February 16, 2012

America & Israel: The past is prologue

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 8:01 pm

I just received one of those chain-letter e-mails that are making the rounds currently and this one cites all the good things that Israelis have done lately. According to this e-mail, Israelis have invented the cell phone, perfected Windows XP, achieved a per-capita income that exceeds the UK’s, developed the Pentium chip, have the highest percentage of college graduates anywhere, discovered how to treat breast cancer without radiation and even invented a cure for pimples. Go them!

After reading this huge laundry-list of Israel’s sparkling achievements, I was immediately reminded of the good old pre-Sputnik glory days of America, back when our education system was the best, our scientists were the best, our economy was the best, our healthcare was the best, our government was the best and everything about America was completely top-drawer.

We were always Number One in everything.

And then along came the corporatists who now own America — taking over our country and shoving their selfish schemes for wealth consolidation, government de-regulation and endless war down our throats. And today, after spending approximately 40 years under corporatist control. America is now 37th in healthcare, 25th in math education, 10th in economic competitiveness, etc. Just look how far we have sunk.

And now even Israel, especially even Israel, clearly outranks us in so many areas and ways. Well, good for them — and bad for us.

However, the corporatists who now own Israel are clearly following the very same policies that originally derailed America: Corporatism, wealth consolidation, government de-regulation and endless war. Now all I can say to Israel is, “Good luck with all that. I hope you do better under corporatism than we did.” But being able to successfully ride the corporatist dragon is probably never gonna happen in Israel either. Why? Because past is prologue and Israel is now blithely heading down the very same road to ruin that America has already traveled. And there’s really nothing to stop Israel from becoming just like us — corporate-owned has-beens.

To quote my friend’s recent chain-letter, “Israel now has the fourth largest air force in the world (after the U.S, Russia and China) and, in addition to a large variety of other aircraft, Israel’s air force has an aerial arsenal of over 250 F-16s. This is the largest fleet of F-16 aircraft outside of the USA.”

Looks like Israel has already traveled a goodly distance down that same road that has already incapacitated the U.S.

America has become like Pinocchio, lured off to Pleasure Island by the corporatists. And Israel’s nose has clearly already started to grow also, marking the beginning of the end for their accessible education, fabulous healthcare, scientific excellence and economic achievement — to say nothing of Israel also losing its only chance to develop a conscience and become a Real Boy.

PS: Speaking of the past, my son Joe, my daughter Ashley and I just went on a whirlwind tour of most of the places in Southern California where my great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and various aunts and uncles used to hang out. All of them are gone now, but we really enjoyed seeing where they used to live.

My great-grandfather, Charles Gandy, was a Methodist minister in Trenton, New Jersey, the end-product of seven generations of Methodist ministers before him. But then he got TB and moved his family to Banning, CA, out in the desert, and that’s where my grandmother and mother were raised — and so we toured Banning, soaking up all kinds of ancestor vibes. Here are some of my photos from Banning:

And my father’s father, Eugene Purpus, had been a farmer in the Oklahoma Territory until he too moved his family to Banning, to work in the orchards up on the rural Banning Bench. My father was born in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1911, on Route 66, on the way out from Tahlequah.

My Uncle Orville and Aunt Helen used to live in Idyllwild, a historic art colony in the mountain pine forests overlooking Palm Springs, where Aunt Helen was a weaver. But, sadly, Uncle Orville got hit by the 1919 flu epidemic and then came down with Parkinson’s Disease.

Joe, Ashley and I all gave Idyllwild a big thumbs-up, and here are some photos of us roughing it, eating wonton soup, being “Based Gods,” and watching Jurassic Park on TV:

I also spent most of World War II living in Point Loma while my father was off serving in the Pacific and being stationed in Occupied Japan. So we found my old house there and it was all very deja vu. I had loved living in Point Loma, and moving away has always been my Paradise Lost moment — but my family had been forced to move because, after coming back from the war, Pop couldn’t find work in San Diego and so we migrated north.

Here are some photos of our old house in Point Loma:

Then Joe, Ashley and I spent a sweet rainy day in Tijuana, where my mom used to take me when I was a kid. And we have the photos to prove it:

Next on the tour, we visited Aunt June in Escondido — or at least tried to. It seems that her home had recently burned down and she was now happily ensconced in an assisted-living facility in Maryland. Maryland? Definitely not part of our tour. Sorry, Aunt June.

Here are photos of Aunt June’s old home after the fire:

That left only Los Angeles to visit, which we did. Uncle Donald and Aunt Mina had lived in Hollywood (next to Ozzie and Harriet, BTW). I had been born in Los Angeles and my parents both worked their way through UCLA during the tragic 1930s Depression. Then Joe and Ashley went off to see a Bruce Lee documentary in El Segundo and I holed up at the LAX Motel 6 and read murder mysteries.

The next day, I walked over to my friend Tsering’s amazing eclectic used-book store in Inglewood (Vajra Books and Gifts, 100 North Market Street) and exchanged hot gossip and bought books. Tsering is an old-skool Tibetan refugee and artisan extraordinaire as well as a book-seller.

Then it was off to Griffith Park for lunch, where my mom used to take me in a stroller when I was a baby. Then we did the traditional night-time race up the I-5 back to Berkeley. Wanna see photos of that? Here they are:

Perhaps we didn’t cover my entire SoCal past, but we did see a great deal of it. And we had fun doing it too.

My own past has been prologue to a very interesting life, trying hard to do as many good deeds as possible before I die, trying to emphasize “Do unto others” and “Repair the World” — that kind of stuff. And let’s hope that America and Israel’s past will also be prologue to a very interesting life along these lines as well.

Unfortunately, however, if things don’t change rapidly and they don’t ditch their corporatist owners’ greedy and war-mongering attitudes ASAP, Israel’s and America’s “interesting life” is going to become far more interesting — and in an entirely different direction — than its citizens had ever intended.

February 15, 2012

Can’t Buy Me Love: The Mittsy Romney Story


February 14, 2012

Ye Olde Scribe Presents: Valentines

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 8:33 am



Washington, D.C., February 14th, 2012- Early this morning a White House intern claimed he heard John the big BOENER crying at the bottom of a tree, below the Tree House of Little Else but Compromise built by the Obama administration over the past 3 years.

“But he PROMISED he’d compromise with ME first, compromise himself right out of the White House! Now he’s up there compromising with Mitch the B%$#CH! Maybe they’re interested in a threesome?”

And with a huff, and a puff and a little baby whine he climbed up.

NEWSFLASH! Early this morning Mitch and John were found, up in a tree, KISSING, a tar baby, ironically made by the all the racist folks in the Republican Party. Or should Scribe have rephrased that as just, “The racist Republican Party?”

Below the tree was Glen Beck doing his fake crying routine, saying, “But he promised me! He promised me! I HAVE SENSELESS, MEANINGLESS, CHARTS TO PROVE HE PROMISED ME!” But no one saw him there. No one cared. Because no one with an ounce of intelligence pays attention to Glen Beck anymore.

Meanwhile, Ricky InSanitorium was reported to have said, “Oh, sickening, how perverted. You two together on a tar baby? Come over to my house: we’ll cure your gayness and have you kicking our dead fetus over the goal post in no time.”

Ah, except that last part, twere somewhat of a pleasant dream for Scribe to wake up from on VD day, tweren’t it? Now it’s time to go back to compromise almost every damn time while going out of your way to insult your base reality.




Rick Santorum’s Valentine’s Day Message


February 13, 2012

YOS Presents…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 12:24 pm


Stephanie Miller commenting on Sarah Palin’s voice…

“It’s like a band saw going through a bike frame.”

February 12, 2012

One-Eyed, Brain-Eating Greed Will Defeat Mitt Romney in November

Related: “Runaway Greed Is Destroying America: Should There Be a Lid on How Much Someone Can Make?” by Sam Pizzigati

February 11, 2012

Scenes from a Republican America: Voting, Before and After


February 10, 2012

Working Poor For Romney


The Case of the Missing Journalism

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:36 pm

KTVU got there Thursday
Tents popped up again onSproul Plaza Thursday
Little tents seen on Frank Ogawa Plaza

As the first full week in February ends, the overwhelming temptation for political pundits is to compare the chaotic process of getting the Republican primary elections voters to choose the man who is ultimately going to get the nomination to Bach’s Little Harmonic Labyrinth, and so the World’s Laziest Journalist will skip that because it is too obvious. The executives for the Democratic Party know who their nominee will be just as surely as Karl Rove knows who his party will select.

Isn’t it obvious to non pundits that Romney is a Potemkin candidate? For most Republicans the situation is like when they learn beforehand that they will be honored via a surprise party and that they will have to act surprised when it happens right on schedule.

The paid pundits in the mainstream media know this but their weekly (“Yeah, I get paid weakly – very weakly”) paycheck is whatcha might call “hush money.” When the inevitable happens watch and see just how authentic the surprise is on the faces of TV’s regulars on the weekend analysis shows. It’s like they say in Hollyweird: “If you can fake sincerity, you have it made in Hollywood.”

Didn’t Republicans fight hard to get ranked choice voting established and now aren’t they using the Liberals’ arguments against the change to discredit Romney who isn’t getting much more than about 50 percent of the voters in any one primary?

Speaking of Republican inconsistencies; what about the possibility of sending Americans into Syria to help them win freedom and democracy? Is it an oxymoron when Republicans staunchly endorse sending American youth to die in a war to establish a democracy overseas? Shouldn’t they want to establish a Republic and not a Democracy?

The Oakland city council at their regular Tuesday night meeting voted down a measure to order the Police to use more stringent measures when dealing with the Occupy protesters.

Some cynics question spending money for keeping people out of a public park or plaza or from seizing a vacant building on a weekend when five murders are committed in other areas of Oakland. Isn’t the answer that there is always going to be gang violence but cleaning up the downtown shopping area makes business associations happy?

Periodically at Frank Ogawa Plaza tiny teepees will appear. Apparently they are meant to be a gesture of defiance regarding the ban on the use of tents in that area in front of the Oakland City Hall.

This week the Guardian weekly newspaper in San Francisco ran an article, on page nine of the February 8 to 14, 2012 edition, written b Shawn Gaynor, about new legislation which is designed to prevent the San Francisco Police Department from working with the FBI to investigate local citizens.

Isn’t it one thing for the police to tell a fearful wife that they can’t do much about a husband’s threats until he actually does something unlawful, and another thing for a country that might send troops to Syria to investigate the possibility of future reprisals inside the USA?

This week the New York Times in a lead story on page one reported that the USA plans to downsize the number of diplomats stationed in Iraq. Were they trying to hint that the massive Embassy constructed under war conditions in that country was an example of overspending that precipitated the numerous cuts to welfare programs inside the USA? If that’s what they wanted to imply, why not just come out and say so in an editorial?

How can it be that there isn’t a week that goes by without some liberals protesting the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Prison but the allegations of prisoner abuse in the Los Angeles County Jail gets little (if any) notice outside that gigantic county?

On Thursday, February 9, 2012, Occupy Cal held a rally on the Mario Savio steps at Sproul Hall.

The World’s Laziest Journalist went early to the noon event and, while waiting for the start time to arrive, chatted with a local political activist, Russell Bates, who attends many of the political events in the area.

Bates (who emphasizes that he is not related to the mayor of Berkeley) related a version of the events in Oakland on January 28, 2012, that didn’t quite mesh with the way it was reported in local news media.

According to Bates, the marchers who trampled a fence down at the Kaiser Center in Oakland that day were trying to move away from police aggressive police officers and when the marchers encountered the fences the crowd movement away from the police was a greater force than the fence was engineered to withstand.

Bates went on to assert that the people who were arrested for burglary entry into the YMCA later that night, were merely trying to avoid being arrested in a kettling maneuver by the police and that the marchers were merely rushing through the only avenue of escape. Bates alleges that of the 408 people arrested that day, only twelve were charged.

Bates claims that the news media is complicit in spinning the events of that day because they did not provide aerial coverage from their news choppers of the kettling process.

On Thursday, news coverage of the attempt to restart the Occupy Cal movement initially could be described as meager. A camera man from KTVU was covering the noon rally as well as reporters from the student newspaper, radio and TV studio.

Last fall Occupy Cal received news coverage from a much larger contingent of journalists.

A police officer informed the protesters that the tents they were erecting on Thursday afternoon were not permitted. The police did not take action immediately and attempts to learn about subsequent developments by listening for news reports on KCBS news radio were unproductive.

The columnist functions as the writer, typesetter, editor, fact checker, for this column but also has to do the computer work necessary (download from the Coolpix, edit the photos and transfer the ones selected for possible use to a memory stick and then posted online in a place where the html process can find and fetch it for use when the column is posted on Friday morning) to add photos to the column.

[Note: there is a labor dispute in progress at the World’s Laziest Journalist’s headquarters and the proofreaders have been locked out until they give up their silly demands for wages and other benefits.]

Would it be appropriate if the World’s Laziest Journalist were to be well paid to not cover Occupy Cal? How can “hush money” be spun so that it sounds commendable?

On Friday morning, KCBS news radio was not making any mention of the Thursday student protest and so the World’s Laziest Journalist will have to take a circuitous rout to the computer which will be used to post the column online and check to see if the tents are still making their mute protest or if the protesters have folded their tents and faded away into the night.

On Friday morning, that news station was reporting about a Thursday night public meeting in Oakland where members of the public made charges of police brutality against the participants in the Occupy Oakland events.

Recently this columnist has suggested that there might be a need for an unofficial meeting place for a Berkeley Press Club. Apparently the columnist misjudged the level of enthusiasm such a suggestion might generate. Only one reader responded to the idea of such a group.

On Thursday, the news media seems to regard Occupy Cal as a fad that has faded.

This just in: On Friday morning the tents were still on Sproul Plaza and more TV news crews had arrived and interviews were being conducted. The story on Friday morning seemed to focus on the symbolism of a mushroom as indicating regeneration. The World’s Laziest Journalist will try to file updates next week.

To be continued . . .

California Governor St. Ronald Reagan once said: “If it takes a bloodbath to end this dissention on campus; let’s get it over with.”

Now the disk jockey will celebrate the Beach Boys reunion by playing their “Smile” album. Tuesday in San Francisco there will be several events to mark the 50th anniversary for Tony Bennett’s original studio session for making the recording of “I left my heart in San Francisco,” so the DJ will play that song. He will also play “Desert Caravan.” We have to go and see if we can watch the Grammies. Have a “nothing to see here” type week.

February 8, 2012

Ye Olde Scribe Presents…

Filed under: Commentary — Ye Olde Scribe @ 2:50 pm

All the News... 

“Because sometimes it fun to attire punditry in satire.”

PITTSBURGH, PA- The newly formed Dead Baby Coalition has fired a shot across the bow of Ricky “Frothy” Santorum, candidate for president.

Head spokes-fetus, Ralph, who refuses to give his real name because he doesn’t want his family to know their dead baby is speaking to the press, said, “Look, we’re born, or almost born, then you want to take us home to put us on display? Like we’re some toy? Doncha think we suffered enough? God sent us down here to tell Rick how sick he is. He deserves that new definition of Santorum.”

An anonymous spokesperson for the Santorum campaign stated that Rick believes in “No Child Left Behind,” almost as much as Frothy enjoys hunting pheasant. He quoted Frothy as saying…

“We made a big mistake… not in taking the dead baby home and letting the kids play with the baby, but in not keeping the dead baby. Next time we’ll do it right: put the little bugger up on the mantle next to my pheasant trophies. But first we’ll go to a taxidermist. And certainly we’ll measure the little bambino, buy some Barbie or G.I. Joe clothes. Obviously we’ll have to know the sex first because we don’t want the kids cross dressing the dead baby. Now THAT would be SICK.”

Scenes from a Republican America: Birth Control Pills


February 7, 2012

The Case of the Distinctive Voice

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

A distinctive voice coming from a man walking in the shadows is a set-up if most of the people in the audience can identify the voice’s owner. The voice fans in the audience might identify the source before the actor steps into the light and be pleased they didn’t need to see the guy’s mug to I.D. the perpetrator. The celebrity dominated culture in the United States would have been sorely disappointed if the image of the speaker’s face didn’t solve the “who dat?”” puzzle of the familiar voice.

If, thanks to computer wizardry, Rod Serling had stepped out of the shadows most of the viewers on the younger side of the age demographics for the Superbowl audience would have known that it was the Twilight Zone guy.

What would the reaction to a technological cloning have been if it turned out that the voice and the face belonged to be Edward R. Murrow? How many kids on the outside of a School for Journalism would have recognized the “London calling” voice and associated it with daredevil reporting of the highest caliber?

Obviously using the voice and image of W. C. Fields would have had a sabotage effect. Would today’s hipsters recognize, let alone appreciate, Fields’ voice? Do they still sell the posters featuring the once famous comedian? They were ubiquitous in the late Sixties, don’t cha know?

If the computers had produced that Superbowl ad with St. Ronald Reagan stepping out of the shadows, Republicans all across America would have wept openly. It’s morning in America, again, folks and a cinematic cowboy is here to make you feel safe and warm.

Could the folks who want to see the Bush gang hang possibly misinterpret the Cling Eastwood commercial and see it as an endorsement of Dirty Harry tactics that include a complete disregard for the rules of war that were proclaimed at the Nuremburg War Crime Trials?

In some long ago news broadcast we heard a news story that asserted that female infants would pay more attention to the voice of a male stranger than they would to their mother’s voice.

According to a reliable source, over a decade ago a young UCLA coed, who was working as an interviewer for a phone survey, called the provided phone number and started to convince the young man who answered the phone to participate in the poll. He heard her voice and offered to come from New York City for a date in L. A. the following weekend. Since she wasn’t hurting for male attention, she politely declined.

When Johnny Carson made a casual comment about “the late John Carradine,” he got a phone call from the actor saying: “John, at my age it’s hard enough to get work without you announcing to the world that I’m dead.” Carson noted the quality of the voice he was hearing before he moved along to the fact that he then issued an invitation to come on the Tonight Show. Carradine got subsequent invitations to return to that show.

We have read somewhere a story that alleged that David Brinkley one time called into a Washington D. C. contest seeking a David Brinkley sound-alike. He came in second place.

When future radio fans look back on the Post Dubya era, we wonder which voices from 2012 will be the most recognizable.

Uncle Rushbo, of course. Who else?

We have, in past columns, lamented the fact that there seems to be room in the smorgasbord of contemporary culture for a competition for would-be voice over actors, but, alas, our suggestion has fallen upon dead ears.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has begun to do the preliminary fact checking needed as preparation for doing a column on story telling competitions. As luck would have it, the only item produced by several Google searches is something called the Porchlight competition held in San Francisco CA. So maybe we can enter that contest and get some material for a “been there done that” first hand account column about that competition.

Maybe some reader will have additional information to add to the comments for this column and thereby adding to the potential for doing a future column on story telling competitions.

We note that the Liars Hall of Fame seems to be an example of a variation on the tall tales in the field of exaggeration variety rather than an actual Hall of Fame whereby someone who spread the WMD alarm is accused of providing an entry for consideration by the Liars Hall of Fame induction committee.

Don’t some (all?) of the best raconteurs have bits of Irish ancestry in their blood?

Rather than a closing quote per se, we will recount a story that we heard St. Ronald Reagan tell in 1980. While he was campaigning in Iowa, he knocked on a farmer’s door. The man was flabbergasted. “I know you! You’re the actor. I forget your name.” Reagan suggested that as a hint he would supply his initials. The man heard “R. R.” and immediately turned toward the interior of the house and called out: “Mama, come quick and meet Roy Rogers.”

OK you won’t let it slide? You want a real quote as the closing quote?
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets out his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more’ it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

A friend in L. A., chef Teddy B. Owen, may have provided the best closing quote for this column when he said: “The voices in my head have the call waiting feature.”

Now the disk jockey will play Carly Simons’ “You’re So Vain” (Tell me you can’t hear Mick Jagger’s distinctive voice singing backup), Clint Eastwood’s recording of “Born Under a Wandering Star,” and Judy Collins’ version of “Amazing Grace.” We have to go gargle. Have a “stifle talk about unionizing” type of week.

The Republican Trilemma

Anyone with a realistic eye has observed the Republican Party’s devolution over the past 40 years from a serious political organization to a risible collection of deluded theocrats and dimwitted bigots led by sharp-eyed bunco artists exploiting the first two groups to expand the power and enhance the wealth of the third. In fact, the GOP has now taken on all of the ugly tyrannical features of the USSR under Stalin, replacing iron-fisted Communism with a jumbled and jingoistic version of authoritarian Christianity. This ‘Republican Trilemma’ can best be expressed by the chart below, based on the Žižek Trilemma:


As we can see from the chart, it is impossible to combine honesty, support of the Republican Party agenda, and intelligence in one person. As the Wikipedia entry for the Žižek Trilemma notes: “Of the three features—personal honesty, sincere support of the regime and intelligence—it was possible to combine only two, never all three. If one was honest and supportive, one was not very bright; if one was bright and supportive, one was not honest; if one was honest and bright, one was not supportive.”

February 5, 2012

Cleaning out: Wall Street, wolves, Masai warriors & raw milk

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:22 am

Every time I see all those huge phalanxes of highly-weaponized and militarized police brigades viciously attacking protesting American citizens in cities across our country, all I can think of is this: “The cost of even one of those cops’ salaries, overtime pay and elaborate gear represents at least a hundred of our children who will go without textbooks, or a fire department that will miss out on purchasing lifesaving equipment or some shoddy infrastructure in my town that will never get fixed or….”

You get the picture. That’s billions of American taxpayers’ dollars being spent to protect the One Percent’s right to safely gouge and enslave us. What a waste.

And as we continue to watch thousands of every-day Americans being savagely beaten and arrested in our very own country, these last few months have become a very confusing time for most of us — but also a time that has been hopeful and rewarding.

For so many decades that it’s embarrassing to think about, the needs and preferences of us average Americans have been deliberately ignored and undermined by the wealthy corporatists who own us. And apparently these oligarchs have, until now, always firmly believed that most of us Americans will continue to think and do whatever we have been told to think and do — forever.

But now most of us lowly worms have finally started to turn.

After spending all too many years of our lives standing submissively by while everything meaningful — from religion to lingerie — has gotten happily vacuumed up by corporatist Blue Meanies, we Americans are finally beginning to stand up for ourselves and vote with our feet instead of with Diebold.

Human beings were never meant to have their sole purpose to be to make oligarchs rich. Doesn’t even the Bible say that? Yes, I think that it does. And so does the Torah and the Qur’an for that matter. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” That kind of stuff.

Or, as Rudyard Kipling so succinctly put it in my Franklin Daily Planner recently, “The strength of the Pack is the Wolf — and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack”. And Americans are also only as strong as our weakest links. And when too many of us become homeless, jobless, illiterate and sick, then America becomes more and more fragile — allowing us to get picked off one by one by the very One Percent vultures who have made us this weak in the first place.

It’s time to start cleaning these rapacious vultures out of our lives now, right now — while we still can.

And speaking of cleaning out, my Chinese New Year’s resolution is to eat really healthy — and what could be more healthy than mother’s milk? A mother cow’s milk, that is.

And so for the next 24 hours, I’m going to follow the example of strong Masai warriors and live mostly on raw milk.


Plus, no one ever died of cancer as a result of drinking raw milk — unlike the many people who have died of cancer after drinking uber-processed milk taken from hormone-treated, antibiotic-drugged, feed-lot-crazed cows

But before you start to guffaw and knock raw milk as being too weird or too old-fashioned or unsanitary, please do try it first. Delicious.

Here’s a warning, however. A friend of mine just told me that if you are having trouble getting pregnant, raw milk will help. Hmmm. Does that mean that I’ll be getting pregnant soon too? Good grief, I hope not! But drinking raw milk is also supposed to provide immuno-globulins, vitamins, enzymes, beneficial probiotic bacteria and cancer-fighting CLA, as well as helping to prevent bone-density loss, strengthen the immune system, encourage iron assimilation and help ease constipation

But will it also turn me into a Masai warrior? Or even perhaps into a wolf? How cool would that be!

And will drinking raw milk also make me strong and invincible enough to stand up to the One Percent’s slick new mercenary stormtroopers — now playing all across America, in a city near you? Probably not, unfortunately. Sigh.


February 4, 2012

The Lying of the Right: Tax Inequality


February 3, 2012

A Nation of (Silent?) Sheep?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:41 pm

Cops follow protesters last week in Oakland
This is how a news photographer accessorizes
Is this sign posted in every Press Club in the USA?

“A Nation of Sheep,” written by William J. Lederer has been on our literary radar screen for many years just because of the catchy title. When we were presented with the chance to buy a used copy in BU (Brilliant Uncirculated) condition recently, at a bargain price, we snapped it up quickly. Among the usual suspects list of places in Berkeley CA where a thrifty fellow can buy desirable additions for one’s personal library at prices that won’t destroy a tight budget, the number of available books that criticize American Journalism seems astoundingly high, until a proper assessment of the phenomenon is made. The University located in Berkeley has a School of Journalism, so there is going to be a goodly number of teachers and students reading up on that subject. There is also a number of folks who work in and around the San Francisco Bay area Journalism community who live in Berkeley. There are also a few people still living in Berkeley who can tell stories about the golden age of underground newspapers because they worked for the Berkeley Barb and the Berkeley Tribe.

That, in turn, reminded us of the fact that the World’s Laziest Journalist has intended for some time to write a column about the fact that Berkeley has no Press Club. If some enterprising coffee shop owner (apparently the Berkeley Barb was started by a coffee shop owner who wanted a small “poopsheet” to hand out to his regular customers) wanted to fill his place on an “off” evening, he could set aside one night a week to make a special effort to attract “newsies” and start a de facto Press Club, where a herd of the boys could gather around and talk shop.

[We can use the sexist word “boys” because we heard a recent report about a new book on KCBS that reports that there is a paucity of women in the clique of reporters covering this year’s Presidential Campaign.]

Recently Police officials have been making decisions based on the fact that they don’t consider some reporters for Internets based publications to be eligible for Press Pass status at news events. That could be a lively topic for discussion at the aforementioned hypothetical gathering just mentioned.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the big topic among journalists for the past week, was not the Romney victory in the Florida primary, but the detention of reporters in Oakland. Some of the detained journalists had valid Press Passes issued by the San Francisco Police Department. Maybe, if well informed voters are a legitimate goal, it is time to include web-journalists on the list of those eligible to apply for Police issued Press Passes?

Citizens and media owners seem eerily silent about this latest trend in journalism; could it be that they don’t care about the health and welfare of America’s free press?

It would be a bit easier to write a weekend-update column, if a fellow could compare notes at an impromptu Press Club. Macy’s may not tell Gimbel’s what’s going to go on sale next week, but journalist do talk to each other on an “this is off the record” basis and swap some information which can help determine the newsworthyness of some topics.

For instance, what if an online columnist noted that during the past week there had been some headlines online that indicated that a nuclear facility in Illinois had a bit of trouble with their hardware, the San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California had a radioactive leak, and a big shot in Washington had announced that the next terrorist attack on the USA might come in the form of a hack attack.

Wasn’t there a story recently alleging that somebody had used computers to sabotage and slow down Iran’s program to develop nuclear weapons?

If there was an informal Press Club in Berkeley, a columnist could do a bit of a mini-opinion poll about the feasibility of seeing a connecting thread for those bits of information? Could the nuclear malfunctions be an example of “paybacks are hell”?

If other journalists thought that all these separate bits of information could be lumped together legitimately, then OK, but if they said it didn’t pass the smell test, then it might be prudent to pass on the idea.

On line, anything that isn’t stamped USDA approved mainstream media style patriotic information will be branded as sounding suspiciously like something being prepared for test marketing by the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory boys (rumored to be headquartered in an abandoned railroad car manufacturing facility in Emeryville CA?) and not worthy of a mention. The catch phrase for the teen years (of this century) might be: “You’re on your own, pal.” [Bust the unions and stress rugged individualism.]

Didn’t a legendary pioneer blogger, whose handle was Plato, once predict that eventually journalism would become a game played by guys sitting in their man cave looking at a computer screen thinking they were grasping reality and making cogent remarks in a process known as “live blogging”? Don’t they deserve to get a night out to break the shackles of solipsism?

Sure, it is wonderfully invigorating to see younger journalists tilting at windmills, but don’t they need to hear a crusty old reporter reminding them: “Ya can’t fight City Hall, kid!”? A Berkeley Press Club would help keep such idealistic young j-students grounded in reality. The flip side of the coin would be that the students could help the old war horse scribblers fathom the mysteries of the laptop.

There is one other stealth advantage to having a local Press Club where journalists can talk shop. If a writer tells his colleagues about a story he is writing and if something happens to him while he is digging for that story, then the others will be able to continue the (hypothetical alert!) the crusade that cost a life.

Wasn’t columnist Dorothy Kilgallen working on an angle to the Kennedy assassination when she died suddenly?

Has IBM abandoned their use of plaques that displayed the word “THINK”?

On page 31 of the Crest Book 1962 paperback edition of “A Nation of Sheep,” William J. Lederer quotes a Prince/editor from Thailand as saying: “You Americans are the easiest country in the world to propagandize. You believe anything. I could give a lecture here in Honolulu and say that the king’s mother had two heads – and that is why she isn’t seen in public. Most of the audience would believe it and the papers would probably print it as a factual story – without even checking to see if His Majesty’s mother is still alive.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Defiant Ones’ 1961 recording of “Defiant Drums,” Elvis’ “Rock-A-Hula Baby” and Johnny Cash’s “Guess Things Happen That Way.” We have to go read Edward Jay Epstein’s 1973 book “News from Nowhere.” Have a “Cross my heart and hope to die” type week.

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