September 17, 2011

Boehner Finally Admits He’s From Another Planet


September 16, 2011

More work for less pay = road to recovery?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:22 pm

SF Tourist attraction is background for stike photo, Kazoo for the cause, and bullhorns deliver the strikers’ messages.

A noisy racket at 7:40 a.m., on Wednesday September 14, 2011, in San Francisco’s Embarcadero district was designed to remind guests at the hotel across from the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street that they had crossed a picket line when they checked-in. It also reminded one columnist of some San Francisco history and that it was time to take some photos and to collect whatever tidbits of information about union busting were available and not worry about a topic for the next installment of his continuing series of assessments of contemporary American Pop Culture.

One of the strikers described a recent confrontation with a critical citizen passerby who disparaged the strikers’ efforts. She replied by offering the opinion that by supporting the management’s position he was actually supporting Osama bin Laden’s efforts to destroy America’s economy. The citizen went and got a cop to provide the arbitration for the street debate.

The early morning commotion included the use of a kazoo amplified by a bullhorn augmented by some chanting and a striker who used another bullhorn to state her grievances. Nearby some of the famed cable cars prepared to “climb half way to the stars.” So did the noise level. (We have to fact check and see if it was Keith Moon who played drums on the recording of “Stairway to Heaven.”)

Later on Wednesday (according to information found via a Google News search), the workers held a rally and agreed to return to work while continuing to express their grievances to company management.

San Francisco tourists (and some of the city’s younger residents?) might be unaware of the fact that Fog City had been, during the Thirties, the site for one of the few general strikes in the annals of the American Labor movement. Do the folks, who are planning the protest in Washington D. C. for October 20 of this year, know about the general strike that was held in San Francisco?

When Teddy Roosevelt would mumble the word “Bully,” was he offering conservatives attitude advice on how to respond to complaints about working conditions such as those described in Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”?

During World War II, there was a Broadway production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” that featured juvenile actors. Will the repeal of child labor laws speed the demise of union?

The description of the striker’s involvement in the curb side example of freedom of speech reminded this columnist of a pro-management conservative in Los Angeles who also happens to be well versed in martial arts. He often cites kung-fu movies as being an example of how individuals should be prepared to fight their battles with management alone. Is the legend about one lone Texas Ranger single-handedly backing down a mob based on a true incident?

The fellow in L. A. ignores the implications of the axiom: Negotiate together or beg alone. He seems blissfully unaware of just how unrealistic those movies are. In a film, Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee may beat-up a group of thugs but the bad guys always come at the hero one at time like the “take a ticket and wait for your number to be called” customers at a busy deli. In real life (fact questioning trolls are referred to Hunter Thompson’s book on the Hell’s Angeles), if a karate expert blundered into a confrontation with a motorcycle gang, they wouldn’t fight him one at a time. They would swarm over him (insert bear, bees, honey metaphor here) and beat the crap out of him.

Fact checking trolls who challenge this are invited to go into a biker’s bar and learn first hand how inaccurate the kung-fu films’ level of reality is. Do the actors in those quaint films belong to the actors’ union? Can’t they fight their own labor disputes by themselves?

Reality has never been a serious consideration for those presenting the conservative point of view and it never will be. Fox Views (News?) has legally established their right to tell lies as part of their efforts to report and let the audience decide. If they really want you to decide about important issues, then we have a question: How would you rate Fox’s coverage of the Murdoch hacking scandal?

We know of one particular conservative in L. A.’s South Bay area who asserts that the voices in his head have the call waiting feature.

If annual awards for hypocrisy are ever initiated, conservatives will be expected to dominate the yearly results.

Take Uncle Rushbo and Sean Hannity (please, take them!). Earlier this year they indulged in diatribes railing against unions. Were we surprised to hear Mike Malloy mention that those two fellows were members in good standing in the very same union to which Malloy pays his membership dues? Do wild bears . . . . Conservatives and hypocrisy go together like . . . what? Conservatives and hypocrisy go together like bikers and free concerts at the Alta Mont raceway!

We haven’t listened to Uncle Rushbo lately but we are curious to know if he is explaining how extending work hours and reducing wages can provide a logical basis for starting an economic recovery. How the heck can people be out in the malls spending America into recovery if they have to put in extended hours at their desks to earn less pay? Oh! Yeah! Run credit cards up to the limit! What conservative doesn’t approve of that solution for a way to handle a tight budget crisis?

Are the Republican members of Congress going to use the classical “sit down strike” strategy from now until a Republican is elected President? Isn’t that like holding the recovery hostage and using that as a basis for a “You’ll get a recovery, when you elect a Republican President” type (implied) ransom demand?

If the Republicans use the union tactics of a sit down strike to bust unions, shield the rich from taxes, and regain the White House, would that be an example of irony or hypocrisy?

Speaking of San Francisco how did William R. Hearst’s efforts to break the union strike at the L. A. Herald Examiner work out?

In an effort to track down an appropriate closing quote from either Eric Hoffer or Harry Brudges (gotta help the conservative trolls earn their pay by providing them with deliberately misspelled names), we stumbled across the fact that Woodrow Wilson (wasn’t he a Republican?) told congress: “The seed of revolution is repression.”

Now the disk jockey will play Woodrow Guthrie’s “Sticking to the Union,” Roy Orbison’s “Workin’ for the Man,” and the “Cool Hand Luke” soundtrack album. We have to go make plans to attend the San Francisco Public Library’s 47th Big Book Sale September 22 – 25 at Fort Mason. Have a “never heard Herb Caen’s name mentioned once” type week.

The Doomed GOP Taildraggers Soldier On


September 13, 2011

Bartcop columnist skips (latest) BART cops protest

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


Photo from a BART cop protest last week

Back in the Sixties, the New York Times had a daily box listing the books that were officially being published on that particular day. When the Internets were younger, this columnist made some feeble efforts to contact Amazon and see if he could interest them in paying him to provide an online version of the newspaper’s daily listing. One of the joys of a bookstore is the serendipity factor when a buyer stumbles across an item that makes a strong case for indulging in an impulse purchase. Since Amazon seems to lack a method of making a direct approach to impulse buys, we thought a listing of new books could be a strong unique, drawing feature for the online firm. Our efforts to be the Internets pioneer who started such a daily draw for the book selling firm were for naught. They didn’t hire this columnist and they still don’t offer such a listing.

Since everyone loves the idea of winning free stuff in a contest, we also assessed the potential for doing the work necessary for starting a web site where contest fans could find a daily resource for news and information about exciting (isn’t there a law that requires that adjective to be attached to all contest announcements?) new contests.

One of the negative aspects for both these ventures was the large potential for ultimate boredom. If we had undertaken (pun alert here?) either of these monumental tasks, it seems likely that we would have eventually used up our initial adrenaline burst of enthusiasm and energy and then be froced to rely on the all American motivation of greed to carry the task to completion. Only large gobs of money can cure boredom and inertia, eh?

When we got a gig being a columnist errant for Delusions of Adequacy online magazine, we envisioned it as a chance to help that magazine duplicate the Rolling Stone magazine success story by becoming the digital version of an ersatz Hunter S. Thompson. The web site’s management (AKA el jefe) decided to concentrate their editorial content exclusively on music and we had to move our Don Quixote efforts elsewhere.

In the process of providing book and film reviews, photos, and political punditry to the management at Just Above Sunset online magazine, we were able to scratch two items off our bucket list: a ride in the Goodyear blimp and a ride on a B-17 G bomber. Soon, we were cross-posting our political punditry efforts on both Just Above Sunset and Smirking Chimp. Later we added cross posting on Op Ed News and Bartcop to our online “to do” list.

It seemed to the World’s Laziest Journalist that, in an era of specialization, an effort to imitate online what columnist Herb Caen had done for San Francisco for almost six decades by providing a string of rather short snarky tidbits about one particular city could be expanded to appeal to a more geographically diverse audience, and that it would work well in the digital era because skimming has become ubiquitous.

Last week, this columnist took some photos and did an item on a group of protesters in People’s Park who were conducting their efforts while living up in one of the park’s trees. The day after Labor Day their efforts had vanished. We learned that one of the protester’s had fallen out of the tree during the night (Monday to Tuesday morning). The Cal Berkeley student newspaper reported that other park residents had said that the girl broke her back in the fall. We should do a Google news search for a more authoritative update.

We also ran an item about the past weekend plans for the Northern California group that wants to bring out the truth about what happened on 9/11. Their promotional literature mentioned a Toronto Hearing. We should do a Google news search for information on that unexplained aspect of the 9/11 topic. As this column is being written, we have skipped an opportunity to take a photo of their Sunday parade down Market Street in San Francisco and have chosen, instead, to do the first draft of this column.

As the overwhelming aspect of doing all that simultaneous work became more and more apparent, we considered doing an entire column asking if the overworked writers for liberal web sites were facing a situation that could be compared to the task of the reporter who was with General Custer when he was surrounded at the Little Big Horn river by attacking Indians.

(Would it be worth the effort to do some fact checking on the idea that the American soldiers only had old obsolete muzzle loader weapons and that the attackers had repeater rifles supplied by an unethical gun dealer or is that something on display in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory’s “Hall of Fame” display area?)

On Monday September 12, 2011, we knew that there was going to be another protest at the BART Civic Center station, but we decided to skip the chance to take new news photos that would probably be very similar to the images we had recorded at several other recent similar protests.

Is there a potential column topic in the possibility that Karl Rove and Rupert Murdoch are conspiring to work liberal writers to death (like the dog in “Cool Hand Luke”?) by inundating them with bullshit that needs to be refuted with extensive fact finding and careful logical analysis?

Could we do an issues oriented roundup column under with a headline reading: “Has American Democracy been scuttled by the Republicans?” It seems that Democrats must now simultaneously mount efforts to revive interest and enthusiasm for: the unions, the social security program, verifiable election results, voter registration, fair taxation rates, ending extraneous wars, providing social welfare programs for the homeless, and maintaining affordable quality education while the Republicans flash their “Just vote No!” bumper stickers and head for the golf course with campaign donors?

With all the pandemonium surrounding the P. T. Barnum approach to selecting next year’s Republican Presidential nominee, shouldn’t it soon be time for Barbara Bush to hold a press conference and admonish all Americans to come to their senses, get serious, and nominate her son JEB? Hypothetically wouldn’t even Edward R. Morrow himself have to utter a subservient response to such a clarion call? “Yes, mom, we’ll get to work on that right away.” (Wasn’t last weekend’s terrorist alert a delightful bit of Bush era nostalgia?)

Recently we learned online that Herb Caen’s typewriter is on display in the San Francisco Chronicle’s newsroom. Unfortunately the public can’t drop in to see it. William Randolph Hearst made an exception to his own iron clad rule for a columnist named Bob Patterson. Is it worth all the effort it would take for the World’s Laziest Journalist to get a photo of Caen’s Royal to use with one of his own columns?

In a world where solipsism rules and where Sisyphus is the citizen journalists’ team mascot, it seems to this columnist that it might be worth the effort to shoehorn an appointment with a typewriter into a schedule that is already an insurmountable challenge to efficient time management.

After we do our next installment of volunteer work for the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association, check out the statue of an alligator in the El Paso town plaza (or is it a crocodile? They look alike in the dark.), we will start holding a schizophrenic style debate with ourself about assigning ourself to doing some columns about the earthquake recovery efforts in New Zeland.

If it seems that such a gig doesn’t have any connection to American political punditry, perhaps we can ask some of the relief workers the Goldwin style question: “How much do you love America’s latest war crimes?”

Writing about the same topic, over and over, such as what books are new or what contests are new, might earn a columnist an opportunity to be cross posted on one particularly big aggregate web site, but, to this columnist, that seems too much like a job and we prefer to continue our efforts to build a collection of readers who ask: “What did he write about this time?”

Recently a fellow blogger in the Berkeley area noted with trepidation that the three dot (it’s called an ellipse) style of column writing often triggers skeptical responses from readers. If some fiddle head conservative troll, who tries to evoke the old high school bit of humor about the world’s smallest violin playing “My Heart Cries for You” or accusations such as “You are crazy!”, can do better aren’t they free to submit such efforts? It seems that those who can, do; and those who can’t, post troll comments.

When the manager of a hotel informed the music group “The Who” that there had been complaints from other guests about noise in the rock stars’ room, legendary drummer John Bonham (allegedly) threw the TV out the window and said “That was noise; this is music.”

Now the disk jockey will play Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” and a bootleg recording of the Rolling Stones project sometimes called “The Contractual Obligation” album. We have to go post bail (again?) for a friend. Have a “OR’ed” type week.

Perry is the New GOP Frontrunner by a Wide Margin


September 12, 2011

Jane Fonda on aging: “We’re now living 40 years longer”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:35 pm

Recently Jane Fonda gave a talk here in Berkeley, touting her new book about aging gracefully — and she pointed out to us that suddenly Americans are now living longer than ever before and that our bodies are now being asked to function 30 or 40 years longer than they had been originally designed to do.

This situation reminds me of what has happened to many 1953 Chevrolets down in Cuba — forced to perform 40 years longer than Detroit had intended. However, Cuban cars have now buckled down to the job nicely. But the Cuban cars are only able to do this because they are well taken care of.

Are Americans also taking good care of their bodies? Hardly. A lot of American bodies have been subjected to all kinds of lack of exercise and junk food and will be lucky to keep on running even for 40 or 50 years at all. However, if you keep your body properly tuned up, according to Fonda, old age can be the best time of all. Now that’s good to know.

Remember about 15 years ago when no one knew hardly anything about menopause? And then, because so many Baby Boomer women were about to go through it, we suddenly all wanted to know what to expect. And then suddenly menopause came out of the closet, Gail Sheehy wrote a book about it and then we all knew what was what.

Well, now Jane Fonda is exploring the uncharted country of Old Age for us too.

“As I got older,” said Fonda, “I asked myself, ‘Why isn’t anybody talking about it?’ So, since I love to do research, I began to research old age. I am currently experiencing old age — but it doesn’t define me. I knew that this research was important because there’s currently no road map, no new way to look at old age. But, while it can be hard if you have infirmities, Alzheimers or are poor, many of us can take incredible advantage of this new length of time we now have.”

As so many of us are living longer than most people have ever lived before, Fonda has written a book called “Prime Time,” that promises to supply us with a handy and practical guide for navigating this whole new territory. Good for her.

“But it is easier to be old and have money than it is to be old and be poor,” Fonda added. Hear that, all you greedy smirking hand-wringing corporatist bastards? Hands off our Social Security or we’ll all chase you down the street with our walkers and canes!

Don’t mess with us old guys.

PS: At the beginning of her talk, Fonda’s opening question to the audience was, “Who remembers Blue Fairyland?” I do! “When Tom Hayden and I lived here in Berkeley,” she continued, “we were part of the Blue Fairyland pre-school cooperative. In fact, there are ten pages of notes in my FBI file just about Blue Fairyland alone.”

My friend Suzie Lydon used to send her daughter to Blue Fairyland back when her husband was the drummer for Janis Joplin and we all hung out with the Floating Lotus Magic Opera on Woolsey Street. Good times.

Fonda also talked about how QVC, the shopping channel, had recently cancelled her show due to bomb threats that they had received. At first she had been crushed but then the cancellation brought out the fight in her. Fonda also talked about her past experiences in Hollywood, her upcoming movie spoken in French, and her current and past work on behalf of Vietnam veterans. Plus she still does a lot of mountain-climbing and also has a boyfriend. Plus, with the help of exercise and Botox, she really looked good.

Wow. I hope that I will be able to grow old that gracefully — except, of course, for the exercise and Botox part. I like the natural look better — and much prefer lying in bed reading murder mysteries over spending hours on a Stairmaster — because apparently my right ankle and knees didn’t read Fonda’s book in time and thus couldn’t realize that they were spozed to last 40 more years.

PPS: After the Berkeley hippie/music/art scene started to fall apart at the end of the 1970s, Suzie Lydon became a heroin addict and wrote an outstanding and inspirational book on the subject, entitled “Take the Long Way Home” I recommend it highly for those who want to know more about what motivates heroin addicts and how to understand their crazy drive to rock bottom.

As Suzie told me later at a Labor Day picnic in Tilden Park back in 2003, “I am probably the only full-on, down-and-dirty heroin addict I know of who has actually lived to tell the tale and also has the literary training and skill to write about what that particular hell was actually like.”


September 11, 2011

President Perry’s Reign in Headlines


September 9, 2011

Obama Goes ‘Full Denzel’ on the Hapless GOP


Honoring 9-11: Time to audit the CIA’s incestuous relationship with Al Qaeda

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 3:34 pm

Hmmm. Is it true that America’s Central Intelligence Agency pretty much invented, trained and funded al-Qaeda back in the days of Charlie Wilson’s secret war on Afghanistan? Or is that just another urban legend?

According to BBC News, “…Bin Laden left Saudi Arabia in 1979 to fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Afghan jihad was backed with American dollars and had the blessing of the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. [bin Laden] received security training from the CIA itself.” And apparently Bin Laden received approximately three billion dollars in venture capital start-up funds from the CIA.

How come the CIA never gave three billion dollars to me? Ain’t I more deserving and lovable than OBL? Humph.

Is it really true that there was NO al-Qaeda in Iraq until good old Shock and Awe gave birth to it — as a deadly branch off the CIA-created al-Qaeda tree? Or is that just another urban legend?

According to Reuters, the CIA recently stated that as of June 2011 there are currently still 1,000 al-Qaeda operatives now in Iraq — even after eight long years of deadly warfare, possibly a million people killed and over a trillion dollars spent.

But how many al-Qaeda operatives were there in Iraq before Shock and Awe and the CIA and Paul Bremer worked their magic? There were ZERO al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq before 2003, according to recent Pentagon reports released to CNN. Zero, zilch, nada. We spent over a trillion dollars to put al-Qaeda into Iraq? Why that’s approximately three million per operative! Good job, CIA.

Then last spring Americans started hearing rumors that the “rebels” in Libya were not only CIA-created but also comprised of Al-Qaeda-connected operatives as well. Or is that just another urban legend too?

According to a recent article in Global Research, “Some 1500 jihadists from Afghanistan trained by the CIA were dispatched to fight with the ‘pro-democracy’ rebels under the helm of ‘former’ Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) Commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj.”

According to Pepe Escobar of the Asian Times, Abdel Hakim Belhadj is a known al-Qaeda asset.

And now we are getting intimations that the CIA and al-Qaeda are working together in Syria too. According to Global Research, ibid., “The Libyan model of rebel forces integrated by the Islamic brigades together with NATO special forces is slated to be applied in Syria, where Islamist fighters supported by Western and Israeli intelligence have already been deployed.” The CIA and al-Qaeda are now bonding in Syria too? Or perhaps that is just another urban legend?

We have also been told that al-Qaeda was responsible for the the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Or is that another urban legend as well.

According to an FBI wanted poster, OBL has never been sought in connection with the bombing of the World Trade Center And Osama himself denied any connection to this terrible disaster until four years after the fact, perhaps hoping to buzz up his sagging terrorist image in the press? So that he wouldn’t have to just sit all alone in his lonely hidey-hole in Abbottabad, watching past promo triumphs of himself from back in the day.

According to an interview with al-Qaeda’s top guy dated September 28, 2001, OBL had stated, “I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act.”

Are we actually supposed to believe Osama? Hell no. But that’s what he said. And if al-Qaeda really was responsible for 9-11, you would at least expect them to be doing a chicken dance. And you would definitely expect an apology from the CIA for being a parent to these nasty kids.

But let’s assume that al-Qaeda was responsible for 9-11 (and not Dick Cheney — who actually did have means, motive and opportunity). If so, then the CIA is still on the hook.

According to an article from, “Former Clinton and Bush White House top counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke alleges in an interview for a radio documentary commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that then-CIA director George Tenet and other top CIA officials withheld intelligence on two al Qaeda operatives living in the United States that ended up taking part in the attacks.”

We have been told again and again and again that al-Qaeda members are the BAD GUYS. Yet here, apparently, is America’s own CIA, intimately linked and tied to these Bad Guys again and again and again. And some fairly cogent proof has been offered again and again and again that these rumors are true. And yet NO ONE in America seems to questioning what is going on here? Huh?

In honor of the sad tenth anniversary of 9-11, as patriotic America citizens who love our country and resent like Hell having had it attacked — in light of these circumstances, do we not OWE it to ourselves and our fallen fellow citizens to freaking investigate and AUDIT the CIA — and its alleged incestuous relations with al-Qaeda, aka The Bad Guys?

Isn’t that the least we can do?

Or was 9-11 just another urban legend as well?

PS: And what would be the CIA’s motivation for lying down with dogs and getting up with fleas all these times (at the cost of millions of lives, including many of our own)? Here are two clues:

Today’s quote from my Franklin Planner sez, “There’s enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” Greed. Greed appears to be the top motivator for the CIA — not love of country.

And here’s a headline from an article by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges that pretty much spells out the CIA’s “modus operandi” in black and white (or at least in pixels): “America to the World: We want Everything — If You Stand in the Way we’ll Kill You.”

Actually it’s not we Americans who are saying that. 99.9% of us don’t in any way benefit from any of this pillaging and killing. Only corporatists benefit — corporatists and their enforcer, the CIA. The rest of us appear to be merely zombies, cats-paws, victims and suckers.


BART Cop Arrests continue in San Francisco

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 2:35 pm

Scene at BART protest Thursday in San Francisco

Kristof talks to the press

KCBS radio in San Francisco, on the evening of Thursday September 8, 2011, reported that numerous arrests were made at the No Justice No BART demonstration at the Powel station and that journalists had been among the arrestees.

Since it is newsworthy that the demonstration ended in numerous arrests and since it is unusual for journalists to be included in among the arrestees, there will be a demand for accounts of what happened there on the evening of September 8, 2011.

This will be a subjective report from a fellow who was there trying to simultaneously function as a photojournalist and a writer covering the events.

One of the habits we accumulated back in the Seventies when we did some paparazzi style photography, we would make it a point to take a moment and check to see if, when all cameras were pointing in one direction, it would make a good shot to turn around and look in the opposite direction. There is a tendency among photographers to flock to “the shot.” (We remember one Lakers game where the L. A. Times, the L. A. Herald Examiner, the Long Beach paper, and AP Photo all featured a shot of the same play.) If you can break yourself of the habit of becoming obsessed with following the crowd, you might get a distinctly different photo by turning in the other direction.

Since we have that habit, and since we don’t have a press pass, we made it a point to take a look around as the demonstration story was developing. We didn’t think it would be a good idea to be caught in a round-up if we didn’t have a press pass. There was a massive police presence on the perimeter. (We even noticed that the large contingent of San Francisco and BART police had been augmented by some officers from the Homeland Security agency this time.)

Younger journalists tend to favor getting close to the center of the activity and using a wide-angle lens to illustrate stories about a particular event. Older photographers tend to want to get an overall shot from above the edge of the crowd to have a different perspective on the images being produced.

A close up shot of one particular protester with one particularly eloquent sign may summarize the event. Conversely, if an overall shot shows that there was only two people participating in the protest and that there was a gigantic mob of media surrounding them, that tells the story a bit more accurately.

On Thursday in San Francisco, there was a contingent of journalists that indicated assignment editors around the city expected an important story to develop.

Since we have covered similar stories earlier in the year, we recognized some of the protesters as well as some of the police commanders.

At first the story seemed to be a routine demonstration one. Then we noticed that some on the gates to the station were being closed indicating that access in and out of the area was being restricted.

We decided to go outside and see if we could get some of the photos in the “overview” category.

As previously, mobs of people with video and still photo equipment were trying to get very close to the center of the activity.

Outside the station we observed more police arriving.

According to a report heard later that evening on KCBS, the police announced that it was an illegal assembly inside the building and that people and newsmen were being asked to vacate the premises. The KCBS reporter, Mike Fillipe, noted that he heard the announcement advising journalist to leave, so he did. It is unclear if the other journalist heard the announcement and chose to ignore it or if they didn’t hear it.

Outside the station, protesters and bystanders occasional chanted urging the police to “let them go” or “let her go.” We heard rumors that examples of police brutality had occurred but since we didn’t see (or get photos) such conduct that provided us only with an example of how unsubstantiated rumors play a role in such events.

There was a flurry of activity produced by a loud debate between some citizens.

Gradually the number of observers outside the station diminished and we determined that it was time to go elsewhere and get a bus back to Berkeley CA.

If journalist were actually included among the arrestees, various journalism groups such as the folks at the Columbia Journalism Review web site and the people who run the American Journalism web site will become interested in the long term implications of the arrests of working journalists and they will try to monitor a large number of accounts of what transpired in an effort to piece together an overall view of what happened and why.

If news publications such as Time and Newsweek magazines become interested in doing a story about this particular No Justice No BART protest, they will have to use photos provided by photo agencies or new services such as AP Photo and do their own stories based on police reports and the available stories from journalist who were there.

For journalism students at various institutions of higher learning in the San Francisco Bay area, Thursday’s events provided a noteworthy example of gathering valuable experience while working at the student publication level. Perhaps some will be able to do freelance articles and add valuable tearsheets to their portfolio.

For a photographer/writer who covered the Thursday event seeking material to post on several web sites, the event produced numerous adequate shots and several topics which might be expanded into columns or column items in the days to come.

If the World’s Laziest Journalist spends any time reviewing the other coverage of the event in the hopes of revisiting this particular protest in future columns, he will loose the time and opportunity to search for yet more recent news as it is happening and thereby seem to be a shoddy example of citizen journalism in action.

If, on the other hand, the World’s Laziest Journalist posts some photos and a perfunctory subjective report on Thursday’s event and then proceeds onwards to other topics and news stories, he will be open to allegations of shoddy and slapdash methodology. It’s what TV folks call the “Q and D” (Quck and Dirty) approach to journalism.

Is it any wonder that a lot of journalists are perceived by their friends to be total nihilists?

September 8, 2011

“First we’ll give you a trial . . . then we’ll hang you.”

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:27 pm

When a call from a friend came requesting some coaching on the topic of how to bring the questionable conduct of a judge to the attention of a reporter from the New York Times, we replied that it would be best to take some preliminary fact finding steps and to try to use some community resources first. Our pal of about three and a half decades then asked additional questions about how precisely that phase of her attempt to bring things out in the open should be conducted. We replied that we would have to do a bit of our own research to answer those questions and suggested that she call back on the weekend.

We intended to relay her questions to some of the journalists and lawyers we know in the Los Angeles area. The next morning, we received a call from the President of the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association (MTA) and indulged in some small talk about political issues in both the San Francisco bay area and the greater “Hollyweird” metropolitan urban sprawl. Before we could ask what our friend back East should do, we were asked if we would like to get away from the numerous issues of concern in the Berkeley activists community and take a working vacation closer to the MTA offices where their efforts to focus on rent control and defining “fair rate of return” and refining the definition of “grounds for recusal ” are continuing. Thus we can provide them with new evidence proving our ability to perform volunteer work.

Maybe, if we get some extra free time in L. A., we could start a blog for the MTA organization.

While we are in the L. A. area, maybe we can get some tips and information from the Ful Disclosure Network about doing journalism concerned with judicial matters and then relay that information to our friend in New York.

We have been noticing a series of editorials in the New York Times about aspects of the judicial branch of government and we have been sending the links to those editorials to the MTA and Full Disclosure’s management, so maybe the New York Times would be open to a story suggestion from a New York state resident.

Earlier this year, we had noticed a large amount of political punditry that questioned the potential for conflict of interest regarding U. S. Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas and his wife who is active in some national political issues. We didn’t think that there was any possibility that we could add a substantive column to the debate and sat on the sidelines for that topic.

We noted a recent flurry of political commentary about the news updates on the West Memphis Three.

Doing a round-up of the prisoners who have been freed by DNA evidence is way beyond our limited resources. Isn’t that also an example of outdated news?

If we do go down to Los Angeles, we would be positioned to write a column about the latest developments concerning the saga of Richard Fine.

Some pundits who specialize in writing about legal issues have been questioning the wisdom of a recent Supreme Court decision which declared that companies are persons. There are some complex aspects to this decision such as: “Are companies likely to be drafted if the draft boards are re-activated any time soon?” Pundits have wondered: “Do companies need a passport to go overseas to do business?” What about this question: “Should companies that intend to do a merger be subjected to the legislation which regulates marriages?” If one of the companies involved isn’t clearly a male and the other obviously female, would such a merge be a stealth example of gay marriage?

At this point, it seemed like a relaxing night at the movies would have some therapeutic value.

We went to see a documentary titled “Crime after Crime.” It tells the story of the legal struggles of Deborah Peagler’s effort to get out of prison. The film raises questions about the conduct of Los Angeles’ District Attorney Steve Cooley and his staff in the handling of the case and the long series of appeals. The filmmakers are trying to comply with the rules of eligibility so that the film can compete for the Best Documentary Oscar™ for 2011. Her legal team got some support from the Habeas Project Coalition and they are now trying to get legislation passed in the state of New York which will be similar to a measure in California which helped Ms. Peagler’s case.

Isn’t theremore than one movie that featured the line: “First we’ll give you a trial – judge, jury, everything – then we’ll hang you!”?

Recently radio talk show host Mike Malloy has been pointing out that there seems to be some hypocrisy involved in the fact that both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama have administered some national policy that seems to contradict the very principles of conduct established by the United States and other countries at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials.

In another item of irony, the Supreme Court of Germany ruled that the results from the electronic voting machines were unreliable and subsequently those machines were disqualified for use in elections in that country.

In the United States, only Brad Friedman (of the Bradblog website) is challenging the contention that those machines are unhackable and highly reliable. Is Friedman asserting that questionable election results are being fast-tracked to become a hallowed American tradition? Is Brad afraid that America’s Supreme Court isn’t as liberal as the Germany’s seems to be?

Recently we heard a “news” opinion predicting that the old Supreme Court decision in the Roe v. Wade case will be reexamined and overturned in a new reevaluation of the case.

At this point we have become seriously alarmed at the possibility that our friend in the Empire State (do we need to insert an irony alert here?) will build a substantial amount of evidence of judicial misconduct and then be shunted aside by the New York Times on grounds that such stories have become too commonplace to warrant the use of staff time and resources on just one particular example.

John B. Bogart earned a place in Bartlett’s Quotations (on page 659 of the Fifteenth Editon) for saying: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” Wasn’t there a certain photo of Michele Bachman’s husband biting a dog being displayed on the Internets recently?

Now the disk jockey will play “Here Comes de Judge,” Johnny Cash’s “The Long Black Veil,” and an album by the Denver based group called Tequila Mockingbird. We have to go and look up the definition of “jury nullification.” Have a “case dismissed” type week.

The GOP Debate or, the Injustice League of America Has a Press Conference


Random Notes on the Sept. 7, 2011 Republican Debate
(Candidates listed in order of polling popularity)

First off, the questioning was pathetic. Here they are huffing and puffing that big government spending is the biggest problem with the economy, then they start babbling about building a two-thousand-mile electronic fence across our border with Mexico and hiring thousands of new officers to police it. The ‘journalists’ on the debate panel never asked how they planned to pay for all of this, especially since some, like Rick Perry, want a ‘balanced budget’ amendment in the Constitution. Okay, Rick, how do you spend the tens of billions to ‘secure’ our border (it will do no such thing, of course), and still balance the budget? Also a few of the GOP Fabricasters greased up that old Republican chant that the government doesn’t create jobs. Aside from the one these candidates are running for, or the one they already occupy, this is obvious bull pucky and I wish one of the ‘reporters’ on the panel — NBC’s Brian Williams fancies himself one I hear — would have asked them what in hell they think all of those American civilians building M-1 Abrams tanks, smart bombs, cruise missiles, predator drones, F/A-18 attack jets, and Nimitz-class aircraft carriers are doing? They all, ultimately, get their paychecks from the government, i.e.: the taxpayers. That said, here’s a brief rundown of how the Clod Squad did:

— Rick Perry: For a supposed ‘Master Debater’ he didn’t live up to his reputation. Hint to Rick: Never give your opponent an opening with a snarky line about his record as governor when you have bigger skeletons hanging in your own closet. Not that this matters to the moon howlers in the Perry camp, though — they’ll refuse to hear it, just as they filter out anything that doesn’t fit their goofy worldview.

— Mitt Romney: Better than expected. His quick, sharp comeback to Perry’s snipe about falling job rates in Massachusetts under Romney’s reign was his best moment, but it’s not going to do him any good with the loony Teabaggers; Romney will merely lose ground less quickly now, barring a sex scandal or major foul-up by Perry.

— Michele Bachmann: Fading into insignificance before our very eyes. Her ad lib about kids needing a job should warrant some kind of investigation into what she did with all of those foster children she likes to brag about raising. What — was she running some kind of Dickensian sweatshop on Daddy’s farm for a little extra cash? “Goddamn it, hurry up and finish those sweaters and then you can have some cold gruel; Kathy Lee’s people are picking them up this afternoon!” I’m just sayin’ I wouldn’t put it past her.

— Ron Paul: Sure, he’s got some good ideas — ending our dumb wars, stopping illegal spying on Americans, and legalizing drugs for adults — but it comes wrapped in a lot of raging anti-government Ayn Randian stupid. I know papa Ron wouldn’t see it this way, but government work is preventing his country-club drunk son from practicing his ‘love’ on his patients, so that’s one thing the gov’t is good for, as well as keeping the elder Paul off the streets and well-fed.

— Newt Blingrich: Did I type ‘Blingrich’? Guess so — that’s my new name for this Tiffany fake who keeps reappearing every presidential election cycle like a bout of stomach flu. His funniest line last night was his insistence that kids should learn American history — that’s priceless coming from the Newt-wit who keeps revising it to fit his ideology and bank account. ‘Blingy’ should be gone by Halloween — there’s not much money flowing into his coffers these days and his campaign staff now consists of two guys he met selling DVD players out of the trunk of a car I’m told. I meant the two guys were selling the DVD players, not Newt, but I can readily understand any confusion.


September 6, 2011

Is 1968 really over?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:03 pm


File photo of August arrests in San Francisco.

New protesters call attention to old issues at People’s Park in Berkeley CA.

As the ninth month of the year begins, here are a few items that the columnist considers important cultural tidbits: an unpopular Democratic President is struggling to get renominated, a bumper sticker being sold on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley asks: “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?,” there is an ongoing protest at People’s Park, the Freedom of Speech issue is spawning arrests, a new book by Shel Silverstein is due out this month, the Playboy Club (and “the bunny slouch”?) will be featured in a new TV series, and Pan Am will get tons of free publicity from a new fall TV series (perhaps based on the book “Coffee, Tea, or me?”?), so with out looking at a calendar can you please say what year is this? British disk jockey Danny Baker recently proclaimed that this year is 1968 and he might be right.

The longer Obama is President the easier it becomes for a pundit to make clever and perceptive comments; all that’s needed is a great memory. A case in point would be pollution and global warming. You don’t need to be a conspiracy theory scientist to have a major emotional reaction to a bit of popular American culture from 1970. Who can watch the Iron Eyes Cody Public Service Announcement and not get the point?

Who can listen to “Man in Black,” Johnny Cash’s 1971 hit that covered just about all of today’s problems, and not find it moving?

For people living in Berkeley and facing the task of preparing to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech from the top of a police car, the recent No Justice No BART protests and arrests about the Freedom of Speech issue has a distinct “been there done that” aspect.

People’s Park is back in the news. Activists are staging a protest. They assert that the University of California in Berkeley is using incremental limitations as a way of trying to end the use of the area known as People’s Park as a campsite for homeless people. Activists inform journalists that efforts are being made to end the program to feed the homeless in the park. Similar protests in 1969 were suspended after the Park and the protests, which resulted in the death of James Richter, became national news stories.

Peace is still the objective for Peaceniks only the name of the war has changed.

Mario Savio objected to high tuition fees in the Sixties and asserted that students had a right to express their opinions. Two years ago students were holding demonstrations at UCB to draw attention to increases in tuition costs.

Over the Labor Day weekend, a march by the United Farm Workers reached Sacramento where they hoped to deliver their list of grievances and goals to the governor of California.

For a columnist who made futile efforts to get to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, this year’s issues and protests have a strong déjà vu aspect to them. One ingredient that is missing from attempts to photograph and write about this year’s events is an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm.

Scrambling around the San Francisco Bay area to get photos at a benefit for the Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance, People’s Park and the various No Justice No BART protests, it is obvious that getting a by-line in the Berkeley Barb is a goal that will never be accomplished.

In one day, can one reporter photographer cover a nine hour event at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, a planned new No Justice No BART event in San Francisco, and check in with the protest in People’s Park? Obviously we’ll have to postpone plans to do a round-up column on the current spate of items concerned with the quality of the judicial branch of government in the USA today. We’re working on developing other columns such as one that compares the Republican philosophy to that of the Apaches and play with the irony that some famous Republicans have been accused of kidnapping Geronimo’s skull.

We’ll try to cover the Sunday event at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco on September 11. We’ll monitor the People’s Park protest. We’ll do updates on the No Justice No BART protests. Rather than struggling with the knack of loading Tri-X film on the Nikkor reels, we’ll be struggling to learn the new html skills to move our photojournalism into the digital era, but we will also be aware of certain other limitations on our efforts.

Back in 1968, the World’s Laziest Journalist used to annoy the snot out of some close friends by introducing cultural comments and insights with the phrase “Back in 1968.” We don’t bug them with that shtick anymore because a two of the folks who were most upset with it, have “gone to the happy hunting grounds.”

In the April 1965 issue of Cavalier magazine, Paul Krassner wrote: “There was, of course, one Berkeley administration official who mustered up his oversimplification gland and labeled the protest there as not much more than a ‘civil rights panty raid.’”

Krassner also wrote: “There is an Establishment (translate: in-power) point of view about events such as these – usually predictable but nevertheless in a state of limited flux – and the mass media serve as vehicles for and reflections of the Establishment point of view.” What if Rupert Murdoch is the Establishment?

Now the disk jockey will give some Berkeley musicians a bit of exposure by playing the “Fixing to Die” rag, “Run through the Jungle,” and “Long as I can see the Light.” We have to go and try to buy a copy of Eye magazine. Have a “hella-groovy” type week.

The Republican Vote-Bots of 2012


September 4, 2011

The Two-Headed Thing with One Brain


September 3, 2011

Upstairs Downstairs: Libya and the new British Empire

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:30 pm

Britain these days is more and more starting to resemble that famous old PBS series, “Upstairs Downstairs”. Shades of Queen Victoria! For example, Britain currently has all these posh folks in the drawing rooms of Knightsbridge and Mayfair drinking tea with their pinkies held out — while their used-and-abused servants downstairs in the slums of London and Manchester slave away for shite wages and no respect. And, in the background of all these modern strict divisions along class lines, Britain’s colonial empire still stretches from Afghanistan to Libya.

The only difference between 19th-century Britannia and today’s 21st-century Albion seems to be that the downstairs servants no longer know their places. The recent London riots proved that.

But the “Upstairs” contingency is still carrying on with a stiff upper lip, still imagining that scullery maids hang on their every word and that the London rioters were merely criminal thugs.

As for the new British Empire? Afghanistan in the 19th century and Afghanistan now? 200 years later and not much has changed. Colonialism. Shock-and-Awe.

And then there’s Libya. Sure we all hate Gaddafi — just like we all hated Saddam. Iraq folded and was plundered. And now Libya has become part of the White Man’s Burden too.

Have things changed at all from Queen Victoria’s day? Not so much.

PS: Who cares about Britain? Not me. I’m much more worried about the USA. With 5% of our population now owning 95% of our wealth, we’re obviously becoming all “Upstairs Downstairs” here too — only with a twist. Instead of lords and ladies only taking advantage of “the help” economically, American overlords are now taking total advantage of our working class — hearts and minds, body and soul. Over half of all freaking Americans these days seem to be almost begging to be exploited and abused.

Unlike what happened during Queen Victoria’s time over in Britain, what is starting to happen here in the United States today is entirely new. Our American working class isn’t just being economically used and abused, even though the easy availability of cheap labor does seem to be one of the goals of America’s new corporatist aristocracy. But from what I can tell, America’s corporatist leaders also have a dictatorship in mind as well as just a convenient new source of butlers and maids. Think banana republic. That’s never happened here before here — or even happened in Britain before either. Or at least not since the days of Prince John.

And the truly sad part of this new trend toward allowing corporatist Top Bananas to take over our federal and state governments is that no one seems to be willing to stop this from happening. And I see Libya as a pivotal turning point here. Now that a majority of countries in the Middle East are under the sway of U.S. corporatists, these new “Upstairs” lords have nailed down a strong position to suck more and more power and more and more wealth out of both America and the Middle East — and thus become stronger and stronger. And who is left to stop them now? Not the American “Downstairs”. They just sit back, go to tea parties and think that they also are holding their pinkies out — but are actually just bending over. We’re screwed.

American corporatists have traveled the world (on our taxpayers’ dime, BTW) and taken over all-too-many of its countries, adding one dictatorship at a time to their list of scullery maids. And Israel was the first to fall under their malevolent influence in the Middle East. No, it was Saudi Arabia. Or was it Iran, first given to the evil Shah with no strings attached?

Then the corporatists replaced do-able Iraqi leaders with Saddam, who started to exhibit a mind of his own and so then was replaced by various “provisional governments” who knew their place — downstairs. Afghanistan also became another American corporatist colony. And now Libya has just fallen to Exxon and BP via a dreary repeat of Iraq’s Shock-and-Awe.

And will America be the next country to go “Downstairs” — in every sense of the word? We have already entered our “Colonialism” phase. Will Shock and Awe be coming next — after having been touted as necessary in order to “protect civilians”?

The future of America is now at a crossroads. In another few years, the corporatists and oligarchs will have become too entrenched and too dangerous to ever overthrow at the ballot box. Think Hitler at the 1938 Olympics, gloating happily over how he had usurped power from all those gullible Germans. If we ever want to see a return to democracy, we must act now before the corporatist python’s hold on us gets too strong — and we wake up to find our kids out rotting away in “Downstairs” gulags in Ohio and Arizona and Chicago and New York. Shock-and-Awe. Colonialism. “Protect civilians”.

So. What to do to stop being swallowed alive by the oligarchy of “Upstairs”? Participating in the upcoming October march on Washington might be a start. If 20 million people show up, who knows? An American spring?

Eliminating electronic voting machines would be good. They have clearly been hacked. And let’s also either vote out or impeach every congressional representative or Supreme Court justice or president who supports war and/or Wall Street. Demand better healthcare, better schools, more jobs or else. Return manufacturing to the USA. Demand high tariffs. Bring our troops home and make them defend US, not corporatists profits. We’ll never see a dime of all the oligarchs’ spoils of war.

Next, let’s stop the so-called “privatization” of our resources, buildings, labor pool, national parks, education, prison work force, hospitals, banks, Social Security, etc. That’s all just one big corporatist scam to steal what is rightfully ours. Would you let a thief steal stuff from your home? No. But everyone seems to be all willing and even eager to bend over backwards so that corporatists can steal stuff from our government.

Also, there are currently many perfectly good laws on the books in our country that can and will defend our rights. Isn’t it time that these laws apply to the rich as well as the poor — to say nothing of the pure pleasure to be found in persecuting blatant war criminals. Did we or did we not have Big Fun at the Nuremberg trials?

Our very futures, our very lives and our children’s very lives are dependent upon what we are going to do in the next few years — while we still have a chance.

PPS: What do Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya all now have in common? Of course they have all suffered Shock-and-Awe. And colonialism. That goes without saying. But they have also become sources of incredible wealth for corporatists — and money pits where American taxpayers go to die.

According to economist Samer Araabi, “To continue to ignore the democratic aspirations of millions [in the Middle East], in the interests of misguided short-term strategies, is to doom U.S. efforts in the Middle East for decades to come.”

Guess what, Araabi. You are wrong. What will really happen here at home is that America and Britain will continue to become more and more like the dictatorships and anti-democratic figureheads that they support in the Middle East — until both America and Britain, as well as all the various world-wide satrapies that they have already painstakingly created, will completely come to resemble “Upstairs Downstairs” at its worst.

Colonialism. Shock-and-Awe. “Protect civilians.”

PPPS: Americans know from first hand experience what it it like to be colonized — and yet they (not me!) are still ready, willing and able to do it to others. What ever happened to the Golden Rule in this country? Long gone.

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