Category Archives: Newt Gingrich

Hot Air, Hot Taunt

Libtard Pride!

A few years ago I screamed out in an earlier incarnation of this blog/colossus that I’m proud of being a liberal.

From Open Salon

Remember the days when calling people liberal was about as rotten as calling them child molesters? Yeah, after Piggy Figgy Newt Gingrich sent out marching orders in the form of his infamous mid-1990s GOPAC Memo, even the most dyed-in-the-wool Democrats ran away screaming if anyone even used a word beginning with the letter L in their rabbity-scared presence.

“Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party,” Newty wrote after the 1994 election in which his GOP had become, yep, the majority party in the US House of Representatives. That victory got Gingrich and his coatholders to thinking that with a little more luck and concerted effort they could wipe the Dems off the face of the Earth, or at least equate them in the anencephalic public’s mind with commies or Nazis.

Language, in fact, was so important to this goal that the GOPAC Memo included a couple of lists of words that Republicans could and should use in their speeches and sound bites to redefine the political landscape.

When referring to themselves or the Republican Party, Gingy advised, speakers should use certain words. “These words,” he wrote, “can help give extra power to your message.” They included:

  • Children
  • Common Sense
  • Courage
  • Crusade
  • Fair
  • Family
  • Freedom
  • Incentive
  • Legacy
  • Liberty
  • Moral
  • Prosperity
  • Proud
  • Strength
  • Tough
  • Truth

How nice.

When speaking of the, ugh, Democrats, Newt wrote, other, less complimentary verbiage was required. “These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast,” he counseled.

  • Betray
  • Bizarre
  • Cheat
  • Collapse
  • Corrupt
  • Crisis
  • Destroy
  • Disgrace
  • Failure
  • Impose
  • Liberal (Woo-hoo!)
  • Lie
  • Obsolete
  • Pathetic
  • Radical
  • Selfish
  • Shame
  • Sick
  • Steal
  • Taxes
  • They/them
  • Traitors
  • Unionized
  • Welfare

Old Joey Goebbels would have been proud.

The two most important words in that list of pejoratives seem to have been liberal and taxes.

Every Republican candidate for any office in the last two decades has villified liberals and screamed to high holy heaven about taxes.

To my chagrin, not one Dem I can recall stood up and said, Damn right I’m a liberal; what of it?

The GOP became so enamored with demonizing liberals that they even began turning the slur upon each other, so we were often confronted with the bizarre specter of two anti-tax, anti-affirmative action, anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-science blowhards accusing each other of the mortal sin of liberalism.

And the goddamned Democrats ran away and hid!

Well, I sure as hell wasn’t going to hide.

I stood up as proudly as that field full of extras, Tony Curtis, and Kirk Douglas in Spartacus, and shouted: I am a liberal! I’d have climbed the roof to holler it, only I’m not so fond of heights.

From "Spartacus"

I Am Spart…, er, I Mean, I Am LIberal!

Now that the Me Party-ists and other even more wingnutty factions of the Far Right have grasped control of the Grand Old Party, the word liberal seems far less ugly. Somehow not even the craziest Lefty can compare to the psychopathy of the new Right. As a matter of fact, self-described liberal websites have popped up all over the place. Even though pols, natch, still have not overcome their terror at the mere mention of the word, more and more wags and mavens are embracing it.

So, of course, the panic peddlers of the Right have had to jigger their language — remember, it “can help give extra power to your message.” The preferred slander today, apparently, is libtard.

This word alloy combines the “wisdom” of Newt Gingrich with the cruel intent of the towel-snapping high school gym locker room punk. Liberal and retardlibtard! — the term embodies a certain repulsive beauty, much like the brilliant and awe-inspiring colors of nuclear weapon flash.

I am, a certain segment of the populace is convinced, a libtard.

Really, Libtard?

So be it. As a matter of fact, I’m going to borrow a page from the LGBTQ and Black factions of my own club. Just as queer and nigger have been appropriated by those respective groups, I’m snatching libtard from the slack jaws of the citizens of Fox Nation.

I am a libtard!

Because if this guy considers me a libtard

Ted Nugent

… then I’m more than happy to be one.

 

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” — Albert Camus

HAVE YOU VOTED YET?

Why not? Okay, but you only have one week left to do it! Here’s where you can vote today and tomorrow:

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

IU Assembly Hall, 1001 E. 17th St.; 10am-6pm

POG PANIC

So, the Republicans are pulling out one last pie to throw in the face of Barack Obama with a week to go before the November election.

According to them, Obama conspired with Muslim extremists to murder four Americans during the attack on this country’s diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya a couple of weeks ago. Then Obama covered up his administration’s complicity in the affair.

The whole shebang, says everybody from John McCain to Newt Gingrich, is worse than Watergate.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Of course, I’m exaggerating when I say they’re actually accusing Obama of participating in the attack. About as much as they’re exaggerating about it and Watergate.

And, by the way, the GOP has been salivating for a “Democratic Watergate” for some 40 years now. It hasn’t happened yet.

ANOTHER ENDING

This day comes every year around this time.

Baseball is finished for 2012.

Boo.

Their Joy; My Loss

The San Francisco Giants completed a sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the World Series last night. I’ve been listening to the games on live stream. Not only do I love baseball, I love radio (even radio on my laptop.) So I get to combine two of my loves at once.

It’s like having a pizza and spaghetti party.

A Kind Of Heaven

But it’s over.

I wanted the Giants to win. But not just yet. Not now. Not this soon. Couldn’t they have drawn it out for a few more games or, better, a few more weeks? Baseball’s done. So is summer. So is another year.

My boys, the Chicago Cubs, had one of the worst years in their long and storied history. They’re as far from the World Series as they’ve ever been in my lifetime — and that includes a lot of absolutely rotten teams.

But I’m hoping. The new brain trust led by Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and John McLeod has gutted the organization, ridding it of deadwood, ne’er-do-wells, and — for all I know — Satan worshippers. That’s a good start. Now they have to gather real ballplayers.

I don’t believe in god or magic or life after death. But the thing I do believe in makes all those things seem rational. I believe the Cubs will win a World Series while I’m still alive.

Anthony Rizzo Will Lead Us To The Promised Land

Call me a crackpot.

FACTS, HAH!

Big Think took on climate change skeptics yesterday.

You know, without Fox News, these people would be babbling on a street corner somewhere. Of course, in a sane world, so would the Fox News people.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago The Daily Mail of London ran this ludicrous headline:

Everybody with a functioning cerebrum ignored it. Except, natch, Fox News.

The Party of God’s house organ ran with it big time:

Turns out that the Daily Mail piece was completely erroneous.

Doesn’t it scare the crap out of you that a huge percentage of this holy land’s population eats up Fox News on a daily basis?

It makes me want to throw my hands in the air and moan, “I give up!”

On the other hand, maybe Fox is coming around. Their screen headline implies that there was global warming, once. That’s better than denying it ever existed, right?

SO NICE

How about one last blast of summer from Brazil’s Astrud Gilberto?

This song is also known as “Summer Samba.” Light and airy, hopeful and exciting — it’s the perfect metaphor for what I hope every summer will be. They never really turn out that way yet I still dream of those ideal summers in the dark of every winter.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.


Monday, October 29th, 2012

VOTE ◗ Two locations for early voting in Monroe County today and tomorrow:

  • The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm
  • Indiana University Assembly Hall, South Lobby, 1001 E. 17th St.; 10am-6pm

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 Auer HallMaster’s Recital: Adam Brown on guitar; 5pm

TOWN HALL MEETING ◗ IU Memorial Union6th Annual China Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections, Speakers include: Zhao Shaung, Scott Kennedy, Abassador Gary Locke; 6pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleBarbara McGuire; 7-9pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Juan of the Dead“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallPercussion Ensemble, John Tafoya & Kevin Bobo, directors; 7pm

MUSIC IU Musical Arts CenterMAC Lobby Concerts Series: Jazz Combo; 7:15pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceRockin’ Roots: Brownbird Rudy Relic, Los Basttardos Magnificos, Tilford Sellers & the Wagon Burners; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase; 8pm

HALLOWE’EN ◗ IU Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology, Begin at the Performance & Lecture Hall — Ghost Walk, Tour haunted spots on campus; 8pm

MUSIC IU Musical Arts CenterJazz Ensemble, Jeremy Allen, director; 8pm

MUSIC IU Musical Arts Center, Recital HallDoctoral Recital: Chappell Kingland, composition; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopMargot and the Nuclear So & Sos, Gentleman Caller; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdWhite Denim; 9pm

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

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

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

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

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits:

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

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

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

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

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

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

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

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

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

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

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

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

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Being a man given to oratory and high principles, he enjoyed the sound of his own vocabulary and the warmth of his own virtue.” — Sinclair Lewis, Babbit, Ch. 6

ROVE SHOW

A number of people asked me yesterday morning if I was going to attend the Karl Rove smut-fest at the IU Auditorium.

Rove was the lightning rod. The event was billed as a sort of colloquy between the one-time “rat fucker” and evil genius behind George W. Bush’s presidency and Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s former mouthpiece, but for all the residents of this people’s republic were concerned, Gibbs would be nothing more than a bit player. The two were to dope out the 2012 Election and everybody expected a hockey game to break out.

Only no punches were thrown and the entire affair, according to observers, was rather tepid.

I wouldn’t know because I wasn’t there.

I told my interrogators yesterday morning I wasn’t going. They know I loathe Rove more than the genetic heart defect that’ll eventually kill me so they were surprised I wouldn’t grab the chance to hiss him.

Unh uh.

I didn’t go for the same reason I don’t watch TV news. It’d make me edgy. I’d fall into that old us-versus-them trick bag the corporate media loves to suck us into.

Some of this town’s most notable citizens gathered outside the Auditorium to shout at its walls how much they object to the very notion that the human species has resulted in something so vile as Karl Rove.

Tomi Allison & Charlotte Zietlow Serenade Rove

Again, that’d be a no-go for me. It plays into the show business aspect of Rove-mania. He’s not only still a mover and shaker on the political scene, but he’s the designated villain in the pro wrestling spectacle that civic debate has become. The mini-mob outside the Auditorium only heightened the buzz and sense of spectacle of the thing.

Rove’s never been accused of outright vote stealing. No, his sins are worse. He peddles tainted information. He manipulates resentments. He games the system. Rove is a diabolical archcriminal.

I wouldn’t give him a dime of my hard-earned dough even if it was just to throw rotten tomatoes at him.

DEATH OF THE ‘WEEK

You’ve heard the news that Newsweek will cease publication this year.

Good.

Newsweek actually saw fit to give Karl Rove his own weekly column after his former boss left the White House.

“News”week

I wonder if the following items on the Rove resume convinced Newsweek’s editors to take him on:

In 1970, Rove, using an alias and pretending to volunteer for Alan Dixon’s reelection, gained access to the Illinois Senator’s campaign office. He worked only for a day. Actually, a mere few hours.

His sole desire was to make off with a few reams of stationary bearing the Dixon campaign letterhead. Rove then printed up phony invitations promising “free beer, free food, girls, and a good time for nothing” at an upcoming invitation-only Dixon rally. Rove then distributed the faux ducats at dive bars, flophouses, homeless shelters, and rock concerts where he sought out the scruffiest and foulest-smelling stoners.

The Dixon campaign was shocked when its rally was invaded by the rather unsavory battalion.

Rove went on to do much volunteer work for the Richard Nixon reelection campaign. He was so valuable to CREEP that Watergate prosecutors actually considered indicting him but decided not to only because he was small potatoes. His artistry in the field of dirty tricks was not yet fully honed.

For instance, working for George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary, Rove floated the rumor that Bush’s biggest rival, John McCain, had fathered a black “love child.” McCain, at the time running ahead of Bush, suffered a surprising defeat in that state, long a bastion of racism.

Bushy & The Brain

I could fill ten posts with a laundry list of Rove violations of the public trust. Suffice it to say he’s a baddie.

So, if Newsweek wanted this brand of reprobate to pen a weekly column then it deserves to suffer a painful death.

MARRIAGE: GOVERNMENT REGULATION RUN AMOK

Speaking of Right Wingers whose dark souls emit a nauseating reek, that darling of the Tory classes, Dinesh D’Souza, has gotten his bully club caught in a wringer.

Following in the tradition of Republican stalwart, Newt Gingrich, D’Souza has thrown his wife over for a younger woman.

D’Souza Goes For The Youth Market

D’Souza, who regularly wows conservative Christian audiences with his railings against the morally bankrupt liberal, secular world, has been toting around a young chickadee whom he introduces as his fiancee.

This even as D’Souza’s ever-loving wife of 20 years, Dixie, has kept the home fires warm for him.

Some observers on my side of the fence say this is typical of the hypocrisy of podium-thumping evangelicals and conservatives.

Pure

I say nonsense. In fact, I believe the whole incident proves D’Souza is philosophically consistent to a fault. His devotion to the “free market,” obviously, extends to all areas of his life.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Friday, October 19th, 2012

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

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

ART ◗ Foxfire Park, NashvilleFall Fine Arts Festival; 11am-6pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Willkie AuditoriumFriday Noon Concert Series: Jeeyoon Kim on piano; Noon

ART & LECTURE ◗ IU Woodburn HallKen Kewley talks about his works in the “Small Is Big” exhibit; 1pm

LECTURE ◗ IU College of Arts & Humanities — “The Myth of Host Desecration in Medieval Aragon & Paris,” Presented by Robert Clark of Kansas Sate University; 3pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Field Hockey ComplexHoosier women’s field hockey vs. Michigan; 4pm

HISTORY ◗ Monroe County History CenterOpening reception for the exhibit, “The Girl Scouts“; 5:30-7:30pm

ART & LECTURE ◗ IU Grunwald GalleryBuzz Spector talks about his current exhibit, “Off the Shelf“; 5-6pm — Opening reception; 6-8pm

MUSIC ◗ Malibu GrillBob Straight & guest; 6-9pm

ART ◗ The Venue Fine Art & GiftsOpening reception for the exhibit, “Carved Wood, Native American Inspired Art“; 6pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Detropia“; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Side by Side“; 6:45pm

AUTHORS ◗ Sweet Claire Gourmet BakeryLemonstone Reading Series, Presented by Writers Guild of Bloomington, tonight Emily Bobo reads and Zach Moon & Lawrence Washington play music; 7-8:30pm

MUSIC FEST ◗ Various locations, BloomingtonBloomingTONE Music Festival, purchase tickets for single events, all events on one night, or a full two-day pass, Friday & Saturday, Tonight’s events:

SPORTS ◗ IU Bill Armstrong StadiumHoosier women’s soccer vs. Minnesota; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallOctubafest, Daniel Perantoni, director; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleIndiana Boys; 7-9pm

HALLOWE’EN ◗ Haunted Hayride & StablesScary hayrides; 7-11pm

HALLOWE’EN ◗ Bakers Junction Railroad MuseumHaunted train; 7pm

STAGE ◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreDrama, “Richard III“; 7:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall TheatreRyder Film Series: “2 Days in New York“; 7:30pm

ASTRONOMY ◗ Lake Monroe, Paynetown SRA BeachStar Gaze with the IU Astronomy Club, weather-permitting; 7:30-9pm

ART ◗ IU McCalla SchoolThe Fuller Projects: “Kissing Bachelard: Urban Spaces Conceived,” Paintings by Maggie Crowley; 7:30pm

OPERA ◗ IU Musical Arts Center — “The Merry Widow“; 8pm

BENEFIT ◗ The BishopXO Variety Show, for Middle Way House; 8-11pm

FILM ◗ Bear’s PlaceDark Carnival Film Festival: “Found,” Plus annual costume contest; 8pm-Midnight

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallMaster’s Recital: Haewoon Yang on piano; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubLottaBLUESah: Snakedoctor, Michael Kelsey; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium — UB Films: “The Dark Knight Rises”; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Stars in Shorts“; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdRod Tuffcurls and the Benchpress; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleWhiskey Mystic; 9:30-11:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Chicken with Plums“; 9:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumUB Films: “The Dark Knight Rises“; 11pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Beyonf the Black Rainbow“; Midnight

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

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

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

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

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits:

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

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

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

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

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

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

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil: Bloomington’s Best

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Can we all get along?” — Rodney King

BELTIN’ BIRDS

The alarm hadn’t even rung this morning. It was about a quarter past five. Yet I was awake.

The din outside my window was, considering the hour and my state of unconsciousness just moments before, deafening.

I should have been mad, no?

I wasn’t.

A countless variety of birds was whistling, clattering, gargling, hooting, chirping, yipping, and otherwise letting the world — and this no-longer-sleeping beauty — know they were alive.

It was the most beautiful cacophonic symphony imaginable. Like the birds, I was glad to be alive.

TINKERING

The Electron Pencil’s GO! Events Listings now have their own page.

You wanna know what to do today? Click the GO! TODAY button above.

GO! — the best listings in Bloomington.

TOO TOUGH FOR OUR OWN GOOD

During the dark days when the Republicans seemed to be the only party in this holy land with guts, with a vision (albeit repulsive to me), and with exciting candidates (at least to fellow Republicans), I longed for my Dems to, well, wake up.

I mean, honestly, Michael Dukakis?

Y’Wanna Vote For Me? Okay.

The late 80s was the nadir of the party. The GOP was constantly prowling and attacking and my Dems were always cowering in a corner. The tone was set when, during the 1980 presidential debates, Ronald Reagan listened patiently to incumbent Jimmy Carter (I mean, honestly, Jimmy Carter?) read off his list of particulars, accusing Reagan of being, you know, a Republican, and then, when it was his turn to speak, gave a sad little shake of his head and said, like a headmaster, a camp counselor, a disappointed father, “There you go again.”

Now You Listen To Me

Reagan needn’t have said another word. Carter was deflated. Defeated. Finished. He knew it. Reagan knew it. And America knew it.

The Republicans, particularly Reagan, had a way of withering the Dems with a single phrase.

I was embarrassed to be a Democrat back then. It was almost as bad as being a Cubs fan.

I longed for the day my party would rear up and fight back.

The Republicans through the years had had their Joe McCarthy, their Donald Segretti and G. Gordon Liddy. By the 80s, they had their Lee Atwater. All tough, no-nonsense guys who’d stick a shiv into the belly of any Dem at any time.

Tough, Albeit Deranged

Why, I wondered, couldn’t we have a guy or two like that?

Would we always be so touchy-feely, so accepting, so forgiving, so ready and willing to bear our necks and let the predators of the world go for our jugular?

It got so that the Republicans turned our passivity into their own campaign asset — they would argue, Do you want these softies “protecting” you against the commies and the brown-skinned people of the world?

And, really, who would want Walter Mondale, to be the wingman in an alley fight?

Don’t Worry; I’m Right Behind You

But the Dems were learning. In 1989, Lee Atwater floated the rumor that Speaker of the House Tom Foley lived in a “liberal closet” (wink, wink). Barney Frank, the advance guard of the nascent fighting Dems, came out swinging.

Frank announced to the press that if the Republican innuendos about Foley’s sexuality didn’t cease forthwith, he’d release the very next morning a list of five prominent Republican congressbeings who were secretly gay and do the same thing the next day and the day after that until all the GOP closets were empty.

The Republicans jumped like scalded rabbits. Atwater instructed the White House operator to track down Foley immediately so he could tell the Speaker the attacks were history.

Hello, Tom? C’mon Man, You Can Take A Joke, Can’t You?

And then, a miracle. Bill Clinton came out of the nowhere that is Arkansas. He was tough. He was ready and willing to throw some thumbs. Not only that, he had a snarling dog on a long chain next to him, one James Carville, a guy who could make even Liddy take a deep breath.

Clinton’s campaign headquarters became know as a War Room. The gloves were off. The fight was on. The Dems won the White House, woo-hoo!

The Republicans, of course, eventually came back with a series of rabid curs: Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, and Karl Rove. They snatched away first the House of Representatives then the White House.

Rabid

Then came Barack Obama with his own carnivore, Rahm Emanuel.

By the 2008 presidential election, it seemed the Democrats had reached parity with the Republicans in terms of toughness.

Still, the Republicans had their lunatic fringe fighters, the so-called Minutemen along the Mexican border, the abortion clinic bombers, the murderers of doctors who provided abortions, Michigan militias, and other terrifying creatures.

Now these really were people who could make the sane among us cower in a corner.

Somehow we always knew the guy flying the plane into a government building or the loner purchasing tons of fertilizer-based explosives would be a right-winger.

White Makes Right

And even if the Republican establishment tut-tutted these folks, I always got the feeling that puffy, paunchy chicken hawks like Rove secretly wished they too could bring a sidearm to a political debate.

We Dems could proudly say, Yeah, we’re tough now, but we aren’t psychotic.

That is, we could say it until now.

And the newest psychos come from right here in good old Monroe County.

You may have heard about the brutal attack on a gathering of white supremacists (perhaps the first time those words have ever been written together) in a Chicago suburb over the weekend.

See, a gang of five Bloomington-area men barged into a family restaurant in Tinley Park Saturday and beat the bejesus out of a bunch of old men gathered there to eat club sandwiches and tell each other how fabulous they are for being descendents of Eastern Europeans.

Attack Scene

The five were under the mistaken impression that the old men were part of a white supremacist organization.

It’s not known what feelings the old birds have in their heart of hearts for brown-skinned people, or even if they consider brown-skinned people people at all, but they swear up and down they’re not part of a Klan-like gang.

But let’s assume for a moment that they are, just for the sake of argument. Let’s assume they despise people who aren’t blessed by god with pasty skin. Let’s assume they met at the Ashford House Restaurant to discuss among friends how the darker people of this land are ruining it.

Even if that were the case, the five men who exploded into the restaurant carrying billy clubs, knives, hammers, and other instruments of mayhem are jerks.

Thought Police

They went into the place with murder in their hearts (trust me, when you carry a hammer into a brawl, you’re looking to kill someone), aiming to punish human beings for their thoughts.

Thought crime.

I thought it was a fictional conceit.

But the Sutherlin boys and their two pals from Bloomington, Indiana, have made it real.

Now, we of the left side of the spectrum have our own fringe fighters. We’d better do more to distance ourselves from our psychos than the Republicans did.

 

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

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

NEVER MIND WHAT WE SAID; LISTEN TO WHAT WE SAY

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

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

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

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

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

“Are You A Free Rider?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pencil Today:

THE 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:

THE QUOTE

“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” — Carl Sagan

THE INAUGURAL ELECTRON COOL TEST

Brainstorm, babies!

Welcome to the first ever Electron Pencil online blog game show puzzle contest…, thing. I haven’t even come up with a name for it yet.

Hmm, how about the Big Brain Stakes?

Meh.

Or Pencil Jeopardy?

Nah, that won’t do. What if this blogsite becomes the biggest thing on the interwebs and then the late Merv Griffin’s legal goons come after me with subpoenas and cease-and-desists for stealing their game show name?

I’ve got it — The Electron Cool Test! (h/t to Tom Wolfe).

Perfect!

The Electron Cool Test will become a regular feature of this column. Its rules, prizes, eligibility, and honesty will be whatever I want them to be on the particular day that I run it. Today, for instance, we at the Electron Pencil are calling for all Pencillistas to guess what outrageousness the Republican Party will be capable of in the year 2016.

Who knows? If this thing takes off, I might even devise a neat high-tech way for you all to participate. As it stands right now, we’ll go with the old reliable Comments section.

Read on for today’s First Ever Super-Supercilious, Bombastic, No Trans-fat, Electron Cool Test!

IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD PARTY

So, here’s the background for our first Electron Cool Test.

Who among the great mass of broad-minded, attractive, and intelligent readers of The Electron Pencil could ever have foreseen what the Republican Party has become in this year of our lord, 2012?

Honestly, the POG is warning the trusting ovines of this holy land that a second term for President Obama will enable him and his blackshirts to seize all our guns, hand the US Capitol over to radical imams, stifle the voices of the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and redistribute all our hard earned money to black men, slutty women, and homosexual abortionists.

“Huh? What? Homosexual Abortionists? Save Us, Party Of God!”

Much of this nightmare was brilliantly recapped by Jon Stewart Wednesday night.

Stewart, of course, was making jokes. Haha. The really funny thing is, the candidates for the presidential nomination of The Party Blessed By The Creator Of The Universe are actually saying these things.

Well, three of the four of them. Ron Paul, bless his weird heart, isn’t engaging in such verbal hijinks — but, then again, he’s not really a Republican. No, Paul is a Libertarian, which frightens even Republicans, believe it or not. That’s like Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodin shuddering in their Manolo Blahniks at the site of some bizarre new beast from the planet Zpltfik.

Godzilla: “Didja See That!?”

Rodan: “Oh, My Heavens!”

Mothra: “BZZZZZT!”

Anyway, the three real Republicans scream about the monster black man under the bed until their voices are raw, then other, minor POG-ers take over, as Stewart so capably points out.

The Republicans at this point in time are certifiably insane.

And, honestly, when Rep. Bob Morris (R-Indiana) started calling the goddamned Girl Scouts a “radicalized” organization, did you need any more evidence that the party of Lincoln and Taft had now become the cast from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”?

Rick Santorum’s Cabinet

Okay, now that we’ve got that settled, let’s have a little fun with it. Let’s try to imagine what Republicans will be saying in 2016 when they are choosing their standard bearer to battle Chelsea Clinton for the presidency.

Hail To The Chief

First off, who will the rising young Republican be? Marco Rubio? Todd Young? Ivanka Trump?

And who will be the wily old veterans still hoping the claw their way into the White House? Definitely Newt Gingrich. And Mitt Romney. And, hell, Rick Santorum as well. Come on, it’s a lock all three will still want to win the big one.

Oh, and Chuck Norris. Can’t forget him.

Early Frontrunners: Chuck, Marco & Ivanka

Now, the secret to playing this first Electron Cool Test is to let your imagination run wild. If I were to suggest to you four years ago that a major party candidate for president would accuse the incumbent of plotting to wage war on the Catholic Church, you’d have said, Aw, you’re delirious.

See? Let yourself be delirious. How can you go wrong?

I’ll start. Um, uh, let’s see…, oh! I’ve got it! Back in high school, Chelsea appeared in a production of “The Nutcracker.”

That’s it! Chuck Norris will say that proves she was sympathetic to the Russian commies from her earliest days. “If this country elects Chelsea Clinton president in November,” he’ll warn, “the next day, a new, resurrected Soviet Union will rise in Washington!”

Later, he’ll call for the banning of all Christmastime productions of “The Nutcracker” because, after all, it was written by that stinkin’ red, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

“The Nutcracker” — Subversive

Norris will mispronounce all three names, endearing him to millions of voters.

Wait, wait, here’s another.

Marco Rubio will react to news that researchers have developed a new, super-strong anti-viral drug that virtually cures genital herpes. Rubio will call for the drug to be outlawed saying, “Anyone who has genital herpes obviously has engaged in sex at some time in their lives. They should be made to suffer for it. It is clear that these drug researchers are dangerous radicals.”

Do you get the game now? It’s easy!

The Scarlet Canker

One more. The New York Times will unearth the news that Ivanka Trump keeps a stable of young children on a remote work farm in South Central New Jersey. Other media outlets will report that she harvests the tykes’ hormones and has it injected into her in an effort to maintain her youthful looks.

The revelations will cause an uproar among Democrats and those few Republicans who retain vestigial traces of human emotion. They call for her to withdraw from the race. She refuses.

“I am a job-creator,” Ivanka protests. “This is trickle-down economics at its finest. If it weren’t for my special farm for these precious children, they’d be homeless. They might even starve. My opponents would like them to receive welfare, which would be the real tragedy.”

Ivanka will go on to market the childrens’ hormones. By the time of the Republican National Convention in August, women across the country will be purchasing Trump’s Essence of Tot at $24.99 for six milliliters, available at all CVS and Rite-Aid stores.

“Hooray For Our Owner, Dear Ivanka!”

The eventual Republican candidate, Chuck Norris, will pledge to name Ivanka his Secretary of Commerce and Child Labor.

Okay? Now it’s your turn.

HOW TO PLAY

Let yourself go, players. Submit your ideas about what the Republicans will be saying in four years.

The winning entry will be selected by me as soon as I get around to it. I’ll treat the winner to a specialty drink at Soma Coffee on a Saturday morning of my choosing.

Simply go up to the top left hand corner of this page, click the Leave a Comment link…

… and then type in your entry. It can be a simple slogan, a paranoid accusation, or a drawn-out dystopian scenario. In any case, don’t let logic, reason, or restraint hamper you — after all, the Republicans never do!

Play.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I think this is an issue of integrity regardless of which end of the political spectrum that I stand on. I was raised in a family to know right from wrong and politics, whether or not you fall in the middle, the left or the right, it’s an issue of integrity, no matter what you’re opinion is, and I say that with the utmost conviction.” — Miss Arizona USA 2009, Alicia-Monique Blanco, responding to the question, Should the US have universal health care?

TAKE A LOOK AT SHELLI

Looks like we’re finally getting some action in the Dem race to unseat first-term congressboy Todd Young. Bloomington City Clerk Regina Moore is touting Kelley School of Business operative Shelli Yoder for the Democratic primary in May.

Yoder is one of five candidates for the Dem spot and the only woman.

Moore says of the political neophyte: “Take a look at Shelli — she could change the way those boys in Congress are doing things. Seriously.”

Unfortunate choice of words: Take a look at Shelli. Yoder’s big claim to fame is having won the Miss Indiana beauty pageant back in 1992. In the bigger Miss America catfight she wowed the judges enough in the swimsuit competition to earn herself Second Runner-up laurels.

The Newly-Crowned Miss Indiana 1992 With Her Parents

Loyal readers of this space know my thoughts on beauty pageants. Looking hot while half naked, while not in and of itself a detestable asset, is scant background for elective office. And all this time I thought only Republicans went gaga over MILF-y candidates.

Perhaps Yoder has something more on the ball than looking good in FM pumps and a swatch of fabric over her privates. I’d like to trust Regina Moore’s judgement.

The problem is there is no record of where Yoder stands on anything of import. Oh sure, she’s four-square against anorexia (as Executive Director of the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee, she lays out a list of symptoms in the link.) That, I suppose, is good. I hope she’s against violent weather and stick-up men as well.

But what’s her take on the Obama Administration’s new healthcare/contraception rules? Would she give the president a green light to fight a war with Iran? What does she think of the Patriot Act?

We also know she’s hot on Christianity, which makes me itchy.

I’m willing to give Shelli an ear, thanks to my respect for Moore. Yoder will meet and greet at the Fountain Square Ballroom tomorrow night. I’ll be there — listening, not looking.

I’M FEELING DIZZY

If you pay any attention at all to news reports, here’s what you know about the two most important issues facing this holy land in the year 2012:

The Race For the Presidency

  • Mitt Romney is the front runner for the Republican nomination for president
  • Nobody else has a chance

  • That was true until New Gingrich became the front runner
  • Nobody else had a chance

  • Oh wait, Ron Paul came on strong
  • Romney and Gingrich were running scared

  • Rick Santorum was running too, the foolish man
  • He had no chance
  • Wait, Rick Santorum was the front runner

  • Newt Gingrich had no chance
  • Mitt Romney was on life-support
  • Could Rick Santorum count on support from the entire party?
  • Um — hold on! — Rick Santorum’s lead over Mitt Romney is shrinking!

  • Oh, sweet Jesus! Santorum peaked too soon!
  • Romney’s turning away from attack ads and now he’s going positive
  • Newt Gingrich still has no chance.

So, it looks like Gingrich will be the Republican nominee. Should be an interesting debate between him and Barack Obama.

POTUS?

The Economy

  • Unemployment figures stubbornly refused to drop below 8 Percent
  • The recovery if it existed at all, was slow
  • People spent money at Christmastime!
  • Phew — we were recovering, and fast
  • The nation’s credit rating was downgraded by Standard & Poors
  • What recovery?
  • The nation gained a few more jobs at the start of the year
  • What a recovery!
  • Iran threatens to close the Straight of Hormuz
  • The world economy will collapse

Our corporate news media squawkers are a bunch of drama queens, no?

HOPING TREY HAS AN UNEVENTFUL CAREER

The Indiana University Police Department now has a bomb-sniffing dog.

Chris Collins & Trey (Fox 59 photo)

The pooch is a 75-pound German Shepherd named Trey. IU cop Chris Collins will be the dog’s boss, according to the Herald Times/Fox 59.

Let’s hope Trey never has to do the job for which it’s been trained.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they’ve stolen.” — Mort Sahl

DUH, GOLLY GEE, I DUNNO!

The day before yet another Republican primary, this one in Florida.

As always — I repeat, always; I mean it, always — Big Media is doing remotes from a bunch of heretofore unknown sandwich shops and church basements that the various candidates will visit to ask voters whom they’ll, um, vote for tomorrow.

And danged if the intrepid reporters invariably pick out the same kind of yokel: Well, uh, I haven’t made up my mind yet, and so on, ad nauseam.

Come on, people! There’ve been 373 debates within the last week alone. Moon Newt and Rich Mitt have been in the public eye for years. The issues they’ve skirted have been with us since time immemorial.

Who Are These Guys?

How on Earth can you not know who to vote for tomorrow?

Sometimes people say they need to actually see the candidates — with their naked eyes — before they can decide.

Look, neither the Republican candidate nor the eventual president is going to sit down with you and balance your checkbook, nor is he going to do your windows or vacuum your carpet. He’s going to be administering a government of 300-odd million people. You’re merely one of them.

He doesn’t have to visit with you personally in order to get your vote.

Sheesh, don’t people get it?

WHO’S RIGHT AND WHO’S WRONG?

If you’re not decrying the split between liberals and conservatives within this holy land these days, you’ll be accused of not paying attention. Many wags and wonks say the gulf is tearing our nation apart and is either created or exacerbated by the corporate media in order to provide content for its infotainment product.

Lah-de-dah.

But a recent study by University of Nebraska researchers indicates that liberals and conservatives react differently, and viscerally, to images of good and bad things. The researchers conclude that liberalism and conservatism may be driven more by biology than any analysis of issues.

Conservatives, the study finds, physically react more strongly to pictures of car crashes and flesh wounds whereas liberals react more to pretty, peaceful scenes.

In other words the right is spurred on by peril, the left by bonhomie.

This Ought To Push A Liberal’s Buttons

Those on the right, the researchers also found, exhibit more dramatic physiological reactions when shown pictures of Democrats than they do when shown Republicans. Oddly, liberals respond the same way. The researchers see this as further proof that conservatives are kicked into higher emotional gear by things they loathe or fear while libs are just the opposite.

Conservative?

It’s not much of a stretch to suppose that Republicans, therefore, are stimulated more by attack ads and fear-mongering.

So, don’t expect the pissing match between Moon Newt and Rich Mitt to peter out any time soon. And then look for even more thrills and spills come September and October.

STILL WAITING

Abby Tonsing of the Herald Times pointed out yesterday that Lauren Spierer turned 21 on January 12th.

The missing IU student’s parents, Charlene and Robert Spierer, still believe the male students who reportedly saw Lauren in the hours and moments before she disappeared on June 3rd have more information that they’re not sharing.

Daddy-o Robert called the story one of the boys told police “laughable.”

Lauren, On A Previous Birthday

I still can’t figure out why the four male IU students identified as having spent time with her before she vanished are all lawyered up. Then again, former assistant county prosecutor Maryann Pelic tells me it’s the smart thing for them to do (and she’s not at all implying they have anything to hide.)

TOO COWARDLY TO UTTER ICKY WORDS

So, the trial of the two idiots who sat on their hands when news of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sex crimes was reported to them will soon begin.

To refresh your memory, another assistant coach allegedly saw Sandusky naked in the football shower room engaging in anal intercourse with what appeared to be a naked 10-year-old boy. The assistant coach reported what he saw to head football coach Joe Paterno who, in turn, reported it to a couple of paper shufflers in the PSU athletic department.

Paterno promptly washed his hands of the whole affair, convinced he’d done everything he was legally obliged to do. Apparently, he was satisfied with doing next to nothing.

The two paper shufflers now face charges of failure to report a child sex crime to the police and lying about what they knew to a grand jury.

Sandusky has been charged with 50 counts of having sex with young boys.

Paterno died last weekend of lung cancer and the Penn State community came out to tell the world what a great guy he was, what a leader of men, what a moral beacon, and tons of other holy horseshit.

But when the scandal broke it was learned that Paterno allowed Sandusky to continue to use Penn Sate facilities for years after the great man was told about the shower incident. Despite being retired from the football program, Sandusky was allowed to keep an office in the football hall and kept bringing prepubescent boys to the place at all hours.

Paterno, apparently, never raised a peep about the creepy set-up. We know for a fact he never stopped any of it from happening. And, believe me, Paterno could have stopped it all — at least within the hallowed halls of the football facility.

Now, defense attorneys for the two paper shufflers seem to be focused on how all the fine, upstanding men involved in this case were afraid to use actual words to describe what Sandusky allegedly had done.

The defense attorneys are hoping a jury agrees that by the time the story got to the two university officials, it had been so watered down by skittish football men that it didn’t even sound like a crime anymore.

A CNN reporter contacted a couple of experts to decode the whole mess,. Laurie Levenson, who teaches law at Loyola (Los Angeles) University, told the reporter, “Sodomy, rape, and anal intercourse are not easy words for men, especially jocks, to verbalize, and they may become particularly reluctant when they are speaking to authority figures.”

Another expert, Dr. Chuck Williams of Drexel University said, “Being uncomfortable with the subject matter could have led all men involved to minimize the Sandusky mess and avoid confronting it head on.”

Man alive! This whole stinking tale becomes more rancid by the moment. One weekend we’re being told Joe Paterno was one of god’s “greatest gifts to the world,” (by a Catholic priest, no less) and the next we hear that god’s gift is too squeamish to blow the whistle on a child sodomizer.

A former Penn State quarterback called Paterno “the most extraordinary person I know.” But JoePa was not extraordinary enough to say a phrase like “My assistant saw Jerry Sandusky penetrating the anus of a child with his penis.”

There. I just said it. And no one’s calling me extraordinary.

Paterno even had a hard time telling police investigators and prosecutors what he’d heard. His testimony to the grand jury showed a man afraid to say dirty words.

Everyone involved made a choice: don’t say too much because talking about it is icky. The fact that at least one ten-year-old kid had his anus forcibly dilated to an approximate width of two inches did not at all enter into the equation.

Perhaps the best account of this ugly tale was written by Buzz Bissinger, the author of “Friday Night Lights,” in the November 10th edition of The Daily Beast. He wrote, “[W]e need to stop the daintiness and describe the alleged offenses for what they truly are in the vernacular to somehow try to capture the monstrousness. Not anal intercourse or oral sex, which sounds clinical, but butt-fucking and blowjobs and cock-grabbing and pants-groping and other assorted acts that the 67-year-old Sandusky allegedly inflicted on [the victims].”

Big time college sports guys can run fast, jump high, throw balls long distances, or plot out clever plays. But if they’re too grossed out to save a kid from being ravaged, they’re neither brave nor strong.

And they certainly aren’t god’s gift.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” — Louis Brandeis

PENCILLISTAS!

Leave it to that hard working public servant Susan Sandberg to perform, well…, yet another public service. The At-large Bloomington City Council member has coined the term pencillistas for the growing number of slavish daily readers of this column.

Power To The Pencil!

For all you right wing spies and moles who are monitoring these precincts for the inevitable terrorist atrocities that liberalism engenders, we’re gonna save you some time and shoe-leather. Here is a laundry list of our recent activities:

  • We’re drawing up a list of all people who earn more than $500 a week so we can disembowel them when we take over
  • We’re stuffing envelopes full of nuclear secrets and addressing them to the various mullahs of Iran
  • We’re creating a database of kindly old grandmas and grandpas so we can drag them all before our health care death panels
  • We’re establishing a dating registry for all innocent, caucasian, blonde, female high school seniors to connect with black men serving hard time in selected Midwest state prisons
  • We’re working on drafting legislation that would require each woman in the state to undergo at least two abortions by the age of 21
  • We’re lobbying for changing our national anthem from “The Star-Spangled Banner” to “L’Internationale
  • And, finally, we’re extremely busy exchanging recipes for scrumptious oatmeal cookies, you know, the ones that aren’t all mushy like store-bought cookies, but sort of crisp and crunchy?

So, if you want to be a Pencillista, sharpen your knives, bone up on your gas centrifuge knowledge, and bring out your best recipe. Welcome one and all!

PIMP MY RIDE OR TWEET MY MIND

Our latest Pencil Poll asked “If you were forced to choose, would you give up your car or your connectivity?”

Our results as of 9:00 this morning indicate the car is still king in these Great United States, Inc.

True Love

Fully 46.15 percent of Americans (based on our findings) would give up their connectivity while 30.77 percent would give up their car. Fewer than eight percent of respondents say they have no car and no respondents say they have no connectivity.

(Our crack team of IT experts cautions that many respondents who lack internet connectivity may have mailed in their votes. We’ll have further results next Monday.)

Finally, 15.38 percent say they have no hope.

Happy Friday!

WHO NEEDS BRAINS?

Now that Indiana statehouse Republicans have squashed those pesky labor unions, they’ve turned their beady, bloodshot eyes toward the even more dire threat of intelligence.

The Indiana Senate Education Committee overwhelmingly approved sending a bill to the full Senate that would allow the teaching of “creation science” in our public schools.

Stop Pulling Out Your Hair — The Indiana Legislature’s Got Your Back

In other education news, Munster high school junior Brittni Pinkston won the regional science fair competition with her project “Angels in Mom’s Attic.” And Gosport eighth-grader Zach St. Peter’s song, “Science: What Is It Good For?” was awarded the Governor’s Medal for Obedient Creativity.

Keep up the great work kids! And remember, a mind is a terrible thing to have.

YOU TWO STOP FIGHTING OR I’M TELLING!

So, the candidates hoping to challenge President Obama in November got together again to tell the world how horrifying things in this holy land would be if certain GOP-ers won the nomination.

And you should have heard them talk about each other.

Moon Newt and Rich Mitt engaged in yet another episode of their pissing contest last night in Jacksonville, Florida. Their bitchiness annoyed Rick Santorum.

Newt: “Am Not.” Mitt: “Are Too.”

The Closet Candidate stomped his foot and demanded that his playmates get along. Or else, I suppose, he’d tell Mom.

In the midst of all the sniping and the holdings-of breath, two or three actual issues were raised: space exploration, for one; and immigration, for another. Perhaps it was the introduction of actual topics that set Santorum off.

I’m Not Fighting.”

Anyway, here’s what he said, after being asked about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and telling the questioner and Florida Republican voters what a stand-up guy he is.

“The bigger issue here is, these two gentlemen, who are out distracting from the most important issues we have, have been playing petty, personal politics. Can we set aside that Newt was a member of Congress and used the skills that he developed as a member of Congress to go out and advise companies? And that’s not the worst thing in the world? And that Mitt Romney is a wealthy guy because he worked hard and he’s going out and working hard? And you guys should leave that alone and focus on the issues.”

Oh, how the crowd cheered our little Pennsylvania queen of the May.

Problem is, those are precisely the most important issues we face in this holy land.

Elected representatives who take their hefty Congressional pensions and then go out and shill and pimp for corporations that have no more concern for you and me than if we were ants on the sidewalk — that’s pressing!

And guys who make millions by turning over companies — and employees and towns and industries be damned? Yeah. Why do you think thousands of people started occupied financial centers and public spaces in October?

Both charges are at the core of our nation’s rot. The continued ability of a precious few to make scads of dough trumps all human concerns. The spending of millions — and even billions — to sway our elected representatives has turned Congress into a cheap dime store.

Those are the issues, Ricky.

SOME SOCIALISTS ARE JUST BETTER CAPITALISTS

Here’s a tale of two Chicagoans. They bookended the 20th Century. In a lot of ways, they defined it.

Each depended on public and private support for their ambitious plans.

First, Jane Addams.

As a young woman, she traveled to Great Britain and saw the Toynbee Hall settlement house. It inspired to her to return to Chicago and start a similar establishment there. She and Ellen Starr leased Charles Hull’s house just north of the famed Maxwell Street area where many immigrant Italians and Jews made their first homes in America.

Hull House Kids

Those immigrants needed help. They were poor, largely uneducated, and many could hardly speak English, if at all.

Addams and Starr opened up what would become known as Hull House. They raised money, made speeches, called for volunteers, and proceeded to provide human services to the community.

They set up a kindergarten, provided medical service, established a night adult education program, staffed an employment bureau, fed the hungry, encouraged kids and adults to create art, set up a circulating library, and started a day care center.

Addams then branched out into consumer affairs and health and food safety. She agitated for women’s suffrage. She also spoke long and loud against militarism.

Eventually, Jane Addams’ Hull House organizations expanded to branches all over the city. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

That all took place in the early part of the past century.

In the latter part of the century, a fellow named Jerry Reinsdorf made himself a few hundred million dollars creating real estate tax shelters.

There is no record of him starting kindergartens, circulating libraries, soup kitchens, or night adult education programs. His passions, apparently, were limited to accumulating more cash than any human could possibly spend in a lifetime. Maybe two. Or even a hundred.

In 1981, he and his limited partnership purchased the Chicago White Sox for $19 million (using borrowed money, natch). Less than a decade later, Reinsdorf and his fellow mobsters stuck a gun in the ribs of Illinois Governor Jim Thompson and demanded a new stadium.

If Thompson refused, Reinsdorf et al warned, they’d take their White Sox and move to Florida.

So Jim Thompson twisted arms in the Illinois state legislature until that august body approved funding for a $167 million playground. The eventual debt service on the new ballpark reputedly brought the final total bill to somewhere in the vicinity of a half a billion dollars. And, despite the fact that taxpayers were footing the bill for his baseball palace, Reinsdorf and his co-conspirators gained control over the sports authority set up to administer the payout.

It was the sweetest deal of Jerry Reinsdorf’s life.

Suite Luxury At US Cellular Field

In 2003, in exchange for $68 million, Reinsdorf allowed the US Cellular outfit to slap its name all over the park.

In the coming 2012 baseball season, Reinsdorf’s White Sox will draw close to three million fans. Full season ticket plans can cost up to $3439 per seat. If you’d like to park your car in the ballpark’s lot, you’ll have fork over an additional $1568.

And we’re not even talking about skybox deals which can range into the high six figures or even the millions annually.

Here’s another similarity between Jerry Reinsdorf and Jane Addams. Reinsdorf’s White Sox figure to be lousy this year. Addams’ Hull House suffered through such a lousy year in 2011 (as well as 2010 and ’09) that the organization is ceasing operation today at 5:00pm.

By the way, the major reason Hull House had three lousy years in a row? The bursting of the real estate bubble in 2008, leading to near-economic depression and fewer charitable donations. Ironic, huh?

You might wonder if real estate tycoon Jerry Reinsdorf is suffering, too. Nah. He got out of the real estate racket years ago, selling his firm for a hundred million dollars. Oh, and his investment in the White Sox? It’s has grown by 16.5 times since his initial outlay of $19 million 30 years ago. The team is now worth $315 million, according to Forbes magazine.

Jane Addams may have been selfless and smart, but she wasn’t smart enough to parlay real estate tax shelters into a fortune.

War: What Is It Good For?

It ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker. Friend only to the undertaker.

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