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March 25, 2015

My trip to Portland: A crime convention, donuts, tunnels & rain

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 7:28 pm

I’ve had a really good time in Portland, Oregon, this week — even though it rained almost every day. But even the rain in Portland is charming. I’d never been to Portland before and wouldn’t even be here now if it hadn’t been the site of a convention for murder-mystery writers and their fans. Murder-mystery fans? That would be me! http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2015/

“But why are you such a fan-girl, Jane?” you might ask. That’s easy. It’s because you can always count on justice being achieved by the end of the book — which is a good thing, especially if you are an American and currently living right here in the very belly of the beast of injustice itself.

Whenever I think about our corporate gollums in Washington, all those huge bankster bailouts on Wall Street and America’s phony endless wars on the Middle East and the Middle Class, then seeing justice achieved every time becomes huge. http://news.antiwar.com/2015/03/17/european-nations-join-chinas-world-bank-alternative-in-blow-to-us/

A lot of my favorite crime-fiction authors are attending this convention, including Lisa Brackman, Johnny Shaw, Lee Goldberg and Catriona McPherson, but there are also some writers here that I’ve never even heard of before — but need to.

Phillip Margolin, a famous crime-thriller writer, was a featured speaker at the convention and he said, “Before I was an author, I was a defense attorney and I’ve represented over 30 murderers at trial.” That’s clearly a unique way to get insights into the criminal mind.

“But I like writing better than being an attorney because you have the ability to change the outcomes — which you never can do in real life. Plus the difference between reality and fiction is that fiction is supposed to be credible. And you also have the obligation to tie things up. Sometimes real life makes no sense whatsoever.” http://www.phillipmargolin.com/books/

And Margolin’s method of writing? “I never write a word until I’m sure of the ending. Then I write a very detailed outline, fill in the missing pieces and then refine it and refine it. And I always read my dialogues out loud in order to test their validity. But basically, when writing, I need to find an idea that I can get excited about.”

I know exactly what he means. Nothing gets me more excited about my own writing efforts than the thought of getting to rail against injustice, especially against injustice paid for by American taxpayers — such as that mess in Ukraine, that mess in Syria, that mess in Palestine, that mess in Libya, that mess in the CIA, that mess in the District of Columbia, that mess in Ferguson, that mess in Wisconsin, that mess in [fill in the blanks]. http://thesaker.is/nemtsov-maidan-failed-evgeny-fedorov-eng-subs/

After Margolin’s presentation, I got a chance to talk to him personally — about our similar experiences in the Peace Corps in Africa. Geez Louise, the Peace Corps was such a grand idea. But now it seems like all that Americans are clambering for these days is a War Corps. http://www.legitgov.org/Plane-drops-ammunition-helping-reinforce-ISIS-reports-earlier-munitions-had-English-language-marking

Then, after attending a few more excellent panels at the convention, it was time to climb aboard the #8 bus and go off to tour Portland. All those stereotypes of Portland residents are true — almost everyone here wears plaid and most of the guys look like lumberjacks. And of course the first place that you gotta go to in Portland is to Voodoo Donuts. There were 80 people standing in line, but I played the sympathy card (just had an operation on my knee) and managed to cut in line. Unjust, I know, but I was desperate for a “Portland Cream,” the city’s official donut (glazed, cream-filled and frosted with chocolate). Delicious. Went back and got another one the next day.

Next, I toured Portland’s famous Shanghai tunnels, built in the 1870s, where approximately 3,000 kidnapped men had been warehoused at one time or another before being sold off to sea captains for $50 a man — and where kidnapped women were locked into tiny lightless cells until they were broken enough to be trafficked by white slavers. That tour was spook-y!

Next came the requisite tour of Powell’s Books and then back on the #17 bus to go home to the Walking Liberty Guesthouse where I stayed. I love Portland!

PS: Portland is also one of the few cities in America that isn’t forced to pour industrial-strength fluoride from China into its water supply, figuring that its citizens are smart enough to make that fluoride-use decision on their own and/or that they already get enough fluoride from other sources such as tea, tooth paste and pesticides. http://www.slweb.org/ftrcsymptoms.html

And another thankful result of Portland’s non-fluoridation policy is that we can all rest assured that Portland’s world-famous craft beers do not contain fluoride like other American beers do — and thus if you drink a six-pack of Portland craft beer, you don’t ever have to worry about OD-ing on fluoride, which is more toxic than lead (but slightly less toxic than arsenic). http://fluoridealert.org/issues/health/

So if you really want to limit your fluoride intake to a reasonable amount, just drink Portland beer!

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March 23, 2015

Let’s stop treating war criminals like Disney princesses!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 11:41 am

Scientific fact: You are either a war criminal or you are not. The Geneva conventions and the Nuremberg trials have set out specific definitions of what a war criminal is. How do you spot a war criminal? It’s not rocket science. You just look at the list of war crimes that has been drawn up for our convenience and then check off the boxes. A fifth-grader could do this! https://www.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_cha_chapter44_rule156

Yet how come so many war criminals these days are being treated like Disney princesses by the American people?

George Bush, Dick Cheney, Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama have so many checks in their “war criminal” column that it’s pathetic. Torture? Check. Illegal invasions of other countries? Check. Bombing innocent civilian populations? Check. Check. Check. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41297.htm

And yet these four war criminals are being treated like Tiana, Jasmine, Arial and Pocahontas instead of like Ursula, Maleficent and Jafar. What’s with that?

Netanyahu is a war criminal by any definition. And that neo-Nazi guy who NATO installed into power in Ukraine is such a war criminal that both Hitler and Stalin would be proud of him. Yet Americans treat these two evil men as if they were Belle and Mulan. http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com/2015/03/triumph-of-checklist-comparing.html

Sisi in Egypt? Total bad guy! And we all know that the Saudis are so evil they give little kids nightmares about Saudi pilots flying into buildings. And wasn’t Osama bin Laden also a Saudi? Yet Americans talk about Sisi and the Saudis in the same reverential terms that little kids use when referring to Aurora and Snow White.

Turkey, Jordan, Israel, America and Britain all fund and support ISIS like ISIS was Tinkerbell and not Captain Hook. http://rt.com/news/241573-isis-plane-drop-ammunition/

The Pentagon and the CIA use Al Qaeda to do all their dirty work — like Al Qaeda was Cinderella or something. That’s crazy! There are absolutely no glass slippers involved in the Al Qaeda fairy tale.

Americans need to get a reality check. Evil men are not Disney princesses. They are evil men. I mean, seriously? Would Anna and Elsa ever throw their support behind evil men? I think not. But Americans still seem to be constantly mistaking evil men for Prince Charming.

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March 20, 2015

American Geniuses

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:29 pm

crop of Mik Zint

“Magician, the Astonishing Life & Work of Orson Welles” is a new documentary film that tells the story of the fellow who made radio history and classic films, and was very much underappreciated while doing those things. Welles was a very innovative movie maker and is credited with inspiring the creation of the wide angle lens for “Citizen Kane.”

By pure coincidence, the additional material on a DVD of Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator,” had alerted us to the fact that Howard Hughes had many things in common with Orson Welles. Hughes was born fabulously wealthy and he never developed a reverence for money and the need to budget wisely. Welles never seemed to have had a conservative approach to fiscal matters. He claimed that on his first night in Dublin Ireland, he spent all his travel money on a lavish meal. Embellishing a story for dramatic effect seems to be a likely modus operandi for a fellow who was noted for a great sense of theatricality.

Hughes was (perhaps) the only Hollywood film director to be honored with a tickertape parade down Broadway in New York City. He received that honor for setting a record for an around the world flight.

Welles was given a lifetime achievement Oscar.

Both men were notorious for their love lives.

Hughes was an aviation pioneer and a celebrated film maker but he also was responsible for some very practical achievements such as introducing retractable landing gear on airplanes. It was an innovation which dramatically increased their speed. His companies made technical innovations which had a beneficial effect on weapons and thus he improved the quality of America’s ability to wage war. His contributions to technology and aviation, which made modern drone strikes possible, was not fully communicated to the American public which dwelled on his flamboyant public image and his impact on that facet of society that thrives on gossip column items.

Welles burst on the New York theater scene already a legend. He had barely passed voting age when he feuded with Hemingway over the narration of a documentary film about the Spanish Civil War.

Part of the Welles legend is that his radio broadcast based on H. G. Wells’ (no relation/different spelling) novel about an invasion from Mars caused mass panic and traffic gridlock. Newspaper articles stating that fact are plentiful but skeptics who wonder if that was just an example of Hollywood ballyhoo are hard pressed to find some citizen who can provide eyewitness descriptions of the alleged example of mass hysteria. Skeptical reporters are advised to always avoid fact checking the legend.

Back then, people were encouraged to get diverse points of view. People who tuned into the Welles broadcast and switched stations to get a different set of facts quickly learned that the other radio networks were presenting the usual Sunday evening smorgasbord of comedy.

A column about American geniuses must note that this week, in San Francisco, it was reported by KCBS news radio that St. Mary’s Cathedral would have to pay to remove the sprinkler system it had installed to soak the homeless sleeping in their doorways, because they had made the “improvement” without getting a building permit. Wouldn’t it have been quicker and more efficient if the bishop had just gone out and urinated on them?

To cynics, it seems that America’s “War on Poverty” has become a war on the poor.

When we asked the Berkeley homeless activist Ninja Kitty if a (formerly) homeless person had ever been elected to Congress, didn’t he respond by saying: “There’s a first time for everything!”?

It used to be that exit polls were credited with pin-point accuracy, but lately they don’t seem to be very reliable at all. Time after time results contradict the exit polls. With that in mind, we predict that Karl Rove’s greatest behind the scenes achievement in American Politics is yet to be achieved. Wouldn’t the reestablishment of the Bush Dynasty be Rove’s greatest triumph?

“Magician” is a Cliff’s Notes style documentary film that will inform the people who are not aware of Welles’ story about the life of a genius and it will also give established Welles fans a new chance to hear his voice and see film sequences which give tantalizing hints about his magnetism and charm.

Clifford Irving wrote a book about a fellow who was very successful painting and selling counterfeit works of art. Irving also wrote a bogus Howard Hughes autobiography.

One of Welles’ many film projects was “F is for Fake,” which included a segment about Clifford Irving.

Now the disk jockey will play Orson Welles’ rendition (it’s on Youtube) of “I know what it is to be young (You don’t know what it is to be old),” Rita Hayworth’s “Put the Blame on Mame, Boys” (conspiracy theory folks assert it was dubbed) and the theme music from “The Third Man.” We have to go fact check the rumor that the Pacific Film Archive will open its new Berkeley home with a tribute to the films of Orson Wells. Have a “Rosebud” type week.

 

 

March 17, 2015

St. Patrick, Belfast, war, peace & me

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 5:08 pm

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the month of March every year. And so is Julius Caesar’s infamous Ides of March. One is spozed to bring good luck to people and the other is spozed to bring bad luck. Which will it be for you and me? We’ve probably both already found out.

The Minster of Finance for Northern Ireland was spozed to speak in Berkeley this week, but that’s not going to happen because he had to stay home in Londonderry in order to deal with a current legislative crisis involving welfare reform. The DUP (protestant) party wants to cut off welfare and the Sinn Fein (Catholic) party does not. Sounds familiar — except that in America the Democrats never protect the poor of this country no matter how viciously the Republicans attack the most vulnerable of us all (50% of all American children live below the poverty line and most welfare recipients live in Red States). http://www.u.tv/News/2015/03/15/McGuinness-pulls-out-of-St-Patricks-visit-to-US-33589

St. Patrick would never approve of any of these cuts to the poor in order to give (even more) money to the rich. And neither would Jesus. But I digress.

What I really want to talk about now is my trip to Belfast and Londonderry, back in 2003. I had packed up my then-teenage daughter Ashley and gone off to live on the Falls Road for a while. And then wrote about it on my “Travels with Amy” blog site. It’s a long read for a blog, but worth every moment if you ask me. http://travelswithamy.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2004-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2005-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=10

Let’s just cut to the high points, however. The woman we stayed with in Belfast had this to say about The Troubles:

“We were young when The Trouble began. I was only 18. We only wanted to peacefully protest injustice; call a little attention to it. And they came down on us with everything they had.”

We were sitting in Mary’s front room just off the Falls Road. She was smoking a cigarette. It was 11 pm. “Had we known then what our next actions would lead to….” Her voice trailed off. “War is a terrible thing. We had no idea. We were young and we weren’t going to let the Loyalists get away with it. My husband spent 18 years in jail. He was in every major prison in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland. I always say that jail was our contraception.”

Mary loved the Good Friday Agreement. “We must compromise, cooperate and give-and-take. I think the other side sees that too. Having known war for 30 years…people just have no idea what a terrible thing it is. You talk, you dialogue, you negotiate. You do whatever you can to keep the Good Friday peace.” She reminded me of the Bob Dylan song, “I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.” Mary is active in building a community from the ground up now. “Before no one knew how to work a government. Not even the Orangemen. Neither of us had people on the Council. Now we do. We started from the bottom up. When the British do leave, we will know how to govern ourselves.” That’s what we are doing in America, I told her. We’re stepping up against the “Stealing of America” by Wall Street and War Street — stepping up to the plate one city at a time. One person at a time.

The one thing I learned in Belfast and Londonderry back in 2003 was that War is to be avoided at all costs — and never to be taken lightly. Libya, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, Palestine, Haiti, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chile, Panama, etc. have tolled death-bells that can never be un-rung. None of those dead millions can ever come back to life again. And all those dead trillions of dollars spent on War can never come back to life again either.
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/03/13/401670/US-seeks-to-recolonize-Mideast

So. Beware of Caesar’s Ides of March — and listen to St. Patrick instead. Then get to work driving all of those evil, greedy and power-mad snakes out.

PS: A few years later I went off to Palestine and wrote about that too. And there is such a strong comparison between The Troubles in Northern Ireland and The Troubles in Palestine, including Gaza, that it is scary. It’s the same old story of evil, greedy and powerful men oppressing those who are weaker than them — for fun and for profit. That grim and brutal occupation of Palestine should also be avoided at all costs. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/09/03/898842/–The-men-behind-the-wire-Comparing-Belfast-Gaza

And any future wars on Russia, China, Venezuela and Iran should be avoided too — for the same reason. If you too knew what it is like to be living in a war zone, you would never support another war either.

Black Taxi (2)

March 13, 2015

A bruin in bear country

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:28 pm

Alfredo at de Young

 

 

 

[Note: This column is an attempt to achieve humor by supplying a hypothetical answer to the question: “What would it be like if a Leprechaun celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by writing a political punditry column?”] 

Technically it is still winter, but Berkeley has switched to using the summer clock set for Pacific Daylight Time and for some, it’s time to start spring cleaning. The decision about which team to support in the annual UCLA vs. USC football match-up has been made and we are not about to let any facts play a role in a decision to reconsider our choice.

To some that may seem a tad illogical but the sad fact remains that some people make their political decisions in the same uninformed blind prejudicial manner.

The implications attached to the fact that most of the conservatively owned media is not paying much attention to the long term implications of the Republicans communications with Iran is another subject that will also be ignored by the so-called journalists in the USA. If the Democratic politicians dared to question any move that George W. Bush made while he was president, their patriotism and sanity would have been subjected to immediate and unrelenting ridicule and derision, but it the President happens to be a mulatto Democrat, well then, anything the Republicans do in response to Obama’s program is portrayed as an example of partisan politics at its best.

If, as with the Iran-Contra affair, a Republican President ducks providing material with the potential of being incriminating, well then, the conservative press moguls just have a good laugh but God forbid that a measly (have your kids been inoculated?) Democratic woman should not provide full transparency regarding her e-mails.

If the mainstream media is ordered to ignore Operation Stingray, why should the World’s Laziest Journalist spend Tuesday, March 10, 2015, doing some fact checking and collecting background information on the news potential of that topic, when, instead, it was a perfect time to go see the new Botticelli to Braque Masterpieces from the National Galleries os Scotland exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco? The fact that the world class museum is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the North Beach area where a fantastic Italian cuisine lunch was available at a very affordable price just made the choice to have a great time in Frisco seem so much more preferable to wasting time on something that Fox News deems to be a topic that appeals only to conspiracy theory lunatics.

On Wednesday, March 11, 2015, the World’s Laziest Journalist attended the regularly scheduled meeting of the Berkeley Police Review Commission and we realized (opinion alert!) that they were given a “myth of Sisyphus” task when they were assigned to investigate the events that occurred on the evening of December 6, 2014. They decided to hold a special meeting next week and invite the Berkeley Chief of Police (or his designated representative) to come back.

The Berkeley Police Review Commission faces a myriad of difficult problems that only become more complex and baffling when they are examined. For example, the topic of getting video equipment that police officers can wear while on duty seems to be a popular idea this week. However, as it was pointed out at Wednesday’s meeting, the cost of obtaining the equipment and providing security for the hardware is insignificant when compared with the cost of providing storage for the digital material, which would also be required.

During this week, CNN seemed (opinion alert!) to have had a Cronkite moment when the talking head noted that the USA is sending citizens to fight and die installing the American Way (i.e. Democracy) in foreign countries, while the perception in Europe is that the government in the USA is fast approaching a point of complete gridlock, which means Democracy ain’t working. Could avid Republicans conclude that CNN just doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Hilary’s e-mails, the Logan Act, and local politics in Ferguson Mo. are just some of the distractions intended to entertain and amuse the workers in the media while staunch Republicans (opinion alert!) eagerly await the inauguration of President-elect JEB Bush. Some preliminary events are scheduled but the inevitable inauguration of JEB and the restoration of the Bush Dynasty is (for them) a sure thing that will happen faster than you can say “Broward Federal Savings and Loan.”

Hilary or JEB? If you don’t know now who will get your vote, why not just flip a coin?

After a happy-go-lucky columnist, who covered the Oscars forty years ago, passes his 28th birthday, there comes a day when he is bound to assess the process of running around to things like the Berkeley Police Review Commission meetings and say: “I’m getting too old for this ****! Perhaps I should just join a group at one of the conveniently located Berkeley Senior Centers and settle down and learn to sew and do some book reviews.” Life could then be like living a Beach Boys song.

Speaking of writing movie reviews, the Employees Recreation Committee at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory gave a standing ovation following a screening of “Conspiracy Theory,” starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts . . . but then they called for an immediate investigation into why the main stream media seems to be willfully ignoring this ahead of its time bit of Hollywood magic.

The most popular joke at the Conspiracy Theory Factory this week was: “What’t the difference between the airplane that Harrison Ford crashed on the golf course and the one that crashed into the Pentagon? Answer: The NTSB found more debris to use for a subsequent investigation at the Penn Mar gold course than it did at the Pentagon crash site.”

Maybe if CNN just had a Cronkite moment, it’s too early to abandon the online political punditry game. Then, again, perhaps we should just write a novel about a life-long IrishCatholicDemocrat, who (on a lark) decides to run for Congress as a Republican in one of the nations strongest Liberal Democrat districts and . . . wins.

Fukushima, polar icecap meltdown, and Civil War in Syria might make it seem like the golden age of pessimism has arrived..

Good sportsmanship is important and no matter which team wins the game this year at Thanksgiving, the captain of the loosing team will shake hands and say “Good game!” to the captain of the winning team. Good Republicans (opinion alert) might consider that the Supreme Court could both literally and figuratively speaking, see these two decisions as a chance to “win one for the Gipper!”

With that in mind, and being aware that Liberal punditry is becoming extinct, if the United States Supreme Court invalidates Obamacare and/or declares the concept of gay marriage as unconstitutional, we can only hope that the disappointed Democrats will greet the decisions with a spirit of good sportsmanship and that they say in unison: “Good game!”

In Berkeley, where the University of California’s local team uses blue and gold colors and an image of a resident of bear country, it is relatively easy to show a preference for the outcome of the annual UCLA vs. USC game because the one participant in America’s greatest cross town rivalry features blue and gold and graphics that depict a bruin.

Would “St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin” make a good column headline? Does Dublin California celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

If the Republicans won a majority in Congress and the Senate by promising to end political stagnation and the end result is complete legislative gridlock will that have a deleterious effect on JEB’s inauguration in January of 2017? **** NO! ! ! Thank God for the electronic voting machines that leave no way to verify the results!

The closing quote was said by Knute Rockne: “Show me a good and gracious loser and I’ll show you a failure.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Beach Boys “Be true to your school,” “Shut down,” and “God only knows.” We have to go buy an Irish Rovers’ album. Have a “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” type week.

March 10, 2015

Where has all the money gone? Savings bond values take a nosedive

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 10:45 am

I just had a talk with a friend of mine who was all pissed off because he had purchased a Series EE savings bond for his little kid way back in 1998. “I paid $500 for it at the time and, at that time, the bank promised me that the bond would mature in ten years and then be worth $1,000.” So? Well? Did it? Is it?

“Eh — no,” sighed my friend. “When my kid cashed it in last month, she only got $850 back.” What? You mean after accumulating over 16 years of interest, the bond had only gained $250 in value? Even after all those promises of doubling its worth after just ten years? That’s whacked.

But, according to the Treasury Direct website, it is also legal. “Series EE bonds issued from May 1997 through April 2005 continue to earn market-based interest rates set at 90% of the average 5-year Treasury securities yields for the preceding six months. The new interest rate for these bonds, effective as the bonds enter semiannual interest periods from November 2014 through April 2015 is 1.49%. Market-based rates are updated each May 1 and November 1.” http://www.treasurydirect.gov/news/pressroom/currentibondratespr.htm

What the freak does that mean?

It means that Series EE savings-bond-holders have been (and can continue to be) legally ripped off. Government agencies now under the happy control of the top 1% can legally make the rest of us little guys any promises they want — and then just take them back.

“Buying government savings bonds is practically like loaning the government interest-free money,” I told my friend. “But on the other hand, if you had bought $500 worth of gold back in 1998 instead of that bond, it would have cost you $296 an ounce — and an ounce and a half of gold would now be worth $1,808, a net gain of one thousand three hundred and seven dollars.”

However, if you had spent that $500 on baseball cards, you might be pretty much out of luck.

But what if, instead, you had purchased $500 worth of stock for your kid? If you had bought stock in mortgage companies like Countrywide, for instance, you would have kissed your $500 goodbye. http://politicalblindspot.com/the-food-stamp-capital-of-the-u-s-is-white-and-republican/

But if you had bought stock in pharmaceutical companies that produce products like mercury-laden vaccines, psychotropic drugs and male sex-enhancers, or bought stocks in weapons factories or bought stocks in oil companies or WalMart, you could have practically put your rugrat through college with your capital gains by now! http://foodrevolution.org/blog/john-oliver-big-pharma-doctors/

Or suppose you had invested that $500 in buying part-ownership in a Congressman — like the big boys on Wall Street, War Street and K Street do? Apparently you would have gotten an average of a 5000% return on your investment. http://www.deliberation.info/barb-weir-interviews-moderate-syrian-rebels/

Or if, like your government in cahoots with its sleazy bankster friends, you had invested your $500 in loaning money to college students instead? Then you would have been able to collect 6% interest from said college students’ loans for decades to come — and owned their souls for the rest of their lives too! http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/28828-ill-believe-the-gop-cares-about-the-middle-class-when-i-see-it

But, no. You had faith in your government and bought savings bonds instead — never dreaming that your government would invest its resources in war and corporate welfare instead of in you. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/06/greece-injured-by-eu/

However if it’s any consolation, you and your kid are not alone. China made that same mistake too.

PS: Remember back when our founding fathers wisely designed our Constitution to include having three different branches of government? Legislative, executive and judicial? Well, just over 225 years later, America’s government still has three different branches — except now those three branches are Wall Street, War Street and K Street. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/06/1369052/-New-Jersey-Sen-Bob-Menendez-to-face-criminal-corruption-charges

PPS: A Manhattan jury just awarded a $218.5 million verdict against the Palestinian Authority for damages done to Israelis with American citizenship by Palestinian suicide bombers. Do you know what this means? A new precedence has just been set. A new Pandora’s box has just been opened.

Now everyone affected by anything like this can now also use American courts to get recompense for damages done by acts of “terrorism” on American citizens abroad! http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/nyregion/damages-awarded-in-terror-case-against-palestinian-groups.html?_r=0

For instance, were any Chilean-Americans killed in the CIA coup against Allende in Chile? Their relatives can now sue Henry Kissinger — but of course they will have to stand in line behind the Cambodian-Americans killed by him.

And what about the bunches and groups of Palestinian-Americans, Yemeni-Americans, Iraqi-Americans, Syrian-Americans, Ukrainian-Americans, African-Americans, Grenada-Americans, Guatemalan-Americans, Haitian-Americans, etc. who have been either killed out in public for all to see by America’s overtly-evil war machine — or else killed on the sly by those covertly-evil CIA troublemakers at Langley?

Or, hell, what about all those dead American-Americans too for that matter? Does this mean that American soldiers killed or wounded in Vietnam, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Afghanistan, etc. can now sue the Department of Defense in American courts for “terrorism” too — as well as for fraud, creating dangerous conditions, willful negligence, breach of promise and entrapment as well?

Hey, Uncle War Street! See ya in court!

PPPS: And speaking of money, I’m off to Portland (Oregon) this weekend March 11-15) to attend a convention — while trying to spend as little $$$ as possible. Might anybody know any exciting things I can see and do in Portland on the cheap? http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2015/

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March 6, 2015

Hemingway, O’Reilly, Murrow

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:29 pm

better crop poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to legend, Ernest Hemingway arrived in Paris three days before the Allied Armies did. A trip to Paris in 1986 seemed like a great opportunity to do the fan’s attempt to conjure up the spirit of the famous writer but we did not anticipate a chance to do any serious fact checking. While visiting Harry’s New York Bar, an old fellow caught us off guard when he said that he had inherited the place from his father and when he, the present owner, was a child, he had sat on Mr. Hemingway’s lap while the famous writer told stories. We were so engrossed in his descriptions of the repeated encounters with the young but already famous writer, that we missed the chance to ask him if Hemingway had actually arrived before the Allied Armies. The Liberty Valance rule made doing any fact checking seem like heresy. When facts and legend contradict each other, always print the legend.

Recently Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly had become a subject for fact checking by his associates and the consensus opinion seems to be that there is a credibility gap being generated which, in turn, tarnishes Fox News’ reputation.

Brian Williams has been suspended from the anchor chair at NBC Nightly News because he claims that he rode on a helicopter in a war zone that received enemy fire. The account has been challenged by others who are qualified to confirm or refute the specifics of Williams’ story.

Since Williams works for a news organization that is perceived as “pro-Liberal,” the conservatives are making the assertion that Williams has rendered NBC’s credibility to the nil level.

If Charles Manson (hypothetically speaking) were to deliver a news report that provided undeniable evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald was not working alone when he shot JFK, would the fact that most people do not approve of Manson’s ethics and personal conduct be sufficient to invalidate the remarkable report?

There is a certain amount of irony to be derived from noticing that the two different reactions to the veracity of the two journalist comes at the same time that CBS will mark the sixty-first anniversary of what many consider to be the high water mark for American Journalism: Edward R. Murrow’s report on Sen. Joseph McCarthy broadcast on March 9, 1954. (Google: “See It Now” McCarthy report)

During WWII, Murrow risked death and infuriated his bosses by going on a bombing mission over Berlin. (Google hint: “Edward Murrow orchestrated hell”)

Conservatives assert that Brian Williams has committed “stolen valor” with his bragging. They give full and complete absolution to O’Reilly and ignore the long list of war correspondents that died covering various wars over the course of history.

The conservative tendency for holding two opposing points of view simultaneously (called “double think” by George Orwell) can best be illustrated by the old axiom: “My wife’s married, but I’m not.”

Would Gerda Taro, Robert Capa, and Ernie Pyle be inclined to blithely dismiss the idea that O’Reilly is stealing valor from the list of war correspondents who were killed in action?

Speaking of war stories of valor and daring, we wonder how General Douglas McArthur got the nickname “Dugout Dug.”

Once, on NPR radio, we heard the story of a fellow who was assigned to defend a pass where an attack was expected. He had a machine gun and was credited with single handedly killing more than 600 enemy soldiers in one night. Some people think the guy should have gotten a Medal of Honor.

The fictional character Baron Munchausen was renowned for telling absurd stories that had an extreme flavor of outrageousness to them buttressed by a thread of logic that made them seem (theoretically) possible.

In a bookstore in San Francisco, earlier this week, we noticed a new book which promised to teach the art of storytelling to sales reps.

St. Ronald Reagan was a superb story teller. He told one story about campaigning for President in Iowa. He knocked on a farmer’s door and when the fellow was flabbergasted by his famous caller, he had a senior moment and couldn’t think of the former actor’s name. St. Reagan gave the baffled fan a clue: “Do the initials R R help?” The fellow broke into a large smile and turned and shouted into the interior of the home: “Momma, come quick and meet Roy Rogers!”

Misleading people for fun and votes might seem a tad misguided to some journalists. The philosophy that “we report; and let you decide” is a bit deceptive because it assumes that everyone in the audience is capable of doing their own quality analysis. “We distort and let you jump to wrong conclusions” would be a more ingenuous slogan.

Here is an exaggerated tale of why that isn’t a good policy: A person you know slightly tells you that your business partner is having an affair with your wife and is cooking the books and robbing you blind. Fair enough? Just suppose that the rest of the story is that the guy was setting you up. You killed your business partner and then while you were in prison the tell all Good Samaritan marries your now ex-wife and you learn that your business partner was an innocent bystander. The guy who filled your ears with lies had an ulterior motive. You leaped to some erroneous conclusions and took action. Would you have acted differently if you knew the “reporter” was trying to trick you?

The fact that most high-school graduates don’t challenge the logic of “we report; you decide” is a preposterous situation. The results could be just as bad as they were in the hypothetical story above. Who doesn’t love being the butt of an old fashioned practical joke?

Doesn’t Bill O’Reilly work for an organization that went to court and established that it has a legal right to tell lies in the guise of supplying facts for citizens to make informed judgments?

After hearing a stream of news reports about bad snowstorms causing all kinds of closures and disruptions of service for people living on the USA’s East Coast, we were a bit disconcerted to hear news reports that during the same time frame new car sales were good and that new jobs were created. Has skepticism earned a place on the endangered species list?

On Friday March 6, 2015, the Getty and Armstrong radio show reported that the “hands up; don’t shoot” meme was inaccurate and had not actually occurred.

Hemingway was boastful and may have exaggerated some of his accomplishments. His fans don’t want to be burdened with the odious task of doing some precise fact checking to separate the hard facts from the legends. Brian Williams worked for a liberal news organization and is being punished severely. Bill O’Reilly is getting the rich kid pass from an indulgent father responseto what he has done. “Now run along and play!”

[Note from the photo editor. A montage image is the best we could do this week.]

Here is the quote of the week. When the woman combat photographer Dickey Chappelle complained about mosquitoes buzzing around her while taking pictures on Iwo Jima, a Marine corrected her misperception: “Those wasn’t mosquitoes, ma’am, they was Japanese bullets.

Now the disk jockey will play “Who shot Liberty Valance,” “Do not forsake me,” and the theme from TV’s “Gun Smoke.” We have to go start our own urban legends. Have a “good night and good luck” type week.

March 2, 2015

Triumph of the checklist: Comparing Netanyahu, ISIS and Hitler

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 6:23 pm

Gee, I hate to keep pointing this stuff out all the time because a whole lot of people get really ticked off at me every time that I do — but the truth is the truth. ISIS, Netanyahu and Hitler really do have a whole lot in common. But as true as this statement may be, still almost nobody these days wants to hear that their favorite emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. Why? Perhaps because it makes people feel bad that they have been so completely suckered, had, duped and used.

However, like it or not, the three emperor-wannabes listed above are still not wearing any clothes. So to speak.

And here’s my checklist to prove it:

1. Received a lot of their financial support from the weapons industry: http://www.globalresearch.ca/u-s-helicopter-delivering-weapons-to-the-islamic-state-isis-shot-down-by-iraqi-popular-forces/5434230

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

2. Founded their empires (reichs, caliphates, promised lands, whatever) on invasions, blitzkriegs, preemptive wars, guys-just-wanna-have-fun, terrorism, whatever — with the goal of eventually taking over all geopolitical territory within thousands of miles of their empire’s original borders:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

3. Committed mass genocide based solely on religion, race, land or resource ownership, language usage and/or nationality:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

4. Used illegal weapons, including chemical weapons such as napalm, white phosphorus and noxious gases, and/or landmines, cluster bombs, biological weapons, etc. on civilians:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Not really sure. Are broadswords considered illegal weapons if used to behead journalists? Probably. Okay, check.

5. Bomb the freak out of civilian targets:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Do RPGs and car-bombs count? Yes? Then “check”

6. Routinely terrorized civilian populations to the point of said populations thinking they were living inside a horror movie, a police state or ‘Stalag 17″ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKc2GJk2OLQ:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

7. Used lies, snappy slogans, false-flag operations http://yournewswire.com/mikhail-gorbachev-assassination-of-boris-nemstov-is-a-false-flag/#sthash.5isb7TEp.dpuf and “1984″ types of propaganda, threats and the deliberate generation of irrational fears to get their own populations to back their criminal activities:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

8. Wore snappy uniforms designed to intimidate and impress:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

9. Supported by rich industrialists, corporatists, recipients of corporate welfare and opulent dictatorships in the Middle East:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

10. Had a huge destabilizing effect on Europe, the Middle East and America that ended in tragedy, economic chaos and the further spread of war http://cityworldnews.com/native-american-amnesty/:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

11. Pretends to be of a certain religion but never practices their religion’s goals, ideals or concepts:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

12. Steals resources and valuables from the countries and territories that have been illegally seized: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_great_game_in_the_holy_land_20150227

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

13. Has absolutely no tinges of conscience whatsoever after having caused thousands of families, scores of ethnic groups, an unknown number of combat veterans and even whole countries to suffer from shell shock, battle fatigue and PTSD http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/serious-upsurge-post-conflict-trauma-gaza-says-un:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

14. Is invited to speak before Congress:

Hitler: No way.
ISIS: Not a chance.
Netanyahu: Roll out the red carpet!

IMG_2170

February 27, 2015

Sealing wax, cabbages, and kings . . .

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

betteer crop pizza box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class,” by Scott Timberg, paints a bleak picture of the future for bright-eyed and bushy tailed young folks who have assumed a ship load of student debt to go to college and get a head start on a life in the realm of Art.

Are Rebel Artists, who mock capitalism in the hopes that their work will make them independently wealthy, hypocrites?

Society’s real rebels, such as Lenny Bruce, the staff of the Berkeley Barb, and the pioneers of porn, provide a symbolic metaphor for the spectacle of seeing Christians being devoured by lions because Society knows that when an artist becomes too outspoken, the Establishment will seek revenge. Its sorry news for the hippies, but the fact that the counter-coulter has been destroyed by The Establishment means that the old ploy of making rebels impotent by absorbing them into Society’s “in crowd,” is no longer necessary. An artist either gets a corporate sponsorship deal or is a trust fund bohemian; otherwise in a capitalist society the rule is “Ya gotta go along to get along.”

Sure, it’s good for a few laughs to start calling JEB “President-elect JEB Bush” at this point in the election process, but the sad fact is that’s all a liberal pundit can hope to get . . . a few laughs. It’s the Fox pundits who get to echo Liberace’s sentiment: “I cry all the way to the bank.”

So, why should a pundit let himself be exploited so shamelessly? “Culture Crash” makes a solid case for believing that extortion is being used to gain the power to censor the artists.

Maybe a pundit could get an unfair advantage in life by writing a column on a revised Bucket List that asks his audience for a chance to scratch off some of those lofty goals. For instance, if a happy-go-lucky fellow, who wishes he hadn’t gotten rid of his 1968 Chevy van, would like to write a column about always wanting to drive a Ferrari, perhaps a reader would be able to offer the writer a chance to have that experience for a day . . . or a week? . . . or longer?

Perhaps a former co-worker could get the adventuresome Berkeley resident an invitation to this year’s Halloween party at the Playboy Mansion? Could the World’s Laziest Journalist possibly hitch a ride from Frisco to New York City on a private bus? (Does Willie Nelson read our columns? [Willie Neslson anf Family will play the UCB Greek Theatre on July 23 – tickets on sale now!])

We’ve always wanted to experience a real Hollywood “pitch session,” even if it actually occurred at Bo Zenga’s office in Santa Monica or at George Miller’s headquarters on Orwell Street.

Scott Timberg wouldn’t be surprised to learn that we stuff some rather mundane and innocuous items into our columns. Why? Because we can. Do we ever come up with something on our own that we haven’t learned elsewhere?

(Buried lede alert!) Did you know that the poster boy for Rebels, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, wore a Rolex watch?

Felix Rodrigez, the CIA agent who “caught” (killed?) Che Guevara used to wear a Rolex watch, which, he told co-workers, he had personally liberated from Che Guevara, “according to our reliable source.” When our assertion was challenged, we found back up online when we Googled “Che Guevara Rolex”

[Do you believe the urban legend that asserts Che’s life was sparred, and he was put in a prototype of the witness protection program in exchange for some valuable intelligence? Some versions of this story suggest that he relocated to a university town in the San Francisco Bay Area and eventually became a member of his new hometown’s city council.]

The Berkeley student newspaper, the Daily Californian, edition for Monday, February 23, 2015, contained a front page story by Ishaan Srivastava stating that a study done by the UCB School of Law that found urban policies pertaining to the homeless are getting tougher on that group of citizens.

We suggested to “Father Mike,” the political activist leading the protest of the sale of the Berkeley Post Office building, that perhaps since many J-school students are fans of Hunter S. Thompson, the local protest group should invite a member of the Daily Cal staff to spend a week with the protest group and, after doing the fact checking, turn in a Gonzo style story on the experience.

When we were vagabonding about in Australia, we learned in Sydney that a local urban legend asserted that Errol Flynn had slept on the grounds of the downtown cathedral during a homeless phase in his life. That caused us to wonder if Flynn was the most famous example of a success story for a homeless person.

Who, we asked the people at Fort Zint, would be eligible for an annual induction ceremony at the Homeless Hall of Fame and where should such a hypothetical operation set up its operations? What if a philanthropically inclined corporation purchased the Berkeley Post Office building with the stipulation that it be used to house the Homeless Hall of Fame?

New attempts to provide an official definition of who qualifies to be called “homeless” are being made. Since Erneto “Che” Guevara was part of the rebel encampment in the Sierra Maestra mountains of Cuba, could he be eligible to be included in the Homeless Hall of Fame? Would the current owner of his Rolex be disposed to grant permission for it to be exhibited at such a hypothetical tourist destination?

Isn’t there a very wealthy financier who lives in a series of posh hotel suits and is called the homeless billionaire? (Google hint: “Nicholas Berggruen”)

If a benefit concert for the Homeless Hall of Fame were to be held, what famous artists would be qualified to perform if only formerly homeless people were permitted to provide the entertainment?

Isn’t being homeless very similar to being a member of the United States Marine Corp? They say that once you become a Marine you will always be a Marine even when you are no longer “on active duty.” Is becoming homeless an irreversible experience similar to loosing one’s virginity?

It seems to this columnist who stayed in a succession of hostels while touring Australia, that the situation in Berkeley is being manipulated into a status seeker’s issue. If a person has always had a home, does that make him (or her) a better citizen in a country that (ostensibly) believes in equality or would the friendship of a (formerly homeless) world famous celebrity be something to inspire selfies galore? Is there any aristocrat in Berkeley who would not want the inventory of their personal possession sullied by the inclusion of Che Guevara’s Rolex on that list?

If Scott Timberg is accurate with his prediction that the era of corporate subsidized artistic creativity will eliminate spontaneity and serendipity from the pop culture scene altogether might be an example of predestination, but until that happens, the World’s Laziest Journalist intends to be a rogue champion of arcane, esoteric, and idiosyncratic bits of information.

Is this a good time to insert a plug for Michael Parenti’s newest book, “Profit Pathologes and other Indecencies”?

After learning about the Daily Cal story, we sent a link to some interested parties. We later learned that while we were sending a message to Berkeley’s Ninja Kitty, he was getting busted for sleeping. Would it then be safe for us to assume that a kid can be arrested for sleeping on Shattuck Ave. in the B-town business district, but a student who sleeps in a UCB classroom is safe? Isn’t that discrimination?

[Photo Editor’s note: If the columnist can be serendipitous in the selection of items for the column, then the selection of the photo to illustrate a column must also have the latitude to be a tad impulsive, eh?]

Singer Dean Martin was the source for this week’s closing quote. After the music group The Rolling Stones were featured on his TV variety show, he asked his audience: “Would you want your sister to marry a Rolling Stone?”

Now the columnist will direct the disk jockey to play all the tracks on the Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks double album, all the tracks on the More Hot Rocks album, and all the tracks on the “Exile on Main Street” album. We have to start compiling a list of celebrities and business executives who were homeless earlier in life. Have a “sundowner” type week.

War correspondent: Why a war zone in America is THE place to go

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 1:01 am

Back in the day, I was always trying to fly off to report on international combat hot-spots like Iraq and Afghanistan — always hoping that if the American people back home read my horror-stories of war, they too would somehow become war-resisters and that my stories of brutal, grim and unjustified death in far-away places might even help escalate a strong anti-war movement here at home, one that would finally stop the heartless killing of women and children by American tanks, rockets and drones. But now? Now I’m thinking that I should be doing something even more important than traveling to combat zones far away — that I, like some modern-day Jonah, should actually be going down into the belly of the American beast itself instead.

Plus it’s always cheaper to go to North Carolina or Washington DC or St Louis than to fly off to Syria, Gaza, Haiti or Ukraine.

The main question that I would be asking in these particular American war zones, however, would be, “What makes America tick?”

What has made us become the most dreaded and hated country in the world — a country that has more weapons and more money to spend on weapons than any other country anywhere, ever? What gives us the right to call ourselves “patriotic” and “brave” and “democratic” when, in reality, it is America that has killed, maimed, tortured and mutilated millions of people all over the world — and trampled any survivors’ chances and their children’s chances of ever ever having a decent life again.

Why do Americans support dictators in Ukraine, Palestine, Honduras, Congo, etc. with such enthusiastic glee? And also why do Americans applaud so loudly when elections here at home are stolen and our infrastructure and school systems die and “Christianity” becomes just another excuse to kill, rape, torture and maim God’s children both at home and abroad? http://www.globalresearch.ca/iraqi-army-downs-two-british-planes-carrying-weapons-for-isil-terrorists/5433089

And what makes Americans bitch and complain so much about what ISIS is doing in Iraq and Syria — when what Americans have done there in the past and are doing there right now is so much much much worse? ISIS fanatics behead hundreds of people. American troops level whole cities and leave them contaminated with radioactive detritus that will kill children and other living things there for the next 500 years.

Why do Americans fight so hard against trying to end climate change? Why are Americans so set against preventing nuclear holocausts both at home and abroad? Why do Americans cheer and get all teary-eyed and proud when our cops turn into robo-cops and spray peaceful protesters with tear gas? And then actually buy tickets to go see women tortured? http://womensenews.org/story/media-stories/150219/fifty-shades-grey-eroticizes-torture

“What makes Americans tick?” I need to know what is going on right here in America before I can possibly understand what the freak is going on in all those American-financed war zones throughout the rest of the world.

So here’s my plan. I’m going to go out and see America first. Ukraine and Gaza and Baghdad will just have to wait — while I, like Jonah, go deep into the belly of the American beast instead.

Despite all the nightmares I have seen in the last decades, I continue to be an idealist and to dream of a better world, a world that Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad would be proud of. Most Americans, however, apparently dream of cruelty, torture, injustice and ruling the world vicariously.

We are the protagonists of our own dreams.

Americans (and all other human beings too for that matter) need to finally learn that it is far better to die with love in our hearts than to live with hatred in our eyes, fear in our guts and evil in our souls.

PS: A Manhattan jury just awarded a $218.5 million verdict against the Palestinian Authority for damages done to Israelis with American citizenship by Palestinian suicide bombers. Do you know what this means? A new precedence has just been set. A new Pandora’s box has just been opened.

From now on, relatives of Americans killed in any foreign country, not just Israel, can also use American courts to get recompense for damages done by acts of “terrorism” on American citizens abroad! http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/nyregion/damages-awarded-in-terror-case-against-palestinian-groups.html?_r=0

For instance, if any Chilean-Americans were killed in the CIA coup against Allende in Chile, their relatives can now sue Henry Kissinger in American courts — but of course they will have to stand in line behind the relatives of any Cambodian-Americans killed by him.

And what about the bunches and groups of Palestinian-Americans, Yemeni-Americans, Iraqi-Americans, Syrian-Americans, Ukrainian-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, Somali-Americans, Haitian-Americans, etc. who have been killed by American tanks, rockets and drones?

America? You can no longer pretend to not know what you are doing. See ya in court!

PPS: On March 11, 2015, I’ll be going off to Portland, Oregon, to attend a convention — and can start my exploration of American war (and peace) zones there. http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2015/

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February 20, 2015

Art, Kink, and Police brutality

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , — Bob Patterson @ 1:28 pm

crop what is art

Rude awakenings are trending in Berkeley CA this year. First the Berkeley Liberals were confronted with tear gas and getting hit with batons, then the street personality known as Ninja Kitty was taking an illegal nap when a policeman kicked him in the groin as a friendly reminder the rules were being broken. After a hearty laugh, the cop proved he was a good sport by helping to get Ninja to the hospital where he received treatment for a bruised gonad and substantiating paper work to serve as the basis for a lawsuit.

The local citizens, who protested the police response to a “Black Lives Matter” demonstration on Telegraph Ave., in early December are not used to being ignored by the city council and became annoyed by a series of hearings on the matter. Homeless young folks are used to being marginalized by police and politicians but the local voters (who protested the war in Viet Nam?) think that living in a Democracy means that protests help form policy decisions might be shocked (“Shocked, Ricky, by this outrage!”) to learn that the homeless are routinely harassed and occasionally kicked in the groin by the police.

Coincidentally Valentine’s Day and the opening of “Fifty Shades of Gray,” brought up the subject of consent with regard to rough sex.

We noted that there were many examples of people issuing the advice to boycott a film which they had not seen.

It is rather disconcerting to see citizens in the USA, which sent thousands of young men to die fighting the Third Reich, using and promulgating Hitler’s philosophy of prior censorship regarding degenerate art. When Hitler held his famous exhibition, that denounced and ridiculed modern art as being Entartete Kunst (AKA degenerate art), American intellectuals deplored the effort as censorship. However now that the righteous indignation that was generated by Hitler’s stunt is long forgotten, the self-appointed guardians of public morals see the release of Fifty Shades as a golden shower of opportunities to spank the public for being interested in a kink oriented film.

In a country that values free speech, it would seem to be more logical to see the picture and then analyze the philosophy expressed by the film. It was rather disconcerting (there’s that word again in this paragraph) to find that the fanatical religious zealots tasked with teaching others how to conduct their lives were asserting that the film depicted consent by force, when, in fact, the point of “only if you agree to this” is made repeatedly. Oh well, the dummies that rely on a review from a fanatic, who had not seen the film, wouldn’t (most likely) have the ability to analyze and comment on the film on their own. Hence they cling to the believe that an uniformed review is better than none at all. Those same ill-informed ditto=heads would vehemently deny that they were endorsing Hitler’s idea that the public should not be relied upon to make judgments regarding religion, morals, and art. (Only liberal Democrats [in Berkeley?] believe in that kind of “let the people decide” carp, eh?)

Nazis and Nazi sympathizers might be delighted to learn that, according to the new book “Culture Crash,” the internet is slowly killing off Art. The book’s main premise is that by providing a way for people to get Art for free (i.e. download music) it makes earning a living much more challenging. Only the big name bands make money when they tour and fill stadiums the beginning bands are forced to play for chicken-feed payments and do work that was previously provided by record companies (such as generating publicity). The plight of freelance writers is depicted being just as bleak.

Only independently wealthy artists can subsist while perfecting their art. Thus the dominance of an art by people who are subsidized by a family and/or friends is just a variation of the old 1 percent phenomenon. Artists who have a trust fund to sustain them during their “starving artist” phase of development will survive, the rest will “sell out to the Establishment” and get a boring job.

“Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class,” by Scott Timberg, may merit a full review in a future column, but for this column (mostly) about Berserkeley, we will urge the country club elite in B-town to read page 48 and note this: “The key thing a university town brings is a constantly changing cast of 18 to twenty-two year olds: A few drop out or stick around to become artists themselves, but the rest can provide the audience for whatever weird, cheap stuff is happening ‘downtown.’”

In B-town, the high school mascot is a yellow jacket, which brings us to a heavy duty bit of philosophy: what’s the difference between a bumble bee, a yellow jacket, and a hornet? Why did B-town high pick a yellow jacket as the mascot? Why not a bumble bee?

The liberals in Berkeley have always been ready to run down to the latest anti-war demonstration but they are a bit reluctant to participate in any political rallies that seem to be critical of Obama.

Should liberals wear patches showing which political causes they support?

To outsiders, it may seem as if Berkeley Liberals believe in the old “one for all; all for one” philosophy of political dissent, but upon closer inspection there seem to be as many different causes in the one liberal congressional district.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has encountered activists in Berkeley who protested the execution of Caryl Chessman.

It seems as if the same roster of political activists show up at all the local rallies.

Doesn’t it make sense that citizens who show up to help the “First they came for the poor” group protest the possible sale of the Berkeley Post Office building should wear patches indicating if they also support the help the homeless cause, the feed the hungry cause, the Black Lives Matter cause, the tax the rich advocates, the “go green” movement and so on and so forth?

For example, what will happen if the Republicans do impeach Obama and Joseph Biden becomes the President? Will the men who support women’s liberation be required to work for Hilary in 2016 or will they be free to urge the re-election of Biden? Do those who work for the gay marriage cause also say that Adam and Steve have a right to abortion on demand?

The idea that there is a standard issue “Berkeley Liberal” is preposterous. There are as many different recipes for making a Berkeley Liberal as there are people claiming the right to wear that label.

The baby boom generation has caused a statistics spike all through their life and now that they are reaching retirement age, it may be no surprise to learn that the latest liberal cause in California is advocating for the rights of senior citizen prison inmates. Recently we heard a news report on the radio (KCBS most likely) that said that some political activists are urging separate prison space for senior citizens as a safety measure. Do the older prisoners get state provided walkers so that they can get to and from the yard for their exercise period?

The current meme in the media is that the United States seems to be losing in the Middle East. If the media keeps harping on that note for the next year and a half, won’t the Republican Frontrunner, JEB Bush, be portrayed as a refreshing change of pace even though it was his brother that got the country into that particular quagmire?

[Note from the photo editor: The question “What is Art?,” which was asked by Hitler is being asked again by folks who disapprove of a new movie. We used a photo of a controversial box of detergent to illustrate this week’s column about the decline and fall of culture in the digital age.]

This week’s closing quote was a listener comment read on the Getty and Armstrong radio show. A high school student maintained that “Cheerleading isn’t analysis.”

Now the disk jockey will play Dean Martin’s “Ain’t that a kick in the head,” Paul Revere’s “Kicks,” and the Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter.” We have to go buy a “Fifty Shades of Entartete Kunst” T-shirt. Have a “kick ’em when they’re down” type week.

February 18, 2015

What would happen if the US became isolationist again?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 10:30 pm

What would happen if we Americans suddenly decided to withdraw all of our troops currently scattered all over the world and to actually bring them back to within our own US borders where they belong? What would happen if we actually closed down all of America’s extensive and pricy (over one thousand and counting) military bases and black-site operations all around the globe? We may never know. “Why?” you might ask. Because it is never gonna happen, that’s why.

Despite all of the incredibly huge amounts of money, energy, pain and grief that all these bases and black-site operations are costing us American taxpayers daily right now, the subject of closing even a few of these bases and black-site operations (or at least to stop opening up new ones!) isn’t even up for debate.

There are so many other topics that we are happily debating in America right now — but not this one.

Americans are currently debating such crap topics as how best to save rich people from having to pay taxes; whether cops should be allowed to kill minority and/or poor people at will; why torture is a good thing; how we can most easily give large corporations our life savings and pensions; whether or not our kids should get measles vaccines; and exactly how soon “we” can bomb the crap out of Russia. But one of the most important subjects for debate in America today is not even on the menu right now. http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17416/wall_street_to_workers_give_us_your_retirement_savings_and_stop_asking_ques

A raging debate on how to return America to its grand old isolationist tradition should be the major topic in every newspaper headline and TV news show in America right now. But, sadly, it is not.

And there are many other life-threatening topics for debate here in America that we should be discussing too (but are not) such as, “Is it really in our best interest to support chaos in the Middle East or be Israeli neo-colonialists’ catspaws?” Or whether corporations really are people, or “Why is election-malfeasance in America is still running amuck?” Or if we really want to be committing climate-change suicide? Or why America now has the same distribution of wealth between the upper classes and the rest of us that it had back in 1910 and that the difference in income between America’s top 1% and the rest of us is further apart now than any other time in history including the Roman Empire, Charles Dickens’ London and Marie Antoinette’s France.

According to economist Thomas Piketty, “Income inequality has exploded in the United States.” http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117429/capital-twenty-first-century-thomas-piketty-reviewed

And why the freak is America a member of NATO, the most war-mongering organization in the entire world outside of the US Department of “Defense”? http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2015/02/15/More-than-4000-troops-will-be-deployed-to-Kuwait-possibly-to-fight-Islamic-State/2061424019948/#ixzz3Rpuk2BKH

And — really? Here’s a headline that will warm all those Scrooge-like corporate hearts: “Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown” Social science is being militarized to develop ‘operational tools’ to target peaceful activists and non-violent protest movements. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/12/pentagon-mass-civil-breakdown Should we not be discussing that too?

And then there’s that good old “New World Order” thingie popping up again, and it no longer even includes America on the list of those giving the New Orders — because the global overlord dudes who are currently drawing up the list to re-order our world seem to have us Americans in mind only to play the minor roles of vassals and serfs.

But none of these other topics are up for debate in America either. http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/warren-display-backbone-threatens-career-democrat

According to journalist Juan Cole, the top five favorite planks for the Republican party platform in 2016 are gonna be torture, war-mongering, bank corruption, tax evasion for the uber-rich and how best to steal elections. http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/27479-top-5-planks-of-gop-2016-platform-torture-war-bank-corruption-paid-for-elections Why aren’t we discussing that either?

Frankly, there seems to be no debate in America today on almost any topic that should be of primary concern to We the People who are paying for all this crap. But I digress. Let’s get back on topic, the topic of closing over a thousand US military bases and black-site operations all across the globe. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/sudans-president-claims-cia-and-mossad-stand-behind-isis-and-boko-haram-10051024.html

Of course I myself am obviously an advocate for closing all U.S. bases and black-site operations on foreign soil and bringing all of our troops home where they belong. So. Let’s debate.

Debaters in favor of keeping America’s foreign empire strong and all these bases and black-site operations open might come up with a list of arguments such as:

1. “They” will come here and terrorize us if we let down our guard.

2. We will then have little or no access to raw materials and natural resources. Our economy will shrink.

3. We need the war industry because it produces jobs.

4. We must bring freedom and democracy to the world and stop tyrannies.

These four points are all laughably easy to refute — except for perhaps point number three. Here are my counter-arguments:

1. In the many decades since the end of WW II, America has systematically created more enemies than one can shake a stick at due to its brutal policy of foreign military interference abroad. People all over the world used to love America. But this is no longer true. Obviously. These foreign bases and black-site operations are not keeping America safe. Just look at 9/11. Just look at the Great Recession of 2008. I rest my case. http://friendsofsyria.co/2014/12/18/fox-news-cia-created-al-qaeda-and-taliban/

2. Hey, we can always get access to foreign natural resources by actually paying for them. Now there’s a unique idea. It’s called Capitalism!

Right now, our military mainly serves the purpose of acting as thugs and extortionists for corporations, allowing corporations to go into foreign countries at will and steal their natural resources. Our nation’s finest young men and women are being forced to serve as mega-corporations’ personal security forces and Mafia crews. Hell, let these corporations pay for their own damn security thugs. Why should we taxpayers do the job? We are never the ones who make money off of this deal. Au contraire. We get to pay through the nose for it.

Why should we American taxpayers keep paying out trillions of dollars so that the best and brightest of our young generation can die violent and lonely deaths and leave widows and orphans behind them — in order to “Keep Corporations Strong”? It’s like Vietnam all over again.

3. Yes, the war industry does produce jobs. But working for the Yankee Dollar is a high-risk employment, is morally repugnant and the benefits are few. How about, instead, that we hire all those soldiers to work in the solar industry or to repair our shabby infrastructure? Or train them to become doctors or teachers. Just think of the money we’d save!

4. America doesn’t bring democracy to the world. “We” mostly bring dictators and ruffians and torturers and election fraud. And “we” are currently supporting monsters like ISIS and those neo-Nazis in Ukraine. It’s all about the money. The American dream has become a nightmare if you live overseas (and will probably become more of a nightmare here too if we continue to keep the same vampires and doofuses in charge). http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/27529-focus-us-tv-provides-ample-platform-for-american-torturers-but-none-to-their-victims

That’s my argument and I’m sticking with it.

Hey, I may be wrong here about proposing that we immediately bring all of “our” weapons and troops home. Or I may be right. Who knows. But shouldn’t we at least be having this debate? http://www.gp.org/about-the-green-party

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February 13, 2015

Koch $ + Fox News + Stepford voters = JEB as 45

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:38 pm

crop of snapshot

When the Bush administration made the preposterous suggestion that plastic sheeting and duct tape should be used to construct air-tight safe rooms in the homes across America, we eagerly anticipated a tsunami of ridicule to appear in the mainstream media but nothing was said. A few days later when a story appeared in the New York Times reporting a sudden spike in the sales of plastic sheeting and duct tape, we fired off a letter to the editor and sent it off via e-mail to their east coast main office.

The next day, Valentine’s Day 2003, there were about a dozen letters to the editor commenting on the feature story in the previous day’s issue. My effort was one of the ones selected. We had mentioned the fact that the absurd suggestion was the recipe for a tragedy involving asphyxiation and the drawing that accompanied the letters on the topic depicted an anthropomorphized house struggling to catch a breath because it was wrapped in plastic.

About noon, later in the day, SecDef (aka Secretary of Defense) Donald Rumsfeld held a press conference and stressed that the suggestion was meant to be metaphoric because if the safe room was air-tight the occupants would die of asphyxiation. To our way of thinking this was the best Valentine’s Day gift we have ever received because it validated our perception that the World’s Laziest Journalist was capable of producing unique and insightful political commentary.

Subsequently, we acquired a collection of books on the esoteric subject of the inadequacies of America’s Free Press. The Preface to “Manufacturing Consent,” by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, says: “If, however, the powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear, and think about, and to ‘manage’ public opinion by regular propaganda campaigns, the standard view of how the system works is at serious odds with reality.”

We had wondered why the media seemed quite lax about a long list of questions. Who did profit from selling airline stocks short right before 9-11? Why was the story about the Bin Laden family being hustled out of the USA quashed? Where did the WMD’s go?   Etc.

Was the Stepford press fooling the Stepford voters as part of a mass example of irrational thinking or was there some kind of effort to manufacture consent? If so, could the bottom line be that after years of grumbling and criticizing, the people could be bamboozled into complete unquestioning obedience if the Christian majority in the United States Supreme Court legislated from the bench and declared gay marriages unconstitutional? We’ll soon find out if the conservatives can get away with such outrageous politicizing of the judicial branch of American government.

Could the liberals be coerced by the Free Press into believing that another theft of the Presidency and a restoration of the Bush Dynasty was a valid example of Democracy in action?

The Koch brothers blatantly admitted that they intended to donate $889 million to the Presidential Campaign for the 2016 Presidential Election and it is obvious that not one goddamn cent of that will be used to subsidize the liberal point of view in an effort to bolster the illusion that a national debate will precede the charade that will accompany the election of JEB Bush as the 45th President of the United States.

The media is constantly running new scare stories about how new and elaborate computer hacks are compromising security and ruining lives but the idea that the hackers could work their magic on the electronic voting machines which leave no way to verify the results is universally denounced as a conspiracy theory.

If the electronic voting machines, which have a security Des Key number that is available online, are that good, why isn’t their security program being used to guard the personal data that is being lost everyday online? If it isn’t that good, why do the media persist in promulgating the myth that it is?

When George W. Bush suggested that it might be a good idea for the United States to insert itself into the military situation in the Middle East, some snarky liberals suggested that since the situation was a perpetual series of vicious reprisals in response to barbaric outrages, it might not be such a wise move.

Recently, Jordon announced that it would bolster its efforts to bomb ISIS as a result of the barbaric execution of one of their pilots. The recent Jordanian validation of the Bush decision to become an integral part of what he called “the forever war,” gives the Stepford voters an indication of just how futile dissent has become.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has produced many columns skeptical of the Bush war crimes and policies. Now that President Obama has asked for a renewal of the War Powers Act, we will drop our criticism of the Bush Forever War and assume that America’s Democrats will have a Prodigal Son moment when Obama sends additional troops to fight the bad guys in the Middle East. [Note: Since the name of the bad guys is constantly changing this columnist will just use the generic term “Viet Cong” to designate the enemy in the Middle East.]

If, as some of the Orthodox members of the staff of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory assert, some nefarious strategists on the good guy team alerted the Viet Cong about the itinerary that Bob Woodruff would be taking, then the conservatives have scored a trifecta by successfully removing the anchor at all three liberal media TV networks. Dan Rather and Brian Williams might be prone to also suspect that a conspiracy explanation for the downfall of Don Imus might be well founded and not be an example of a paranoid imagination at work. (For extensive coverage of the Brian Williams story check out the media news site done by Jim Romenesko (Google hint: jimromenesko dot com)

When George W. Bush stated that there were WMD’s in Iraq, it led to a war and caused the deaths of many American troops and left many more wounded, crippled and damaged for life, but that was OK with conservatives because the President didn’t know that there were no WMD’s to be found. Brian Williams, has told lies, caused NBC to lose credibility, and stolen valor and therefore, according to the Conservative code of ethics, the liberal media star’s life must be ruined and his career must be destroyed.

Conservatives give complete amnesty to Republican politicians who commit crimes if they ask for God’s forgiveness but liberal media anchors must be held to a much higher standard.

The stigma attached to the Bush Dynasty has just been completely expunged by the President’s request for renewed authorization of the War Powers Act and that clears the way for the election of JEB Bush and removes the need for a Judas goat to lead the Democratic Party.

Is it true that President Obama plans to hold a pro War Powers renewal rally for a limited number of high level members of the Democratic Party and that the exclusive event will be held in Nuremburg Pennsylvania?

Now that the liberals will be retroactively endorsing the Bush war agenda, our columns will focus on other more innocuous topics.

John Stewart is calling it quits. Good liberal punditry is rapidly becoming as old fashioned as linoleum flooring. If Karl Rove’s plan for a thousand year Republican Reich is about to be realized, then, perhaps, the World’s Laziest Journalist can revise the Bucket List and attack certain items with renewed vigor.

Willie Nelson has collaborated with an impressive number of other musicians and rather than criticizing Obama’s endorsement of the Bush war strategy, we will now start a grass roots campaign to encourage fans to demand a collaboration album featuring duets done by Nelson and Mick Jagger.

[Note from the photo editor: We selected an enigmatic snapshot to illustrate this column related to a newsman’s story that mocks the concept of fact-checking. It can’t be a photo of a couple who died on May 23, 1934, if it shows people standing on a 1937 Plymouth.]

Brian Williams is quoted online as saying: “Your are only as good s the coach thinks you are.”

Now the disk jockey will play Kitty Wells’ “I don’t claim to be an angel,” CCR’s “Run through the Jungle,” and Bob Hope’s theme song “Thanks for the memories.” We have to go see if we can buy a WMCA Good Guy t-shirt. Have a “six months vacation without pay” type week.

very tight crop snapshot

 

February 12, 2015

ISIS: The Children’s Crusade

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 2:08 pm

I really hate to mention ISIS in the same breath with my beloved San Francisco Giants, but I will anyway — if for no other reason than to point out the mind-boggling contrast between these two organizations.

In preparation for this year’s FanFest at AT&T Park, I was lucky enough to meet a few members of the Giants’ ball team last week, including Xavier Lopez, Sergio Romo, two Brandons (Crawford and Belt) and Hunter Pence! And got to high-five them all too! I will never wash my right hand again! Plus I actually got a chance to chat with Hunter Pence. “If you show me your palm, I can predict if you will win the next World Series,” I told him.

“No, I’d rather not know for sure,” replied Pence. “That would take all the fun out of it.” And when I promised to use all my influence to get my pregnant daughter to name her new baby “Hunter” instead of Sofia, he gave me a big smile. He was so nice!

But when I also told him that my daughter would probably just stick with the name ‘Sofia,’ he looked so sweetly disappointed that I think I’d better talk to Ashley again.

So what’s my point here? My point is that these amazing young Giants were good-hearted and friendly and open and sweet — fame had not spoiled them. They are the best athletes that America can produce — and yet are still as sweet and innocent as the boy next door.

Not so with ISIS — even though, in all-too-many cases, ISIS members really are (or used to be) the innocent boys next door (if you live in London or Berlin or Paris that is).

And in many respects, ISIS has also become like a new European Children’s Crusade — only instead of some greedy pope in the Middle Ages luring French, German and British kids to their deaths by filling their heads with promises and lies, ISIS’ social media is the one now luring modern European kids to their deaths by filling their heads with promises and lies. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/world/middleeast/isis-displaying-a-deft-command-of-varied-media.html?_r=0

“Come to the Middle East and fight for your religion and ideals,” touts ISIS’s various thinly-disguised FaceBook pages. “Be a hero of your time!” And so off these poor gullible kids go, lured by their pied piper on Twitter, to also meet their deaths in the graveyard of the Middle East, fighting ghoulish battles for their handlers, NATO, Turkey, the US, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel — whose leaders are neo-colonialists who don’t give a flying damn if these kids survive or not. All these War Street touts really want is to conquer the Middle East on the backs of these gullible youths’ bodies and blood. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/09/16/1330029/-Saudis-Lobbied-John-McCain-Lindsey-Graham-to-sell-War

When the Muslim youth of Europe, who are children of Middle Eastern refugees themselves, see horror movies like “Shujayea: Massacre at Dawn” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTr_Un4a_zA, and they know that US, NATO and Israeli neo-colonials are behind all this merciless slaughter, they just want to do something — anything — to protest. And so they are vulnerable to joining ISIS. But ISIS is not now and has never been a Muslim organization. That would be like calling Hitler a good Christian because his swastika is in the form of a cross.

What to do? Let’s cut off the snake at its head and stop helping ISIS to recruit gullible youth through social media. But how can we do that? Cutting down on ISIS’s growing social media presence would be a hecka lot easier if the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel simply stopped buying up ISIS’s oil and thus flooding ISIS with millions of dollars to buy fabulous and alluring FaceBook graphics. http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/syrian-army-regains-ground-rebels-south

According to journalist Mohammad Kesserwani, “ISIS took hold of more than 11 oil fields in Syria and Iraq. The group actually has ventured into extracting oil and transferring it by trucks to the black markets in Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq,…relying on reports unveiled by US media means quoting the administration in Washington as saying that ISIS was now making more than USD 3 million per day which makes the group the wealthiest terrorist organization in history.” http://www.ilfarosulmondo.it/how-is-isil-financed/

All this slick and mendacious ISIS social media propaganda also reminds me of those dire hoodlums in Pinocchio who lured young boys to Pleasure Island so that they could turn them into donkeys. And now the ISIS boys (and girls) also helplessly bleat, “Mommy! I want my mommy!” Too late.

We Americans (and Europeans) now have a choice. We can spend our trillions on war and dismemberment and turning our children into monsters and/or corpses — or we can spend it on creating upstanding youth who have integrity and openness and good hearts (and hopefully high batting averages too). http://smpalestine.com/2015/02/08/israels-historical-fear-of-the-palestinian-mind-witnessed-in-gaza-today/

I’m still haunted by this video, “Paradise Stolen”: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40867.htm

At this very moment, there might be (a lot more) Giants out there among our children even as we speak — or else there might be (a lot more) gullible kids with no other prospects of education or jobs or tolerance or justice being offered to them than the bogus chance to go off on a Children’s Crusade in the Middle East and become the helpless pawns of bad men.

PS: Instead of Americans fighting tooth and nail to prevent themselves from being grimly swallowed alive by War Street and its buddies on Wall Street and K Street, Americans these days are instead battling fiercely and with all of their might to…wait for it…protect (or not protect) our country from measles! What? Measles is the greatest danger to America today? I think not.

PPS: Such hypocrisy. The American press attacks Brian Williams for a small lie. Yet everything our mainstream media told us about Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, etc. have been big lies. So how come they don’t suspend Bush, Cheney, Obama and Rumsfeld for six months too — preferably in Guantanamo? And doesn’t that also sorta make you wonder what Brian Williams did to piss War Street off so much right now? It never seemed to get angry at him when he told the right kind of lies.
http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/us-has-become-a-nation-where-tv-news-celebrities-are-more-important-than-the-news

And then the American press also (rightly) crucifies ISIS for burning just one man alive — yet War Street has been burning hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people alive since way back in the days of Dresden, Hiroshima, Pyongyang and Vietnam. Then there’s the more recent fire-bombing of Kosovo, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iraq… The napalming of Gaza? Women and children there incinerated alive from the air? War street has clearly stooped to the same level as ISIS — only on a mass scale.

Lincoln and Me (3)

February 6, 2015

Harry Street, Sal Paradise, and Raoul Duke

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

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[Note: To increase the humorous quotient for this column portions may contain fictionalization and/or exaggerations.]

When we entered grade school in Scranton Pa., our fist life lesson was to realize that since we were too young to buy an Irish Sweepstakes ticket, it would be futile to pray to the “Lotto God” for a winning ticket. Hence we encountered our fist experience with the advice: “Get a good lawyer!” We did and his first question was: “Why do you want a winning ticket?”

“So that we can have money and afford to travel around the world, meet celebrities, and have interesting and enjoyable experiences,” we replied. “Well then, you should address prayers to the creator of the universe, asking for those items. The lotto god gets more prayers than there are lottery prizes and he has to disappoint many supplicants. However if you ask directly for what you want, perhaps he isn’t being overwhelmed with similar prayers and can grant your request.” We took his advice and started to pray as per his clever wording and the payoffs started immediately.

In grade school, one of the nuns told us that in the United States of American anyone present in the class room (she didn’t exempt the girls even back then) could become President of the United States and if that happened in first or second grade (which we think it did) then one of the students in the room was Joseph Biden and the point was well taken. We noted that particular moment when it happened because we had a odd premonition that some time in the future we would have a need to write about it.

As a kid, we noted that to have an adventurous, glamorous, and exciting life, we could help the creator of the universe grant our prayers by preparing for a career as a writer and or columnist.

The lawyer was right, of course, because we didn’t want a bundle of money and the responsibility of accurate tax records and the need to hire accountants, we just wanted to cross a bunch of things off our bucket list, such as: working on a ship, flying in the Goodyear blimp, attending the Oscars, having a celebrity (Paul Newman as it turned out) ask for our autograph, a flight in a B-17 G WWII bomber, having a drink (diet Pepsi) in Hemingway’s favorite bar in Paris, living out scenes from our favorite movies come to life, a trip to Australia, and so on and so forth.

Once, while shopping in Beverly Hills on Christmas Eve, a fellow, attired in white pants, a blue blazer, and a yachting cap, got out of a Rolls Royce, stopped at the adjacent parking meter and, after fumbling though his pants for coins, turned to us and asked if he could borrow a quarter. To us, it was Fred C. Dobbs asking: “Say, mister, could you stake a fellow American to a meal?”

While trading banter with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department’s watch commander, we heard the fellow tell a story about how, in his rookie days, on one of his first calls, he had investigated the sudden death of a local resident. He elaborated how and why he had suspicions that the dead man might actually have been the fellow who, while serving as the Chief of Police for San Francisco, had disappeared. It took us almost forty years to put that news tip into use, but we may have been the first blogger to make a reference to the case of Chief Biggie who vanished in 1908 from a police launch which was crossing the San Francisco Bay.

After becoming determined to go see the endurance race at Sebring, in the Sixties, we realized as the week of the race began, that unless someone called us out of the blue and offered us a ride from Scranton to Florida and the race in particular, that item was predestined to remain on our Bucket List a bit longer. At 1 p.m., someone who knew how to reach us while we were at our Aunt Dorothy’s house, placed just such a call. We sold a photo to Sports Car Graphic that was used in their picture page report on the race.

Watching weekly episodes of “the Twilight Zone,” when they were fresh out of the box, it never occurred to us that some day we would be chatting about a problem with a story idea and that one of the guys who wrote episodes for that famous TV series would ask us if he could use the fictional story premise we had just outlined. We said “Yeah” and added a stipulation that one of the characters in the story should share our name.

Then there was the time we went to the Forum and when we got to the “Today’s event tickets” window, we said it would be OK if the sales clerk put us in the front row . . . and she did!

Collecting a series of memories that rival the product of a very vivid imagination is fine if you intend on writing an autobiography or even a fictionalized version of your struggles coping with life, but is it a valid way to become qualified to write political punditry?

Are we trying to join the ranks of the fictional characters Harry Street (as played by Gregory Peck), Sal Paradise, and Raoul Duke?

Does a vast array of interesting moments qualify a person to make predictions about the restoration of the Bush Dynasty being inevitable?

Years ago when we were reading Albert Camus’ “the Rebel” for the first time, we thought we saw a passage that made the assertion that society usually disarms serious rebels by making them an integral part of the Establishment.

Waylon Jennings had one obscure song about the incongruity of being a cowboy with a briefcase. Was the song writer an uncontrollable free spirit or was he a corporate entity that owned buses and trucks and other things that made loud noises and had business obligations that couldn’t be shirked?

Does the Rolling Stones band still speak out for the pain and anguish felt by the members of the working class (aka the salt of the earth)?

JEB Bush is now being described as the Republican front runner. Do the members of the media report primary results and/or survey statistics to prove their contention or do they serve up the dramatic surge in JEB’s standings strictly on a “it’s true because we say it is true” basis?

Shouldn’t the media soon start providing images of JEB cutting brush on his Texas ranch, even if he doesn’t own one and ignore the fact that if he did he wouldn’t do the manual labor himself? Is it true that in the Thirties there were photos made available to the press showing the German leader clearing brush on his private ranch in Berchtesgaden ?

A happy-go-lucky life that takes a person to New York City in the Sixties, San Francisco later in that decade, Lake Tahoe in the Seventies, and then a long stint in Tinseltown after that is a fine way to live if you want to write a picaresque novel but shouldn’t a person who was destined to become an online blogger specializing in political punditry spend a decade writing for the New York Times Washington Bureau before launching into making fearless forecasts in the political realm?

Usually our columns are written with the intention of being stand alone items that don’t have to worry about continuity but this week we will wind up with a teaser for next week when we will explain what a vagabond’s life has to do with the inevitability of the Inauguration of JEB Bush in January of 2917. The hook for that column will be the story of how Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave us the best Valentine’s Day gift we ever got.

[If a columnist has to be his own Lacerda, he has to be ever vigilant for photo ops as for example last week when we noticed guy in camouflage pants and combat boots who was all enthusiastic about a newly acquired pair of black stiletto high heeled shoes. We took some photos of the incongruous juxtaposing of the two extreme foot styles and it turned out that we could run that shot with the column that would plug the Two Spirits Powwow to be held Saturday, February 5, 2015, at the Cow Palace in the San Francisco area.]

In the movie “Way of the Gun,” actor James Caan delivers a line that is this week’s closing quote: “ . . . the only assumption you can make about a beat-up old man is . . . he is a survivor.”

Now the disk jockey will play a medley of Waylon Jennings’ music including “He went to Paris,” “Clean Shirt,” and “I’m a ramblin’ man.” We have to go buy a lotto ticket. We hope you have an “un-f*****g-believable” type week, because that’s precisely what we intend on having for our self.

My own personal list of lies War Street has told us

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 11:32 am

Author’s note: “War Street” is the simplified name that I’ve given to the war-mongers, weapons manufacturers and military-industrial complex members who pretty much own America right now — along with their buddies on Wall Street and K Street of course.

This is my own personal list. Feel free to jump right in with a list of your own.

1. That the Civil War was fought to free the slaves. Nah, that was solely an afterthought. The real reason for the Civil War was the lust for $$$$ and power. Like war always is for.

2. That holding the Union together back in 1860 was a good thing. A good thing for who? Dontcha sometimes just wish that The South had been allowed to go on its own merry way back then — so that we now don’t have to waste billions of Yankee dollars on Red State racists, corrupt senators, war-mongers and welfare queens? Boy, I could surely live without Mitch McConnell. He’s our ultimate grand prize for The North having won the 1860 Civil War? Really?

3. “Remember the Maine!” Yeah right. Apparently the sinking of the Maine was a false-flag operation to force Americans into a brutal war with Spain. http://zinnedproject.org/about/a-peoples-history-a-peoples-pedagogy/

4. The 1908 invasion of the Philippines — wherein approximately one-sixth of its population was massacred by the US Army in the name of bringing “Democracy” to Filipinos. They could have lived without that one — literally.

5. World War I? Really? Do you even have to ask why this war was based on lies — such as that the Huns were out to murder our babies? Or that the Lusitania was torpedoed by the evil Kaiser when actually it was illegally carrying six million pounds of explosives on board a munitions transport ship disguised at a cruise liner before it blew up. Or how about the famous “Zimmerman Telegram” lie?

6. Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt knew. Of course he did. And Senator Prescott Bush invested in Nazi Germany bigtime. And after WW II was over, our very own CIA brought 1,000 Nazi officers over here to help J. Edgar Hoover, Allen Dulles and Joe McCarthy organize their new Cold War storm-troopers. And today “Corporatism,” as Mussolini called it, is now king in the USA — and all over the rest of world too. Unbelievable. Was there any reason at all why we fought World War II? http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/27/us/in-cold-war-us-spy-agencies-used-1000-nazis.html?_r=1

7. The invasion of Korea. Again, that phony “Democracy” thing came into play — as it has again and again and again as Wall Street and War Street set up dictator after dictator across the globe and then whitewashed these brutal bad guys to the gullible American public back home:

7.a Chaing Kai-shek, “Our democratic ally in Asia”

7.b The Shah of Iran, “Our democratic ally in the Middle East.”

7.c Fulgencio Batista, “Our democratic ally in Cuba.”

7.d Apartheid South Africa, “Our democratic ally in Africa.”

7.d Francisco Franco, “Our democratic ally in Spain.”

7.e Syngman Rhee, “Our democratic ally in South Korea.”

7.f. Papa Doc Duvalier, “Our democratic ally in Haiti.”

7.g Augusto Pinochet, “Our democratic ally in Chile.”

7.h Manuel Noriega, “Our democratic ally in Panama.”

7.i Mubarak and Sisi, “Our democratic allies in Egypt.” http://www.amec.org.za/articles-presentations/135-egypt/484-sisi-s-unenviable-dilemma-the-illusion-of-stability-and-the-perpetuation-of-unrest

7.j King Salman al Saud, “Our democratic ally in Saudi Arabia.” http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2015/01/23/Canada-Saudi-Arabia-Weapons-Deal/

Although I must admit that the new Saudi king now appears to be actually lightening up and coming to his senses a bit — not an easy task for someone who allegedly has Alzheimers http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-hearst/a-saudi-palace-coup_b_6531246.html

However, Saudi Arabia still has a “Democratic” track record that would impress even Hitler, Stalin and Genghis Khan. In Saudi Arabia today, for example, the government holds a public beheading on the average of once every four days. No wonder that their ISIS protegees are handy with swords. But don’t even get me started on the Saudis! http://www.iacenter.org/nafricamideast/oil012915/

There are approximately 50 other “Democratic ally” dictators that I could list here too but am running out of space. I don’t wanna be doing this forever you know.

8. The Kennedy assassination. Do you really believe that one lone gunman could have gotten through all that security without any help, or could have made that incredible kill shot with a BB gun from behind Kennedy and very far away — and yet still manage to hit the front of Kennedy’s head? Then I have a bridge to sell you. Lee Harvey Oswald was definitely not Chris Kyle. He was a patsy.

9. Vietnam! The Gulf of Tonkin incident was made-up baloney.

10. Remember all those lies we were told by that “low-life scum” Henry Kissinger during his vicious secret bombings of Cambodian rice paddies in 1969, wherein approximately 600,000 poor Cambodian farmers were massacred from the skies? “Never happened,” said Henry. Plausible deniability is all that matters to him. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40867.htm

11. The Iran-Contra scandal. The death squads in Central America. And all that BS about “Americans do not torture” — even as War Street was running the School of the Americas right under our noses.

12. What came next? Oh yeah. That Milosevic nightmare. Milosevic was America’s go-to guy — until he wasn’t. Didn’t you ever wonder why no one did anything to stop him until after socialist Yugoslavia was just a hot mess?

13. Saudi Arabia. Again. They told us that the Saudis were the good guys, but actually Saudi Arabia is where most of the 9-11 hijackers came from. http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/twenty-eight-pages

14. Israel, said to be “Our democratic ally in the Middle East.” But if Israel is a democracy, I’ll eat my hat. Just ask the Moroccan-Israeli Jews living there. http://vimeo.com/60814711 Or the Ethiopian-Israeli Jews.

Violent and shifty Israeli neo-colonialists have also committed despicable crime after despicable crime against humanity in the most undemocratic fashion, including their brutal, traitorous, dastardly and deliberate attempt to sink the USS Liberty, a false-flag operation approved and facilitated by War Street itself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRZSzdQuOqM, the horrors of the genocidal bombing of Gaza and Israeli neo-colonials’ covert support of ISIS — all in order to steal territory and oil in the Middle East.

Just watch this horrifying film of Israeli neo-colonials’ cowardly destruction of a whole city in Gaza, using US weapons and $$$$: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQ41ko3L5Xc And if you still have the stomach, watch this too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTr_Un4a_zA

15. Saddam Husein, who we were told was Ronald Reagan’s hot new Middle East boy wonder — until he wasn’t. See #12.

16. And then there was that first Gulf war, totally based on a lie. The Kuwaitis were slant-drilling into Iraqi oil reserves, a big no-no, and so Pappy Bush told Saddam, “Sure, they deserve it, go ahead and invade…” And remember all those incubator babies too? Lies upon lies.

17. September 11, 2001. Bush knew. And let it happen. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/01/30/police-state-upon-us-paul-craig-roberts/

18. As a result of that infamous “Second Pearl Harbor” on Bush’s watch, we were once again lied to and told that we needed to invade Afghanistan instead of Saudi Arabia. And that we needed to invade Iraq.

18.a. John McCain himself lied right to my face in Baghdad back in 2007 — but I still can’t decide if it was a lie of commission or omission. At a press conference in the Green Zone, McCain told us that it was perfectly safe for him to walk around a marketplace in Baghdad — but neglected to tell us that he was also protected by body armor, humvees and helicopters, and also put a battalion of grunts in harm’s way while he did it. http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com/2007/04/letters-from-iraq-me-light-brigade-john.html

Just that same morning, I had been told by Major Hernandez of CPIC that if I wanted to go outside of the Green Zone without a major armored escort, I would be dead within five minutes after crossing the 14th of July Bridge. Luckily I believed Major Hernandez and not John McCain.

18.b. That, after 9-11, we also needed to invade Libya, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, I forget where all else, if we were ever to be safe. And that we needed to invade oodles of other countries all over the world in order to “Keep America Safe”. That was the biggest lie so far. Are we safe yet?

19. That Muammar Gaddafi in Libya was standing in the way of “Democracy”. Well, he sure isn’t standing in the way any more! Turns out he was standing in the way of anarchy. But you get what you pay for.

20. That Bashar Assad in Syria is in cahoots with ISIS. Yeah right. NATO, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Pentagon are in cahoots with ISIS. Assad is only the victim here, the one who is getting his country torn apart. Why would he want to support the brigands who are robbing his home? http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/30/syria-yes-we-are-responsible/

21. “I am Charlie.” No, you aren’t. “I am the CIA”. Watching that film of the killers getting into their getaway car was just a big joke. They took their time. They even put their AK-47 on the roof of the car while they fiddled with their backpacks and chatted about the weather, obviously knowing that they were protected. But then they weren’t. See # 12. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZyHQljawdE&x-yt-ts=1421914688&x-yt-cl=84503534&bpctr=1422157632

22. The debacle in Ukraine. “We’re not involved,” the Pentagon tells me. Then how come when Flight MH17 was tragically shot down by the Ukies, War Street went to such lengths to blame the event on Russia and not on the neo-Nazi stooges they had set up in Kiev? https://consortiumnews.com/2015/01/06/nyt-still-pretends-no-coup-in-ukraine/

23. That the torture and mass murders at Auschwitz and the “preemptive war” on and occupation of Holland, France, Greece, Norway, Denmark and Poland by Hitler’s minions were obviously war crimes — but the torture and mass murders at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Gaza, and “preemptive war” on and occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine by Bush and Obama’s minions aren’t. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N294FMDok98&app=desktop

That Nuremberg standards apply to war crimes committed 70 years ago but no longer apply to war crimes committed today.

24. That we are always being told the truth by the New York Times and Fox News. Yeah right. Despite the fact that War Street just loves the “Newspaper of record” to pieces, the Times needs to wash its mouth out with soap. And Politifact just announced that 60% of everything Fox News tells us is lies. 60%? Yikes! http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/article/2014/jul/01/introducing-scorecards-tv-networks/?fb_action_ids=10204846428834242&fb_action_types=og.shares

25. That War is better than Peace.
http://www.crescent-online.net/2015/02/distorting-the-story-of-syrias-heritage-destruction-eva-bartlett-4815-articles.html

Sorry, that’s all of the War Street lies I can think of right now. But I’m sure there are many more out there, many many more lies that I’ve missed. Transparency is clearly and obviously not an American value — and democracy doesn’t seem to be one either.

But I will tell you one thing that I know for sure: I won’t ever be fooled again. And the rest of America needs to avoid being suckered down the garden path to War Street as well.

Wall Street

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