June 29, 2012

Always expect the unexpected

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:32 pm

Now playing in Oakland: Education cuts blues.

Did General Dietrich von Choltitz just disobey a direct order to invalidate Obamacare?

The Breitbart website, on Thursday, was raising the possibility that Chief Justice John Roberts was coerced by liberals into changing his vote from striking Obamacare down to letting it stand. If Chief Justice Roberts was being coerced by President Obama or any of his authorized agents, the Supreme Court Justice missed a big chance to score the political equivalent of baseball’s unassisted triple play. Justice Roberts could have voted with the conservatives, accused Obama of political blackmail (and opened up an avenue to impeachment?), and become the man who insured that Obama would be defeated in November. Instead he made a “Profiles in Courage” move that unfortunately pissed off (AKA “greatly perturbed”) 99% of the conservatives in the United States and put the Republican Party in quite a bind.

Breitbart apparently isn’t bright enough to realize that perhaps the flip side of the coercion question might be in play. Suppose some highly place Republican strategist told Justice Roberts which way they wanted him to vote and additionally suppose that Justice Roberts reacted in a way described on the opening page of Albert Camus’ “The Rebel:” “A slave who has taken orders all his life suddenly decides that he cannot obey some new command.”

If Roberts made up his own mind then all the incredulity on Thursday would be genuine, but if he were being coerced by any of the Obama team Justice Roberts messed up in Hall of Fame fashion. If (subjunctive mood) Breitbart is spot-on with his wild assertion, then Justice Roberts could have revealed the blackmail effort and achieved a much greater and very different level of conservative indignation. As it is, rather than increase the conservatives hatred for Obama, this hypothetical unreported extortion ploy only produced a photo finish between Obama and Justice Roberts regarding today’s level of conservative revulsion for both of them.

This week’s current events sensation may eventually be seen as a tipping point for the entire conservative political agenda. The conservatives can not replay the Howard Dean “complete mental breakdown” response because that would call all of the recent SCOTUS decisions into question and possibly precipitate a need to review all of them. If, on the other hand, all possible rational explanations of the baffling decision invoke a conspiracy theory scenario, that too is unacceptable. If one conspiracy theory is confirmed that would then open the flood gate of legitimacy for all conspiracy theories and that also is unacceptable.

The only response is to completely ignore the story and that will open the possibility that some obscure bit of punditry could “go viral” and expose the “emperor’s new clothes” aspect of the “pretend this isn’t happening” attitude. Again, uncaccpetable.

The fact that Justice Roberts did not report any coercion brings to mind the Sherlock Holmes case in which a dog didn’t bark. A guard dog doesn’t bark at friends.

Thursday also produced news reports that indicated that both CNN and Fox News had a “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment which indicates that they both seemed more motivated by the “nyuck nyuck” philosophy than by a sincere attempt to practice journalism.

Obviously the management at both organizations was proceeding from the Brennt Obamacare? (“Is Obamacare burning?”) attitude rather than wondering “What was the decision?”

If you want some analysis of Thursday’s decision that is more scholarly and lawyerly you might try reading UCLA law professor Gene Volokh’s site called the Volokh Conspiracy.

There was some fast and furious rewriting efforts at the WLJ home office following Justice Roberts delivery of the judicial equivalent of a brush-back pitch in baseball, but since the staff had not placed any bets on the decision, the prevailing attitude was: Me vole madre, cabronez.

Once upon a time, a member of management told the World’s Laziest Journalist that it was fun to be our boss because we were very unpredictable. The boss said he could usually accurately predict how the other workers would react under a set of certain circumstances, but that we were an unpredictable challenge.

When the Internets were getting started, everyone extolled the possibility that it might spawn new unique voices. Then the corporations brought in the carefully controlled publicity machine and imposed the old “star” concept and shut out the possibility that something unexpected might actually happen. Unfortunately the suits failed to see that another age old law of entertainment was also operable: repetition becomes predictable and that is bo-o-o-ring.

Hearing a conservative talk show host get rude with a liberal caller is funny the first time you hear it, but after the first hundred times, it gets very predictable. Get off my computer screen you unimaginative stuck record.

Hearing a pedantic liberal give icy cold courtesy to a troll conservative caller is annoying. Why don’t they sacrifice politeness in favor of entertaining righteous indignation? After several dozen callers abuse the hospitality of the liberal talk show host that too becomes tedious.

Hearing Norman Goldman give the trolls a flip side version of Mark Levin’s brand of vitriolic lack of hospitality is very refreshing.

We wish both the liberal and conservative talk show hosts were human bottles of nitroglycerin. Be sweet and cordial to one troll and then be exceedingly rude to another one later in the program.

The unexpected (as Thursday showed) may cause some upset stomachs but it also make for memorable entertaining moments. There is an alternate take, recorded in Las Vegas, of Elvis changing the lyrics to “Are you lonesome tonight” and breaking up the band, all but one of the back-up singers, and himself. (A video of that is on Youtube.)

How many people laughed the night Walter Cronkite said: “This has been Walter Cronkite filling-in for Arnold Zenker.”?

One (special) night at the Palladium in Los Angels, Keith Richards was touring with “the Expensive Wino Band” providing the back-up instrumental music and he was obviously getting a big kick out of seeing/hearing the audience react to songs recorded by the Rolling Stones. He enjoyed the audience’s confusion even more when they ripped into one particular song. WTF! ! ! Wait a minute! The audience recognized the song, but something sounds “off,” eh? Fooledja! It was a song that had been a big hit for the Beatles and like a pitcher who lures a runner on first base to take one too many steps, Keith had caught his audience way off base.

Here is a question for connoisseurs of uniqueness: If you heard two different musicians play the same song on the same piano in the same venue, could you tell the difference? We have heard a well known musician play “Great balls of fire” at the Palamino in North Hollywood and later heard Jerry Lee Lewis plunk out the same tune on the same piano. We have convinced ourself that we could distinguish a difference.

They say that in the old days some folks could not only tell who was working the other end of a telegraph, but that some experts could even tell who had taught that person to work the telegraph.

This columnist has read extensively about World War II (at least six books!) but it was only recently that we stumbled on something we weren’t expecting. Hitler was funny?
We’ve been conditioned to expect the words “monster” and “madman” when reading about Germany’s leader in WWII, but this was such a change-up.

On page 51 of “The Women Who Wrote the War” (by Nancy Caldwell Sorel [Yeah, we’ve already plugged that 1999 book twice recently]), Virginia Cowles quotes Unity Mitford as saying: “He (Hitler) would do imitations of his Nazi colleagues Goering, Goebbels, Himmler – also Mussolini, which was the funniest. Sometimes he even imitated himself.”

Ernst Junger won an Iron Cross in World War I and subsequently wrote a novel, Storm of Steel, which was a paean for war. Another novel On the Marble Cliffs was perceived by some as a criticism of the leadership of the Third Reich and Hitler, who was not known for a welcoming attitude for criticism, shrugged it off saying “Let Junger be!” Junger rejoined the military and became the only man to win an Iron Cross in both World Wars.

Did you know that Audie Murphy wrote some country songs?

Speaking of obscure links for bits of arcane and esoteric information, on a recent visit to the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory (which is rumored to be located in a secret rebel encampment in the Sierra foothills) during a visit to the gift shop we were completely baffled by a T-shirt that read: “Does Romney know about the treacherous rip tides at Cheviot Beach?” WTF? What’s the sense in offering material that nobody but the author will understand? We have lived in Los Angeles County and we know that there is no beach in Cheviot Hills. If they mean the world famous tourist attraction known as Venice Beach (which is the second biggest tourist draw in Southern California), why don’t they just say it?

In “An Aesthete at War,” Bruce Chatwin quotes Madame Morand as saying: “For me the art of living is the art of making other people work and keeping pleasure for myself.” The Supreme Court would no doubt concur in a 5 to 4 decision.

Now the disk jockey will play Linda Laurie’s song “Just Keep Walking” (which has only garnered about 10,000 hits on Youtube), Rod Derrett’s song “Rugby, Racing and Beer,” and (This is the first year tickets to the Bayreuth Festival will be available online!) “Sigfried’s funeral march.” We have to go see if Pan Am is sold out for next January’s China Clipper flights to New Zealand. Have a “iftah ya simsim” type week.

[Note: A feature photo from the Lakeview school sit-in in Oakland doesn’t have much of a direct relevancy to this column, but (as they used to day in Vietnam): “Sen Loi, G. I.”]

Mitt Romney on Health Care: A Scam for All Seasons


June 28, 2012



June 26, 2012

Republican Crazy Talk


June 25, 2012

GOP Kool-Aid Meets Benjamin Franklin


June 22, 2012

A Pulitzer Prize for Heckling?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:36 pm

Members of the Carpenters Union local 180 were handing out information fliers critical of bankers on Wednesday on Market Street in San Francisco.
The media came out to cover a parents protest in Oakland this week.

Some news such as the potential for a Hackgate scandal is being completely ignored by mainstream media, while a rude conservative instantaneously becomes a celebrity journalist. Between the two extremes of Hackgate and Hecklegate, lies a vast array of news stories of differing degrees of newsworthiness that should be getting more media attention. The staffs of various national news organizations have been cut back to alarmingly low levels and stories that have great trend spotting value are being ignored by the various media that might have provided massive coverage if these same stories broke back in the day when manpower was plentiful for large newspapers and TV networks.

On Thursday, June 14, 2012, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) held a press conference to release their reaction to the the Frazier Report which criticized the OPD
conduct in response to protesters at Frank Ogawa Plaza on October 25 of last year.

On Friday, the Lakeview elementary school in Oakland was closed permanently. Over the weekend disgruntled parents and teachers began a sit-in on the school grounds.

On Monday morning, the Oakland Police delivered to protesters the information that they were subject to arrest on the charge of interfering with the operation of a school, which is a serious matter.

As the week progressed it was unknown if the Oakland Police would adjust their response to the Lakeview school sit-in in a way which indicates that they have heeded the message of the Frazier Report or not.

Critics of the OPD would have other Americans believe that a new local version of the Algiers Motel Incident is almost inevitable.

If Oakland is becoming a microcosm of the problems and challenges facing many other American cities during the summer of 2012, then perhaps national news media (usually owned and controlled by conservatives) should be covering the political maneuvering in that city. The politicians are trying to provide a miracle of the loaves and fishes style solution for the rapidly expanding list of budget shortfalls and municipal challenges.

News stories during the week indicated that Oakland would hire a Los Angeles based firm to manage the Oakland Coliseum as long as the agreement contained an iron clad clause that the company would not indulge in team poaching. That brought to mind the old quote about “I don’t want lawyers who will tell me what I can and cannot do; I want lawyers who will get done what I want done.”

At the same time that a Republican Senator, who owns several homes, is staunchly asserting that it might soon become very necessary for the American military to become involved in a civil war in Syria, the Republicans, who have established their brand identity along the “for the sake of the children” style of thinking, seem to be willing to decimate public education nationwide rather than miss out on the chance to completely disregard the “never again” post Vietnam philosophy and plunge America directly into a shiny new war (AKA quagmire) in the Middle East region.

It seems as if the Republicans who were fearless of the deficit problem during the George W. era are now willing to sell off kids’ education and instead provide them with basic training and an M-1 (or the modern equivalent) in deference to deficit spending.

While student activists were objecting to generous raises for the UCB executives and trying to gain wage and benefit increases for the members of the AFSCME union’s local 3299, they had to contend with the possibility of massive cuts in the library service available to the students. The Republicans seem ready to manipulate current students into a much higher interest rate for their student loans.

A recount of the votes for the smoking tax initiative in California’s June primary election were still being conducted as the week started, and the tally was “still too close to call.”

Financial markets around the world seemed to react favorably to the pro-Conservative results in the elections in Greece. Pre election news stories indicated that the voter sentiment was leaning toward a socialist agenda.

Some skeptics were questioning the legitimacy of the election results in Egypt.

It seemed like the only journalist who was concerned about the legitimacy of the voting results in Wisconsin was Brad Friedman, who has provided extensive coverage about the reliability of the electronic voting and vote tabulating machines being used nation wide. He was the only person drawing attention to the implications that if the recall results in Wisconsin were questionable, then conservatives might have used the contentious recall election there as a dress rehearsal for sliding more skewed results past the media in November. (Google News search hint: “Brad Friedman” plus “Command Center”)

In the past, reporters in the group known as Murrow’s boys (Yeah, we’ve read The Women Who Wrote the War” by Nancy Caldwell Sorel so we know that the war correspondents weren’t all guys) risked their lives to bring a very high standard of excellence to American Journalism during World War II. Media owners (who are usually conservative) would like Americans to assume that is still the norm. Unfortunately that is just as unrealistic as believing that Paul Josef Goebbels was a champion of freedom of the press.

These days it is much easier to get a major career boost from rude and boorish conduct at a President’s press conference than it is to do so via high quality reporting. Who doesn’t love a class cutup from the Spicoli School of Journalism who can disrupt a President’s speech just as easy as he used to toss snide remarks at the teachers giving lectures at Ridgemont High?

How difficult would it be to convince high school dropouts (via cleverly disguised political propaganda?) that teachers don’t deserve to get the pension benefits they spent a lifetime earning?

The state of the art for Journalism in the USA has become so wretched that American journalists are happy to manufacture drama and uncertainty about how the Republican majority United States Supreme Court will rule on a case that could subsequently provide Republican propaganda specialists with an opportunity for asserting that there is no basis for speculating about the legacy of the first President with a pan-African heritage.

The world of conspiracy theory connoisseurs is buzzing with rumors that the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is conducting a competition that is offering a cash prize for the first employee who can come up with one single, all encompassing, narrative that includes three diverse items from the current events beat.

There is rumored to be a wealthy journalism media mogul who used wire taps and e-mail hacking in Great Britain to accumulate material which was then used to blackmail politicians for unspecified ends.

Brett McGurk’s e-mails were posted on a web site called Cryptome and caused the fellow to withdraw his efforts to become the American Ambassador to Iraq.

Some recent news stories reported that the e-mails of Mitt Romney, who is expected to be given the Republican nomination for President, have been hacked.

It is doubtful that even Philip K. Dick could concoct a logical narrative connecting the dots using those three items of public record, but if he were still alive and if he did concoct an entry for the competition and labeled it “Hackgate,” it is very unlikely that news media would take any notice.

Famous con man Frank W. Abagnale, in his autobiography, wrote: “Almost any fault, sin, or crime is considered more leniently if there’s a touch of class involved.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Charlie Brown,” Chuck Berry’s “School Days,” and the drinking song from Sigmund Romberg’s “The Student Prince.” We have to go see what odds the British bookies are giving for bets on the Supreme Court’s decision in the Obamacare case. Have a “not drunk he is who can from the floor can rise alone to still drink more; but drunk he is who prostrate lies with power to neither drink nor rise” type week.

[Note from the photo editor. A good deal of time was spent on Monday trying to get some adequate news photos from the Lakeview school sit-in in Oakland. A return trip on Tuesday produced a better result. A casual encounter with carpenters’ local 180, which was handing out information leaflets on Market Street in San Francisco on Wednesday, produced better (but less relevant?) photo images.]

No Más Mierda, Mitt, Por Favor


June 20, 2012

The Israeli neo-cons’ Second Nakba: Death by a Thousand Cuts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 11:25 pm

It is now pretty much a matter of record that, after World War II, refugees from Europe landed in Palestine and started a massive terrorist blitzkrieg campaign, massacring thousands of Christians and Muslims in their wake. In a vast display of ethnic cleansing similar to what had previously happened in Europe, approximately 500 local towns were destroyed, 15,000 residents of Palestine were killed and 750,000 more were expelled. Local residents of this area (the ones who actually survived, that is) started referring to this premeditated slaughter as “al Nakba” — The Catastrophe.

And a second “Nakba” is apparently now in the works.

According to University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer, “Given the right circumstances – say a war involving Israel that is accompanied by serious Palestinian unrest – Israeli leaders might conclude that they can expel massive numbers of Palestinians from Greater Israel and depend on the lobby to protect them from international criticism and especially from sanctions. We should not underestimate Israel’s willingness to employ such a horrific strategy if the opportunity presents itself.”


Are the land-grabbing neo-cons and faux-Jewish corporatists who now run Israel actually contemplating the instigation of an actual Second Nakba? Holy yikes! Are they seriously actually thinking about starting a second wide-ranging slaughter and ethnic cleansing on the scale of the first Nakba? Perhaps under the cover of a war on Iran? Good grief.

Both strategically and morally, that whole idea sucks eggs.

But then I got an e-mail from a Palestinian friend of mine who lives on the West Bank and he said that his village had just been brutally invaded by a needlessly-large number of highly-armed Israeli neo-con occupation forces.

“During the invasion last night,” wrote my friend, “one of the soldiers stole 1000 Nis (200€) from a moneybox of the youngest brother of my neighbor Mosab. Mosab’s brother had been saving this money for months, little by little from his work as a vegetable farmer and salesman. A laptop was also stolen from the house.

“Throughout the operation the soldiers fired sound grenades, a type of riot control weapon that produces a flash and a loud bang. The sound is sufficient to make the most weathered and well-prepared person flinch in fear and when this weapon is used inside a village at night, it will not only serve to keep people awake but also to bring about memories of past atrocities that the village of Ni’lin has had to live through.

“Many villagers came out of their houses to protest the brutality of the Israeli army and were met with tear gas and more sound bombs. The tear gas was fired straight at civilian houses which caused dozens children to suffer from tear gas inhalation. Live ammunition was also used by the Israeli soldiers as a scare tactic.”

And, right at this very moment, this type of malicious military activity is going on constantly all over the West Bank. Constantly. Night and day. Occupation armies and armed settlers constantly swoop down upon Palestinian citizens night and day. No one is safe. And there are all-too-many instances where the occupation armies shoot Palestinian children, shop-keepers and farmers, steal Palestinian goods, defecate in Palestinian homes and piss in their water supplies. To say the least.

Sure, maybe some day another full-scale blitzkrieg-style Nakba invasion of armed soldiers, settlers and thugs may suddenly descend en mass upon occupied Palestine and expel every single Christian and Muslim Palestinian in “Greater Israel” to the other side of the Jordan River, into Lebanon and Syria, or over into Egypt. And this would be dramatic as hell and make the front pages of all the newspapers. Sure.

But in the meantime, another “Second Nakba” has actually already begun: The Nakba by a Thousand Cuts.

According to Mearsheimer, “There are now about 480,000 settlers in the Occupied Territories and a huge infrastructure of connector and bypass roads… Between 1993 and 2000, Israel confiscated 40,000 acres of Palestinian land, constructed 250 miles of connector and bypass roads, doubled the number of settlers, and built 30 new settlements…. [And since then,] the Israeli prime minister has not only refused to stop building the 2500 housing units that were under construction in the West Bank, but just to make it clear to Obama who was boss, in late June 2009, he authorized the building of 300 new homes in the West Bank. Netanyahu refused to even countenance any limits on settlement building in East Jerusalem, which is supposed to be the capital of a Palestinian state.”

I could write more about this death by a thousand cuts but what good would it do. The Second Nakba has already begun. And nobody seems to care — except for its victims. History is repeating itself here. This is so much like Germany in 1933 when corporatists started establishing prisons-for-profit and nobody cared what happened to the Jews. And it’s also like South Africa in 1962 when corporatists took control of establishing Bantustans and nobody cared what happened to the Blacks.

And will this also be like America in a few more years, after corporatists have also seized absolute power here — and nobody will care what happens to us either?

PS: Here’s another example of a forced population displacement that nobody cared about, one that was overseen by Britain and the United States (not by Nazis), involved 13 million Europeans and cost approximately 500,000 to 2,000,000 lives, including the lives of 7,000 children under the age of five:

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Between 1945 and 1950, Europe witnessed the largest episode of forced migration, and perhaps the single greatest movement of population, in human history. Between 12 million and 14 million German-speaking civilians—the overwhelming majority of whom were women, old people, and children under 16—were forcibly ejected from their places of birth in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and what are today the western districts of Poland.

“As The New York Times noted in December 1945, the number of people the Allies proposed to transfer in just a few months was about the same as the total number of all the immigrants admitted to the United States since the beginning of the 20th century. They were deposited among the ruins of Allied-occupied Germany to fend for themselves as best they could. The number who died as a result of starvation, disease, beatings, or outright execution is unknown, but conservative estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people lost their lives in the course of the operation.”

Are we having fun yet?

PPS: I was recently thinking about all the wars that America has been in over time, and then started listing them. Let’s see. There’s been America’s various wars on the Middle East, that Korean “police action”, World War I, World War II, the American Civil War, Vietnam, the Central American Wars, the Cold War and also various covert wars where other countries did the fighting but Washington supplied the cash — such as the violent and tragic fall of democratic governments in the Congo and Iran.

But when we consider the Big Picture, did any of these wars ever even make even the slightest difference — other than to make innumerable American citizens poorer and/or deader?

Even World War II, which was supposed to keep us safe from corporatism? But did it? Now that a kinder, gentler form of corporatism currently runs the world? Or what about World War I, which was supposed to keep us safe for democracy? Under Citizens United, is our democracy now all that safe? Or take Vietnam, which was supposed to keep us safe from China — the landlord who now holds our mortgage?

Did any of these wars make any difference at all? Other than to kill approximately one billion people and waste trillions of dollars and destroy untold resources — which we now desperately need? Not really. And nobody had fun during any of them either.

PPPS: I’m arriving in Rome, Italy, on June 28, 2012 — and apparently will be homeless for three days while there (everything reasonable is already booked). So does anyone know if it’s legal to sleep in the St. Peter’s basilica piazza? Or does the Vatican have a no-sitting law too?–By-Becky-O-Malley


Mitt Interrupted


June 18, 2012

Cap’n Mitt the Comic Strip


June 17, 2012

‘Happy’ Father’s Day Past

Filed under: Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 7:02 am


June 16, 2012

The New Citizens United Pledge of Allegiance


June 15, 2012

REVENGE: Why I’m gonna vote for Obama in November

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 7:48 pm

This November, it goes without saying that most American oligarchs will gleefully vote for Mitt Romney — or whoever else the Republicans finally choose — because it’s clearly in their best self-interest to vote for a candidate who offers them every perk that they want. I understand that.

But what I completely don’t understand is why anyone who makes less than $5,000,000 a year would even consider voting for anyone besides progressive candidates such as the Green Party’s Jill Stein. If you’re not filthy rich and aren’t receiving Welfare for the Wealthy, then voting for progressives is clearly in YOUR own best self-interest too.

And then there’s Barack Obama to consider. Given his dismally neo-con-ish track record these past four years, why in the world would any American working-class hero ever consider voting for Obama again either? He has proven time and again to be a friend of the rich, an admirer of banksters, a happy supporter of oil barons, the corporatistas’ BFF, and a buddy-buddy-pal to war profiteers.

According to journalist Mark Karlin, Obama has recently come up with even more and better ways to help out oligarchs — not us. “Under President Obama and the Republicans, apparently we are about to surrender portions of our legal system that protect our health, environment, financial system and working conditions to a corporate-driven international tribunal.”

A vote for Obama is definitely not a vote for the Salt of the Earth like you and me and definitely not in our own self-interest. So why would I ever vote for him? Here’s why: REVENGE.

After repeatedly selling out the very people who elected him to office in a landslide in 2008, dontcha think it’s finally about time for Obama to finally feel the pain of our wrath? Yeah! And what could possibly be more painful than to torture Obama by getting him re-elected and forcing him to spend another four miserable years listening to racists, birthers, wannabe assassins, thugs and haters spewing out vitriolic, horrid and slimy things about him and his family again and again and again — like they have already done for the last four years.

But, ironically, it is these very same racists, birthers and haters who used to practically cream their jeans with happiness back when George W. Bush came out with all the very same “Bail out the Rich and kill everything that moves in the Middle East” policies that Obama now embraces. Go figure. You would think that these people would simply adore Obama just like they did GWB (and now Bush’s twin brother Romney).

I’m still surprised that they don’t.

PS: At the 2012 Netroots Nation convention last week, Van Jones gave a very stirring speech in favor of voting for Obama (for reasons other than revenge). And here is the gist of his speech, hopefully quoted correctly by me. But is Jones right? Should we actually go ahead and vote for Obama? Who knows. But I personally like my REVENGE reason better.

Here’s pretty much what Jones said:

“With regard to Wisconsin, you have to do a lot more than outspend us eight-to-one in order to beat us down. We are not giving up!

Our grandparents knew what it was like to march for change for real. They faced fire hoses and billy clubs. And now some of us want to give up after a really bad Tweet?

In Wisconsin, the local forces stood up — but they fought alone. Where was the national Democratic party? We did our minimum and the others did their maximum — and they won. Democrats, women, civil rights movement? They didn’t step up.

And now we have a quandary. We know we’re supposed to be all fired up. But we’re not. We like this President — but we don’t love him. We went from having a crush to feeling crushed. And we’re upset. Caught between a Barack and a hard place!

But if we try to teach Obama a lesson, let me just say a few things. If the Tea Party is allowed to score a trifecta and they govern America, they might use power a little bit differently than we do. They might use their power to decimate us! These people truly want to decapitate us — to eliminate the EPA for instance, which has probably saved more American lives than the Department of Defense.

When we had power, we went all bipartisan. But if they win, they won’t act that way. Do you actually think that if they win in November that they are going to be all bipartisan too? All the crazy stuff they say that they will do? They will do it!

It will be the worst.

Imagine a beach with a lifeguard, not the best lifeguard in the world — but not the worst. Then imagine a tsunami coming. Then imagine someone saying, “The more people who drown, that is a good thing — because then they will fire the lifeguard and I could get the lifeguard’s job.”

I respect Tea Party members. They are Americans. But I want to beat them in November! It’s time for us to stand up for what we believe in. It’s like when my kid plays soccer. I want my kid to win. But I don’t want my kid to win by biting the other kid and or to cheat and lie.

So we are in a quandary. We’ve been dealt a tough hand. But we have to be as strong as the opposition. So. What to do? Re-elect the president — and then hold him accountable too.

But before you can get a president to do what you want, you have to have a president who can be moved — and then you’ve got to do the moving. And Obama can be moved. But if the Tea Party gets a president elected, you can bet that their president will not and cannot be moved. So we have two fights here — first, to stop the Tea Party in November. But also to stop the budget committee in December as well, when the Bush tax cuts and the Pell grants expire. And we can do it. Occupy Wall Street was able to stop the SuperCommittee. Remember that.

We are dealing with ham-and-egg justice here — where the rich only have to give up a few eggs but the rest of us have to contribute the ham for breakfast. And in the process we, like the pig that contributes the ham, have to be killed.

In 2000, we had no idea that Bush would bankrupt the nation or crumple our international esteem. But in 2012, we now know. They have a wrecking-ball agenda. And we know this now. Education, clean air, unions. They have a brutal willingness to destroy all we have fought for. “I want to drown America’s government in a bathtub.” Who even thinks like that?

Kids coming home from wars are killing themselves — one a day. They’ve been nation-building in other countries. Now do it here at home!

You need to take yourselves very seriously now. We’ve got to take a time-out from our pity party. The stakes are too high — and you have the power. Our grandparents fought worse things than this and they won. Somebody has got to stand up now. Fight back. The fight to take back America has to start somewhere. Why not here.

PPS: Was it Plato who first got all excited about Beauty being the most important thing in the world? Beauty. That’s right.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” Keats tells us.

“Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world,” says Ralph Waldo Emerson.

But no matter who you personally plan to vote for in 2012, please remember this: There is no beauty in greed, no beauty in poverty and no beauty in war.


Are (some) homeless claustrophobic?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:33 pm
Is Christmas Week the time to go strolling on the beach at sunset?  For folks in Fremantle, Western Australia, it is and the columnist has photos to prove it.

Is Christmas Week the time to go strolling on the beach at sunset? For folks in Fremantle, Western Australia, it is and the columnist has photos to prove it.

Friday June 15, 2012, is Johnny Hallyday’s birthday, Saturday, June 16 is Bloom’s day, the Monterey Pop Festival celebrates its 45th anniversary and the word “Watergate” triggers 40 year old memories. For a columnist who has the “write about anything” assignment, the world is a movable smorgasbord feast and all the writer needs to do is fill in the blank assignment sheet. For instance, if attending the annual aviation event in Oshkosh is on the bucket list, then all that the modern day Ulysses has to do is take his mobile command center (his lap-top) to Wisconsin and he is in business. On the other hand, expenses might be a consideration. Perhaps moseying down to Palo Alto for the Concours d’Elegance, which will be held on the grounds of Stanford University, on Sunday June 24, would be a better choice from the low budget is no budget point of view.

Is wandering around in your own hometown just as exciting and adventurous as roaming the world? For an Irishman, a day in Dublin might provide the same classic adventure as any of the Vikings’ Odysseys. It would just be up to the writer to make it sound like a stop in a Dublin pub could be just as invigorating and refreshing as a drink in Hurley’s bar in Rockefeller Center, Quinn’s bar in Papeete Tahiti, or the Floridita bar in Havana.

Some time ago, the World’s Laziest Journalist visited and wrote a column about a day spent roaming around in Dublin CA, so, rather than settle for a been there done that retread travel experience, we decided that our dress rehearsal for Bloom Day would be a one day excursion to Pittsburg CA. A one day local bus pass in the Pittsburg/Antioch area for seniors cost $1.35, which is in our price range.

Would anyone, other than a native of Scranton Pa., be curious about the origin of the name of Antioch’s Black Diamond Street? Obviously, Huell (California Gold) Howser won’t be the only one to see a feature story potential for the place in downtown Pittsburg CA that is a combination of a Merchant’s Bank branch and a coffee house. This columnist can not remember ever seeing a similar business combination anywhere else in our travels.

The bookstore in Pittsburg offers local memorabilia in many forms; one of which is cutting boards for chefs made by carpentry students in the local high school, whose football team is called the Pirates.

While in the Pittsburg/Antioch area we encounter a clerk in a local CD store who was able to update us with an extensive amount of information that would be necessary to participate in the continuing debate about the quality of analogue vs. digital music. It has been several years since we have done any fact checking on that topic and apparently there have been some technical advances in the interim that would have relevancy for reevaluating the merits of digital music.

The Pittsburg Antioch area is the home of the “Forensic Philosopher” who is a champion exponent of using local transportation services as a way to increase the greening of the Tourism industry and his efforts cause us to wonder if the computer era will spawn a way for local tourist offices to offer integrated area transportation information.

Here is an example. San Francisco attracts large numbers of tourists from outside the United States. Citizens of Germany have been conditioned to expect a very high level of achievement from automobile museums. California has three car museums that are capable of meeting the Germans’ very high standard of excellence and one of them, the Blackhawk, is accessible to visitors staying in San Francisco, but the challenge of using the resources available to get there and back in one day are formidable even for a local who is familiar with the various transportation companies that would have to be used. The challenge of tracking down all the necessary time schedule information that would be needed to make such a day trip would be overwhelming.

Wouldn’t a one-stop computer site which offered all the integrated information necessary to make such a museum visit be theoretically possible? Well, then, why can’t some group, or association of groups, subsidize such a site which would increase and maximize the level of tourist satisfaction for foreign visitors to the San Francisco bay area? Doesn’t it seem likely that more tourists from Germany would appreciate a top notch auto museum than would enjoy the chance to see the Giants attempt to play another perfect game?

Isn’t it obvious that the appeal of using the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train system and a Pleasanton area bus to visit a world class car museum is much greater than the idea of running the bureaucratic obstacle course that someone with a foreign driver’s license must complete to rent a car (and cope with the complicated map reading task) that could also get them to the same destination? Not to mention being less expensive.

One of the rewards of traveling is a cross pollination effect on ideas.

In order to prolong our Pittsburg experience, we played hooky from the Tuesday night meeting of the Berkeley CA city council meeting which was going to feature input on the issue of putting a sleep-lie measure on the ballot for the city’s voters this fall. We figured that since we were already in Pittsburg, we could pick up a one sentence summary of the council meeting later. (They approved the measure to put the sleep-lie matter on the November ballot for Berkeley voters.)

The question of the homeless reminded us there could be Paris Hilton angle to the problem that isn’t being considered. We were living in the L. A. area when Paris Hilton was permitted to use a GPS tracking device and house arrest as a substitute for a cell in the county jail because she had acute claustrophobia issues.

When we offered to buy lunch for the Berkeley’s (beloved) homeless fellow called “hate-man,” he asked if the offer could be in the form of a take-out meal from a nearby restaurant which would be enjoyed in the familiar surroundings of the People’s Park (this was before he got a stay-away order). We immediately wondered if the guy’s odd behavior was part of his way of coping, on a lesser scale than Ms. Hilton’s solution, with claustrophobia and then we wondered how many other of the homeless might be carrying out compulsive behavior because of that malady.

That, in turn, caused us to wonder why some group of students at the University of California Berkeley campus haven’t used the readily available material for an extensive study (say a psychological evaluation of the homeless) that would shed some new light on the local problem with similar challenges being present in many other American cities.

During the week, we heard a report on KCBS news radio that the New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was going to offer some of his personal fortune to help publicize and promote innovative and imaginative solutions to urban problems.

Berkeley mayor Tom Bates has mentioned that his city leads the nation in providing services to the homeless. At specific times during the week, one of the municipal swimming pools (that is permanently closed for swimming) uses the locker room facilities to let the homeless take a shower. Could other cities adopt this program?

Unfortunately the fact that Berkeley has such programs tends to bring additional homeless to the region and that carries with it a danger that the innovative programs could become over used and thus (metaphorically speaking) die of suffocation.

If the members of the Berkeley city council are very busy coping with this problem would it be logical to think that they might not have sufficient time to check to see if any programs Santa Monica used to cope with the same problem might be used in Berkeley?

In an era when information is available rapidly online, that has created a new problem. How can voters in Berkeley know what progress has been made in other cities? If a class in Berkeley studies solutions in Santa Monica how can the students bring their knowledge to the attention of the Berkeley City Council?

If Mayor Bloomberg’s cash awards help promote the cross pollination of urban ideas, he will have made a valuable contribution to the improvement of urban living.

Speaking of travel, while we were walking on Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, Kimberly reminded us that Environment California is trying to draw attention to the fact that the tsunami trash that has traveled from Japan to America’s West Coast isn’t the only junk floating around in the Pacific Ocean.

[Note from the Photo Editor: we will use a sunset shot from Christmas week 2008, taken on the beach at Fremantle Western Australia at 9 p.m. because that is their summer time to illustrate our point about how different locations perceive things differently. Do folks in New York City think of a picnic dinner on the beach at Christmastime?]

While folks are reading this column, we gotta start wrestling with next week’s blank assignment sheet.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

Now the disk jockey will play Johnny Cash’s “I’ve been everywhere,” Johnny Paycheck’s “The running kind,” and Waylon and Willie’s “Clean Shirt” duet. We have to go check the rideshare section on Craig’s List. Have a “the world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings” type week.

June 14, 2012

Gaffe-A-Minute Mitt


June 13, 2012

Reg Gabaet — Teabagger Congressman

Filed under: Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 4:28 pm


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