Hot Air: King Of Courage

It was the act that best illustrated the courage Martin Luther King, Jr. possessed.

Fifty years ago today, in a speech at the Riverside Church in New York City, King said of the Vietnam War: “We have been wrong from the beginning.”

Speaking At Riverside Church

[Image: John C. Goodwin]

He was pilloried. He was demonized. He lost Lyndon Johnson as an ally. He earned the scorn of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and even many of the traditional black newspapers around the country. Wits and wags called him ignorant, uninformed, naive, and, of course, a commie. Many in his own circle of friends and advisors implored him not to speak out so loudly and clearly against the war. He knew that decision makers, leaders, legislators — the establishment — would damn him.

His only sin, it turns out, was he spoke a year too soon. By February 1968, the tide of public opinion was beginning to turn against the war. By April, King would be dead.

Hell, just take a look at the entire speech, now known as “Beyond Vietnam,” delivered to a crowd of 3000 and sponsored by Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. I was fully prepared to run the whole thing here but, man, it is lo-o-ong. So, if you’re interested, here it is, from the King Estate Papers Project, via Stanford University’s King Encyclopedia.

And here, via the same route, is King’s response to an audience member asking how black men should react as Vietnam raged on.

BTW: Here’s Patti Smith, performing at the MLK birthday commemoration service at Riverside Church in 2012:

[Image: Cindy Ord/Getty Images North America]

Abraham, Martin and John

Any chance I can, I post this vid.

Hot Air: The Healthiest Idea Yet

Here’s a hint of heartening news out of California. The nation’s most populous state — it’s so big it could stand on its own as one of the globe’s most economically powerful countries — will consider a universal/single-payer health insurance system.

Yep. This week legislators Ricardo Lara and Toni Adkins intro’d SB-562 in the state senate calling for every one of Cal.’s 39 million citizens to be covered. Acc’d’g to KPIX TV-5 in San Fran., “The plan would include coverage for medical, emergency, dental, vision, mental health, and nursing home care. Co-pays and insurance deductibles would also be eliminated.”

Should the plan be enacted, that’d mean 11.8 percent of this holy land’s pop. would cease having to worry about being destroyed, financially, by a case of cancer or the need to have a kidney transplant. People could go in and have their teeth fixed, for chrissakes. Those on the brink of suicide just might be able to see a professional skull jockey and perhaps avert that horrible fate. And ricketty old folks could live in homes with around-the-clock medical care without having to piss away every dime they’re ever earned in their entire lives.

Imagine that!

The Republicans around the nation over the past few years have indeed imagined that. Their response: Never.


Tomorrow, of course, is my favorite day of the year: Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season. And my beloved Chicago Cubs — World Series champions of 2016 (man, does it feel great to type that out!) — will open in St. Louis against the Cardinals in a nationally televised game Sunday evening.


[Chicago Tribune Photo]

To celebrate, last night I baked up a batch of oatmeal cookies (with chocolate chips and walnuts, natch). I’ll be sugared up, pepped up, amped up, and boozed-up tomorrow e’en, probably at Nick’s on Kirkwood.


Hot Air: War Story

We often forget there’s still a huge number of people in this world whose lives have been affected and even largely formed by World War II.

You know, that black & white incident back in the days when pop music was driven by brass as opposed to guitars and then became the raison d’etre for the History Channel, right?

Bloomington author Annette Oppenlander is one of those people. As a little girl listening to snippets of her parents’ conversations, she’d hear oblique references to unimaginable things that’d happened when they were as young as she was. Annette’s family was from the German industrial town of Solingen in the Ruhr Valley. Much of Germany’s industrial might was located in the region bordered by the Ruhr, Rhine, and Lippe rivers. American and British bombers pounded the factory towns there for some four years before Allied land forces swept through the region in the second half of 1944. Citizens of towns like Solingen suffered as horribly as any soldiers on the front lines but it wasn’t until Annette reached middle age-plus that she finally heard her parents and grandparents’ full stories.

Oppenlander & Mocha

This was after she’d had a successful career in banking and finance and, later, in public relations. Then she realized she wanted to be a writer. One of the first things she did after trading in her corner office for keyboard and notebook was interview her parents about their lives in wartime. Oh, the things she learned!

She’s taken many of those stories and refashioned them into a coming of age love story set in Germany during the war and the years immediately after. The result was a novel, her fourth, entitled Surviving the Fatherland.

Annette joined me on this week’s Big Talk. Catch the interview here or here.

Big Talk is a regular Thursday feature on WFHB‘s Daily Local News. My next guest will be fats expert, Heather Bradshaw, researcher in Indiana University’s Dept. of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Yeah, it’s fats that help our cells communicate with each other, among other lipidomic functions. Heather concentrates on the fats in cannabinoids (pot) and olive oil. She’ll explain it all on the next Big Talk, Thursday, April 13, at 5:00pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM.

Quothe Prof. Bradshaw: “My passion is fats.” Hey, mine too, only for a different reason.

Hey Buddies, Can You Spare A Dime?

BTW: Notice there won’t be a Big Talk next week, April 6th? Starting tonight and running through Sunday, April 9th, WFHB will be holding its Spring Fund Drive. If you’re hot for Big Talk or for any of the great shows on Bloomington’s first community radio blowtorch, you might consider throwing a few bucks our way. Give a jingle at 812.323.1200 or go online and click the Donate Now button. Simple.

Radio, Radio

By a very young Elvis Costello along with his band, the Attractions.

From the chorus:

Radio is a sound salvation 
Radio is cleaning up the nation

Hot Air: Mind Your Miners

“Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia… to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting?”

This was an actual question posed by President Gag’s director of the Office of Management and Budget in a television interview regarding cuts in federal funding for PBS.

So now, isn’t it time we stop all the bullshit about how it was the liberals who belittled and stereotyped the unemployed and the laborers of fly-over America?

All Burroughs, All The Time

The Wounded Galaxies gang will be back at it this coming February. The group that emerged from the Burroughs Century fete back in 2014 and has since produced events like the annual “The Junky’s Christmas” is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark year 1968.

That annum, in case you’re younger than, say, 60, saw the world nearly come apart as we threw Molotov cocktails, smashed storefronts, shot high powered rifles out flophouse bathroom windows, fought pointless wars, marched in the streets, got crushed by tanks, and then wept/gaped/giggled about it all while watching groundbreaking television shows.

Dig this laundry list of ’68 events:

  • Alexander Dubček becomes leader of Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party, initiating the Prague Spring
  • A US Air Force B-52G Stratofortress crashes in Greenland, losing four hydrogen bombs and spreading eight highly radioactive substances over a 1-by-3-mile area
  • The premier of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-in on NBC-TV
  • North Korea seizes the USS Pueblo and holds its crew hostage for 11 months
  • The Viet Cong launches the Tet Offensive throughout South Vietnam, causing American public opinion to turn against the war
  • South Vietnam’s police chief executes in cold blood a Viet Cong prisoner on a Saigon street, the event is photographed and becomes an iconic image of the war

[Image: Eddie Adams/AP]

  • Orangeburg, South Carolina police open fire on a crowd of protesters outside a segregated bowling alley, killing three people
  • US allied forces massacre 70-80 innocent citizens in the South Vietnamese village of Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất
  • The premier of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood
  • US allied forces massacre 135 innocent citizens in the South Vietnamese village of Hà My
  • Warsaw students take to the streets to kick off the bloody “Marzec 1968” Polish uprising
  • US Army soldiers commit the My Lai massacre, resulting in 350-500 deaths of innocent civilians
  • Bobby Kennedy enters the presidential race
  • Student protesters shut down Howard University in a 5-day round of sit-ins, building takeovers, and street marches
  • Lyndon Johnson quits the presidential race
  • Midnight bombings occur at two German department stores
  • The premier of 2001: A Space Odyssey

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. is murdered
  • Riots erupt in more than 100 American cities in the aftermath of the King assassination
  • Black Panthers and Oakland police engage in a 90-minute shoot-out resulting in the death of Panther treasurer Bobby Hutton
  • Lyndon Johnson signs the 1968 Civil Rights Act
  • Student protesters shut down Columbia University
  • France on the brink of revolution: One million people march in the streets of Paris, followed by general strikes, university and factory takeovers, and pitched street battles

Paris In The Springtime

  • The Catonsville (Maryland) Nine break into the local Selective Service office and burn records using napalm
  • The Nigerian army blockades Port Harcourt, leading to the Biafran famine resulting in hundreds of thousands of hunger deaths
  • Valerie Solanas shoots Andy Warhol in the belly
  • Bobby Kennedy is shot; he dies the next day
  • A Black Power group and police engage in a gun battle in Cleveland, followed by widespread rioting resulting in seven deaths
  • Pope Paul VI condemns the use of artificial birth control

A Sin

  • Some 750,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers invade Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring.
  • Chicago police and anti-war and civil rights protesters clash during the Democratic National Convention
  • Second Wave Feminists protest the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • The premier of 60 Minutes
  • Hundreds of students and civilians are killed in the Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico City, when police and military security forces open fire on protesters
  • Northern Ireland’s “The Troubles” begin when police club civil rights protesters in Derry
  • Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise black-gloved fists to protest racism while on the medal stand at the Mexico City Summer Olympics

Black Power

  • Lyndon Johnson orders a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam, citing progress in the Paris Peace Talks (it is later learned that Republican candidate for president, Richard Nixon, sabotages the talks in order to enhance his chances of victory in the November election)
  • Nixon defeats Democrat Hubert Humphrey and the American Independent Party’s George Wallace in the presidential election
  • US forces and allies expand the Vietnam War into Laos
  • Yale University opens its doors to women
  • In a Star Trek episode the first interracial kiss (between Capt. Kirk and Lt. Uhura) is portrayed on American television
  • Four men commandeer a flight from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico, diverting it to Cuba, setting off the “Golden Age” of airliner hijackings
  • The “Zodiac Killer” commits what is believed to be his (their?) first murder in the San Francisco area
  • The Apollo 8 crew (Borman, Lovell & Anders) become the first humans to orbit the moon


[Image: William Anders/NASA]


Anyway, the WG-ers plan to mark the Esquire magazine hiring of beat author William S. Burroughs, erstwhile hobo/petty thief-turned playwright Jean Genet, and absurdist satirist Terry Southern to cover the infamous, police-riotous ’68 Democratic Convention in Chicago. The trio at the time would be considered the hippest, most literary, most radical, attention-grabbingest mixture of correspondents any national mag could have conjured to report on the upcoming hippie-Yippie-revolutionary peace-fuck-headsmash orgy scheduled for the last week of August in Mayor Richard J. Daley’s kingdom. Esquire‘s cooler heads, though, got a little jittery in the weeks leading up to the street-theater extravaganza and tossed veteran war reporter John Sack into the mix to ensure at least one of the group would submit something cogent and readable on the events there.

The Famous Cover

I can’t wait.


Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s ode to the Chicago Eight (later, Seven) trial.


Hot Air: Pay To Play

Long, long ago, I realized the Republican Party in this holy land was bereft of ideas. From the time of St. Ronald through the onset of the reign of Bush II, their only calling card was taxes. As in, there are too many taxes oh my god we’re all gonna die from tax inhalation please save us from the scourge of taxes won’t somebody wave a magic wand and give us everything we want w/o us having to pay for it we beg you.

The very idea of more taxes brought down the Reagan Empire in 1992, after its pharaoh by Constitutional mandate, George H.W. Bush, committed the mortal sin of actually calling for higher taxes. This after having promised in 1988, “Read my lips — no new taxes.” Of course, GHWB had to find money from somewhere to put a dent in the federal deficit that had ballooned threefold after eight years of The Sacred President’s reign. No matter.

Bush I’s Republican base was so appalled by the idea of the president informing us we’d actually have to pay for things that they ditched him when he ran for a second term.

Even after 9/11, when the Republicans discovered another simpleton’s talking point — Muslim terrorists — taxes remained at or near the top of every GOP loyalist’s “thought process.”

As the Republicans have gerrymandered their way to hegemony both at the fed level and in the vast majority of statehouses[*], the notion of slicing and dicing governmental budgets so as not to ask for a single penny more in taxes, necessary programs and institutions have, naturally, suffered. Take, for instance, Las Vegas. Almost precisely a year ago, officials voted to expand class sizes in Clark County schools, to reduce the number of year-round schools, and to close a desperately needed school for troubled and troublesome students. The reason? Why, there wasn’t enough money to pay for more teachers and facilities and to operate that last-resort home for teens on the road to nowheresville.

[ * This even though more Americans identify with the Democratic Party than the Republican.]

See, property tax rates had been capped. Y’know, because taxes are our dread enemy.

So, keeping our taxes to a bare minimum, as we can see, is more important than education, natch. Hell, slashing taxes is more important than life itself, for chrissakes, right?

Wrong. The Nevada legislature has agreed to pony up $750M so as to build a spanking new home for the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders, who’ll ditch their hometown just as soon as the new palace is complete. The Raiders are escaping their current horrible digs because Oakland will not finance through public funds a new Taj Mahal for them. Oakland’s mayor and city council as well as Alameda county officials say they have better things to spend their money on, the tyrants.

Pony Up

And how will the people of Vegas and Clark County pay for the Raiders’ new nearly $2B playground? Higher taxes.

Nothing — not even taxes — is more important than football. Either that or anti-taxers are liars. And assholes.

Pay Master

Speaking of sports, LPGA officials and reporters who cover the women’s game say President Gag is a swell egg. This despite his history of body shaming every other women on the planet and his documented proclivity to get to know females by grabbing their pussies, no matter if they’ve been introduced or not.

One LPGA beat reporter, the Golf Channel’s Karen Stupples, says, “I have experienced nothing but good things from him…. And I think the LPGA in general feels that same way, that he was very respectful….”

In informal polls, most women professional golfers indicate they would jump at the chance to play with L’il Duce, presumably regardless of the risk of having their pussies grabbed.

Well, golly gee, why would females feel so kindly toward…, well, a prick? From the New York Times:

Before [he whose legal name I refuse to utter or type] became the 45th president of the United States, he was the Daddy Warbucks of women’s golf, hosting the top players every year at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., during the LPGA’s season-ending ADT Championship at Trump International Golf Club. In 2006, the tournament’s first-place prize was $1 million, a milestone that the men had reached seven years earlier.

In his prepolitics life as a real estate mogul, Trump dispensed business advice to the LPGA players and invited them to his courses for informal rounds of golf.

Call me a mansplainer but I’m going to conclude they need a new sugar daddy. Better yet, how about a sugar mamma? The likes of Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey, Irene Rosenfeld, Indra Nooyi, Lady Gaga, Ursula Burns, and even Bloomington’s own Gayle Cook carry wallets big enough to fund the women’s game.

Sister, Can You Spare A Mill?

First I Look At The Purse

Hot Air: Big Brains, Bigger B-town

How ’bout that punk kid Sean Buehler? The majordomo behind Bloomington’s Science on Tap, he’s now planning to expand his monthly geek bashes into Indy. Target date: August or September. The IUPUI med, dentistry, and nursing schools are up there, as are the depts. of biology, chemistry, IT, earth sciences, math, physics, psychology and neuroscience. So Buehler and Co. will have a huge new pool of brains-on-two-legs from which to draw their clientele.

As I type this, Buehler’s looking for some appropriate brewpubs in the big town 60 miles N of us.

You worry about the dumbing down of America? Don’t. Not so long as there are squirts like Buehler and his fellow females and males sprouting up in the STEM world.

BTW: In case you missed my Big Talk w/ Buehler on Feb. 2, go here or here.

Bigger & Better

A couple of arguments for Mayor John Hamilton’s annexation plan:

  1. If you’re a homeowner, your property is at least twice — and prob. more — valuable than a similar structure and land spread down in, say, Bedford. You’re already benefitting handsomely just by having plopped down in the collar precincts surrounding our town.
  2. The coming development around the under-construction I-69 interchange on the west side will dump scads of dough into city coffers, allowing the mayor and the city council to gussy up services and infrastructure all over town.

Inasmuch as a large swath of the area population lives outside the city limits yet still enjoys everything the town his to offer, Hamilton et al are operating under the moral assumption that we all ought to kick in to the kitty.

As far as I can tell, the primo argument against annexation is the inevitable tax increase. Yeah, it’s true, property taxes’ll go up in annexed areas but the counter question would be Do you feel good about coasting on all Bloomington’s benefits w/o ponying up your share to maintain them?


Saturday’s was the last info session at City Hall for citizens in the sections in question to chat with B-ton officials about the plan. Now the city council will go to work drawing up its ordinances with a possible June target for voting. And keep in mind any annex ordinances will be followed by the state-mandated 90-day remonstrance period, so if you still want to shriek to high heaven you’ll get your chance then.

More Science

Speaking of the Aristotelian/Einsteinian arts, the venerable Science Cafe is meeting again this week, Wednesday, at Bear’s Place. The top organizer of SC, Alex Straiker, is no longer part of the Bloomington scene. He scored a fab deal down at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Straiker studies cannabinoids (in civilian terms, pot) and their effect on the brain and the eyes. He’d been part of Ken Mackie‘s Gill Center lab in Indiana University’s Dept. of Psychological and Brain Sciences for the last decade.

Straiker now will run his own lab at the UTSW campus just outside of Dallas.

Bloomington’s Science Cafe, though, will carry on. This month’s session deals with the political divide that’s exploded in this holy land over the last couple of decades. Gerald Wright, chair of the IU Poli Sci Dept., has been studying the divide that turned into a chasm and now can be described as an abyss. He’ll lay out his findings beginning at 6:30pm the evening after tomorrow.

Like Science on Tap, the Science Cafe is free and open to the public. You only pay for what you eat and drink (and if you’re a cheapskate you can get away with not ordering anything). Both orgs. attempt to bring the arcana of science to the general public, presenting topics in clear, concise, accessible language. Questions are welcomed from the audience. Both SoT and SC are examples of why it’s so dyn-o-mite living in a college town.

Here, BTW, is SC’s emeritus Straiker giving a talk on the Science of Marijuana way back in early 2013.

Hot Air: Book It, They’ll Smear Him

I started this little series just after President Gag was inaugurated — every once in a while I’m posting info on potential candidates for the 2020 presidential election. Today it’s Cory Booker because he came to this sprawling megalopolis yesterday to flog for Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana).

Booker is Hillary Clinton Lite. He’s way progressive on almost all social issues but he’s a diehard capitalist. He digs hedge fund-ists and venture cap-sters. Plus, he’s in love with charter schools. For this vantage point, he doesn’t see as I do how “exuberant” capitalism is inherently violent and crushing to all but a lucky few. Still, would I vote for him over L’il Duce? You bet! Twenty times over.

If you — like I do — see our global economic system as the driver behind wealth inequality, environmental rape, the wage shortfall for women, persistent racism, and a hundred other cardinal sins, you — unlike me — may loathe each and every apologist for the moneyed class. So, why don’t I turn my nose up at candidates like H. Clinton and Booker? Simple: global capitalism is what we’ve got and it’s so ingrained in our species’ way of doing things today that only grass roots war — I’m talking guns and bombs and blood running in the streets — will displace it. If you’re willing to go that far, knock yourself out. But since I don’t want to see millions of people lose their lives, I can abide with candidates like H. Clinton and C. Booker as long as their hearts are otherwise oriented as mine is.


In other words, I can accept incremental change that may improve the lot of the millions. Will Booker emerge as an honest-to-gosh contender? We’ll see. At the very least they can’t taint him with phony-assed charges of socialism. Then again, knowing how Steve Bannon and his ilk work, they may picture him as the second coming of Fidel Castro.

Cory Booker

  • US Senator, New Jersey, 2013-Now
  • Mayor, Newark, 2006-2013
  • City Council, Newark, 1998-2002
  • Staff att’y, Urban Justice Center (NYC) 1996-7?
  • Program coordinator, Newark Youth Project 1996-7?
  • B: 1969, Washington DC
  • Stanford University BA
  • Queen’s College, Oxford (Rhodes Scholarship), 1994
  • Yale University JD
  • Ran & lost for Newark mayor 2002
  • Early political user of Twitter to communicate w/ electorate
  • Ran Bridge Peer Counseling Center (student crisis hotline) while at Stanford
  • Lived in tent and went on 10-day hunger strike to draw attention to street drug dealing & violence
  • Was smeared in 2002 mayoral campaign as tool of KKK, Taliban, & Jews
  • Plot to assassinate Booker by Bloods gang foiled by the New Jersey Bureau of Investigation
  • As mayor, cracked down on street crime, increased police, expanded summer youth programs
  • Member, Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition
  • Honored by Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2009

Previous posts in this series:

Stand by for more in the coming months.

Hiller Holler

A smashing turnout yesterday for Nancy Hiller’s appearance at the Book Corner. Click on over to the BC’s new site for pix and gossip.

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