murder.
Now of course, the problem with that is many, if not most, forms of contraception entail killing the fertilized egg. Which would mean, say, birth control pill users would really be no different than Tucson shopping mall shooter Jared Loughner.
As Bad As One Of Those Birth Control Pill-Takers
A lovely bunch of thinkers, these “pro-lifers,” no?
The debate moderator (a guy) asked Rick Perry (ditto) when he thought life begins. Perry responded, “When the sperm and the egg come together….”
At which point — get this — many in the crowd started tittering.
Yeah, that’s right. Tittering.
As in, “Tehe, he said sperm.”
As in a couple of twelve year-olds sitting around giggling about sperm and dicks and vaginas.
I shudder to think of it. Romney’s office must be decorated with posters for Broadway musicals at the very least.
The First Symptom
“… [M]ost South Carolinians and I have a sane and healthy homophobia,” said the Rev. Huey Mills, some big-shot evangelical.
Anyway, some other big evangelical leader named Tony Perkins will make a personal appearance with the anointed one, Ricky-girl Santorum, today in South Carolina, two days before the state’s primary. Ricky-girl was tabbed by the Texas evangelical gang as their fave for president.
GAY CAR PRIDE
The world hasn’t completely lost it mind — and least not just yet. The state of Indiana this week became the first in the nation to issue a “gay” license plate.
“I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil. And that no one knows the truth.” Molly Ivins said it. I wish I could have had the pleasure of spending a long night drinking beer and raising hell with her. She was my kind of gal; she had a dog named Shit. She died of breast cancer in 2007.
TOO DUMB TO SUCCEED
Maybe the hyenas who run the big outfits that foisted that flood of sub-prime loans upon us, driving us into a world of underfunded schools, unemployment, lost retirement nest eggs, and such are right when they say they’re special because they’re smart.
After all, these eels created “financial instruments” that were inscrutable, made them gobs of dough, and collapsed several investment banks and other financial institutions. Still they roam the streets free.
They are smart. Immoral, bestial, craven, and nefarious, sure. But smart.
As opposed to the man who stole a tuba, valued at $3500, from the University of Evansville. WFIE Channel 14 in the southern Indiana town reports that Kevin Neal called a local music store saying he had a tuba he wanted to sell. The music store owner said come on over. While waiting for Neal, the storekeep got a call from the music director at the U of E, saying — you guessed it — the school’s tuba had been stolen.
This Is Not A Financial Instrument
Too bad for Neal; the music store proprietor had recently sold the tuba to the school so he knew exactly what it looked like. It was, the music man concluded, too much of a coincidence.
The cops were called. They staked out the music shop, ID’d the alleged thief from security videotapes, and slapped the bracelets on Neal. He spent last night in the Vandenburgh County lockup.
He has now spent more time in jail than any of the smart baboons who bilked the planet out of trillions.
Susie Bright of Santa Cruz, California is one of the cool ones. The writer/entertainer essentially created the category “sex-positive feminist” back in the 1980s as a reaction to the joyless prigs who seemed to be ruling the feminist world at the time.
Susie is not happy about the new federal regs concerning the Plan B One-Step birth control pill. Nor is essayist Katha Pollitt happy. Susie links to Pollitt’s piece in The Nation about the Obama administration’s endorsement of new rules that turn women into children who need to be lectured about their naughty urge to fuck.
By pandering to religious fetishists who view sex as icky and men who are scared of women, Barack Obama is demonstrating that he wants to keep his job in the worst way.