Category Archives: Wealth & Privilege

Hot Air: The Soul(less) Train

Help Me

Questions: Am I naive? Am I a fool? Am I whistling in the dark?

Deep down inside, I’m certain it’s impossible for Donald Trump to become president of this holy land. Sure, this nation is chock-full of dopes, rubes, suckers, nitwits, halfwits and no-wits, mouth-breathers, the addle-pated, sausage-eatin’, lite-beer-drinking, jelly bean-addicted, ball-scratching, muffin-top exposing couch monkeys who don’t believe a thing in this cosmos exists unless they see it on TV, but are there enough of them to elect America’s Shart?

Are there some 60 to 70 million such evolutionary failures to elevate Donald Trump into the Oval Office?

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How Many?

I like to think not.

But this feeling is not based on any scientific polling data. It’s mainly faith that a species that can destroy itself, has not yet because there’s something within it stronger, smarter, more sane than everyday observation might indicate. Stronger, smarter, and saner enough not to turn this operation over to Trump.

If Donald Trump is elected president, this nation as a democracy is finished. Democracy itself will have proven to be as moribund a system as Soviet communism a quarter of a century ago. When the body politic can gather behind a grifting, insulting, know-nothing reality TV star and raise him to the position as the most powerful man on the planet, well then, democracy is a failure. And good riddance.

But I don’t want to believe any of that can happen. Can it?

Please tell me no.

Very Good, Sir

So, Trump’s former butler, who’s now the in-house historian at the Trump villa Mar-a-Lago, takes to social media to recommend that Barack Obama be rubbed out in some way, shape, or form. Either our Army should pump him full of lead or executioners unspecified should hang him or he should be iced by any means necessary. One of the main reasons Obama should be removed from the rolls of the living, says this fellow, Anthony Senecal, is the “corruption” the current president has overseen.

Which is ironic considering what I wrote yesterday — that the Obama admin. has been historically clean, in terms of simple graft, personal gain, and monetary scandal. The “corruption” Senecal refers to, I imagine, is Obama’s putative secret identity as a Muslim Manchurian Candidate. Senecal writes:

I cannot stand the bastard. I don’t believe he’s an American citizen. I think he’s a fraudulent piece of crap that was brought in by the Democrats.

There you have it: Obama was brought in by the Democrats. What in the hell ever that means.

But let’s not be distracted by the depths of this great thinker’s rage and hatred. Let’s keep in mind that Donald Goddamned Trump had — and presumably still has — a freaking butler!

Does he have footmen as well. Groomsmen? Does a chambermaid change his bed linens? Does he dump his excreta out window from its ceramic receptacle every morning upon awakening?

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A butler, for chrissakes.

This whole Trump phenomenon gets more deranged every damned day.


Men running for president used to participate in the age-old tradition of posing in Indian headdress with members of one Native American group or another. I suppose they don’t do it anymore because, well, it’s tacky as all hell and prob. insulting, considering only a very few tribes wore those stereotypical big headdresses. It’s the whole sneaky Jap, ugly Russian woman, murderous Arab, shiftless Negro thing. Y’know, the Injuns wore feathers and always were on the warpath, right?

So, I went looking for pix of prezes who donned the feathers. Funny thing is, I came across one photo of Barack Obama doing it in the Oval Office. I dunno. It looked awfully PhotoShop-py to me. I can’t imagine BHO engaging in such a thing. Ergo, I’m not posting that photo. Look for it yourself if you’re interested.

Anyway, here you go:

Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge

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Franklin Roosevelt

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Dwight Eisenhower

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Richard Nixon

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Jimmy Carter (With Iron Eyes Cody)

As an added bonus, here’s Elvis in a war bonnet.

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Guess which former US Senator from Indiana, former vice president, and scion of a wealthy newspaper publishing family made the rounds yesterday of the morning talk shows.

Yep, this guy:

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James Danforth “Dan” Quayle

And guess who he loves for president this year.

Nah, don’t. Why ruin your day?

May 13th Birthdays

Daphne du MaurierRomantic period novelist whose stories often left readers hanging; she eschewed neat tie-ups and satisfying endings. Her short story, “The Birds,” was adapted by screenwriter Evan Hunter for the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. Hunter and Hitchcock, as Hollywood types are driven to do, changed much of the original story, stressing the eponymous avians as symbols for the dangerous, frightening sexuality lead character Melanie Daniels introduces to the town of Bodega Bay, California. BTW: Hitchcock apparently was inspired to make the film after the California town of Capitola was overrun with crazed and dying seabirds who suffered shellfish poisoning in 1961.

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Joe Louis — “The Brown Bomber,” Louis was the world’s heavyweight boxing champ in the late 1930s and throughout most of the ’40s. He’s credited with being the first black man to become a national hero in the US, overturning the previously-held attitude that black contenders were villains who were robbing white men of their deserved laurels.

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Louis (R) With Muhammad Ali

Jim Jones — Cult leader who somehow convinced nearly a thousand people to commit mass suicide in the jungles of Guyana in 1978 after members of the group had assassinated Leo Ryan and others when the congressman and his party visited the cult’s camp on a fact-finding mission.


Harvey Keitel — Member of the stable of actors who perfected the New York amoral tough guy image, especially in films by Martin Scorsese. As a young man, he studied under Lee Strasburg at the Actors Studio. He was originally cast as Captain Willard in Francis Ford Coppolla’s Apocalypse Now but was replaced after a week of shooting by Martin Sheen because the director was dissatisfied with his portrayal.

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Keitel (L) With Robert De Niro In “Taxi Driver”

Armistead Maupin — Author of the Tales of the City novels about gay life in San Francisco. Ironically, early in his career Maupin worked in the newsroom of a TV station run by notorious conservative and future US Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina). Maupin admits to being conservative and even segregationist, like Helms, at the time. Maupin later disavowed any philosophical or moral connection with Helms.

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Manning Marable — Pulitzer Prize winner in history for his biography Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Marable was a Columbia University professor who also wrote biographies of W.E.B. du Bois and Medgar Evers, among other scholarly works dealing with race in America.

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Stevie Wonder — Born Stevland Hardaway Judkins and who originally performed under the name “Little Stevie,” he was inked to a recording contract with Motown’s Tamla Records when he was only 11 years old. Wonder’s a recognized genius but occasionally slips into treacle when he collaborates with the likes of Paul McCartney and Celine Dion.

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Allison Goldfrapp — Leader of the duo Goldfrapp (her stage partner, Will Gregory, plays the synthesizer), she sang for groups in the ambient techno and trip reggae genres before striking out on her own. Her releases were praised by critics but didn’t sell well until she moved more into the dance genre. Among her many inspirational influences are 1970’s Polish disco.

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On this day in 2013 Dr. Joyce Brothers died. A psychologist, she was the first person to host a TV show featuring relationship advice. She gained fame as the first woman to win the top prize on the $64,000 Question game show, cleaning up in the boxing category. She went on to serve as a commentator during the national TV broadcast of a Sugar Ray Robinson bout before her turn as a relationship expert. She said of herself once: “I invented media psychology. I was the first. The founding mother.” She made a fortune simply by being an extraordinarily smart woman.

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Hot Air: Good Sense Worth 2 Cents

Trifling Trans

Have you heard the news? Caitlyn Jenner’s gonna pose fairly nudely on the cover of Sports Illustrated this summer around the 40th anniversary of her gold medal turn in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.


Jenner, Long Ago And Far Away

Don’t hate me but I have to confess — I don’t give a holy shit about Jenner’s gender choice. I’m long past the point of noodling about trans people. I accept whatever form of gender display they choose. I’m even related to a trans person and I love that person (I won’t use a gender pronoun because I don’t want to even hint who that person might be).

Now some may say Jenner’s excruciatingly public transformation is important because too many dopes in this holy land are scared little rabbits when it comes to someone making or having made the big change. Fair enough, but knowing a relative or a co-worker or a next door neighbor who’s experienced the ordeal of redefining him- or herself to the public seems a much more effective way of bringing those folks into the mainstream, which is where they belong.

Caitlyn Jenner and that whole Kardashian mob serve only themselves and not some higher moral precept like the acceptance of those who are different.


Check out this piece on cartoonist Al Jaffee of Mad magazine. The old bird just turned 95 y.o. and is still scribbling pix for the beloved satire mag. He refuses to retire, saying, “They’re going to have to suffer the ignominy of firing a 95-year-old man.”

Don’t you just love feistiness, especially in a person most of whose contemporaries have been populating graveyards for years and years? BTW: He’s in no danger of being canned.

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Anyway, Mad magazine was my fave before I even hit my teens. It became a must-get after my mother, having discovered a couple of issues in my bedroom, warned me never to bring the mags to school and, moreover, not to even talk about them with my friends. She fell back on the nebulous they for authority. “They say this stuff is communist,” she said. “You can get in trouble if they (presumably my teachers, the police and/or, perhaps, the FBI) catch you with these.”

From that moment onward, I bought and hoarded every issue that came out.

Back to Jaffee, he invented the fold-in, the back cover cartoon feature wherein you folded it over at specified arrows to create a second ironic and always uproarious cartoon. The very first one featured Elizabeth Taylor kissing Richard Burton — this just as she was starting up her torrid affair with him — while her current husband, Eddie Fisher, was being trampled by the celebrity-obsessed crowd. You folded the panel in and — voila! — there was Liz smooching some other, anonymous handsome swain in the crowd with the caption, “The Next One!”

The next one, in terms of the fold-ins, featured Richard Nixon.

Mad always came down hard and funny on celebs and pols. Advertisements, big corporations, various blowhards, and sundry moralists, as well. It continues publishing to this day, both in hard copy and online, which makes me happy.

Good Luck

Malcolm Gladwell made a big splash with his 2008 book, Outliers, the gist of which was highly successful people like Bill Gates benefitted as much from the times they were born and where they were raised as from their brilliance, hard work and perseverance.

Now comes author Robert H. Frank with his new book, Success and Luck, connecting much of the myth-making about successful folk to the widening divides between conservatives and liberals and the haves and have-nots. Conservatives, Frank argues — as do I, love to buy into the fairy tale that the wealthy and successful got that way because they are special souls while the poor are poor because they aspire only to stand on the street corner smoking cigarettes and drinking out of bottles in brown paper bags.

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Get A Job, Ya Bum!

Believe me, I’ve had countless shouty debates in barrooms w/ people who’ve made just those assertions.

Frank also tells us his ideas about how policy changes might be able to even the playing field for poor sap kids who grow up, say, in Appalachia or East LA and are just as innately brilliant, hard working, and perseverant as guys like Gates.

May 7th Birthdays

David Hume — Scottish philosopher who championed empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism. He argued in  A Treatise on Human Nature that we’re not so rational but more reactive and hard-wired from birth to do what we do.


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky — Russian composer, one of the few classical greats who are known to a great number of people. He studied more Western forms and themes of music and included some of them them in his repertoire even though his output is considered definitive of the Russian character.

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Gary Cooper — One of the greatest underplaying film actors of the 20th Century.

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Eva Perón — Even though she’d been pals with Spain’s fascist dictator, Francisco Franco, “Evita” has been worshipped for some three-quarters of a century by Argentines for her and her husband Juan Perón’s liberal reign as the South American country’s first couple. She died young, contributing to her mythical status à la JFK.

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Anne BaxterEve.


Thelma Houston — Late-disco-era singer whose hit, “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” became an anthem during the days of big-city, airplane-hangar-sized gay dance bars.

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Amy Heckerling — One of the still-too-few female movie directors, gave us Fast Times at Richmont High and Clueless.


Thomas Piketty — Economist and author whose hugely best-selling 2013 book, Capital in the 21st Century, sits unread on millions of coffee tables around the world.

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Hot Air

Hurt Us, Please!

Who’s the worst state governor in America? Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, whose claims to fame are his gleeful union-busting and obeisant coat-holding for the Koch Boys? Billionaire Bruce Rauner, who virtually purchased the guv’s mansion, office, and…, hell, the whole of Illinois? Can either ever be a fraction as bad as half-term slacker/grifter Sarah Palin?

At least her damage was limited to a truncated 31-month sorta term. She did do one thing spectacularly well and beneficial to the people of her state: She quit.

So Walker and Rauner duke it out in contiguous states for the heavyweight title of rotten. Except a third contender might well wrest the belt from the two. He is Sam Brownback of Kansas.


Sam Brownback

Here’s his mortal sin: He claims to have cut Kansas taxes. Actually, he did; only for the wealthy — those who make more than half a million a year. Acc’d’g to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Public Policy, under Brownback’s new tax schedule, unfortunates making less than $23,000 a year (read: the working poor) will pay $197 more a year in state taxes. A couple of c-notes is real dough to someone making $442 a week at best. It’s like Bruce Rauner (2013 income: $67,780,000) having to fork over an extra $5,227,000 to the state, disregarding the fact that even if he had to, Rauner still would have tens and tens and tens of millions of bucks to maintain his lifestyle of Croesus.

That poor sap making $442 bucks a week would have to forgo (choose one or more):

  • Paying the electric bill
  • Paying the gas bill
  • Paying the cable/broadband bill
  • Getting new tires for the car
  • Going to the doctor for that troublesome mole
  • Beef
  • A new pair of shoes, a pair of trousers, a shirt, and six pairs of socks

The list can go on.

And the sick-as-hell aspect of this Kansas mess? A majority of people making $23,000 or less in that state actually voted for the dirty bastard who’s fleecing them today.

They got what they deserve.

The What & The Whys

Prof. Rich Lloyd of Vanderbilt University asks a compelling triad of Q.’s about former Spokane NAACP head Rachel Dolezal:

  • What prompted her estranged parents to publicly out her?
  • Why now?
  • And why is no one questioning this?

Count me in: I wanna know, too.

As for the corporate media, they’re loving this story because they can spin it off in a bazillion different directions, all predicated on this holy land’s singular historical malignant tumor: Blacks ain’t Whites and vice versa.

Jim Crow

As usual, the professional wits and wags are way off on this one. The Dolezal affair has nothing in the world to do with the state of race relations in America. It has only to do with her demonstrable craziness that, quite frankly, borders on the criminal.

As Sigmund Freud never said, Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.


Hot Air

The Rich: How They Get That Way

Kids, you have to read this smart — and smart-assed — work of art by a performance artist named Revolva (h/t to B-town’s hoop queen Paula Chambers for pointing it out.) Revolva has made tsunami-high waves on the interwebs for busting the heretofore beloved Oprah Winfrey’s chops.


Revolva & Friend

See, the world’s most caring, powerful, brilliant, spiritual, all-knowing woman was throwing a great big narcissists ball in San Jose, CA this past weekend, charging up to a grand a ducat, and had asked Revolva to perform for free at it.

The SJ event was part of what the Oprah Outfit calls The Life You Want Weekend. It featured scads of self-help snake-oil peddlers, phony-baloney mystics, and shrewd entrepreneurs telling huge arenas of goggle-eyed woman how they control everything that happens to themselves and how they can attract good things by thinking sweet thoughts. The audience was cooed at and cosseted by the likes of bullshit artist Deepak Chopra and literary self-exalter Elizabeth Gilbert. For this, I repeat, many of the attendees  shelled out a thou a ticket.

Kari Revolva writes in an open letter to Oprah (all sic):

The life I WANT does not involve mega tours netting unfathomable amounts of real, tangible money, while local artists are coached to accept all or most of their payment in the least stable form of currency: exposure. If the “trailblazing” I do today is being an upstream voice, then I’ll at least make a bold statement about the life I DO want:

I want a life in which people are not asked to work for free — by people who can totally afford to pay.

Kari Revolva is an Oakland, California-based comedian/actor/dancer/writer/hoop artist who apparently does circus-ey things with the Hula Hoop and throws in some fire while she’s at it. She got a call from one of Oprah’s Harpo Studios producers asking her to work an outside stage at the last stop on the Big O Life You Want tour. She was shocked when she was told there’d be no pay. Not only that, she’d have to pay her own way from one end of San Francisco Bay to the other. Oh, and whatever else she had planned for that particular day that might have made her a dollar or two would be out of the question as she raced to donate her services to Oprah’s money-printing machine.


Revolva’s Math

The Life You Want Weekend last month was skewered in a New York Times style section piece written by Jennifer Conlin.

Revolva continues:

In one day, your arena tour (capacity around 18,000, each ticket $99 to $999) is raking in more money than most people will make in a year. In ten years. In their entire lives. And yet, your side stage, featuring local acts, is paying in that old tap-dancing, phantom promise of “exposure.” As I was choking on my own tongue (stroke!), your producer also mentioned there was the added bonus of a ticket to the event. Unfortunately, her call coming just four days before your San Jose stop, I didn’t have the whole weekend free. I also texted my landlord, and it turns out he does not accept rent payment in Oprah Winfrey tickets. Gah!

I’ve long gagged over the genuflecting America did before Oprah, whose daily TV love fest (she retired from her show in 2011) regularly featured junk science, quack medicine, self-help bushwa, and the likes of fraudster Mehmet Oz. Today her magazine (which, by her own order, displays her sacred mug on every cover) features a column written by Herself entitled “What I Know for Sure,” which sounds just a tad presumptuous, no?

The sold-out arenas at which O put on her Weekends prove she’s still a huge draw. As Malcolm Muggeridge once observed:

One of the peculiar sins of the 20th Century which we’ve developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.

Bad Thoughts

Now this might sound macabre, ghoulish, and even tinfoil-hat-ish but the question just occurred to me: Who’s going to get shot at first, Elizabeth Warren or Pope Francis?


Warren & Bergoglio

[E. Warren photo by Tim Pierce; for more visit Tim’s flickr page.]

I also include in the realm of possibilities food poisoning, trumped-up sex scandal, or — gulp! — plane crash.

Go ahead, laugh at me. I hope I’m wrong as wrong can be. I hope to hell I’m making an ass out of myself.

This mad, mad, mad, mad world lets troublemakers rock the boat — but only to a point. I’m guessing Warren and the Pope long ago went way past that point.

Hot Air

Huston, You Were A Problem

I understand a fellow named Tom Huston spoke at Indiana University last week. Huston, the Herald Times (paywall) informs us, was an IU student back in the early 1960s. He became a 1960s campus activist and later went on to become a White House advisor.

Some reformed hippie, you’re probably thinking. Someone like Tom Hayden, say, or even on a grander level, John Kerry.

You’d be wrong.

Any student of the Nixon Administration’s secret, anti-democratic machinations knows the name Tom Charles Huston. He was recruited by the Nixon mobsters after he’d set up the Young Americans for Freedom chapter here at IU and had had established a career for himself as a provocateur, dirty-tricks player, and pathological anti-communist.

After Huston settled in at the White House, he became known among many administration staffers as “Secret Agent X-5,” a mocking reference to his purported obsession with cloak and dagger stuff. In fact, he penned the notorious “Huston Plan,” a scheme that would allow Nixon et al to spook the citizens of this holy land so that he and his cronies could carry out their doomed Vietnam War in peace, among other vital foreign policy objectives and pastimes.

Spy vs. Spy


The United States in 1970, Nixon and Huston believed, was under assault by wealth redistributionists, radical black nationalists, and anti-war terrorists. Mind you, many among those groups indeed were wild-eyed loons but the Nixon crowd’s panic caused them to shiver over the specter of, in Mike Royko‘s colorful characterization, little old ladies in tennis shoes who met in church basements to pray for peace. Something had to be done to stem the breakdown of our beloved society. Before you’d know it, strapping young black bucks would be co-habitating with Iowans’ daughters, the women of Wyoming would be forced to work in hard core porn films, the sons of New Jersey-ites would be pouring LSD over their breakfast flakes, and the Soviets would be chuckling aboard their submarines as they waited off the coast of the the Carolinas for their orders to invade our soft, hedonistic land.

Nixon that spring called for a meeting of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the National Security Agency head, the CIA director, a high-level representative of the Army, and Huston to discuss what could be done. The various attendees were directed by the president to coordinate their efforts against civil rights activists and anti-war protesters. Huston was charged with crafting a set of marching orders for the group.

Here are a few strategic and tactical recommendations Tom Huston called for:

  • Increased use of phone taps
  • Increased use of planted listening devices
  • Break-ins to offices of targeted organizations and individuals
  • Mail intercepts
  • Using underaged college students as paid informants
  • Intercepting international communications of American citizens
  • The creation of mass detention camps in isolated areas of the country for protesters

In other words, Tom Charles Huston would have made Stasi and the KGB proud.

Huston’s recommendations were part and parcel of Nixon’s paranoiac reign which included plans to firebomb the Brookings Institute, the break-ins at the Watergate office complex, an elaborate spying operation on the Democratic Party, G. Gordon Liddy’s “Gemstone” plan to kidnap anti-war protesters and use prostitutes in an effort to catch Democratic officials in compromising positions, hush money paid out to Watergate break-in defendants, destroying evidence, ordering the FBI and CIA to stand down in their investigations into administration wrongdoing, and other delights.

Much of Huston’s plan scared the bejesus even out of J. Edgar Hoover, who was not known as the nation’s foremost champion of civil liberties. Some parts of Huston’s plan were scrapped but much was implemented.

Huston never went to jail for his sins, although I can’t think of a better place for him. Since the Nixon downfall, he has become a noted international corporate real estate attorney, now semi-retired from the the Barnes & Thornburg law offices in Indianapolis.

Yesterday, he told IU students how swell Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan were and how today’s political climate was born of the modern conservative movement’s awakening in the mid-’60s.

Ick. I think I need to go outside, breathe some fresh air and gaze at the sunny, blue sky in order to purge myself of such toxins.

Higher Ed

The Loved One and I attended a nice little dinner party last night, Several of the guests were academics from IUPUI. The dons were old vets of the pedagogy rackets and, as such, have seen big changes in the student body lo these many years.

For instance, one of the profs, a hard scientist we’ll call Jack, told us the tale of an Indianapolis car dealer he knew who said that some of the Chinese students coming to town for a college education have more pocket money than can be found in a small town’s bank vault. One newly arrived student, the dealer related, walked into the dealership one day and fished out a mighty wad of cash from her purse. She proceeded to lay out a hundred thousand USD on the dealer’s desk. “Can I buy a car with this?” she asked. No word on whether the dealer has regained consciousness.

The dealer had more. Another student bought a luxury car from him and, surprisingly, a couple of months later came in to buy another car. As if that weren’t enough, the same young man returned another couple of months later to buy a third car. The dealer learned that the young man was being given a $30,000 a month allowance by his parents. The kid confessed he wasn’t creative enough to blow thirty G’s a month so he simply decided to buy a new car every couple of months.

The other academic, a soft scientist we’ll call Adam who has also taught at Indiana University here in Bloomington, went on to describe how the campus parking lots in both places are rife with BMWs, Porsches, Lotuses, Maseratis and other chariots of the gods. The high end rides, he added, most assuredly were not owned by teachers and professors.


Student Transportation

Jack wondered what possible work that awaited such privileged young folk after graduation could possibly excite and challenge them. Adam remembered how he dreamed of one day owning a car that didn’t threaten to collapse in a heap of rusty parts in the middle of the road after he would graduate from college. And, he said, he remembered being overjoyed in those all too rare months when he’d have enough money left over to buy an album or two.

Both academics agreed that one of the prime motivators that got them through four years of slogging and cramming was the dream that their real world work would elevate them from student poverty. “What,” Jack asked, “keeps these kids going now?”

The two old birds also agreed that IUPUI and IU both are specifically marketing themselves toward the scions of the uber-rich worldwide. And they’re not alone; pretty much every U. around this holy land is lusting after kids for whom $30,000 is a monthly allowance.

There’s no dearth of such privileged princes and princesses. The fast rise of China’s economy in the last couple of decades has produced a mini-club of families richer than your average oil sheik. South Korea, too, is crawling with obscenely nouveau riche families. Those Middle East oil sheiks also are shipping their spawn off to America to book-learn how to run daddy’s biz when the time comes.

It all makes me wonder what their care packages look like.

Hot Air

An Elbow To The Face

What should a rational observer think about Cecily McMillan?

She’s the Occupy Wall Street protester who was convicted yesterday of second degree assault on a police officer during a scuffle at Zuccotti Park in NYC in March 2012. McMillan — there is no doubt — clocked the cop square in the face with her elbow as she was being run in during the disturbance. Numerous people, apparently all allies of hers, shot video of the clocking. In fact, her defense team presented one of those videos during her trial.

A trial, by the way, that lasted four weeks. Seems like an inordinate amount of time to spend on a simple slugging case but this whole incident is far from simple. McMillan has become a face of what could be a revolutionary movement. Cops, prosecutors, and public officials don’t brush such folks off lightly. Not in this holy land, nor in Russia, China, India, or Thailand.

As such, the entire arsenal of New York City’s justice system, seemingly, was aimed at her. Cops are clocked all the time in bar fights and domestic disturbances. Generally, cops take care of such transgressions in their own inimitable way. Remember the old comic strip Beetle Bailey? The Sarge used to pummel Beetle now and again, resulting in this:

Beetle Bailey

Mort Walker/King Features Syndicate

That’s what cops usually do to guys whose knuckles come uncomfortably close to their pretty faces. It’s never wise to tap, brush, shove, or otherwise cause physical impact upon the body of a man wearing a uniform. Especially if he outranks you. And on the streets, the cops always outrank you. Their guns and badges trump any Constitutional subtleties.

For her part, McMillan says the cop she clocked had grabbed her breast, causing her pain and injury. She struck him, she says, in a defensive reaction. The numerous videos don’t show the cop in question actually doing that, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did. I’ve known too many cops in my time to be burdened by any fairy tale that they all are upstanding, wholesome sweethearts.

During the trial, McMillan’s lawyers showed the jury this photo:


Note the trauma and bruising on her right breast. The prosecutor in McMillan’s trial told the jury that McMillan had injured herself after her arrest just so she could make a specious allegation against the officer.

That’s possible. Then again, that line of reasoning sounds suspiciously close to a rapist’s defense that his victim had created her story out of thin air.

And I’ve known too many prosecutors to be burdened by the fairy tale that they all are devoted to the sacred truth.

Cops and prosecutors work together all the time. They need each other in order to make cases stick. They are allies in our system of justice. It’s not unreasonable to assume they would, on occasion, attempt to coordinate stories that would protect each other from certain accusations.

That said, revolutionary and lesser protest movements attract extremists ranging from drama queens to the odd homicidal maniac. I’m on the side of the OWS gang, sure, but that doesn’t mean I’d be happy sitting down to dinner or having a beer with each and every one of them.

Even the sainted civil rights and anti-war protest movements of the 1960s and early ’70s were peopled by some number of folks who would scare the bejesus out of a mental institution warden.

It’s as likely that Cecily McMillan made up her story as it is that the cop had squished her breast. And even if he did squish her breast, does that excuse her slugging him, under the law?

OWS supporters are screaming to high heaven that this is a great miscarriage of justice. Proof, some say, that this nation is now a police state. They fail to realize that this charge and this verdict would just as likely have happened 20 years ago, 40 years ago or even a hundred years ago, given the same set of circs.

McMillan is being held without bail until her sentencing on May 19th. That’s harsh. But that’s what you get when you scare cops and prosecutors — and the men who control the nation’s wealth.

So, what can a rational observer conclude about her case? Nothing really, not just yet.

And that’s a stance very few people take.

Hot Air

Sterling Trey-dux

Talk about mixed emotions. My immediate reaction to the NBA’s lifetime exile of Donald Sterling was one of elation.

Yesterday, league commissioner Adam Silver symbolically drew his forefinger across his throat and thus the fate of the racist, reptilian owner of the LA Clippers was sealed. Goodbye, Donnie boy. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.


Silver To Sterling: Beat It

Then again, Sterling — although a loathsome warthog — was done in by being secretly tape recorded in his own home (apparently). If so, we’ve got official sanctions coming down now due to the growing culture of surveillance and for the crime of thought. I don’t like any of that one bit.

And, in the end, isn’t that life? Nothing is pure and we take what we can get even if it stinks to high heaven.

Better Than NPR

Hah! We beat the pants and skirts off the national news gang at NPR.

Yep, only this morning did NPR discover Thomas Piketty. The Pencil, in case you didn’t know, told you about the French economist and latest rage in the bookselling world, Friday.

Hmm. I wonder if NPR reporters and producers are regularly scanning The Pencil for leads. If not, they ought to.

Anyway, I insist WFIU’s Will Murphy and Annie Corrigan begin using the following tagline each morning:

The news every morning on Bloomington’s NPR station, WFIU. Second only to The Electron Pencil.

It’s only fair, no?


Murphy: Golly, I wish I Could Work For The Pencil

Real Death Sentences

We haven’t talked much about capital punishment in recent years. There’ve been far more important issues like Miley Cyrus’s tongue, Barack Obama’s birth certificate, death panels, guns, gays and, natch, god.

But the State of Oklahoma whacked a guy last night. The job was far sloppier than any performed by the dedicated professionals of the Chicago Outfit over the years. Using a new “cocktail” of dope, OK executioners attempted to send one Clayton Lockett to what they considered his just deserts. Rather than play his part according to script, Lockett instead twitched and spasmed and agonized for some three quarters of an hour before, behind a closed curtain, prison officials dispatched him properly.

Lockett, of course, was dark-skinned; as you know, white people rarely commit capital crimes. His icing was so botched that Oklahoma authorities decided to deny themselves the pleasure of another execution, scheduled for this afternoon, to make sure they can do it without forcing innocents to watch a man die while flailing about.

We can’t have that.

Weird, isn’t it? Just 20 years or so ago, capital punishment was one of the biggest controversies in this holy land. Now? Hell, we kill guys so routinely that executions only make news when the job is pooched.

Just a little info about the Guv of the great state o’Oklahama. As you know, it’s the governor who’s the final arbiter in the process of any state-sanctioned offing. Yesterday, it was Mary Fallin, the Republican boss of the state, who gave the thumbs down. Republicans traditionally have been gung ho for cap. pun. while Dems most often call for all criminals to be allowed to freely rape and murder your daughters.

At least that’s the way I read many GOP arguments for the ultimate time-out.



Fallin is a real piece of work, even more remarkable than, say, Sarah Palin. While Palin generally talks as though she’s under the combined influence of PCP and psychosis, at least she quit her job as Alaska governor years ago. Fallin, meanwhile, still steers the ship of OK.

Gov. F. just this month signed into law a bill she championed, banning OK cities from instituting minimum wage standards higher than the federal gov’t’s. See, she doesn’t want her state’s cities to get all liberal like Barack Osama Stalin Obama. And, besides, minimum wage earners, in her fairy tale world, don’t need raises.

Wait, as they say on TV, there’s more.  Late last year, Fallin issued an order cutting off all spousal benefits for National Guard members, lest those who are gay might insist their sexually sick and criminal partners get same.

Neat, huh?

Happy killing, Mary.

Hot Air


How excited are you about that new politico-memoir, A Fighting Chance, written by Elizabeth Warren?

Warren’s the coolest human in politics these days. I’d love to live in world wherein she’d be the queen. OTOH: I don’t want to see her get within a mile of the Oval Office. People who have a fighting chance, to borrow a phrase, of becoming president must compromise themselves into a certain near-nothingness, witness one Barack H. O.


Tough Dame

The Devil has in his safety deposit box the souls of some 43 presidents as well as all the real challengers they faced before becoming the boss of this holy land. And don’t correct me on the no. of presidents — Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, ergo he’s counted as two of ’em.

Anyway, I want Warren on the outside, fighting the good fight. So far, she’s the best there is at that job.

Pencil Logrolling

If you don’t read the Comments section of this communications colossus you might have missed this from yesterday:

Shameless Related Promotions Department: I’m working with my dear friend and doc-film collaborator Nadeem Uddin to get his lifelong project finished this year, the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal gas leak disaster. If you ever wondered what a major chemical attack would look like in a densely populated civilian area, this is it.

We’re currently setting up an Indiegogo campaign to fund production of the second segment, which looks at how a child exposed to the gas in 1984 has passed on genetic defects to his children.

PS – Nadeem is coming to town for a visit in late May. Anyone interested in a screening of footage and some Q&A?

The comment is from Penicillista and great friend, Shayne Laughter. If she’s in on a project — or even if she merely gives it her blessing — you know it’s the real deal and worth your while.

Mid-Life Adventure

One of our town’s most compelling figures, cartoonist Mike Cagle, is shipping off to Oregon this summer. He’ll begin the 2014-15 term as a student at Lewis & Clark Law School. He sez he just may want to practice public interest law.

How can you not love B-town when this burgh is populated by folks like Mike. Our loss is the world’s gain.

Sterling Redux

I wiped the floor with Donald Sterling yesterday, natch. The only thing right-thinking folk might quibble with was my assertion that Sterling should not be officially punished for utterances in, presumably, his private home where he was being recorded without his knowledge. That, friends, is thought crime.

Now, don’t have a fit; I fully support a boycott of his Los Angeles Clippers games. He’s a bad man in so many ways I’ve run out of fingers and toes and facial hairs to count them. The sooner his evil soul departs his body, the better. But, again, human beings should not be persecuted or prosecuted by any authority for the hate in their hearts.

Or, as Bill Maher says, “Calm down. Being an asshole is still legal.”

Oh, BTW, Sterling is a Republican. Registered. Who’da thunk it?

And, to make this farce even more ridiculous, certain conservative groups and publications are trying to spread the lie that’s he’s a Dem! We live in a weird, weird country, kiddies.

Large And In Charge

And, speaking of posterior orifices, our gal Sarah Palin bleated this past weekend before the assembled multitudes at the NRA’s annual fapfest, held this year in Indy.

And, again, just like yesterday when I took the bullet for you by listening to the Sterling tape, I did it again by listening to Palin’s speech. Babies, I am your freakin’ he-ro!

The gist of her shrieking could be summarized in the quote, “If I were in charge….”

No word yet if audience members began masturbating furiously in their seats upon hearing this most risible sentiment.


We all have heard her marvy quote about waterboarding being the way “we baptize terrorists.” Nuts, right? But did you catch her statement that, again, if she were in charge, she’d be standin’ tall right there in the Ukraine and she’d have stopped Putin from making his land grabs?

Swear to god, this piece of work sees herself as something like that Chinese kid who stood before the line of tanks in Tiananmen Sq. back in 1989.

Okay, that’s my report on Palin. That’s plenty of heroism for this big boy for one weekend. I’ll be going off to check myself in for battle fatigue treatment now.

Hot Air

Tarnished Sterling

If you haven’t heard the audio of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling berating his trophy girlfriend for associating with dark-skinned people in public yet, don’t. It’s bound to roil your blood and put you in a snappish mood for the rest of the day.

I’ve taken the bullet for you.

Sterling/ Stiviano

Heartless & Mindless

Apparently, Sterling’s less-than-MENSA-material, living, breathing love doll posted some photos on her Instagram account of her palling around with the likes of basketball legend Magic Johnson, who himself is a sports team owner (the LA Dodgers.)

This so offended Sterling’s sensibilities that he’s considering breaking off their mutually sycophantic relationship (he, the gargoylish, withered old prune, with her, the surgically-enhanced, gold-digging anencephalic.) He lectures the girl (trust me, she’s no woman — either emotionally or intellectually) about how such pix will appear to a public that in his antediluvian mindset still looks agasp at folks of diff. races who rub shoulders. He reminds her that she’s only marginally a fully-approved white person, what with her being part Latina. As such she must be picayunishly circumspect in her actions, lest that general public begin to suspect she may in truth be criminally brown.

She reminds him that there is even black blood “running through her veins,” an argument that seems to deflate him. I suppose he’s been in denial that his dame may be so much as an octoroon. Upon being confronted with this truth, Sterling seems crushed. That’s when he begins suggesting that perhaps their affair must, in accordance with all standards of decency, come to an end.

The girlfriend whines ad nauseam that she doubts she can tolerate such a hater. Her sudden realization that Sterling has less-than fully open arms for those of different races rings false. Sterling is known far and wide as a racist of the first order. If she thinks the world will believe she’s come to realize this character flaw in her beloved only now, well, the world ain’t gonna buy it.

More likely she’s been living in denial about her meal ticket’s extreme prejudices and only confronted them when they were turned upon her.

BTW: Sterling has issued a press statement that he’s not a racist which, in this situ. seems prima facie evidence that he is.

I bring this little soap opera episode to your attention for the express purpose of reminding one and all that racist dickheads still exist in our holy land, and some of them — like Sterling — carry a lot of weight. Sterling made his dough as a divorce and personal injury attorney as well as in large real estate transactions. He’s a pillar of LA society. Acc’d’ng to Forbes, he’s worth nearly $2 billion.

Funny how this contretemps pops up in the wake of the Cliven Bundy revelations. It’s as though there’s a certain segment of our society that is desperately trying to hold on to the nice, neat, orderly racial world that has been disappearing since the end of World War II. Well, nice, neat, and orderly for whites.

I don’t want to see Sterling punished by the National Basketball Association for these comments. They were made in private, among intimates. Someone recorded him without his knowledge. The idea a human being can be penalized by authorities for thought crime is as abhorrent as a bitter old man’s racism.

I do want to see the marketplace punish him, though. Anybody who buys a ticket to a Clippers game after this is merely making the reptilian Sterling richer. Punish him, people.

Hot Air

Church & State

Time to get scared, kiddies:

NO Times-Picayune Headline

Click Image To Read Article

Do I need to riff on this, or does the intrinsic insanity of it speak for itself?

Yeah, I’ll go with the latter.

Too Many People….

I hate to be a buzzkill to all those proud pappies and mammies who plaster zillions of pix of their trophy babies all over the interwebs, but my deeply held opinion is that we have way, way, way too many peeps on this planet.

I’ve heard humanity described as the ultimate invasive species. I won’t go that far but I cannot deny that the lot of us need too much of the limited tonnage of natural resources Ma Earth can provide. There’s flat-out not enough raw stuff to produce all the goods needed to elevate everybody alive to our Murrican standard of living. Not everybody can expect to drink water out of a plastic bottle, keep a calendar on a handheld electronic device, wear a pair of sneakers made by slave labor in China, and have a Double Quarter-Pounder with Cheese for lunch every day. Homo Sapiens sapiens would need two or three Earth-like planets to supply all the ingredients for that universal lifestyle.

Street Crowd

Oh, The Humanity….

Still, folks want us to go blithely and merrily along, procreating our way toward 8, 9, even ten billion cramped souls on this little rock, religious fundamentalists, primary among them. IDK why but the uber-pious loathe the notion of birth control in any form. I suppose it goes back to their codified worldview, which was formed and refined for a passel of pre-technological, pre-literate, overly-credulous, nomadic desert tribes in what we now call the Middle East. Nothing like having that forward-thinking gang set cultural and scientific policy for our 21st Century society, no?

Anyway, if you’re interested in reading both sides of the overpopulation argument, the New York Review of Books has a piece on a book by Jonathan V. Last entitled “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster.” Last’s argument — one that’s pretty much advanced by all anti-birth-control-ists — is that if the pop. growth of this holy land is in any way curtailed, even slightly, why then these United States will be wiped off the face of the Earth by whatever gang is busy humping its way toward elbow-to-elbow existence.

The reviewer takes issue with Last in no uncertain terms. If you want more, here are a few other links for reviews of the tome:

Conservative news outlets, natch, are hot for Last’s book,

Nobody’s Poor

Speaking of having not enough — or not having enough…, oh, you know what I mean — recent research has found that, in this holy land at least, even the poor don’t want to be classified as poor, so any pol trying to get votes by declaring himself a friend to the needy isn’t going to find much of a sympathetic audience.

Weird, huh?

If you’ve been following these screeds of late, you know my feeling that most Murricans harbor the fantasy that they’ll be billionaires one day, ergo the electorate’s patience with pols who do the bidding of the Kochs, the Ricketts, and Sheldon Adelson. In a sense, common folk think that whatever benefits the plutcocracy will one day benefit them.

Great Depression

Not Us!

Talk about fairy tales.

Ironic — isn’t it? — considering the fact that the divide between the haves and have nots is growing enormous-er every second of every hour of every day.

So, back to pols erring in their siding with the poors, that’s the conclusion arrived at by Anat Shenker-Osorio, a political communications consultant. She writes in Salon that progressive candidates and sitting office-holders have to start using new terminology to show how much they love the more unfortunate among us. Or the less fortunate. Whatever, you know what I mean.

The idea being you can’t say, “Hey, guys, you ain’t rich and I’m on your side.” Our American egos are so fragile that if you think we’re poor, we don;t want you on our side.

Like I said, weird.

Too Many People…, Redux

My least fave Beatle, sure, but Ram was a cool album. And this cut fits today’s post theme.

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