“Howl, howl, howl, howl!”

24 July 2011: If Obama Is a Thermometer…

Princeton professor Cornel West, when asked by New York Times columnist Andrew Goldman as to how Obama can be the president West wants him to be when he’s facing this Republican Congress, replied thus:  “You’ve got to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat shapes the climate of opinion; a thermometer just reflects it.  If you’re just going to reflect it and run by the polls, then you’re not going to be a tranformative president.  Lincoln was a thermostat.  Johnson and F.D.R., too.”

Okay. If President Obama is a thermometer, where and how is he taking our temperature?

10 July 2011: Your Summer Fiction Rereading List

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof has just listed ten books which are on his summr rereading list because they’re “triumphs of fiction, both fun to read and significant for literary or historical reasons, relating to social justice at a time when inequality in America has soared to historic levels.”

Here’s Kristof’s list of Best Beach Reading Ever—“Germinal” by Emile Zola, “Pale Fire” by Vladimir Nabokov, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte, “Our Man in Havana” by Graham Greene, “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque, “Les Miserables” by Victory Hugo, “The Mysterious Stranger” by Mark Twain, and “Scoop” by Evelyn Waugh.

Assuming that anyone even vaguely connected to the University of Kansas is now rereading (or perhaps reading for the first time) the novels of science-fiction giant Theodore Sturgeon because of the recent acquisition of his books, papers, manuscripts and correspondence by the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, thanks to retired English professor James Gunn, himself a giant in the field, one might have time to read just three more non-Sturgeon novels for what’s left of the summer.

My three would be— “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin, because it would make right-wing conservative Christians fall down on their knees in perpetual prayer, and maybe also for occasional inappropriate sex with members of their own sex; “All the King’s Men” by Robert Penn Warren, which firmly advocates that, if you dig deep enough, you can find dirt on anyone, Republicans as well as Democrats; and “The Transposed Heads” by Thomas Mann, because I keep fantasizing about what it would look like to graft the heads of John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor on the bodies respectively of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Mary Matalin. Or, truer to the spirit and theme of Mann’s novel, perhaps the heads of Hillary Clinton, Claire McCaskill and Elizabeth Warren on the torsos of John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor.

So, those are my three summer rereads. What are yours?

13 June 2011: Support Your Local Koch Dealer!

Thanks to The New Yorker article (30 August 2010) on the powerful billionaire Koch brothers of Wichita, and the continuing updates about them on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, we now know what Koch Industries is up to as it funds and manipulates the election of political candidates who would then support the Koch agenda.

Depending on how you personally feel about what the Koch Brothers are doing, you can either buy or boycott the many consumer items which are produced by Koch Industries—among them, common household paper products like Dixie plates/bowls/cups and napkins, Mardi Gras napkins and towels, Sparkle napkins, Vanity Fair napkins, Zee napkins, Brawny paper towels, Angel Soft toilet paper, Quilted Northern toilet paper, Soft ‘n Gentle toilet paper, and Georgia-Pacific paper products and envelopes.

It’s interesting how you can eat and drink with Koch, then wipe and clean your various orifices with Koch, then send your own campaign contributions in Koch envelopes to the same politicians who are endorsed by Charles and David Koch. Put more crudely, if you put your money where your mouth is, then the brown you flush down the toilet will turn into corporate green which lines the pockets of greedy Koch-suckers in Washington.

For more information on other Koch Industries products, including Stainmaster carpets, Polyshield resin, Wood Fiberboard, Flexrock, Dense Armor Drywall and Decking, and various home repair and contracting supplies, go to http://www.americanprogressaction.org.

Things go better with Koch! It’s the real thing! Support your local Koch dealer….or NOT!

7 June 2011: Mykee Is 14 Years Old!

Mykee, my sweet and gentle keeshond, is 14 years old today. In the past six years, she has undergone major surgery and extensive chemo treatments twice, but you wouldn’t know it from her youthful demeanor and disposition. True, she is now somewhat deaf, but she has learned to read my lips and to go wherever I point. More amazingly, she continues to bark enthusiastically for the same boring Science Diet dry food she has been chowing down twice a day for all the 4,984 days thus far of her life.

Although Mykee watches every calorie I ingest or imbibe at home, she is not normally allowed to have human food, so she lives for the rare occasions when I treat her to a bit of pizza crust or a tiny morsel of white chicken breast, and jumps with joyful anticipation when I extend my arm to let her lick the bowl from which I’ve just had my instant oatmeal with skim milk.

But, because Mykee is twice a cancer survivor and it’s her birthday today, I’m giving a small dinner party for her tonight, and she’s going to have a bit of what I’m serving in her honor:  Brie and crackers, stuffed pork chops, deviled egg potato salad, and cupcakes filled with cranberries, pineapple and walnuts. I hope this keeps her going for at least another year, or two, or three.

2 June 2011: Outsizing Anthony Wiener

What’s all the hew and cry over the alleged photo on Twitter of Rep. Anthony Wiener (D-NY) in his underwear?  Didn’t we all grow up seeing equally “lurid” photos of Marky Mark and all the other beefy Calvin Klein models in humongous billboards all over Times Square and in glossy family magazine spreads? Republicans taking pharisaical scandal on the matter at hand should stop outsourcing American jobs and start outsizing their own House members. We’ve seen donkey dongs, so it’s time for some elephantine trunks. Put up or shut up!

29 May 2011: David Mamet Turns Against English Majors!

In an interview with The New York Times about his new book, “The Secret Knowledge,” David Mamet says, among other things, that it’s “none of our goddamned business” how much money C.E.O.’s on Wall Street make….that he might have been anticapitalistic when he was younger and didn’t have a penny, but he cannot “go on denouncing capitalism” since he is now older and richer….that the only thing an M.A. in English can do is bag groceries.  Here’s his parting shot at English majors: “Jesus Christ.  Listen, here’s the thing about an English degree—if you sat somebody down and asked them to make a list of the writers they admire over the last hundred years, see how many of them got a degree in English.”

Now I know why I’ve never admired David Mamet.

11 May 2011: Artless in Kansas!

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has now fired all five employees of the Kansas Arts Commission. I’m sure what money this saves the sorry State of Kansas can now be shifted to any further campaigns the artless governor might have against Planned Parenthood and Abortion.  By all means, let’s have more unwanted kids in more crumbling classrooms with more underpaid teachers who should teach only what the Bible preaches.  After all, Jesus never went to an art gallery; the twelve apostles  never put on any ballet tights (or worse, tutus); and St. Paul would have stoned all wanton women to death the likes of Carmen, Lucia, Aida, Norma, Tosca, Violetta, and Cio-Cio San, who might have done the right thing by having that luckless baby out of wedlock, but who most certainly would have ended up an illegal alien had she followed Col. Pinkerton to America.

17 April 2011: No Sex Please, We’re Beyond British!

In a stimulating essay (“The Sex Drive, Idling in Neutral”) in today’s  New York Times, Meg Wolitzer says she cannot imagine women like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor or the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice having sex.  This led me to thoughts I shouldn’t have had, of other people of either gender whom I cannot imagine likewise having sex—e.g., Golda Meir and Lyndon B. Johnson (too wrinkly); Michele Bachmann and Joan Crawford (too arch)); Mr. Rogers and Justin Bieber (too chipper); Pee Wee Herman and Conan O’Brien (too many uncoordinated limbs); Alan Cumming and John Boehner (in spite of their names); Barbara Bush and Queen Mum (evidence to the contrary); and, thank God, Pope Benedict XVI and Mother Teresa.  So, who’s on your list? Excluding me, of course.

1 April 2011: “Snooki” More Beloved Than Toni Morrison!

According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Jersey Shore’s “Snooki” got $32,000 last night for talking to a thousand undergraduates at Rutgers University about hair styling and “lessons for life,” while  Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison will get only $30,000 to deliver the university’s commencement address in May. Snooki offered her audience the following advice:  “Study hard, but party harder.”  I don’t mean to poop on Snooki’s party, but what price fame and fortune?  Hair today, gone tomorrow.

29 March 2011: Kill All Them Critters Quietly!

Thanks to the lobbying efforts of the National Rifle Association, the Kansas Legislature has now approved a bill that would allow the use of silencers for hunting, fishing and fur harvesting.  Gov. Sam Brownback is expected to sign the bill with no loud outcries from the air, nor from the field and stream.  So now we can kill all them critters quietly.  And maybe also that hawkish neighbor across the street who drinks like a fish and behaves like an ass.