Category Archives: Niccolò Machiavelli

Hot Air: Flotsam And Jetsam

This Just In…

Today is World Press Freedom Day, proclaimed in 1993 and celebrated every year on May 3rd by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).

The news media may indeed exist in a horseshitty state here in this holy land in the year of our lord 2016 — what with Fox News, the dumbing down of the Murrican public, our fascination with ciphers like the Kardashians, and other insults to my intelligence — but, still, if you dig deep enough, you’ll get the info you need to come to rational, reasonable conclusions about the condition of this mad, mad, mad, mad world. You just have to do a little work.

And since I lack the personal resources to visit Homs province in Syria or grill Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on a daily basis, I depend on those imperfect, under-seige news bureaus and reporters from NPR, the New York Times, the BBC, Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi, Barbara Ehrenreich, the Guardian, ProPublica, PolitiFact, and dozens of others to keep me straight about the psychoses and sociopathic impulses of my fellow species-mates.

We may be blissfully ignorant these days in America, but w/o a free press we’d be awfully dumb.

Eerie Erotica

Yesterday, Lauren, the delightful barista at Hopscotch Coffee (okay, they’re all delightful, but she is in her own inimitable way), wore a dress that reminded me of Morticia’s on “The Addams Family.” So we talked about Morticia and Gomez. I said they were the only couple on TV who acted as though they actually loved each other. Hell, they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. No other TV couple had ever suggested that they had a physical relationship with each other.

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Wedded Bliss

Other than M & G, TV couples until “The Brady Bunch,” which premiered in late September, 1969, all slept in separate single beds. Man, because of that I thought my parents, who shared a bed, were gross. In fact, really early on, I figured they were too cheap to buy two beds.


The Bradys, Though, Didn’t Seem All That Frisky

In any case, Morticia and Gomez obviously had a rollicking, rewarding sex life. The lesson TV conveyed? Only monstrous ghouls would be so overtly sensual.

Update: It occurs to me that Lily and Herman Munster also slept in the same bed! That’s right — both mid–sixties monster sitcoms featured married couples who had normal, natural marital relations.



How in the world did we of a certain age survive our TV upbringing?


I notice that Hillary is three million votes ahead of Bernie when all the primary figures to date are added up.

Yet Bernie’s idolators still cling to the notion that the Clinton campaign is benefitting from some kind of anti-democratic (note: small d), voter-repressing, Nazi, Vlad the Impaler, Tyrannosaurus Rex crushing of the will of the noble citizenry.

Now, I voted for Bernie in the IN primary because I wanted to give my modest imprimatur to his aims and philosophies. I can only hope his goals become part of the Democratic Party’s plank come convention time this summer. But his most ardent followers came thisclose to turning me off to him, what with their obsessive aggrievement, their righteousness, and their pathological demonization of Hillary.

Many so-called progressives are citing and linking to Right Wing websites to spew slanders against Hillary. Suddenly, apparently, lefties are reading The Daily Caller, Breitbart, and Drudge just to get the mud on Hill. I’ve even seen WND attached to some social media smears on the former Sec’y of State. You can’t get more wingnutty than that. Well, maybe if you click on this.

Still, the Bernie-istas are so frothy for their guy that they’ve joined forces with the Dark Side that’s been libeling and smearing the Clintons since the moment the couple came onto the national scene in 1991. And, believe me, the Clintons have never needed anybody’s help in looking slippery.

The Bernie crowd — that is, the hyper-super-ardent wing thereof — reminds me of nothing so much as the Tea Party-ists now. Everybody’s against us, they both claim. We won’t compromise. If you criticize us or our guy you are, de facto, part of the massive, secretive, evil, jack-booted cabal that rules our nation and world.

The two gangs are a tiring lot.

May 3rd Birthdays

James Brown — The Godfather of Soul and The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business.


Frankie Valli — Falsetto-voiced front man for the Four Seasons and himself one of the godfathers of the New Jersey boys sound.


Valli (bottom center)

Niccolo Machiavelli — Author, The Prince.

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Jacob Riis — Photographer and muckraker, he forced Americans to acknowledge the poverty in their midst.

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Golda Meir — Israeli prime minister, 1969-1974. It’s claimed she was moments away from launching her nation’s nuclear weapons against its Arab enemies during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

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Norman Corwin — Radio dramatist of the 1930s and ’40s, he presented social issues to the listening public. He served as the inspiration for the likes of Orson Welles, Rod Serling, and Norman Lear.

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Pete Seeger — Blacklisted during the McCarthy years, he and his group, the Weavers, sang about working people, race, democracy, and repression. He wrote “If I Had a Hammer” and “Turn, Turn, Turn!”

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Ron Popiel — “Wait, there’s more!” Sold Chop-O-Matic, Veg-O-Matic, and the Pocket Fisherman nightly on TV. Was fond of declaiming, If you want dine with the classes, you have to sell to the masses.


David Koch — One of two brothers who, because they inherited a billion-dollar empire from their daddy-o, believe they can purchase the US Congress and 50 statehouses.

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Hot Air

War Birds

Niccolò Machiavelli knew it as far back as the 15th Century, yet today’s leaders, apparently, remain unaware:

Wars begin when you will but they do not end when you please.

Even though marching into the Middle East to kick the living crap out of the various fundamentalist loons like ISIL, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and whoever else believes they’re doing the great work of god seems like a quick and easy answer, it won’t be. Unless the chickenhawks of the Republican Party who blathered the other night about carpet bombing cities, sand glowing in the dark, hunting down and utterly destroying terrorists, and other masturbatorial fantasies want to fight their pretty little wars forever, the smart move right now is to stay the hell out of the morass.

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Easy Peasy!

I’ve changed my mind since the early days of ISIL. At first I was all for pounding those religio-psychos into the dirt. But it ain’t gonna happen. It can’t happen. War is never simple or easy or even final.

Come to think of it, maybe Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio et al do indeed want everlasting war. It’s becoming clearer by the minute that they and too many other legislators serve, more than any other constituency, their arms-manufacturing, defense-contracting sugar daddies. War is great business.

Sticks And Stones

University of Chicago Press editor Renaldo Migaldi points out a CounterPunch piece from a few years back that utterly belies the assertion that the citizenry needs guns to protect itself from a tyrannical gov’t. Author David Swanson writes:

There is no correlation between personal liberties in a nation and its gun ownership. Campaigns of resistance to tyranny are more likely to succeed, and that success is more likely to be lasting when those campaigns are nonviolent.

And by nonviolent, Swanson means w/o shootin’ irons. Swanson cites the revolts in Serbia and Egypt that toppled rulers without shots being fired. He reminds us that the East Timorians attempted rebellion for years by armed means but did not succeed until they laid down their pieces.

Simple, honest citizens carrying guns flat out don’t win shooting contests against their gov’t overlords. It didn’t happen in the New World English colonies. It didn’t happen in the “War of Northern Aggression” (where the rebels considered the Union an oppressive force). It didn’t happen in Tsarist Russia. It didn’t happen in Cuba. It didn’t happen in Egypt. It didn’t happen anywhere. Any nation where a rebellion occurred successfully, it was either another country or group of countries who came to the aid of the rebels (the French, for instance, in the American Colonies) or the tyrants were simply replaced by an equally bloodthirsty gang of bullies (the Stalinists or the Castro bunch).

Mass street movements endorsed by pretty much all segments of society save the power elite are the only successful revolutionary movements that work. And by work I mean kick out the despotic bastards and replace them with more reasonable bosses. Think Vaclav Havel’s Velvet Revolution. Think Ghandi’s Swaraj.

The government — any government — will be able to outgun you. Thinking you can hold the gov’t off with sidearms and long guns is fairy tale thinking. Now, if the citizenry were able to amass billions of dollars’ worth of armored vehicles, artillery, ballistic missiles, and weapons of mass destruction, maybe there’d be a case for a fair fight. But John Wayne or John Rambo riding in on a horse to save the republic from malevolent bureaucrats is a conceit that works only in movies. Childish movies, I may add.

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Pick The Winner

The right to bear arms in order to protect against tyranny is a canard cooked up by lobbyists and pimps for gun manufacturers to ensure no one will ever impede their cash flow. So far it’s a strategy that works — at least in this holy land.

Home For The Holidays

The exodus of Indiana University students from our fair megalopolis will be complete after today. We’ll be able to listen to the birds chirp w/o the interfering din of kids using the term like every other word. We’ll walk our fair streets safe in the knowledge that some tinted-glass monster SUV won’t come careening around the corner to flatten us. Christmas break is the most wonderful time of the year. Well, that and spring and summer breaks.

By the time the students return next month, there’ll be changes at The Pencil’s new back office, Hopscotch Coffee. (BTW: Nothing against Bob and Kari Costello’s Soma Coffee House which served admirably as field HQ for this mighty communications colossus from 2009 to this past summer but it was time for a change of scenery.) Jane Kupersmith’s and Jeff Grant’s year-plus-old caffeine station on the B-Line Trail at Dodds St. has been doing such land-office biz since opening its doors that they’ve been forced to take over the storefront next door. Workers are pounding and sawing on the other side of the wall where I sit and type even now (thanks for the headache, boys!) Kupersmith showed me her construction calendar this AM and it looks as though work’ll be finished by Friday, January 8th. Meanwhile, customers will be able to gas up and pound on their keyboards in the original space even as those workers break through the north wall of the place the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Sweet News

Speaking of hot entrepreneurs, how about that Joni McGary and her Lucky Guy Bakery?

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Better Living Through Chocolate

While I was away from these precincts finishing up the Charlotte Zietlow book, Joni was busy setting up a brownie empire stretching from here to Indy. Pretty much every fashionable food joint and shop in our town is carrying Joni’s goods. She’s been putting mileage on her car peddling her wares in the big city as well as smaller burghs surrounding B-town as well.

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Walnut Brownies Ready For Packaging

I thoroughly endorse Joni’s brownies, even if my buzz-kill doctor insists I cut down on my intake of sugary substances. What do doctors know anyhow?