January 23, 2015

Journalism and the shell game?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: — Bob Patterson @ 1:27 pm


crop of confusing picture

If the Supreme Court is setting up the country for another gotcha decision, then it is critical for the main stream media to make loud and emphatic proclamations asserting that the decision could go either way. The universal meme in the main stream media that says the fellow with the swing vote is impossible to second guess in advance was ubiquitous last week and Americans believed it. GMAFB; TV personalities stand ready to go on camera and pontificate on any subject at any time and then suddenly they all balk? Isn’t there something very fishy with that? Will this be seen by future historians as the key to the strategy that calls for a repeat of the “leave the decision with the clerk and then get out of Washington on the night before the results are announced” game plan? If gay marriages are found to be unconstitutional, will the journalists be required to say “no one saw this coming” and then move onto other matters clamoring for the attention of America’s various managing editors?

Does anyone honestly believe that seasoned veteran journalists don’t have any strong hunches about the final result? Do the news reporters with many years experience in covering the United States Supreme Court really have no background material available to provide (at the very least) an educated guess at which way the guy is going to vote?

If American journalists really wanted to fulfill their mission, they could couch the story by reminding voters that the Supreme Court has done that previously and that the current landmark case is the golden opportunity for the Conservative Christian majority group to strike a blow against a trend that they perceive to be an abomination against nature.

So what if some obscure columnist points out the absurdity of this attempt to set the public up for an “up yours” ending for the current Supreme Court session?

This weekend the talking heads political analysis shows will want to look like they are scrutinizing the Yemen crisis and the Saudi Royal family history but (odds are) if you listen closely you will (mixed metaphor alert!) see that they just repeat the basic facts and make it seem like they are examining all pertinent information.

If the so called Mid-East experts don’t mention the part that WWI events played in the history of the Saudi Royal family will it just seem to be an in-depth analysis?

It wouldn’t be very entertaining if the experts said: “We haven’t read ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ by T. E. Lawrence and so we don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.” Wouldn’t that be too much honesty for TV?

So if they can appear to be extremely well informed about the history of the Saudi Royal family but the reporters who have covered the United State Supreme Court for years can say they have no clue as to how the Republican majority body will decide, are you really going to believe that?

Did Winston Churchill (and FDR?) pressure the Saudi Royal family to produce more oil during WWII? Did they Saudis refine oil and sell it directly to the British Navy operating in the Mediterranean? (Just asking.) If someone offers to give a complete background briefing (between ad breaks) shouldn’t they deliver what they promised?

This weekend under-inflated footballs, inoculations for the measles, and the fate of two hostages who are scheduled to be executed should provide some excellent examples of “red Herring news.” It is information meant to throw citizens off the trail that they ware following to become well informed voters.

Speaking of used car salesmen, Charles Willeford titled his book about a used car salesman, “The High Priest of California.” Is “Go see Cal” just an L. A. thing?

Where were we?

Oh, yes, . . . Should the USA send troops to maintain a new puppet government in Yemen?

How realistic is it to ask a Republican majority led Congress and Senate to tax the rich and give tax breaks to the middle class?

The pundits are unanimous in the opinion that the Senate and Congress will pay little attention to the words of President’s state of the union speech on Tuesday of this week. That will be good practice if Obama decides to become a political pundit and write columns after his term expires.

Surrealism in action in Paris? Is it true that some of the leading existentialist philosophers in France are postulating that the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices was an indication that the surrealists have returned to Paris?

Historians who look back on this week may very well focus on bits of pop culture that featured under inflated footballs, an outbreak of the measles, and an installment of the Getty and Armstrong radio show that provided an in depth examination of the medical phenomenon of broken penises . . . then again . . . maybe the historians will dwell on some facts of great significance that the main stream media just didn’t think were all that important.

Historians tend to focus on just one aspect of the past in a way that is similar to a jig-saw puzzle fan working on assembling an image of an old steam locomotive. Columnists, however, who dabble in punditry can be compared to the challenge that would be presented if the jig-saw fan’s wife dumped all the different puzzles into one gigantic pile of puzzle pieces and harrumphed about the futility of using a butterfly net to catch a rainbow.

Does anyone want to read an entire column devoted to the fact that to celebrate the Fiftieth anniversary, another 50 Cobras will be made and sold?

In the “Only in Frisco” feature, we note that this week’s copy of the San Francisco Weekly has a notice informing their audience that the weekly newspaper is seeking a cannabis critic.

[Note from the Photo Editor: To illustrate the columnist’s challenging task of plucking the best pop culture items to discern a pattern and capture the spirit of a hectic week, we chose a graffiti collage seen in Berkeley.]

We’d like to think that Andre Breton was referring to the Sunday gabfests when he wrote: “I resent passing through these ill-lighted sentences, receiving these confidences without object, suffering at every moment, through the fault of a chatterbox, a sensation of ‘I knew that before.’”

Now the disk jockey will play Jerry Lee Lewis’s “I wish I was 18 again,” “Forever Young,” and Orson Wells rendition of “I know what it is to be young, you don’t know what it is to be old.” (It’s on Youtube.) Now, we have to go look for a French language bookstore.   Have a “Je suis Charlie” type week.

January 20, 2015

The compassion of Vichy France: Why doesn’t war-torn Europe understand war?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 10:43 pm

With yet another World War II commemorative anniversary fast approaching, let us once again reflect on the extreme horrors of that particular war — and how it ravished Europe and left that entire continent literally screaming in pain. Whole cities in flames, corpses of dead babies lying in the streets, grim torture chambers, starving orphans, concentration camps — the entire nightmare of every war that has ever gone before it and then some.

And yet it appears that almost no one in Europe these days can even remember those horrifying times that are just mere decades past — what it was like to see your child tortured, your family being dragged off in box cars or your sister begging Yankee soldiers for candy bars or offering her body to strangers so as not to starve before nightfall. Almost no one in Europe seems to have any compassion at all any more for what it was like to suffer the indescribable horrors of war.

Is there anyone at all in France today who can even remember the Vichy traitors, the brave underground Resistance or fascists goose-stepping down the Champs-Elyse? Or even remember reading about it in textbooks at school?

Does no one in Britain even remember the Blitz of London or the heroic rescue of British soldiers stranded at Dunkirk? Or hearing stories about it from their grandparents or watching reenactments of it on the BBC?

Does no one in Germany even remember the all-pervasive media propaganda, torchlight Nuremberg parades, “Heil Hitler,” gas chambers that Good Germans knew nothing about, the extreme hatred of non-Aryans, the cruel cartoonish stereotyping of people based solely on their religion — or what it was like to be living in Dresden at the time of the Slaughterhouse Five?

Apparently not.

Because if they did, they would never have recreated Dresden in Baghdad, Auschwitz in Gaza or the Slaughterhouse Five in Aleppo and Homs. There never would have been all those vicious attacks on Iraq or the clandestine sponsoring of ISIS in Syria or the brutal neo-Nazi takeover of the government of Ukraine or the arming of mujahedin war lords in Afghanistan or the nightmare of the “no-fly zone” in Libya.

Europeans, of all people, should have known better than to muck about with the fates of “war”. Europeans should have known better than to bomb women and children in the Middle East and support Vichy-like dictators in Israel and Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Europeans should have done everything that they humanly could to follow the teachings of Jesus, Hillel and Muhammad (PBUH) — to “Do unto others….”

How did Europeans forget so quickly? How could they possibly have forgotten the deep and bloody lessons of World War II so very soon?

And as for the Untied States, apparently Americans never learned compassion from all those Civil War reenactments and Ken Burns PBS specials either. 22,730 killed or wounded at Antietam alone. 51,112 casualties at Gettysburg. 620,000 soldiers dead, 50,000 civilians dead, 1,030,000 casualties. And all we have to show for all this slaughter is the compassion of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Pappy Bush’s infamous Highway of Death.

Wounded Knee, the Trail of Tears, Shiloh, Chancellorsville, Bull Run, Dallas and 9-11 have apparently only taught us Americans the kind of compassion we showed unto others at Hiroshima, Manzanar, Pyongyang, Chile, Cambodia, Gaza and “Je Suis CIA”.

pop rocks!

January 16, 2015

Gendarmes, terrorists and tourists in Paris

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:31 pm

Cartoon Museum shot




















In November of 1986, when America’s evening news featured scenes of gendarmes with submachine guns at the major intersections in Paris was like viewing a scene ripped from the pages of “1984,” that had come to life. A series of terrorist incidents had prompted coworkers to suggest that it might be a good idea to cancel the trip. Our reply was: “Yeah, but if I get killed by a terrorist’s bomb in Paris that will mean that my demise will be reported on the front page of the New York Times.” November in Paris in even numbered years means that the Month of the Photo will be celebrated and since we had waited all our life to check out the moveable feast in action, we scoffed at the idea of canceling the trip. A paucity of tourists meant that the traditional comedy shtick about Parisian waiters being rude to American Tourists had also been put on “Pause.”

An American in Paris, in November of 1986 didn’t get the royal treatment that American soldiers received in August of 1944, but any Gringo tourist who was there for the 1986 Month of the Photo was accorded semi-hero status. We hope that this year’s American tourists who want to make “April in Paris” one of the highlights of their life and not just a song title, won’t be intimidated by fear and trepidation.

On Monday, January 14, 2015, there was a report on KCBS news radio that a controversial ad juxtaposing Hitler and a Muslim had appeared that day on busses in San Francisco. It was reported that the ads would remain on display. We went to Fog City on Tuesday to get a photo of the newsworthy bus ad.

We spent some time trying to find and photograph the elusive ad. We changed plans and headed towards the San Francisco Museum of Cartoon Art. As we walked through the financial district, we noticed flyers, taped to various light poles, that depicted the prophet Muhammad as a cartoon stick figure.

The Museum, we learned, was trying to formulate their response to the attack on cartoonists in Paris.

Wasn’t Charles Chaplin known in France as “Charlot”? Didn’t he inspire the names for two brands of cigarettes? Tramps and Charlie?

Cliff Robertson won a lead actor Oscar for playing the title role in the 1968 film “Charlie.”

A source close to the Conspiracy Theory Manufacturers Association, speaking anonymously, told us that the move to portray the Hebdo Massacre as the French 9-11 as a way to start vaporizing French citizens rights is underway. It is time (as they used to say in the Sixties) to run that theory up the flagpole and see who salutes it.

As with all events these days, some people are suggesting that it was a false flag tactic.

Is it time to print T-shirts depicting Charlie Chaplin, General de Gaul, and Che and have the same dialogue balloon on each one that read: “Je suis Charlie!”?

On Wednesday, January 14, 2015, when the new issue of Charlie Hebdo magazine was in the news, the topic became which media were showing the cover and which were only describing it. We began to think that perhaps we should not post even the image of the right side of the flyer we saw Tuesday in San Francisco.

If American media can print the Pentagon Papers but not the cover of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo magazine, you shouldn’t have to wonder if the terrorist attacks are being considered a success and will be continued.

We spend the better part of a day roaming around San Francisco trying to get a photo to illustrate this week’s column and we come up empty-handed. We’ll have to settle for an innocuous and non controversial image that is (hopefully) at least eye-catching.  What can a columnist do about a week’s search that delivered a Sisyphus’ type final score?

Then we had the brilliant idea that maybe it’s time to market an article titled “Being the World’s Laziest Journalist is hard work,” but then we asked ourselves: “Who’d want such an item?” and immediately we replied: “What about ‘the Idler’ magazine in Great Britain?”

Surely the Brits would grok to the concept of “editor errant,” wouldn’t they? We’ll have to pitch them on some story/column ideas we think they would dig and see what their reaction is.

Maybe we could become their editor at large in the San Francisco Bay Area and finally realize our goal of sitting around in a posh gin mill and have fawning fans besiege us with potential column items just like our heroes Herb Caen and Walter Winchell used to do?

That should be a hella easier than covering riots, such as we did in December, and encountering a phalanx of police officers in riot gear as we have done repeatedly in the last half dozen years.

The reassurance of a large police presence was contrasted by what happened in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdicts were announced. LAPD Chief Darryl Gates announced that the LAPD wouldn’t respond to the calls for help generated by rioting and looting that occurred the night the verdicts were announced. All f*****g hell broke loose in “Shakeytown” that night.

The slowdown by police in New York City recently would seem to be a limited example of the sit-down strike philosophy.

When workers at Ford, in the Thirties, called a strike action, a few were shot and killed and the strike was of short duration. Later workers at General Motors went to their work stations and remained idle, it was called a sit-down strike. It was a tipping point for unions and the Auto Workers Union became a viable entity in the history of Detroit.

The concept that police officers have the right to self defense while performing their dangerous job should be obvious. The fact that such a right can lead to egregious abuses of that right should also be obvious. Since discourse in America has disintegrated into a binary choice, compromise is rendered impossible to achieve.

(Can’t you just imagine the voice of Lenny Bruce suggesting that a study commission come up with an acceptable number of yearly police shooting totals? )

The goal of zero accidental fatal police involved shootings is impossible to achieve. It should be obvious that castrating the concept of policing is a bad idea, too.

This year will have a massive amount of feature story potential. It is very unlikely that this column will be the first and only mention of the fact that the Battle of Britain will be marking its 75th anniversary this summer.

It also seems quite likely that for political pundits, 2015 will be a bumpy ride with the use of seatbelts being mandatory.

If Obama is impeached, and if the Vice President is sworn in as President, what will Hilary’s chances be for landing the 2016 Democratic Party’s Presidential Nomination? Don’t incumbent Presidents, who aren’t restricted by term limitations, have a lock on the nomination?

Wouldn’t it be more pleasant to be churning columns out describing delightful assignments such as (hypothetically speaking) a lunch/interview with an author in his hometown of San Francisco?

The closing quote this week is a famous line of dialogue from the film “Apocalypse Now:” “Charlie don’t surf!”

Now the disk jockey will play a the song with the title “Charlie don’t surf!,” the Kingston trio’s “MTA,” and Waylon Jenning’s song “Don’t you think this outlaw bit’s done got out of hand?” We have to go cover the 13th annual Noir City Film Festival (noircity dot com) which starts in San Francisco this weekend. Have a “no politically incorrect images” type week.

January 13, 2015

Who benefits from being Charlie: “I am NOT Bibi Netanyahu!”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 11:18 am

Clearly this subject has already been covered in the media news cycle ad nauseam but I still can’t stop thinking about the “I am Charlie” concept. Was the idea behind all those people who held up “I am Charlie” posters supposed to be about protecting free speech? Really? Then why isn’t everyone carrying “I am Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden” posters too? Or demanding that the police stop arresting guys who falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater or deliberately start barroom brawls?

Or if those “I am Charlie” posters are in protest of armed thugs in Paris gunning down civilians in cold blood, then why isn’t everyone in Paris also carrying posters proclaiming “I am Iraq” or “I am Syria” or “I am Palestine” or “I am Ukraine” or Libya or Mali or…. You get the picture.

All those people holding up signs protesting the slaughter on Rue Nicolas-Appert might actually think that they too are “Charlie” — and that’s fine. Terrible things happened to the employees of Charlie Hebdo. No one should ever have to suffer the fate of being shot down in cold blood, and thus the victims deserve to be mourned. However I myself chose NOT to be Charlie Hebdo, a vicious slimy obscene rag clearly designed to stir up religious tensions in France.

And I also choose not to be any other bigots or terrorist troublemakers who clearly delight in trying to stir up religious tensions in France, crassly using others’ religious differences to pave their own way to riches and power — and yet who have the ultimate and offensive hypocrisy and nerve to show up for the French “I am Charlie” marches with innocent smiles on their faces. “Who us?” they innocently proclaim — after doing everything they possibly can to stir up bigotry against Muslims.

I am NOT Avigdor Liberman

I am NOT Naftali Bennet

And I am definitely NOT Bibi Netanyahu.

These three guys and their cohorts seem to be always at the center of any religious tension or terrorist attack almost anywhere in the world — starting in 1948 when the Stern Gang blew up the King David Hotel and Moshe Dayan’s “army” slaughtered Christian and Muslim Palestinians left and right in order to steal their land. “Every time anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can’t help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East,” a Jesuit priest stated back then. And that’s still true today.

Israel’s sleazy military-industrial complex then went on to be an uber-cheerleader for America when our own sleazy military-industrial complex bombed Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yugoslavia, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and I forget what all else. And Israeli neo-cons themselves have bombed Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and I forget what all else too — not to mention their documented ongoing support for ISIS and Al Qaeda.

If bombs, missiles, white phosphorus, tanks, false-flag operations, F-16s, tear gas or even bottle-rockets are involved, Bibi and these guys are so there!

Millions dead in the Middle East? I call that terrorism. And yet Bibi and his minions actually had the chutzpah to march in Paris “against terrorism,” according to Paris Match. Yeah, right.

Yet who benefited from the Charlie Hebdo incident? Let’s see. According to Paul Craig Roberts, it’s the American military-industrial complex that benefited. “Not France, not Muslims, but US world hegemony. US hegemony over the world is what the CIA supports. US world hegemony is the neoconservative-imposed foreign policy of the US.”

But as they say in poker, “I’ll see Roberts and raise him.” Netanyahu benefited. Apparently, right before the Charlie Dodo incident was staged, France had just announced that it might be backing off supporting sanctions on Russia. What? No immediate prospect of World War III? No big Israeli weapons sales? Bibi must have been tres disappointed!

France had also just announced that it was gonna recognize the Palestinian state. OMG! That must have totally pissed Netanyahu off.

Also, our Bibi is having trouble finding settlers to occupy his many illegal condos in Palestine’s West Bank. But he just loves French Jews — and hopes to scare them enough to force them to flee to Israel and live rent-free on Palestinian land. Heck, I like Israel well enough. Wouldn’t mind living there myself. It’s a nice place. Heck, even the Palestinians used to like living there too. But it’s the Israeli neo-cons’ blood-thirsty hypocritical scheming military-industrial-complex-flaunting neo-con national-socialist leaders that I do not respect or cannot like.

And I’m not being anti-Semitic here. Let’s leave all that religious bigotry to Charlie Hebdo. I am only being a student of American-Israeli neo-con “Realpolitik” (Rāˈälpōliˌtēk/: A system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations). And Realpolitik has nothing to do with religion.

Good grief, I’m so glad that I’m NOT Netanyahu.

And I also feel nothing but compassion for all the billions of Muslims, Christians and Jews who are being subjected to his vile manipulations. I also feel nothing but compassion for the hostages in the kosher supermarket who were also victims of Bibi’s lust for money and power and to create chaos throughout the world — even if it means putting the all world’s Jews in danger again.

PS: What is going to happen next in France? Or in Israel and the United States too, for that matter. As my friend R.J. suggests, let’s follow Norway’s heroic example after the dreadful 2011 massacre there and stop spending our patrimony on guns, bombs, war and alienation and start spending that money on integrating our nations’ diversity into our national bank of excellent human resources instead.

We’ve already wasted a hundred trillion dollars on “war”so far, only to discover again and again that violence doesn’t ever work. Not in the Middle East, not in Ukraine, not in Paris, not at the World Trade Center and not in Ferguson either. Just imagine if we had spent all that money on education, jobs, and integrating our society into a smooth-running democratic machine instead.

To paraphrase Thomas Piketty, “You can’t have a political democracy unless you have an economic democracy too.” And “war” has ruined — absolutely ruined — the economic democracy of both Israel and the USA. And probably France too.

Bibi Not

January 10, 2015

Freedom of Speech isn’t just for Charlie Dodo any more!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 8:04 pm




Charlie Dodo: A deal is struck in France…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 12:42 pm

Author’s note: This is a satire. Sort of.

Don’t you just hate it when people get killed? Murdered? Decapitated? Have their bodies blown up? Why would anybody in their right mind even consider killing another fellow human being? Have you yourself killed anybody lately? Not me. I’ve never killed nothing. Cockroaches, maybe — back when I was living rough on the Lower East Side in 1965. But cockroaches don’t count. Or do they? Can you get PTSD from killing bugs? Probably not.

Yet last week 12 people were shot dead in the streets of Paris by unknown gunmen dressed in black and carrying AK-47s — and apparently even a rocket launcher. And yet nobody twigged to these odd Halloween costumes before it was too late? How did this happen? Apparently a deal had been struck.

Over the past decade or so, the American military-industrial complex in all its glory has moved into the Middle East and killed a million or so people. And it has handled, trained and armed Al Qaeda and ISIS, a pretty much documented fact. However. What goes on in the Middle East stays in the Middle East, right? Theoretically, yes.

But Pappy Bush said, “Let’s go invade Kuwait and kill us some Iraqis.” So he did. And then Baby Bush said, “I can do you one even better than that!” And he killed even more Iraqis — and, being in a generous mood, threw in some dead Afghans, Palestinians and Persians as well.

Then Obama came along and started bragging, “I went to Harvard. I can top that!” And by God he did. Libya, Syria, Palestine (again) and Ukraine (technically not the Middle East but it did include slaughtering a whole bunch of people — so that should count for something, right?)

And then apparently some Al Qaeda wannabes sent word to their handlers or whatever at the CIA, saying, “We’ve been your grunts since forever and, don’t get us wrong, we really do appreciate all the training and weapons you’ve given us and the chance to behead women and children left and right. Don’t get us wrong, Consigliere. We are not ungrateful. But could you kinda maybe send a bit of a tidbit or bone or reward our way too? We too want more of the action. War in the Middle East just isn’t enough. We’re bored of shelling Mosul and Damascus. Can we PLEEZE go shoot up Paris as well? Just a little bit? Please?”

Well, the CIA understood. Who can even think of resisting an all-expense-paid trip to Paris? Certainly not our homeys in ISIS. Paris being the City of Light and all that. “Sure, go on ahead with your bad selves,” the ISIS handlers replied. And a deal was struck.

“What do you got in mind?” asked the handlers. “A little R&R on the Champs-Élysées?”

“Nah. We just want to shoot up Charlie Dodo. Those guys said really really obscene things about the Prophet. Not, of course, the same really really obscene things we say about the Prophet — but definitely in the ballpark. Charlie Dodo has made a mockery of the Prophet. Not as much of a mockery as we have — but a mockery just the same.”

“Done!” cried the handlers — and then the paperwork began. And why not? This could definitely be in War Street’s best interests and get everyone in France hating Muslims (even more than they do already). Just look how well 9-11 turned out for Islamophobics! “Plus it’s always fun to stage a false-flag operation — and you know how we love to kill journalists.” It’s a twofer. This could work!

So their CIA handlers quickly dug up the requisite fake passports and the requisite phony ID cards to leave miraculously lying around at the scene And they even tried to get their new Qaeda-trash protégé thugs some free passes to Euro-Disney as well, but didn’t quite have the clout to pull that one off. But the stage was set. Journalists and police and French citizens were gonna be slaughtered and the whole world was gonna be shocked and go around saying “I am Charlie”. And it would be “Mission Accomplished” all over again, right? And, even more important, now France also has a carte blanche excuse to bomb Palestine or Russia or Vietnam or Walmart or whatever they please — just like Baby Bush had his excuse to bomb Afghanistan.

But I still really hate it when people get killed.

PS: I wrote this because I’m really and totally dubious about what actually happened at Charlie Hebdo the other day.

I’ve been to Iraq, North Korea, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Africa, Palestine, Dallas, etc. and I’ve seen with my own eyes what is actually going on in these places. But then I go back home to the States and read the MSM newspapers and watch the TV news — and it’s a whole different world they are describing, one filled with fantasies, wistful thinking, propaganda and lies.

I never believe anything I read in the MSM any more. So why should I suddenly start believing what they say about the bad guys who shot up the Charlie Hebdo offices in France?


January 9, 2015

Shame on you, Berkeley!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bob Patterson @ 1:35 pm






























The deaths of some lab animals in a senior dissertation project, conducted in Scranton Pa. more than fifty years ago, would hardly seem to be a topic relevant to a political punditry column in 2015, but since it provides a marvelous example of how difficult it can be to ascertain exactly what happened we can start with that obscure and innocuous incident and escalate up to more serious and recent events quite rapidly.

Mary Kay H*****’s experiment subjects died under mysterious circumstances. Did her brother or some of his high school classmates substitute beer for water and cause the project to disintegrate before completion? Hearsay, conjecture, and allegations abound but hard evidence has vanished in the mists of history. One (conspiracy?) theory suggests that her father may have deemed it necessary to scuttle the project.

A call to the World’s Laziest Journalist News Organization headquarters from Germany, on Sunday January 4, 2015, didn’t help the investigation because, although we knew all of the personalities involved, we weren’t there and couldn’t add any facts to the inquest, which has been reopened a half century later.

If someone wasn’t there when things happened, how can journalists write knowledgably about things they did not witness? It’s difficult to peace things together from old memories and conjecture. Aye, lad, there’s the rub!

Just minutes after the call from Germany, we walked into the latest political dispute occurring in Berkeley CA. We were told that the Papa John’s franchise on Shattuck Ave. would not sell to homeless customers. Here we go again with hearsay, rumors, allegations and unverifiable “facts”!

At one point Sunday, we thought we saw a Berkeley Police officer give a slice of pizza to a young lady who couldn’t buy it.

On Monday, January 5, 2015, this columnist went to investigate. When we entered the pizza parlor at approximately 1 p.m., we noted that the customer at the counter had long and shaggy hair, was barefooted and had a dog with him. Most food establishment can refuse to deal with barefooted customers and so the fellow was denied service.

Next up, the guy with the street name “Ninja Kitty,” stepped up to the counter and was informed that he couldn’t buy a pizza. Note: We know for sure that if served he could pay because he was carrying a $20 bill. He left. This columnist was next and we ordered a pizza, paid, and waited for it to be served.

We were unable to locate Ninja when we exited the store, so we went to where he and his posse congregate. We learned that Ninja was helping change a tire for a woman parked in front of the pizza parlor. We passed out slices to his buddies and held two for him to consume after doing his good deed. He gave one of those two to the barefooted fellow.

Since folks reading this column on the Internets don’t want a long and involved think piece, it will suffice to say that this seemed to have the potential of becoming a viable news story and so we started picking up various and sundry related bits of information.

Mike Zint, a political activist and writer, informed us that he had learned the business was directed to not provide service to homeless people by the building’s owner (or designated representative).

Is it an example of irony to note that this treatment of homeless is occurring in Berkeley, which has a reputation for being an ultra liberal city and is located in California’s 13th Congressional District, which is one of the country’s most liberal congressional districts?

We had learned late last year that the Hotel Shattuck building is going through the bureaucratic process necessary for it to be demolished and replaced by an 18 story high rise building.

Could it be, we wondered (speculation alert!), that someone was trying to disperse the groups of homeless people who ask for handouts in the downtown Berkeley business area, before the high-rise opens for business and caters to the swells? Could it be classified as economic cleansing?

As we recall the Santa Monica city attorney forced Domino Pizza to make deliveries to homeless people at a phone booth because it had been depicted in the movie (co-inky-dink alert!) “Ninja Turtles.”

We were told on Elvis’ birthday that the instructions to deny service to the homeless came from the Downtown Business Association. Who, we wondered, is running that particular franchise? We assume that the lawyers for Papa John’s corporation (in Louisville) will know for sure who is running the show and calling the shots for their downtown Berkeley CA franchise.

Over the weekend, we also learned that the Berkeley Public Library main branch has adopted a new hard line way of dealing with the public.

The street person known as “300” was reportedly ejected from the Public Library building last weekend.

Also invited to leave was a local resident (note: that means not homeless). According to hearsay evidence this local political activist was a member of the Maquis. She has some difficulty with the English language and may have had an expired library card. In our book (opinion alert!) the closest any civilian can come to having earned a Congressional Medal of Honor would be to have served in the French underground during the Nazi Occupation of Paris. Shouldn’t Berkeley residents be ashamed of this example of über-rudeness? Hint. Hint. Why isn’t she getting invitations to appear on some late night talk show?

Question: Did the Nazi Occupy Paris movement get criticism or support from the mainstream media? Was there a concerted effort to make the Nazi Occupation of Paris fail? Wasn’t it called “The Maquis”? (The punishment for reading the underground anti-Nazi newspaper, Combat, was death.)

The Nazis also persecuted the gypsies. The first gypsies were thought to have come from Egypt. Gypsy is a contraction formed from the word Egypt.

By midweek, the homeless were mounting an effort to acquire yellow six pointed star patches with the word “Homeless” printed on them.

We would like to write a “Je suis Charlie” column in support of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory was alerted to a video purportedly showing one of the murdered French policemen moving around after supposedly being shot. His face didn’t show in the video and there was no background scenery to establish where the shot was made. Hence a high level of skepticism was used to respond to this bit of evidence for supporting the theory that the terrorists attack didn’t really happen.

We intend on writing next week’s column on the implications of the work slow-down being conducted by the New York City Police Department.

Do the Christian Republicans read the bible? If so, they should know our end of the column quote. In the Bible we find: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40.

The disk jockey will play: Spring Break’s song “Pizza Riot,” Willie Nelson’s “Band of Brothers,” and (irony alert!) the Warsaw Concerto. We have to see if we can take a member of the French Resistance to dinner. Have a “with two free toppings” type week.

January 8, 2015

Why white Southerners have no right to be racist

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 10:18 am

I am so sick and tired of listening to a sleazy ill-mannered collection of white Southerners, Tea Party members and Red-State Republicans constantly making horrible racist slurs. And I am sick of this abomination for two reasons.

First, no real Christian would ever say anything as mean, hurtful and ugly as some of the things that are being said about African-Americans today.

Second, and even more important, is the simple fact that there would be no African-Americans in the United States today to even make racial slurs about — if these same Southern racists’ great-great-grandfathers hadn’t brought hundreds of thousands of slaves over from Africa in the first place. That’s like spilling the milk and then complaining that we are now stuck with spilled milk. Not cool. Not cool at all.

And to add insult to injury, these same bespoke Southern racists also complain about gun violence in the African-American community. That’s hypocritical too. All they have to do is pass some decent gun-control laws and then — poof! — that problem will pretty much disappear.

I swear sometimes I think that Southern racists just like to whine.

“If you can’t be part of the solution, at least stop being part of the problem.”

Originally, 450,000 slaves were forcibly kidnapped from Africa and dragged off to colonial and post-colonial America, mainly to the antebellum South, in the most cruel and inhumane ways imaginable. And, as a result, the number of Americans of African descent living in America by 1860 had grown to 3,638,808. So, clearly, if there hadn’t been all that vicious, mean and cruel slavery in the antebellum South, there would definitely be very few African-Americans around for today’s white Southerners to hound, bully, degrade, insult, abuse and kill.

However, given the basic surley nature of today’s white Southern racists, they would more-than-likely have found some other reason to be bullies and bigots if they didn’t have African-Americans to kick around. “Hey, you! Your eyes aren’t blue enough! Step to the back of the bus!”

“Deflecting the anger…” as Howard Zinn used to call it.

This week I’m going to have cataract surgery performed on my right eye — and after the surgery is over and the gauze is removed, my ophthalmologist assures me that “You will have 20-20 vision in that eye again.”

Imagine if every human being on this weary planet was also suddenly granted 20-20 vision again too — including a clear and perfect inner vision so that we could always see what our real, long-term, enlightened self-interests actually are.

If everyone in the world was suddenly granted 20-20 moral vision, the first thing we would get rid of would be war. And the internal combustion engine. And tax havens for the uber-rich. And GMO foods and corporatism. And injustice, bigotry and racism of course.

“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” would become the new ultimate 20-20 inner vision for all human beings.

Fat chance of that ever happening.

PS: After just this short length of days into the year 2015, we already have a choice to make for this particular New Year. We can, as Rep. Dennis Kucinich reminds us, do the right thing in 2015 and change the course of our nation’s current downward spiral

Or, as journalist William Blum reminds us, we can continue on the sleazy course that we are now on — and suffer the disastrous results

This choice is ours to make.

PPS: Why do Americans seems so willing to believe even the most ugly KKK-like racial-profiling versions of what happened in Ferguson, Staten Island, Los Angeles, Cleveland, etc? Because they saw some slanted, misguided or even outright untrue version of it on TV, of course.

According to Dutch journalist Raul Ilargi Meijer, “If anything defines 2014 for me, it’s the advent of incessant claims for which no proof – apparently – needs to be provided. Everything related to Ukraine over the past year carries that trait. The year of ‘beautiful blue eyes’, in other words. Never any proof, you just have to believe what your government [and media] says.”

For instance, just take a look at that recent “60 Minutes” segment regarding the destruction of the ancient and historic Syrian city of Homs. Bob Simon made it appear as if President Assad himself had destroyed Homs, instead of the real culprits: ISIS and their American, Saudi, Israeli and Turkish handlers, trainers and suppliers. But then, why would Wall Street and War Street ever want us to know that the lethal weapons that ISIS thugs hold in their hands have come from us?

And as for the American media’s reports on racism in the USA? “Doesn’t exist,” cries America’s mainstream news. Good to know. Unless of course you are an African-American who can’t find a job, has kids going to run-down schools and is being shot at in Walmart.

1991 a

January 2, 2015

Punditry for fun in 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:35 pm


















President Obama has a full plate for 2015. He will have to contend with sending new troops to Iraq, the void created by the removal of the American troops in Afghanistan, relations with Russia and Putin, possible war crimes trials for an ally, the debate over fracking, falling oil prices, police shootings and the deteriorating situation in the Pacific Ocean because of Fukushima. The Republicans will take control of Congress this month and could divert Obama’s attention away from national issues by throwing a move to impeach him onto his agenda.

Cynics, curmudgeons and anarchists might think the impeachment tactic is a hilarious practical joke, but some patriotic Americans might want the chief executive to be able to devote his full attention to the nation’s problems and not have to set aside time to respond to a political side show.

Some Republicans have, from the start of Obama’s term in office, dreamed that the only desirable and appropriate result of the historic and president setting Presidency would be to have him removed by the impeachment process and branded as an incompetent bungling buffoon. Why would they let a few pragmatic considerations influence their chance to make their dreams come true and thereby considerably diminish the chances in the future for making a second replay of the history making election a virtual impossibility?

Predictions that Obama will soon be impeached will seem absurd in retrospect if he is not impeached and will be totally ignored if he is. Since the mainstream media is owned and operated by conservatives, any accurate predictions will be ignored and that brings up the question of why bother to write any such fearless political forecasts?

Conservative pundits have a high likelihood of earning enormous financial rewards for their labor but liberal pundits are doing the Cheshire Cat style disappearing act and are vanishing from the pop culture scene.

So if a fellow is attracted to the punditry game by the prospect of fame, fortune, and fun and if conservative commentators are the only ones permitted to earn big bucks and become celebrities; why should anybody want to write critical assessments of the Republican Reich which is just about to begin in earnest?

Is “just for fun” a legitimate reason for getting up early on a Friday morning to bang out a weekly column?

What if the pundit uses the zen approach to maximize his fun quotient?

Obviously, a husband and a family man can’t expect to have a blast doing fact gathering and expect his wife and kids to approve, but when the pundit is a bachelor who has the basic needs (a bunk and meals) covered, why shouldn’t he accept that his mission in life is to be a proxy for the average IrishCatholicDemocrat voter and to sally forth looking for interesting people, amazing sights, and perceptive insights into the zeitgeist of contemporary society?

If he can and does subsidize his expenses no one would criticize his choices for spending the money, n’est ce pas?

If the prediction that Obama will be impeached early this year is correct, then the people who were so busy reporting on the latest police shootings (like the one December 30 in Bridgeton New Jersey? [Do a Google News search.]) will have to scramble to reassess what the consequences would be of such an impeachment.

If Obama is impeached, Joseph Biden would then become President and as the incumbent would have a virtual lock on the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2016. That would mean that Hillary Clinton would be left crying at the alter, so to speak. All the commentary and speculation about a Hillary vs. JEB contest in 2016 would immediately become extinct verbiage.

If a pundit were to make such a prediction and be wrong couldn’t he just say: “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!”?

Big name conservative pundits and commentators will want the maximum “gotcha!” effect of a sudden move to impeach and so they won’t mention any rumblings in Congress that indicate such a move will take place. Liberal pundits use the psychological phenomenon called “projection” to avoid a distasteful subject.

Projection means that since Liberals don’t think that impeachment is a rational move, then they assume that Republicans in Congress will think likewise and so they don’t bring up the possibility.

If a liberal pundit were to approach the possibility from the “How do Republicans think” style of analysis, then they would immediately sound the alarm and shriek: “He’s gonna get impeached          !”

The Republicans would immediately debunk the idea by denouncing it as a “conspiracy theory.” For Republicans, labeling something as a conspiracy theory is like playing the ace of trump in a card game. Check and checkmate!

If a knight errant pundit is going to make long-shot predictions doesn’t he occasionally have to scoop the New York Times to counter act his nuisance value?

In the San Francisco Bay Area radio listeners are being tsunami-ed by ads that say folks with poor credit ratings deserve a chance to buy a used car from the advertiser.

The New York Times recently ran a story about how poor and middle class people are being forced to contend with higher interest rates on the loans they do get.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has heard hints that easing restrictions on credit for used car buyers will produce a situation similar to the fiasco that happened in the housing market a few years back. When enough unqualified borrowers default on their car loans, won’t a bail-out (“too big to fail!”) be sure to follow?

If conservative commentators are too busy to give their audiences a heads-up on this déjà vu story and if liberal pundits are too engrossed in the latest cops shoot a young man stories (do a Google News search for “policie shooting” for the latest) to care about what might happen to the used car market, then perhaps the World’s Laziest Journalist can run an item about that topic and then transition to a non sequitur item about the impact on his life of some information found in the Lonely Planet guidebook for Cuba?

On page 229 of the 2000 edition of the Lonely Planet guidebook “Cuba,” readers learn this about Hemingway’s house: “To prevent the pilfering of objects, visitors are not allowed inside the house, but much can be seen through the open windows.”

WTF? The World’s Laziest Journalist doesn’t think that going to Cuba just to do some Peeping Tom activity at Hemingway’s house sounds like enough fun to rationalize the necessary expenses involved. If we can’t get Castle Cadillac Restorations to be a corporate sponsor for a barn find safari to “the Largest Antique Car Museum in the World” (AKA Cuba) then we may have to reevaluate our level of enthusiasm for seeing Hemingway’s house.

[Note from the Photo Editor: While the columnist tries to find the meaning of last year and the prospects for this year, we selected a photo of a license plate seen in the W. A. (i.e. Western Australia) for the readers to ponder.]

In “The Truest Sport,” Tome Wolfe wrote: “The North Vietnamese and the Russians packed so much artillery in around these two cities that pilots would come back saying: ‘It was like trying to fly through a rainstorm without hitting a drop.’”

Now the disk jockey will play “I’ve got a lot of traveling to do,” “On the road again,” and “Traveling man.” We have to go apply for press credentials to cover the Oscars©. Have a “Eureka!” type week.

December 31, 2014

The future “former” USA: Just another former Soviet Union?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 2:18 pm

I just finished reading an article by a guy who had accurately predicted the fall of the former USSR two whole years before it actually happened. However, nobody back then even believed him. “The USSR has over-extended itself and is going to collapse!” he kept telling people. But everyone who heard him just laughed.

Well. At this point in time, the USA has totally over-extended itself too. Like some addicted shopaholic set loose with questionable plastic at a shopping mall, the USA has over-charged every single one of its credit cards by at least eleven trillion dollars in order to buy its very favorite consumer product — endless war. And, in addition, the USA has also spent another ungodly number of trillions on making its uber-rich 1% even richer, and keeping its corrupt bankers happy as clams.

And so, like the former USSR back in 1991, now the USA also has nowhere to go but down either — due to its total over-extension. And you don’t even have to be a genius to do the math here. Anyone with a calculator app. on their iPhone can figure this one out. A couple hundred trillion $$$$ subtracted from zero equals what? Total collapse. This is pretty much a given at the rate that our “fearless leaders” on Wall Street and War Street are currently spreading their phony credit-card moolah around.

But what I really want to talk about here is what will actually happen to America (and to you and me) when our country suddenly does become referred to as “The Former USA”. To know that, all we have to do is look at a model already set before us — what had happened to the Former USSR after it had over-extended itself.

First, you gotta remember that ten percent of all citizens of the Soviet Union actually DIED after the USSR collapsed. Ten percent! One in ten. The old people went first. And the working poor. And the kids. That would be like having about 30 million Americans dead as a doornail because Wall Street and War Street didn’t behave themselves.

Second, a huge number of Soviet public buildings throughout Europe and Asia suddenly became “privatized” and were happily handed over to the lowest bidders — the oligarchs. But then that is happening here in the USA already. Let’s take my own downtown Berkeley post office for instance. It’s being practically given away to oligarchs even as we speak. And American schools, national parks, mineral-rich lands, public buildings and all kinds of other property that used to be held in the common interest is now not being held in the common interest any more. And when the USA becomes “Former,” this process will be speeded up even faster. Say goodbye to Yellowstone, the Statue of Liberty and your local city hall.

Third, after the former Soviet Union fell, people’s teeth began to rot for lack of dental care there. Suddenly there were no affordable doctors and dentists in Russia, a trend that has also gotten a big head-start here in the soon-to-be Former USA already. If you don’t take care of your citizens, this is what you get. Sick people and rotten teeth.

Fourth? Unemployment in Russia. Of course we already have a head-start on that one as well. But it will be getting worse. Much worse.

Fifth, the USSR’s status as a world super-power suddenly collapsed as its wounded warriors painfully wound their way back home from places like Afghanistan. The same will happen in the former USA too.

Sixth: Before its collapse, the USSR used to be a “communist” state — in the sense that only a few people at the very top made all the decisions. And now, thanks to Citizens United, the USA has already gotten that way too. We are no longer a democracy either. So in that respect too we have already started to become like the Soviets right before their big fall. And it will get even worse here after the fall of the USA as well. Our current “deep state” shadow governments will be coming out of the shadows and cesspools for sure. Can you say “President-for-Life Cheney,” boys and girls?

But actually, back during the 1950s, it was America that had been the true communist state — after WW II had reshuffled the cards, dealt new hands to working folks, given our middle class a leg up and redistributed our wealth more equally by taking it from the uber-rich and giving it to the middle class. But Reagan’s tricky re-stacking of the deck in favor of Wall Street, and Bush’s ace-up-his-sleeve gifts to War Street and sleight-of-hand tax redistribution act of 2003 soon changed all that — and our wealth was then redistributed upwards to the uber-rich once again, ending “communism” in America forever. No, they don’t call it “capitalism” without reason. The uber-rich now own all the “capital”. We don’t.

In order to return to America’s former “communistic” economic glory of the 1950s, three things need to happen. We need to go back to giving America’s middle and working classes their former leg-up tax breaks — instead of only giving a huge tax leg-up to our 1% “Soviet Commissars” only. And we need to stop stacking the deck in favor of Wall Street’s insane profit margins. And we need to shut down War Street completely. Otherwise, after the USA falls too, we also are gonna have oligarchs coming out of our ears — even more than they are now.

Seventh, the USSR ruble collapsed back then — just like the dollar is now collapsing already. It’s gonna be rather tough around here when the US dollar also becomes worth diddly-squat.

Eighth, consider that wise Biblical saying, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. And then become very afraid. From Hiroshima, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Africa and Latin America to the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Ukraine, etc., the first thing that the USA and/or its surrogates do when they attack a country is to bomb its civilian population, take out the water supply, power plants and hospitals, and/or install a ruthless dictator. Let us just hope that the former USA will not fall into a position to be vulnerable to retaliation, that our former victims will show mercy and that “Do unto others…” will not apply to us like it did to the USSR.

And, ninth, the huge Soviet Union began to break up into smaller states and groups as it fell. That will definitely happen here too. Can’t exactly say that I will miss any of the Red States when they leave — but they will sorely miss not being part of the new American Blue States, their current life-line to prosperity. I can tell you that right now.

All the signs of the eminent collapse of the USA are already here right now, just like they were for the USSR back before 1991. Go ahead and laugh if you will, but hard times really are coming here too. The Former USA is practically upon us. We have already over-extended ourselves too deeply to rationally expect any other result. Sigh.

Let us just hope that America somehow manages to find another chess master like Putin to lead us After the Fall, and doesn’t get stuck with another drunk like Yeltsin!


December 26, 2014

That was quite a year!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bob Patterson @ 1:51 pm

surfer in bronz















Playing mindf**k with the voters rather than trying to solve problems may sound diabolic but the fact that such is the case was highlighted by Berkeley CA merchants this week when store windows began to simultaneously proclaim: “All Lives Matter.” Some people see the problem as a chance to build up a new wedge issue for dividing the Democrats. Cynics proclaim that the Republicans want a race war and that would provide an excuse for establishing marshal law.

Drone strikes produce collateral damage, to be sure, but Americans are comfortable with that fact (well, most) and shrug off any attempts to focus attention on the regrettable civilian casualties. Americans don’t want to think about the question of do those lives matter. Wasn’t the image of just one crying infant in Nan King use to visually establish the barbaric nature of the “enemy” during WWII?

Speaking of playing mindf**k, some radical elements of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory have suggested that the hack attack on Sony was just a “false flag” operation designed to build the audience for a mediocre comedy that would sell more admission tickets by being established as a way to make a bold and courageous statement in favor of freedom of speech.

Such a cynical interpretation would assume that revealing the bitchy e-mails was just a bit of psychological collateral damage and was worth the effort needed to make a poor example of cinematic artistry into a modern pop culture phenomenon.

Why, in the era of “Black Lives Matter,” is the mainstream media ignoring the case of the Florida woman who fired a warning shot and now faces twenty years in prison in a state that became famous for promoting the “stand your ground” principle? Do a Google News search for Marissa Alexander.

Why, when Ferguson Marches have become ubiquitous and contentious, do the mainstream media ignore the case of Ezell Ford?

The World’s Laziest Journalist had intended to take a pundit break from early December until late in January of 2015 when we fully expect the Republican Reich to start impeachment proceedings aimed at President Obama.

Suddenly, Berkeley CA became the home of repeated Ferguson Marches and also one of the few areas where the controversial SONY movie, “The Interview,” was being shown so we had to shelve our plans to run some “Best of” columns and churn out some new fresh attempts to observe, analyze, and comment rather than re-run some vintage insights into how after failing to end the Vietnam War as promised, President Nixon got reelected by making “Law and Order” the focus for winning a second term in office. Could “Law and Order” become the theme of the JEB Bush campaign in 2016?

When it came time to rush off on Christmas Day to the Berkeley theater showing “The Interview,” we realized that on the skim and skip battleground called the Internets a prolonged effort to review the new comedy might be a bit of wasted time and effort because readers just want to know if the flick is funny and worth the price of admission. So we could reference its rating on the tomato meter and throw in some premeditated misspellings and not have to bother to actually see the film and ponder its social significance.

Can SONY subsidize an effort to get Dennis Rodman to provide some damage control and defuse the crisis with North Korea? Is it true that Rodman now travels with a passport that provides him with diplomatic immunity status?

As of the morning of Friday, December 26, 2014, the new movie was getting a 48% (of the reviews were good) rating on the Rotten Tomatoes web site.

We have noticed that the evening news shows are focusing on the weather rather than current events in Libya, Egypt, and Syria and so we must include the fact that Christmas Day in the San Francisco Bay Area was just another example of summer in winter California style.

The end of the year season is jam-packed with Top Ten Lists (compiled earlier in the month), Best of radio and TV programs, and innocuous feature stories such as the traditional Australian way to celebrate Christmas; in your bathing suit on one of their world famous beaches such as Bondi or Cottesloe.  {Note from Photo Editor:  The bronze surfer was seen in Fremantle Western Australia, some years ago at Christmas time.]

Isn’t it ironic that a man who got elected by promising to win the Vietnam War and got reelected on the issue of “Law and Order” came very close to being impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors?

Conservative pundits are relentless in asserting that everything wrong in America can be blamed on President Obama. If Obama is impeached early next year and if JEB is elected in 2016, some folks might expect that conservative pundits might have a difficult time explaining any gaffs (such as 9-11?) that occur during the Republican Reich era.

Just as the conservatives had no problem ignoring the reality and consequences of George W. Bush’s invasions and wars in the Middle East, conservatives will do the ostrich defense and will act like the folks who criticized the band’s performance while the Titanic was sinking.

George W. Bush was quoted as saying, on May 14, 2001: “For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three nonfatal shootings.”

Now the disk jockey will play “I shot the Sheriff,” “Frankie and Johnnie,” and Lauren Green’s “Ringo.” We have to go stock up on soda pop before the new Berkeley tax becomes effective. Have a “you get a get out of jail card” type week.



December 23, 2014

Obama got run over by a red-nosed reindeer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 2:27 pm

We may be in the Christmas season right now — but what the freak has happened to all our “Tidings of Comfort and Joy”? There only seems to be coals in our stockings these days. And there only seems to be versions of “You’d better watch out” hanging around too.

For instance, right now the American economy seems about to stop jingling its bells, give just one last futile gasp and collapse like Santa Claus falling off a roof. Only the Christmas Miracle of our economy’s former strength keeps it from not crying and pouting under the load of [war] toys and [corporate-lobby] gifts that the top 1% have loaded our sleigh down with in the past several decades.

And not only that but our “Holy Nights” have now become a hecka lot less Holy — ever since we’ve heard the sad tidings of what actually goes on in CIA black sites and torture camps. “Do you hear what I hear?” Victims of torture, screaming through the night. Not exactly joy to the world, if you ask me.

I myself have been in a great deal of pain lately due to an operation on my left arm — and have learned the hard way that pain is definitely not fun. “Do you know what I know?” Just exactly how long would any of us last under the pain of American-made torture when those black sites come to America too? Let’s just hope that we never have to find out.

America, like Nazi Germany, is now a country that embraces torture — no matter what our 9-11 excuses are (I’m sure that Hitler had lots of Reichstag fire excuses too).

Regarding America’s foreign policy, “O Holy Night” has now been replaced with “O Holy Crap!”

And in the Middle East, Jesus’ very own “Little Town of Bethlehem” is once again under a Herod-like, child-slaughtering, grim occupation — as Bibi Netanyahu happily sings “Born is the King of Israel” to himself while visions of also being King of Egypt, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq now dance in his head as well, thanks to his generous support from American taxpayers’ money and his own strategic support of ISIS and Sisi (Sisi is ISIS spelled backwards, BTW).

But what about “Hark the Herald Angel sing”? Can we at least hear some herald angels singing out in Christmas joy these days, please? Nope, not at all. Those particular angels are completely silent this year — on the subject of racism in America. How can they possibly sing about equality and hope — when the average African-American elf makes 15 times less than the average white Santa’s helper here in the USA; almost as unequal as back in the day when African-Americans were bound into slavery like Moses in Egypt or in the antebellum South.

Baby Jesus would have hated slavery — but apparently America’s Red-Nosed States still really like it a lot.

Then there’s always “The [last] Noel the angels did say….” And of course that would be climate change they are singing about. “On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.” Ho Ho Ho.

Not to mention the on-going and escalating threat of Fukushima. No one hears anything about that any more — but that doesn’t mean that it still isn’t going on. “Silent Night”.

And of course “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…” is still very popular these days. 40% of America’s children are being raised in poverty — plus most of their schools are crumbling, their chances for a college education is prancing away from them and their future job market looks as bleak as Tiny Tim’s before Scrooge got set right. “The little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.”

And not only that, but the President of the United States himself seems to have got run over by a reindeer as well — or at least he’s been run over by the Republican party. Of course we all know that this has happened — but exactly why did it? “WHY don’t Republicans like Obama?” I keep asking myself. Perhaps Republicans, like grandma, have been drinking too much eggnog?

This complete distaste for Obama is a total mystery to me. Just exactly why does Obama have all those Tea Party footprints on his forehead? He has done every single thing that Bush and Cheney did back when they occupied the White House — only, like Ginger Rogers, Obama has practically done it backwards and in high heels!

Torture? Check.

War-mongering? Check.

Supporting corrupt bankers, criminal Wall Street deregulation and the evil Federal Reserve? Check.

Encouraging tax evasion for the wealthy? Check.

Signing unconstitutional executive orders? Check.

Lying to the American public about causes for war? Check.

Standing back while militarized police attack peaceful protesters? Check.

Hell, even Obama’s new Cuba policy and healthcare system benefits large corporations instead of the rest of us.

About the only thing Obama hasn’t done that Bush and Cheney easily got away with is to participate in election malfeasance — that is, that I am aware of. So WHY don’t the Republicans like him? Obama was even educated in an Ivy League college and has big ears and a smirk like George W. Bush! Have the Repubs forgotten their medication? I just don’t understand.

But, in any case, and despite all the disastrous “bah-humbug” that we now receive from our so-called leaders, I would still like to wish a Merry Christmas to all Americans — and a happy birthday to the Prince of Peace as well.

Photo is of U. Utah Phillips, the Golden Voice of the Great Southwest, playing Santa Claus at the Freight & Salvage Coffee House back in 1973. Don’t even try to guess who Santa’s helper was!


December 19, 2014

Berkland gets “Mad as Hell”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bob Patterson @ 1:26 pm

crop of spray can cat

On Sunday, December 14, 2014, we learned that members of the clergy in the Berkeley area were holding a Ferguson protest march. We went to cover the event and got a good shot. It showed a local clergyman holding a “Black Lives Matters” and due to the low angle it also included the Church belfry tower. We asked the minister his name and he declined to say and also added he did not think it would be a good photo to use. (Has he ever been a judge in the Greater Los Angeles Press Photographers’ monthly clip contest? We have.) We immediately had the thought that he might not want his congregation to know that he had participated in a protest to protect the rights of a wounded suspect to make a U-turn and charge at a pursuing police officer. We responded: “I can understand you wanting to disassociate yourself from this . . . (fill in the blank)______ .” You don’t have to ask twice to get the World’s Laziest Journalist to do less work. Unless you read the Revolution News, you won’t see any original material online about that particular protest in Berkeley.

On Saturday, the local NAACP leaders held a protest march in Oakland because they felt that the leadership of the Ferguson protests was being co-opted by white people in the Black Block movement, the anarchists and perhaps even the communists.

Also on Saturday a stunt at the University of California at Berkeley grabbed headlines by displaying large images of lynch mob victims with the sign reading: “I can’t breathe!” It was reported on Sunday on KCBS news radio that it was an art project created by some artists with African-American heritage.

Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton have arrived to garner their share of face time on the network evening news shows.

The chief of police for the Richmond CA Police Department made the news (at least locally) by showing up to a Ferguson protest in uniform and holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign. The Richmond Police promptly reminded the chief it is against department policy to participate in a political event while in uniform.

On Monday, December 15, 2014, protesters chained themselves together in Oakland and blocked roadways and entrances to the Oakland Police Headquarters. According to KCBS news radio it took “several hours” for the police to use bolt cutters to separate the protesters and then to arrest them.

Monday was also the 75th anniversary of the premiere of the movie “Gone with the Wind.”

Could the Oakland Police have worked slowly to help the protesters make their point . . . Or . . . could they have worked slowly as a way to increase the commuters’ frustration level and thereby generate more animosity which would be directed at the supporters of the protest against police violence?

One protester was quoted on KCBS as saying (paraphrasing here) that if people weren’t part of the protest then they were part of the problem and deserved to be late for work.

On Monday afternoon Oakland students from various local high schools held a protest at the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station in West Oakland and disrupted some people’s afternoon commute. They then walked to Lake Merritt for a candle light vigil. Did that cause even more disruption of the evening commute?

Apparently some protest strategists believe in a paraphrase of the old Vietnam era maxim: “When you got them by the traffic jam, their hearts and minds will follow.” . . . or not.

On Tuesday, December 16, 2014, the Berkeley City Council was scheduled to hold a meeting at the Lincoln school because they wanted to use the auditorium to accommodate a crowd that was expected to be much larger than usual. Citizens wanted to sound-off about police conduct during recent protests.

A rally was scheduled to precede the meeting. About 3 p.m. it a rain downpour started (cue the British cliché about tall cow/flat rock) and we reassessed the need to fact check by attending the city council meeting. We assumed that Rev. Whatzizname from Sunday would question the need to attend the city council meeting and immediately concurred. So we heard reports on Tuesday night on KCBS news radio that the rain may have suppressed attendance at the meeting but that some citizens were taking advantage of the chance to express their criticism of the recent use of teargas for crowd control.

According to what we heard on KCBS, Mayor Tom Bates promised that the complaints wouldn’t be ignored. The Berkeley City council moved to devote a meeting in January to the problem. The precise political term for this legislative move is called: “Kicking the can down the road.”

On the pop culture beat, it is interesting to note that with all the criticism of white police officers, we have not yet heard the word “honky” used once. (Is using that word a hate crime?) This week the word “culture” was named the word of the year. Some wags use the word Berkland to designate the Berkeley/Oakland border area.

Students at Berkeley went home for the Christmas Holiday break and by Thursday, December 18, 2014, KCBS was reporting that a protest march in Oakland featured about fifty protesters.

Japanese Company, SONY, changed the game for Americans by capitulating to terrorists’ demands and invalidating the sacrifices that Americans have made to accommodate the new Homeland Security era. According to one comment we heard, SONY will be refunded all their production costs by an insurance company, and thus prove that it was worth the new danger level Americans will have to adopt because of their greed.

We heard an outrageous rumor that the bookshop/gift store at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory was going to offer T-shirts showing portraits of Pretty Boy Floyd, Clyde Barrow, and John Dillinger and the words “White Lives Matter.”

Nationally a great amount of attention was focused on the announcement this week that diplomatic relations would be restored between the USA and Cuba.

One of the minor effects of this bit of news is that suddenly a visit to Hemingway’s home near Havana had vaulted to the top of our bucketlist.

Perhaps we could visit Key West for Hemingway Days and then get a chance to take a short flight and scratch visiting Finca Vega off the bucketlist.

Didn’t Pan Am get started with a route from Miami to Havana? Won’t there be a new opportunity for a small airline to provide that same service next year?

Didn’t the CIA’s staff at the station assigned to monitor Cuba and the Cuban exiles in Miami move to Saigon in the mid Sixties?

For our closing quote, we’ll note that Hunter S. Thompson wrote: “I’d like to get hold of some priests’ robes. . . . They might come in handy in Las Vegas. But there were no costume stores open, and we weren’t up to burglarizing a church.” (Roger that, HST!)

Now the disk jockey will play Lenny Bruce’s “the Berkeley Concert” in its entirety, Stan Freberg’s “Green Christmas,” and Nathalie Cardone’s version of “Haste Siempre, Comandante” (AKA the Che Guevara song). We have to go reread Norman Mailer’s “Algiers Motel Incident.” Have a “buy the ticket; take the ride” type week.


December 16, 2014

Still Waiting on Justice’s Trap Door

Filed under: Guest Comment — Ye Olde Scribe @ 1:00 pm


December 14, 2014

Diaspora: People all over the world are now on the move

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 2:53 pm

We are currently in a totally unique period in the history of the human race. Seven billion people inhabit the planet right now — and a good many of those are now on the move — bumping around our world like glittering particles in a snow globe, shaken not stirred.

Back in paleolithic times, humans migrated out of Africa to every habitable corner of the world, sure, and of course for many centuries after 1492 there were boatloads of Europeans migrating off to the New World — but this current worldwide migration is happening on steroids compared to what happened back then.

Now, instead of a few hundred Homo sapiens taking centuries to move from Point A to Point B or thousands of Europeans sailing off over a span of centuries, we now have hundreds of millions of human beings packing their bags and moving across oceans and continents within the span of mere decades — or even within a few days.

It used to be that people lived in small communities of around 150 inhabitants — and almost none of them traveled further than 20 miles from their homes in the course of their entire lives. But now you find massive and disruptive diasporas happening everywhere you look.

In Berkeley, California, for instance, I recently went to a neighborhood potluck dinner — and there were at least six different languages spoken there (not counting English) by people from all over the world.

Check this out:

The African diaspora: Not caused this time by a forced migration of slaves but by the forced migration of natural resources. For instance, hundreds of residents from other parts of Africa stream over the border into South Africa daily from even as far away as Congo and Sudan, looking for safety. What drives this huge diaspora? The looting of Africa’s diamonds and oil by huge corporations.

The Middle Eastern diaspora: These days, all of Europe is being flooded with people from Yemen, Iraq, Palestine, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, etc., mainly as a result of wars being started in their home countries by the American military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about.

The new Israeli diaspora: Thousands of Israelis are now ending up in America (and Germany, Ukraine and Russia of all places too), desperately escaping from their so-called “land without people for a people without land”.

These displaced Israelis left because they resented being victims of the old bait-and-switch con game. They thought they were going off to live in a small safe haven on the peaceful shores of the Mediterranean — only to discover that their new country had been taken over by uber-fanatic settlers, hard-core neo-nazi military extremists and Likud’s dream of establishing a Netanyahu Caliphate from the Euphrates to the Nile. “Not what I signed up for,” these refugees lament.

The Latin American diaspora: Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador? Whole populations are now on the move from there — thanks to Reagan’s wars on Central America, Clinton’s NAFTA and the Bush-Obama “war on drugs”. And America’s support for the cruel junta now in power in Honduras has imitated a sad and tragic latter-day Children’s Crusade.

The Asian diaspora: As a result of decades of American wars on Asia. In California alone we now have Little Cambodia, Little Vietnam, Little Laos and Little Seoul. I rest my case.

The Japanese diaspora: Fukushima happened and now suddenly all of Japan has become radioactive and folks there are constantly looking for a safe way out.

The Tibetan diaspora: When 1,200,000 of your closest friends and neighbors have been slaughtered by roving bands of Chinese Communist gangs, who could possibly blame you for thinking it might be time to move on to a safer ‘hood.

Then there’s the Iranian and Russian diasporas — but those ones have been slowly drying up to a trickle as Russians and Iranians suddenly begin to realize there is no longer any better place to go.

But one of the strangest international migrations these days is the migration of the members of ISIS. These blood-thirsty pirates are now deliberately migrating toward danger spots, not away from them. And in large numbers too. Why? Who the freak knows. Like horses that refuse to leave a burning barn? Or like psychopaths driven mad by being tortured and held in captivity for too long? Or, more than likely, like mercenaries being paid big bucks by America, Turkey and the Saudis to wreck havoc on places containing natural resources and oil.

“But why exactly are there suddenly so many diaspora start-ups happening in this new 21st century? Why suddenly now?” you might ask.

Two reasons.

The first reason is that no matter where you go on earth today, the “haves” are busy stripping the “have-nots” of their treasures as fast as humanly possible — and so the “have-nots” are simply following the trail of their stolen treasures back to the lands of the “haves”.

The second reason can be explained in just one three-letter word: W-A-R. Brutal, heartless and unnecessary war. Neo-colonial wars for profit. Murderous wars based on shameless greed or racism or power. And the American military-industrial complex is clearly responsible for most of these wars, either overtly or covertly.

People all over the world are now running away from American war planes, American weapons, American “boots on the ground” and American drones. And, most recently, American paramilitary police. Sucks to be a powerless weaponless peon these days, right?

“But what’s your point, Jane?”

I have several points to make. First, that the whole world has been agitated and shaken up — and like ants in an ant colony, people are running every which-way to get away from all the threats. Second, that all of this forced migration is not good — not good for children or any other living thing. Third: That, sadly, we Americans will also have to pay the price for all this destabilization someday soon too. And, fourth, that Americans should stop bitching about “illegal aliens” coming here following their treasures. If the American military-industrial complex hadn’t shaken our snow-globe, there wouldn’t be such a huge immigration problem in the first place.

PS: And then there’s always the ongoing diaspora to California. Sure, a few people do go off to live in the Red States — but who the freak wants to live in Mississippi when they can be living in San Francisco! And who would ever want to live in the frozen northern states under ten feet of climate-change-caused snow when the electricity goes off?

PPS: Now let’s talk about happiness — what most of these global refugees are pursuing. Happiness is a good thing, right? And what makes us happy? Kittens, puppies, money, new cars? Sex and love? Organic vegetables and Vitamin D? Friends?

Or is it war that makes us happy? With the American military-industrial complex’s incredibly strong record of starting and maintaining wars, one would think that, if war truly made us happy, Americans today would be the happiest people on earth! But we are not.

No matter how many “positive psychology” motivational speakers we worship or anti-depressants we take — or “wars” we start, Americans are just not all that happy. Take for instance all those nation-wide protests against Wall Street and police brutality. If Americans were really all that happy, would they be marching in the streets — for no matter what reason? And why aren’t all our homeless children and unemployed former members of our formerly-great middle class wearing smiles on their faces either?

PPPS: Economist Thomas Piketty states that, “The value of human capital is much higher than any other form of capital.” If this is true, then why is the American military-industrial complex happily engaged in killing off our most valuable and important form of capital both at home and abroad? That just doesn’t make sense.


December 13, 2014

Mr. Torture

Filed under: Guest Comment — Ye Olde Scribe @ 1:28 pm


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