April 29, 2012
April 28, 2012
…but he doesn’t care, just like the rest of the reptiles in the Right-Wing Media Machine.
April 27, 2012
The other day I went to visit an old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in years — but now she was dying, truly dying. It was a very sobering experience. Who would have thought that this formerly enthusiastic, vibrant and energetic woman would now be reduced an almost-human shell, a mere skeleton that breathed?
But the Grim Reaper eventually comes for us all. Except, of course, for me.
Having never known a world that existed without me in it, I find it hard to comprehend that such a world might someday exist. It’s hard for me to believe that someday even I too will be dead. And so I will probably live forever — but the rest of you won’t.
However, don’t despair just yet. Currently, large numbers of doctors and scientists all over the world are working their butts off to make sure that you too will have lives that extend far beyond today’s actuary tables. But on the other hand, so many corporate-owned politicians in Washington these days are also happily working their little hearts out to make sure that you don’t.
So many corporate-owned politicians in Washington these days seem to be going out of their way to work side by side with the Grim Reaper. They declare unnecessary wars. They tax us (not themselves) right down to the bone. They steal all our safety nets in order to have more money to add to THEIR safety nets. They bust our unions, steal our pension plans, enable Wall Street to invent pyramid schemes that ruin our economy, encourage big health insurance companies to cut us loose just when we need them the most, and allow Monsanto to poison our food, mutilate our seed stock and kill off our bees http://blog.buzzflash.com/node/13459.
In America, death seems to be coming earlier and earlier to those who vote.
And now GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has come up with an even more sure-fire plan to help out his new BFF, the Grim Reaper. Now Romney wants to not only eliminate most U.S. housing subsidies, he wants to eliminate the entire department of Housing and Urban Renewal as well. That will certainly speed up the Grim Reaper’s efforts for sure.
According to Forbes magazine, “In a closed-door Florida fundraiser for donors tonight, Mitt Romney offered a rare glimpse into his policy plans if elected President. And, as NBC reports, he got quite trigger-happy.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/markbergen/2012/04/15/mitt-romney-says-he-may-ditch-hud/
According to TruthOut, “Romney’s plan to eliminate HUD, assuming he didn’t shuffle its programs to other departments, would bring an end to critical programs like Section 8 housing vouchers and community development block grants. And eliminating housing assistance is even more problematic given the disproportionate percentage of veterans in the homeless population.” http://truth-out.org/news/item/8580-mitt-romney-tells-rich-donors-his-secret-plan-to-cut-housing-assistance
But what does Romney’s latest brilliant idea actually mean in terms of you and me? It means once again that the rich continue to get richer and live longer while the rest of us just conveniently die off too soon — because homeless people have a lot shorter life span than folks happily housed in the Hamptons.
You know that senior housing complex in your town where seniors now get a rent break courtesy of HUD? That will be gone. And without HUD, frail and ailing seniors will soon be wandering the streets of your town, dying in alleyways and hogging up all the space in your cemeteries.
You know those low-income “housing projects” on the other side of your town where all the poor people now live? Those will be gone too. Too bad for them. And now desperate poor folks will be wandering around in your part of town, homeless too. And did I already mention that they will be desperate?
And all those homeless vets? There will be a lot more of them now — also wandering around your city or town.
Remember back in the 1970s when Reagan shut down all those mental institutions and suddenly we had all sorts of crazy people wandering around, hopefully taking their meds but probably not? And if Romney’s latest hot new scheme takes hold, even more of them will be back on your streets.
And physically handicapped people will have no place to live either. They too will be wandering around, trying to elude the Grim Reaper.
And the number of homeless children will dramatically increase. A lot more little kids will be living in cars — if they’re lucky.
And all of these homeless people, millions of them, will be pouring into the streets of your city or town, herded in your direction by both corporate-owned politicians in Washington and the Grim Reaper himself — who also will have a sharp eye out for YOU.
Currently, about the only thing that stands between what America looked like back during the 1930s Great Depression and what America looks like now is the department of Housing and Urban Renewal. HUD.
When we taxpayers give our money to HUD, what we are basically buying is window dressing, the illusion that America is still prosperous, still offers possibilities of advancement to its citizens and is still a First World country. Without HUD’s Section 8 vouchers and other forms of help with housing needs, that curtain of illusion will be pulled back and those rose-colored glasses will be unceremoniously jerked off. And America’s current dysfunctions will be seen clearly by all. And the Grim Reaper will be set free to wander our streets at will.
But Romney and his friends will never have to worry about the Grim Reaper coming into their homes. Why should they worry — when the G.R. will find it so much easier to come into ours. If we still have homes, that is.
PS: I truly do not understand why Americans seem so fearful of far-away “terrorists” and are so willing to spend trillions of dollars to protect themselves from this rather small threat — but won’t spend hardly a nickel to protect themselves from the corporatista politicians in Washington who are an infinitely larger threat to our lives.
Is support for the Green Party in Germany melting?
Recently someone suggested doing a column about the Pirate Party in Germany and some online fact checking provided some material that hasn’t been widely reported in the American media but it also produced some confusion because some of the facts published online provide different pictures of what is happening. The file sharing community in Sweden has spawned a political party thanks to the efforts of Rick Falkvinge and that in turn has resulted in a similar phenomenon in Germany where the Pirate Party is gaining popularity. This new party could be forth biggest in Germany with 8% of the voters joining or it could be the third biggest political party in Germany with 13% of the voters. You choose. The Pirate Party has grown bigger than the Green party in Germany or it may be just behind them in the rankings.
The fact that researching the story online does not provide a clear picture with exact numbers and percentages, in turn, provides an opportunity to write a future column on the possibility that the Internets is having a negative effect on the art of journalism because citizen journalists, who are supposed to augment and supplement the diminishing paid staff at various news organizations, can’t access the hard facts necessary to provide accurate journalism and that is very troubling because reliable, quality journalism is necessary to inform voters in a democracy (as the Founding Fathers intended).
Earlier this week, the English language version web site for the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Martin Delius, who was described as the Pirate Party floor leader in the Berlin City Parliament, boasted that his party’s growth rate was surpassing the rate of expansion achieved by the Nazis in the early Thirties. Whoops! Not a good example of political bragging in that Country. The offender quickly issued an apology.
The Pirate Party was spawned in Sweden by a group of music fans who wanted to share information and files. The Pirates’ Bay web site was their common meeting ground and provided the name for the political movement. The party’s focus has expanded and is described online now as being concerned with government transparency, information availability, and (conversely) user privacy for computer users.
Could the Pirate Party find some potential for expansion into the contemporary political scene in the United States? Some of the main concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement and those of the Germany Pirate Party seem to form a cusp area for the two groups and since one of the main (conservative) criticisms of the OWS movement is that they don’t have a clear cut political agenda, forming a political coalition using both groups to appeal to America’s youth vote, might happen with the same suddenness that is being achieved by the phenomenon in Germany.
Obviously such a development is too much of a radical departure from the conservatives’ philosophy of “politics as usual,” so seeing any impartial or favorable sounding news reports about the German Pirate Party on Fox Nation News, seems quite unlikely. Although the basic “Screw your Rules” philosophy might appeal to conservative business executives wishing to circumvent the stifling aspects of government regulations.
Speaking of bypassing government rules as it applies to deficiencies in the art of Journalism, how much coverage have you encountered in American media about new worries that have been added to the list of woes for Rupert Murdoch and his son James?
Ostensibly in the United States the two political parties rarely agree on anything, but they do seem to be in agreement about making it virtually impossible for rebels, renegades and rogues to form a third political party.
Some cynical pundits may suggest that the Republicans and Democrats in the United States are playing a political variation of the “good cop – bad cop” strategy for managing the citizens for the one percenters and thus a third party would only complicate the process and therefore such an innovation becomes unnecessary and undesirable in the opinion of most one percenters.
It would be very unpatriotic to believe that the “good cop – bad cop” political atmosphere in the United States is anything less than idyllic but a niche group that might see things that way might be attracted to the Pirate Party.
The Internet presents the people known as corporations with access to all the consumer/computer user data to expedite the manipulation and exploitation of the suckers – strike that word and change it to customers – possible; also, they do not want to miss the opportunity to include extra hidden charges for intellectual property rights (passing those hidden addition monies along to the artists who should get the fees is an entirely different matter) along to their customers. Therefore it seems that the people we know as corporations and the members of the Pirate Party have a cobra vs. mongoose type relationship.
The Pirate Party politicians will appeal to the natural inclination for a new generation of young people to become rebels and innovators by invoking a very popular cultural image that has also provided a very lucrative genre to Hollywood. If it seems like there is a new Pirate movie every Friday, it won’t be any surprise to learn that “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” opens today.
Here is a short test to give the readers of this column a chance to see if their thinking has been molded by society or if they have the large canon of knowledge needed to sidestep any efforts to be fooled by conceptual shorthand propaganda.
Can you name any Pirate ship captains who were women? If you didn’t quickly rattle off several names; then you have been outwitted by marketing image molding and should consider taking the time to locate and read a copy of “She Captains” by Joan Druett.
Robert Newton was the greatest movie pirate of all time for his portrayal of Long John Silver in “Treasure Island.” He subsequently again played the same role for a move titled “Long John Silver,” and also for a TV series titled “Long John Silver.” Most of that material is available online perhaps even at Pirates’ Bay?
September 19 is “Talk like a Pirate Day.”
Is radio Caroline on satellite radio?
[Note from the WLJ Photo Editor: We took photos (heavy handed symbolism alert!) of two “polar bears” contending with melting blocks of ice at the Earth Day event at City Hall in San Francisco last Sunday and since we mentioned the Green Party in this column and since we don’t have to do extensive computer work to get permission to use one of the images with this column; we’ll go with what we got.]
Speaking of faux journalism, did any of the stories you encountered about the Secret Service imbroglio include the fact that prostitution is legal in Chili? Does that fact change the validity of the tone of the moral indignation in the commentary on the story?
Will the Republicans, who are totally outraged by the (alleged) lapse of morality by the secret service agents, call for any investigations into the possibility that any Americans (military or “diplomats”) visited The White Rose or Le Rendezvous des Amis (Googling tip for amateur fact finders: “Vientiane by night”), while in Vientiane Laos (if indeed that city did actually exist) back during the era when Richard Nixon was commander-in-chief during the Vietnam War? Wouldn’t that be a similar chance to root out moral turpitude? Perhaps the American government employees who hung out at the Purple Porpoise bar were not held to the same standards as are the agents in the Secret Service? Perhaps Republican and Democratic Presidents are held to different levels of accountability for the actions of their hired hands?
Speaking of scoops, we have noticed a possible trend spotting story for the Fashion Desk developing in San Francisco. We have seen what seems to be high heeled hiking boots (is a high heeled hiking boot an oxymoron?). Perhaps they are high heeled Ugg boots from Australia?
Robert Louis Stevenson, in “Treasure Island,” provided this closing quote: “Many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese – toasted mostly.”
Now the disk jockey will play the Pogues “Dirty Old Town,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Honky Tonk Stuff,” and a bootleg (i.e. pirated) copy of the Rolling Stones’ “Cops and Robbers.” We have to go prepare for May Day on the Golden Gate Bridge (which is celebrating its 75th birthday on the Memorial Day weekend.) Have a “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” type week.
April 26, 2012
April 25, 2012
April 23, 2012
April 21, 2012
April 20, 2012
Is this the Republican budget philosophy?
Columnist’s file photo of “the magic love bus”
”So this little old lady walks into the showroom . . .”
Guernica happened 75 years ago, on April 26, but that story is not liable to be noted much in American media during the coming week because the military tactic of using bombs to kill civilians is anathema to Obama’s reelection team because they want to project an image of Lincoln-esque nobility for his term in office and the Republicans (the American Republicans and not the neo-fascists in the Spanish Civil War) do not want to hear any criticism of the American military adventures started by George W. Bush and so it was with great joy that the World’s Laziest Journalist accidentally encountered a second chance last weekend to photograph the art installation in San Francisco titled “Defenestration” because that provided a striking visual metaphor for the Republican budget philosophy. “Defenestration” depicts useful household items being recklessly tossed out of a building’s windows. The Republicans seem intent on throwing out useful social programs so that the taxes on millionaires can be either greatly reduced or eliminated.
This week’s news stories about the role the Secret Service played in President Obama’s trip to Columbia provide a columnist with a chance to make a casual allusion to a half century old novel titled “The One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding,” but it also provides a rather tenuous chance for the team at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory’s Research and Development Department to unleash some trial balloon speculation about the possibility for something more dark and sinister such as a Republican spawned plan to reinforce their contention that President Obama is an inept manager.
Is there anyone in the Republican Party who could arrange for the Secret Service to be humiliated and left looking that bad? Could it have been a gigantic Political Dirty Trick which would just add more evidence to the Republican assertions that Obama is a poor administrator? Would any Republican be that unscrupulous?
This week the Los Angeles Times published pictures which may stir up anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. Won’t what that newspaper did be as helpful to the American mission in Afghanistan as someone spreading thumbtacks on the route Sisyphus will use and then forcing him to work barefooted?
When Guernica was bombed, a contingent of journalists was in the nearby city of Bilbao. When their dinner was interrupted by news of the bombing, they raced off to cover the news and get the chance to hear survivors tell their stories.
Since neither conservatives nor progressives want to read about Guernica, perhaps the fact that April 26th is also National Story Telling Day, could provide us with a chance to morph the focus of this column to the topic of storytelling?
Back in the day, when Jack Paar was the host for NBC’s Tonight Show, talk show guests were given ample opportunity to tell amusing and entertaining stories. Now the only reason for someone to be on a talk show is to sell some new bit of entertainment such as a movie or album. The stealth talk show sales pitch spawned a new word. Such unpaid ads can be called promobabble.
Traveling and story telling seem to go together like ham and eggs ever since the guy who wrote the “Iliad” the “Odyssey” was in J-school.
As we recall, TV personality Herb Schriner wrote a history of mobile homes.
War correspondent Ernie Pyle traveled about the United States before World War II writing columns in a Chevy coup that had a modified trunk that functioned as his portable office.
Jack Kerouac made a career out of writing about the adventures on the road that he experienced with his pal Neal Cassady.
John Steinbeck wrote “Travels with Charlie” in the early Sixties. Some critics compare that with Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Travels with a donkey,” which may have provided the motto for travelers with this sentence: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”
If that philosophy appeals to you, then you might want to do some Googleing and investigate the possibilities offered by spending July in Paris taking the travel writing course offered by Rolf Potts. (What would the boss say about an assignment to go report on that learning experience? Maybe we could include some reports about the 24 hour race at Le Mans for sports cars and get a twofer for our money?)
Speaking of an endless summer on the road, we noticed that the University of Sydney is offering their students who are studying United State Politics a chance to spend their winter (our summer) studying at UCLA. Hey, fellows, what about turn about is fair play? Gees any student who got into that program and who knows how to surf would only be a MTA bus ride away from The Call to the Wall surfing contest in Malibu while they were calling Westwood their home.
If they believe that turnabout is fair play shouldn’t UCLA students get a chance to study for a semester (our winter their summer) in Sydney?
Personal note: If things go as planned we intend on doing our Christmas shopping in Paris (France not Texas) and perhaps attending Christmas Eve midnight Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral (has this year’s Mass been sold out already?). If that doesn’t happen, then we will change to Plan B and opt for celebrating Christmas in the traditional Australian way; i.e. on the beach (Bondi or Cottesloe?) in a bathing suit.
Speaking of “On the Road Again,” on Friday April 20, 2012, on CBS radio’s World News Roundup, they mentioned that a statue of Willie Nelson would be unveiled in Austin later in the day.
Tom Wolfe wrote an article for the Sunday magazine section for the New York Herald Tribune and got enough material for a book by joining a busload of hippies (with Kerouac’s buddy Neal Cassady doing the majority of the driving) going from San Francisco to the New York World’s Fair. A documentary film about that expedition was released last summer. Many folks have written about their attempts to imitate the Kerouac “On the Road” exploration of America but the fact that Tom Wolfe wrote about Ken Kesey’s installment in that category inspired many more subsequent imitations.
Now (thanks to a news tip in the form of a comment posted about Kerouac for a recent column) we have learned that a modern attempt to chronicle a similar adventure for something called the “magic love bus” will be posted online as that story unfolds. (Google tip: “magic love bus.”)
Who hasn’t wanted to write their own version of “a savage journey to the Heart of the American dream”?
Early in the Online era two fellows traveled about in a mobile home and produced the magazine “Monk” on a computer from their mobile office. Don’t they still maintain an online web site?
The history of cars and California are intertwined and mystery writer Charles Willeford may have produced a minor classic novel on the topic of used car salesmen with “The High Priest of California.”
Southern California used car legend Cal Worthington was a regular guest on the Tonight Show during the Johnny Carson phase of its history.
In the late Seventies, former President Richard M. (Tricky Dickey) Nixon in an interview tossed out a quote that Americans were like little children and needed to be told stories. Fact checkers with access to Lexis/Nexis should be able to find the exact detail about the origin of this obscure bit of Presidential history. President Ronald Reagan was a gifted story teller and usually managed to work a folksy story about ordinary Americans into most of his Presidential speeches.
Didn’t the New York Times do a trend spotting story about the resurrection of the dead art of story telling recently? Doesn’t that provide conclusive proof that story telling is making a comeback?
Speaking of used cars and California, earlier this week a little old lady (from Richmond CA) walked into the new car showroom at McKevitt Volvo in Berkely CA and asked what they would offer as a trade in value for her car parked in front of their establishment. As luck would have it, the World’s Laziest Journalist just happened to walk past there and got some car-spotting photos to use on his photo blog. She was driving a 1960 MGA (with the old style yellow California license plate with black letters [used up until 1961]) in mint condition. By Thursday afternoon, the sports car was sitting in the middle of their new car showroom (with 10,238 miles on the odometer).
We sent an e-mail about this classic example of tales from the used car trade to the tips editor at Jalopnik.
Columnist Herb Caen used the term “Little old lady” so often that he resorted to the initials “LOL” and his regular readers knew what that meant. Caen’s Name Phreaks department used to take note of people with names that were either very appropriate or inappropriate for the job they held. A used car salesman who worked on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, named Bob Cheatum, was submitted by readers so often that he was given Hall of Fame status.
After Aimee Semple McPherson told an incredible tale about being kidnapped, journalists asked some skeptical questions about the details and she responded: “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
It’s been a sad week in musical history, so the disk jockey will play some songs that will always evoke American Bandstand memories for this columnist; “The stroll,” Fabian’s “Tiger,” and Duane Eddy’s “Forty Miles of Bad Road” plus “Cripple Creek Mountain.” We have to go and check the Porchlight calendar for this month’s story telling competition in San Francisco. Have a “You’re never going to believe this, but . . .” type 4/20 day.
April 19, 2012
Currently many Americans hold a rather low opinion of Shariah Law, a system of jurisprudence used in Muslim countries that appears to be rather harsh, especially with regard to the rights of women and the common man. However, this all-encompassing system of laws is not, as many have assumed, based on the teachings of the Qur’an but, according to Islamic scholar Ziauddin Sardar, was conceived, developed and established by the powerful Abbasid Caliphate (749-1258) in order to help caliphs run their empire — which at that time stretched from India to Spain.
As I understand it, the Abbasid caliphs of that time became more and more concerned with consolidating their hold over the vast territories under their control and with subduing their opposition — and less and less concerned with the niceties of religion. With this new imperial goal in mind, Abbasid top dogs and their jurists began inventing laws mainly designed to make the accumulation of wealth and seizure of power easier for themselves and harder for anyone else.
The Qur’an’s emphasis on community and justice for the common man (and woman) was thus set aside and replaced with more Draconian laws geared to subdue the main population, women, the working class and minorities in favor of the Abbasid Caliphate’s top one percent.
And now, as the American empire continues to expand under the leadership of its own modern caliphate, jurists in Washington are once again developing Shariah Law — a system of laws basically designed to strengthen the top dogs and to subdue the rest of us.
And just like the Abbasid powers-that-be pretty much ignored the Qur’an when developing Shariah, so the U.S. Supreme Court seems to be pretty much ignoring the Constitution in order to develop their own brand of Shariah Law.
While the Qur’an speaks idealistically about all people working together for justice and for the good of the community, Shariah Law was originally designed as a power-grab and a war on the working class, women and anyone else who tried to rise above their station.
And although many Shariah laws do appear just and fair, we must always remember the basic reason why Shariah Law was invented: To maintain and control an expanding empire and to benefit the caliphs.
Likewise, the purpose of many current Supreme Court decisions — from the illegal appointment of George W. Bush to Citizens United and beyond — appears to be the same one that drove those men in black robes over 1,200 years ago: To seize and maintain the power of the few over the many.
Both the Constitution and the Qu’ran were originally intended to set men’s souls free — not to enslave them.
PS: At the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association luncheon the other day, our guest speaker told us about some of the decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court over the past year. Some of these decisions were actually quite fair and good, but many of them only seemed designed to allow the new American Caliphate to consolidate its power more quickly.
For instance, there’s the Supreme Court’s recent strip-search law validation wherein anyone taken into custody, no matter what their alleged crime was, can expect to be strip-searched automatically. Ugh. And apparently “Expectations of Privacy” is a thing of the past as well, to be replaced by Judge Scalia’s favorite “Tresspass to Chattels,” whatever that is. And you used to either have to get a warrant or show probable cause in order to search premises — but not any more.
And with regard to voter-redistricting in Texas, the Supremes didn’t want to get into that one at all. “That’s a states’ rights issue,” they earnestly declared, a really big turn-around from when the high court chose to overrule states’ voting rights in 2000 and foist GWB off on us.
But we still have a right to petition our government. However, we now apparently no longer have the right to get an answer from it. And now it’s gonna be much harder to mount a class-action lawsuit against a corporation too — especially one against WalMart!
PPS: Speaking of Shariah Law justice here in America, according to an article by Chris Hedges ironically entitled, “First they came for the Muslims,” Muslim-Americans are now being falsely persecuted by the U.S. judicial system right and left http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/257-justice/10978-focus-first-they-come-for-the-muslims
According to Hedges, “[Attorney Stephen Downing stated that], ‘I was unprepared for the fact that the government would put together a case that was just one lie piled up on top of another lie…. And when you pointed it out to them they didn’t care. They didn’t refute it. They knew that it was a lie. The facts of most of these pre-emptive cases don’t support the charges. But the facts are irrelevant. The government has decided to target these people. It wants to take them down for ideological reasons.’” Reasons like keeping the American Caliphate up and running? Yeah.
PPPS: If you want to understand some of the higher goals and wisdom of Islam, I highly recommend Ziauddin Sardar’s enlightening (and very entertaining) book, “Desperately Seeking Paradise” http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/desperately-seeking-paradise-by-ziauddin-sardar-6167246.html.
“House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says his Catholic faith helped shape the Republican budget plan by stressing local control and concern for the poor, according to an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network released Tuesday [April 10, 2012].”
– Deacon Greg Kandra, “Paul Ryan: My Catholic Faith Helped Shape Budget Plan,” The Deacon’s Bench, April 11, 2012.
“Rep. Paul Ryan – the Republican choice to address the nation following the State of the Union and author of the Republican budget – credits Ayn Rand as the reason he got in to politics, and he requires all his staff and interns to read her books.”
– American Values Network, “Ayn Rand & GOP Budget vs. Judeo-Christian Morality”
“[Faith] is a sign of a psychological weakness … I regard it as evil to place your emotions, your desire, above the evidence of what your mind knows. That’s what you’re doing with the idea of God.”
– Ayn Rand, from an interview with Phil Donahue in the 1970s.
“Through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities — through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community — that’s how we advance the common good.”
– Rep. Paul Ryan, quoted in “Christian Debate: Was Jesus For Small Government?” NPR.org, April 16, 2012.
“What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.”
– Ayn Rand, from an interview in Playboy magazine, March 1964.
“Ayn Rand more than anyone else did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism…it is the morality of what is going on right now and how it offends the morality of individuals working toward their own free will that is under attack and it is that that I think Ayn Rand would be commenting on that we need more than ever.”
– Rep. Paul Ryan
Mike Wallace: “You say you don’t like the kind of altruism by which we live. You like a certain kind of Ayn Randist selfishness.”
Ayn Rand: “ ‘Don’t like’ is too weak a word, I consider it evil.”
– From “The Mike Wallace Interview” CBS News, 1959.
“The whole damned history of the world is a story of the struggle between the selfish and the unselfish! … All the bad around us is bred by selfishness. Sometimes selfishness even gets to be a cause, an organized force, even a government. Then it’s called Fascism.”
– Garson Kanin, “Born Yesterday.”
“[Under Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy]: No government except the police, courts of law, and the armed services. No regulation of anything by any government. No Medicare or Medicaid. No Social Security. No public schools. No public hospitals. No public anything, in fact. Just individuals, each looking out for himself, not asking for help or giving help to anyone.”
– Gary Weiss, “The Horrors of an Ayn Rand World: Why We Must Fight for America’s Soul,” AlterNet.org, March 26, 2012.
“I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it.”
– Rep. Paul Ryan. [He gives out “Atlas Shrugged” as Christmas presents? Whew, talk about cognitive dissonance.]
“Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
– Matthew 10:21 (KJV)
“It is immoral if it is placed above love of oneself.”
– Ayn Rand, from “The Mike Wallace Interview,” CBS News, 1959.
2012 RS Janes. www.fishink.us
April 18, 2012
April 17, 2012
On the island of Ie Shima, on April 18, 1945, war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed in action and that is why that date has been selected by the National Society of Newspaper Columnist to be designated as National Columnists’ Day.
After a few years of writing about Ernie Pyle for National Columnists’ Day, it grew a bit challenging, and so the focus for our annual column for that occasion was expanded to include homage to other famous columnists from the past such as Herb Caen and Walter Winchell.
For a columnist named Bob Patterson, who was born and raised in Scranton Pa. and now lives in Berkeley CA, to celebrate National Columnists’ Day by writing this year’s installment about a columnist, scalawag, and rascal named Bob Patterson, who was raised about a hundred years ago in Berkeley CA, is a daunting challenge. In order to produce a column that doesn’t sound like a noteworthy example of shameless über-egotism and crass self-promotion, we will refer to the writer from the past by his pen name of Freddie Francisco and note that the facts for this column were contained in the “exposé” story Freddie Francisco wrote about himself for a weekly newspaper named “The City of San Francisco” in their August 10, 1975 issue.
Francisco revealed that during the Twenties Patterson landed a $47 a week reporter’s job on the New York Graphic and when he began to work the police beat Freddie/Bob was offered a $100 a week bonus from a Prohibition entrepreneur who wanted a phone call tip whenever the Prohibition agents left on a raid. That stunt got him fired. His confession relates that subsequently Freddie/Bob went to work for the fellow who had supplied the tip bonuses.
In the early Thirties, Freddie/Bob moved to Japan. To augment his pay while living there Freddie wrote about the forbidden topic of Tokyo’s notorious Yoshitwara district. That got him another pink slip and deportation status on the same day that he contracted malaria.
Freddie quickly transitioned to the staff of the China Press in Shanghai.
Freddy/Bob arrived in Shanghai between World Wars. Freddie described his reactions thus: “It was fine, fine, fine; Patterson decided to stay forever, and maybe three days over.” It took only two months for him to get the assignment of writing a daily column he dubbed “The Dawn Patrol.”
During Freddie’s stint in Shanghai, he gathered enough human interest stories to fill a thousand novels, if he ever retired from journalism.
In describing the conduct of a battle between rival houses of prostitution, he informs readers that the madam with seniority hired coolies to defecate on the front steps of the rival location just as the evening was about to begin.
One kindly Shanghai mortician used to offer free services to indigent Americans who died far from their native land. He also, Freddie reported, paid for shipping and interment back home in the USA. Customs started digging up the opium laden coffins before the morticians’ associates and then the concept of the altruistic motivation went up in smoke (as it were).
Freddie got to visit at Madame Sun Yat-sen’s home, thanks to Andre Malraux.
Freddie wrote a book about the glory days in Shanghai. When the book was republished in the USA, the American publishing firm gave Freddie the run-a-round rather than residuals.
In the 1975 article, Freddie glossed over the time line and ignored certain gaps in the narrative saying only that when it came time to apply for a job at the San Francisco Examiner, that “Sing Sing doesn’t provide irresistible references.”
Back in the day when Frisco was home for very memorable gin mills such as “The Fly Trap,” “Mark’s Lower Bar,” and the “Home That Jack Built;” Freddie/Bob became good friends with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, and the two gathered material by going bar hopping together. Feddie/Bob conceded that his arch rival was “a shade faster because of fancier footwork and better streamlining.”
Once, after the two purchased some toy machine guns and participated in some late night frolicking, they were apprehended by two rookie policemen and the columnists indignantly inquired if the youngster knew who they were trying to arrest. When they arrived at the station house, they walked in and the watch commander broke into a hearty laughing fit and finally managed to ask the two patrolmen if they knew who it was that they were trying to arrest. (Case dismissed – on the spot.)
Freddie pushed the boundaries and got in hot water with management when he used the word “poontang.” He was forbidden to use that word ever again and the top proofreader was charged with making sure the embargoed word was banished forever. In a description of a party that included a list of forty names, a mysterious guest named Poon Tang was listed and won Freddie a wager for a double sawbuck.
In a dispute about running a story about a business man and a bimbo, Freddie asked about using that information in the paper. His boss, out of concern for the fellow’s wife, replied “Forget the story and give him a call so he knows that we know.” Freddie elaborates the result: “Max dumped the doll and stayed away from expensive poontang from then on until coffin time.”
Freddie was involved in a plot that involved hush money for his prison record and he spurned the chance to cover it all up. His termination was reported to the readers in a box on a subsequent Examiner front page.
Freddie/Bob reports that he then went into business with “Honest” Luke Carroll playing poker on various passenger liners sailing the Pacific. The company that owned the vessels eventually stopped selling tickets to the two card players.
Freddie/Bob bummed around the Journalism Industry and picked up some writing assignments in Hollywood, but then: “In 1967, Patterson felt homesick for the Examiner and asked them for a job.”
In 1960, the Examiner had suffered some humiliation when (according to the Freddie exposé) Bud Boyd “was discovered (by Ed Montgomery) to be writing a wilderness survival series from the comfort of his living room.”
A few years after rejoining the Examiner staff, the rehired Freddie/Bob scored some exclusives from China; the newspaper’s managment didn’t take kindly to allegations that the scoops had been penned in Hong Kong and not the interior of China. It was time for another front page box informing readers that Freddie/Bob had been fired again.
A copy of the Freddie/Bob story was located in the San Francisco Public Library and other sources indicate that Freddie/Bob’s story didn’t end there. Due to a law suite, Freddie/Bob was suspended from writing assignments but was kept on the payroll at full pay until the legal matter could be clarified. (Some guys have all the luck?)
Like Elvis, Jim Morrison, and James Dean, Freddie Francisco (AKA Bob Patterson)’s death was well reported in the Bay area many years ago. The World’s Laziest Journalist intends on holding a brief memorial service on National Columnists’ Day for Freddie Francisco. Since one of the legendary Frisco bars, the Gold Dust Lounge (Est. 1933), which got fond mentions from Herb Caen, is in immanent danger of closure now, perhaps we will hoist a glass of diet cola in Freddie/Bob’s honor there as our celebration of National Columnists’ Day. What’s not to like about a fellow who loved traveling the world, having good times, and then writing about his own adventures? Putting it on the expense account could only have been putting frosting on the cake.
Freddie Francisco’s lead for his exposé provides an apt closing quote for this column: “Bob Patterson, erstwhile San Francisco Examiner newsman, China expert and scoundrel is a very misunderstood man. He is misunderstood by his critics, by two former wives and by at least one god-fearing and red-blooded former employer who recently fired him on the front page.”
Now the disk jockey will play “On a slow boat to China,” the soundtrack album from “The Lady from Shanghai,” and the Flatlanders “My wildest dreams get wilder every day.” We have to go over to San Francisco and look for some very old books. Have a “stay out of jail card” type week.