Category Archives: US Army

Hot Air On The Bus

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Bloomington’s very own far flung correspondent and English teacher deluxe, Elizabeth Sweeney, reminded our small part of the world yesterday that December 1st is the anniversary of Rosa Parks sitting in the front of a Montgomery, Alabama bus and refusing to give up her seat for a white person.

Parks

Parks Being Booked

Imagine that! It was a revolutionary act. People could have been killed for doing such things back in 1955.

We all know the story of Parks, the ensuing bus boycott, and the emergence of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy as civil rights leaders. But did you know that another great trailblazer did pretty much the same thing more than a decade before Parks’ seminal stand?

Jackie Robinson — yep, the baseball player who integrated the Major Leagues in 1947 — was arrested and charged in 1944 while he was a lieutenant in the US Army with the 761st “Black Panthers” Tank Battalion at Camp Hood, Texas. He got on a bus on a July day that year and took a seat near the front. The driver told him he was to go to the back of the bus. Robinson — a hardhead if there ever was one — told the driver to mind his own business. The two argued until the bus came to Robinson’s stop, at which point a bus company official had arrived, just in time to call Robinson a “nigger.”

Robinson

Jack Roosevelt Robinson

The argument continued at full blast, drawing a crowd of onlookers. MPs arrived and asked Robinson to come in for questioning. Before they were able to leave, another MP dashed up and asked, loudly, if the first MPs had collared “the nigger lieutenant.”

At this point, Robinson, just as loudly, announced the he’d “break in two” the next guy who called him a nigger.

When the MPs and Robinson finally did arrive at headquarters to sort out the affair, investigators dropped more racial pejoratives. Their overall tone indicated to Robinson that he wasn’t about to get a fair shake so he simply walked out.

Well, the investigators found that kind of uppity-ness unbearable so they recommended Robinson be brought before a court martial. Robinson’s battalion commander refused to press charges so the Army immediately transferred him to another unit. His new commander happily wrote up the court martial, charging Robinson with, among other things, insubordination and being drunk. Funny thing was Robinson did not drink, but silly things like the truth have rarely concerned racists.

Robinson was confined to quarters until his trial which took place the next month before an all-white panel of judges. In the meantime, Robinson wrote a letter complaining of his treatment to the War Department and notified the NAACP and black newspapers about his predicament.

Fortunately for him, the Army at the time was slowly but surely becoming more cognizant of civil rights for its black members. In fact, the Army had outlawed segregation on its buses long before the original incident, making the driver’s accusation against Robinson a red herring. Still, there was enough vestigial racism in the military that the trumped up charges could be prosecuted. In any case, the judges acquitted him.

Court Martial Verdict

All’s well that ends well, sure, but being subjected to the court martial certainly was the very definition of harassment and persecution. The Army would be desegregated fully by presidential order in 1948. But, to be sure, the state of race relations around the nation would be a source of legal upheaval, murder, and rioting for decades to come.

Yes, things are better now. But a pessimist might point out that although the public usage of terms like nigger is frowned upon now, racists have devised clever codes to say, essentially, the same thing. Otherwise, why would anyone call the first dark-skinned President of the United States, as proud a practicing capitalist as can be found in 50 states, a socialist? And why would some wags to this day doubt that he is a “real American”?

We’ve come a long way. Yet we have a long way to go.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.” — Omar Bradley

BOOM!

WFIU reports that the US Army is staging a two-week nuclear explosion response simulation through mid-August right here in South Central Indiana.

Some 10,000 soldiers and civilian responders are play-acting what they’ll do in the event that some mad brown people drop a nuke on, say, Bloomington or even Indy.

The big burlesque is happening at the Muscatatuck Urban training Center, about 75 miles east-southeast of Bloomington.

Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (Click to enlarge)

MUTC covers a thousand acres and has more than a hundred training buildings including structures up to seven stories tall as well as good old split-level suburban type homes.

Now, I mention mad brown people because that’s who we’re really afraid is going to hurl the big one at us, no?

Didn’t George W. Bush whisper the words mushroom cloud and Saddam Hussein into our ears back in 2002 and 2003 to convince us to go along with him and his cronies on their war party? How much has changed regarding how we look at Arabs and Muslims since then?

When Michele Bachmann can get media mileage and a sharp increase in campaign donations out of linking one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aides with al Qaeda even now, we haven’t moved an inch off that witless, brainless dime in ten years.

Anyway, MUTC is located, appropriately enough, on the former site of the Indiana Farm Colony for Feeble Minded Youth. Adding to the irony of it all, the IFCFMY is where several thousand forced sterilizations took place after Indiana became the first state in the union to allow that eugenic practice.

I wonder if the people who ran IFCFMY instructed the kids to duck and cover back in the ’50s.

And how feeble-minded do we have to be to figure we’ll survive a nuclear blast if only we have enough ambulances and EMTs?

WHAT’S THE ANTIDOTE FOR ANTONIN?

I’ve been taking my time reading Rick Perlstein’s fab book, “Nixonland,” this summer.

Perlstein posits that Dick Nixon was the first television era president to give voice to the bleatings and ramblings of the gleefully uneducated in this holy land.

Rick Perlstein

Nixon’s was truly a grass roots campaign in 1968. He portrayed college-educated people as snobbish, superior, sex- and drug-crazed lunatics who were going to ram blacks, Jews, peace, welfare, and even a little bit of the Communist Manifesto down good people’s throats. Nixon was savvy enough to realize most Americans had a hard enough time getting out of high school.

He rode a wave of self-pity and manufactured paranoia into the White House.

The divisions Nixon capitalized on in the United States at the time make today’s Tea Party/Occupy Wall Street tête-à-tête look like a pillow fight.

Perlstein suggests that this nation avoided an actual second civil war by a hair’s width. Bombings, murders, assassinations, mob actions, and the army on American streets were as common from 1965 through 1973 as texting while driving is today.

Watts, August 1965

Anyway, during Nixon’s early years in the White House, PBS was coming into its own as a news operation to be reckoned with, especially since it didn’t have to answer to advertisers. PBS started nosing into some of the more unsavory aspects of the Nixon administration. The President directed the general counsel for the Office of Telecommunications Policy to draw up a plan to defang PBS.

That general counsel wrote memos spelling out precisely how Nixon could bring PBS to heel. He wrote: “The best possibility for White House influence is through Presidential appointees to the Board of Directors.”

Once Nixon had stacked the board with his boys, they could then work on local PBS stations to play ball with the White House through the granting of moneys that were originally meant to go to the national network. The reason? The national network was top heavy with people from “the liberal Establishment of the Northeast.”

In other words, college-educated men. Bad guys who must be battled.

The author of that strategy was a fellow named Antonin Scalia, now the longest serving member of the US Supreme Court.

Antonin Scalia: Warrior Against Liberals

Yeah, there was a revolution in the ’60s. Only the guys in power staged it — and won it.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present and CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

Bloomington High School NorthYard sale to benefit the Color Guard; 7am-noon

City Hall, Showers Plaza — Farmers Market; 8am-1pm

Monroe County FairgroundsDay 8, 2012 Monroe County Fair, Veterans Program; 2pm — Dead Giveaway; 5pm — Demolition Derby; 7pm; Noon to 11pm

◗ IU Art MuseumTour: Exploring German Expressionism with docent Yelena Polyanskaya; 2pm

◗ IU Art MuseumTalk: Focus on Hockney with curator Nan Brewer; 2:15pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “David Hockney: The Bigger Picture”; 3pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Kumaré: The True Story of a False Prophet; 7pm

Bloomington Playwrights ProjectOriginal musical, “Dreams & Nightmares”; 7pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Jeb Brester; 7-9pm

Buskirk-Chumley Theater — “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; 7:30pm

Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Cari Ray, The Not Too Bad Bluegrass Band;  7:30pm

◗ IU Woodburn Hall TheaterRyder Film Series: “Polisse”; 8pm

Cafe DjangoDave Gulyas & Dave Bruker; 8pm

The Comedy AtticCostaki Economopolous; 8 & 10:30pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Oslo: August 31”; 8:30pm

The BishopJason Wilber, e.a. strother; 8:30pm

The BluebirdPam Thrash Retro; 9pm

Max’s PlaceLexi Minich and the Strangers; 9pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Bonz; 9:30pm

Max’s PlaceOtto Mobile; 10:30pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; opens Friday, August 3rd, through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

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

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Coming — Media Life; August 24th through September 15th
  • Coming — Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture; August 24th through September 15th

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

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

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

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

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.” — Allen Ginsberg

IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD NATION

Writer John Cassidy posts ten reasons why America is crazy in the July 24th New Yorker blog.

Here are a few of his reasons:

  • Gun laws and gun deaths are unconnected
  • God created America and gave it a special purpose
  • Cheap energy, gasoline especially, is our birthright

House Of Worship

These are things many, many citizens of this holy land accept as, well, gospel. “[T]he popular sentiment underlying these statements is so strong that politicians defy it at their peril,” he writes.

Crazy? You decide.

LOVE STORY

Only paramedics, firefighters, and cops reacted faster to the Aurora, Colorado, Shooting Rampage than the gun fanatics who shrieked and howled that even the slightest jigger to the nation’s firearms laws would be a dastardly infringement on their sacred rights.

We don’t even argue much anymore about whether or not NRA members and their fellow travelers have the god-given right to lull themselves to sleep at night holding their loved ones close — and I’m not referring to their spouses or lovers. The gun control debate was settled and signed-off ages ago.

The Winner!

Those folks who are sexually aroused by guns are staunch defenders of an absolutist read of the Second Amendment have pounded their chests for the last six days and declared the gun to be an honest citizen’s only possible defense against a tyrannical government.

I had an online exchange with one such soul last night:

Gun Rights Defender: “The reason I believe we should be able to have guns is simply because the armed services and the police have them and they work for the rulers not the people.”

Me: “The ‘rulers’ never fear guns in the hands of the citizenry because they (the ‘rulers’) will always be able to outgun them.”

The defender’s conceit holds that a bunch of old men in Lawrence County who own hunting rifles will stand as a robust defense against the jack-booted thugs who want to impose the unimaginable horror of health care reform on us.

I, on the other hand, happen to know the US Army issues to its soldiers, among other kill-toys, M16 rifles, M4 carbines, 7.62x51mm FN SCAR assault rifles, M203 grenade launchers, Mossberg 590 shotguns, M107 Long Range Sniper Rifles, and — as sidearms — 9mm M9 pistols. Oh, and the soldiers are trained to kill people with these things.

Groups of soldiers regularly practice firing M2 heavy machine guns, MK19 grenade machine guns, a variety of mortars (the smallest of which launches a 60mm shell), several types of towed howitzers, the FIM-92 Stinger shoulder-launched heat-seeking anti-aircraft missile, and the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank guided missile.

How well do you think your Uncle Wayne and his fishing buddies would fare in a showdown with a battalion of 18-24 year-olds lugging hardware like that around?

Oh Yeah, Uncle Wayne’ll Do Just Fine Against These Guys

History teaches us corrupt, despotic governments usually fall in a whimper. No shots were fired, for instance, to bring down the “Evil Empire” of the Soviet Union. Here’s another anecdotal example: The only regime still standing against the Arab Spring revolts is the one — Syria — that insurgents took up arms against.

The gun romeos need to come up with a better rationalization for their defense of the madness.

GHOUL JUSTICE

Actor Wm. Bullion points out that one of the survivors of the Aurora, Colorado, Shooting Rampage not only will sue the parent company of the movie theater in which the incident occurred but has hired a publicist.

Wm. (Billy) Bullion

One of my legal sources informs me it’s unlikely the theater would be found liable for the shootings but would probably settle for a tidy sum with any of the ghouls (my characterization) who’d throw court papers its way.

Bullion quotes Cassandra Williams of W.E.T. PR: “We’re going to make sure whoever is accountable is going to take responsibility for this tragedy.”

Bullion observes: “”Yes, the FAMILY’S PUBLICIST is holding the movie theater ACCOUNTABLE.” (His caps.)

The source story reveals that the survivor’s attorney is also considering suing Warner Brothers for releasing violent movies and any of James Holmes’ doctors for allowing the suspect to walk the streets.

You have to give this survivor credit: Apparently he can find the silver lining in any dark cloud.

Payout For a Bullet Hole

THERE’S A MAN WITH A GUN OVER THERE

A redux posting: Here’s Buffalo Springfield (with the shockingly young Stephen Stills and Neil Young) performing “For What It’s Worth” on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967.

BTW: Tommy Smothers was one of the unheralded coolest guys of the ’60s. Check out David Bianculli’s book, “Dangerously Funny.”

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

I Love Charts, From The Sunlight Foundation

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

Present and Correct(New Listing) Fun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Illustration By Maneco, From Eat Sleep Draw

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: Pipe organ faculty recital; 1pm

Bear’s PlaceThe Jeremy Allen Quartet; 5:30pmpm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Laura Connallon; 6-8:30pm

◗ IU Ernie Pyle HallJournalism seminar on Public Access and Government Transparency; 6pm

Third Street ParkOutdoor concert, Jenn Christy Band; 6:30pm

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

The Player’s PubOpen mic hosted by Martina Samm; 7:30pm

Serendipity Martini BarTeam trivia; 8:30pm

The BluebirdThree Story Hill; 9pm

The BishopYoung Magic, Quilt, Floorboard; 9:30pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

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

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

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

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits: Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

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

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

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

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

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

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