August 31, 2012

Another bucket-list item checked off: Circumnavigating the globe!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:00 pm

One thing that I’d always really wanted to do was to travel around the world, preferably at the equator, by walking, biking, hot-air ballooning or even by covered wagon or swimming if necessary — I didn’t care how. “What about doing it in an airplane?” Sure. Definitely easier on the knees.

So I did it.

First I lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for two years to save up, and then borrowed or begged as many frequent flyer miles as I could. And then just did it! Another big item to check off of my bucket list.

“So how’d it go?” you might ask. About as well as you can expect — considering that in 21 days I spent 55.5 hours actually sitting in an airline chair, eating airline food and watching airline movies, and another 75 hours getting to airports, sitting around airports, sleeping at airports and getting back from airports. Plus going through 30 different security checks in nine different airports as well.

When I tell people that I actually did all of that, they just look at me and think that I made the whole thing up. So that’s why I always take photos. Nobody believes me otherwise. And even then, still nobody believes me. “Nah, those pictures were PhotoShopped.” No, really. I actually did do it!

“So. What did you learn?” Nothing much — except that everywhere that I went, people were always very friendly and kind to me. And NOBODY I met ever deserved to be killed.

Of all the hundreds of people I met on my travels — perhaps even thousands — not one of them deserved to be blown up by a drone or irradiated by depleted uranium or run down by tanks or attacked by militarized police with tear gas or occupied “for their own good” or bombed by “peacekeeping” forces or any of that other stuff that America has now become famous for.

And what I have discovered after circumnavigating the entire globe, mostly at the equator, and going to or flying over so many different countries is this: That America used to be famous for our democracy and our “can do” attitude and our inventiveness. But not any more. Now America is just famous for developing its whole new advanced unique and expensive technology for killing people. Sigh.

So now that I’ve actually circumnavigated the entire globe, do you want to know what the latest, most exciting, most fabulous, most creative item on my recently-updated bucket list is gonna be now? WORLD PEACE! And I’m not the only one who has this item on their bucket list either.

Do you?

PS: Once back home in the good old U.S.A., what was one of the first things that I saw TV? Paul Ryan — channeling GWB. During his recent speech at Tampa, Ryan obviously looked and sounded just like George Bush’s clone — the exact same insincere smile, pseudo-populist bad acting, use of emotional tear-jerking “patriotic” sucker-punches and shameless making of empty promises that Ryan, like Bush, has NO intention of keeping.

Dubya himself may have been banned from the Republican convention, but his spirit — and his disastrous policies too — obviously still live on in the body of Paul Davis Ryan.

And apparently Tea Party members have been going around saying that Ann Romney looks like a REAL First Lady. What’s that supposed to mean? That Michelle Obama doesn’t have blonde hair? Maybe not. But Michelle does have courage, integrity, good taste and class — along the lines of Jackie O and Dolly Madison. Can you even begin to imagine Michelle allowing Mitt to “offshore” thousands of American jobs or strap a dog to the top of a car for 12 hours?

PPS: There was hardly any snow on Mt. Fuji as we flew by it.

PPPS: At all the duty-free shops around the planet, I got to sample Chanel #5 perfume, which used to be my mother’s favorite.


August 30, 2012

Ye Olde Scribe Presents: Little Tampa SCHLOCK of political Whore-ers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 6:07 pm



No, Ye Olde was NOT looking for a cathouse for himself. He was on assignment from Our End of (the Black Hole That is the) Net. Editor: Mr. Greencream N. Jeans wanted to know how a very special Tampa red lighted house was making due, considering the biggest Johns and political pimps were in town: Re-THUG-licans.

Interview follows:

Occupy the Air Conditioned Nightmare

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:33 pm

Would covering the Oscars™ (again) be more fun than writing political analysis?

A grizzled tough old guy in a dimly lit room speaks: “You know what I want . . . what do you say, baby?”

Cut to: A very attractive young woman, who looks like the young Lauren Becall, responds: “As a Republican, I support a ban on all abortions with no exceptions. I’m a member of the National Rifle Association and support the concealed carry laws and back the NRA on their support of the Stand your ground laws, I also endorse the use of hollowpoint bullets.”

She pats her purse and continues: “If you intend on raping a fellow Republican, first you might want to tell me the answer to the question asked in the movie ‘Apocalypse Now:’ ‘How come you guys sit on your helmets?”

Cut to: the man who hesitates and then replies: “So we don’t get our balls blown off!”

Cut to: She starts to reach into her purse. “There’s another famous question from another movie: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ . . . what do you say, baby? . . . if you want this game to continue . . . just whistle . . . you know how to whistle don’t you?”

As “Ride of the Valkyeries” plays the announcer does the V.O. (Voice Over): “The American Women’s Sharpshooters Team urges all good patriots to vote Republican this fall.”


A hip potential rapist, who knows the sources for all those cinematic questions, might also know that sometimes nothing is a real cool hand, but he might not be willing to bet his bippy, let alone his testicals, on what’s in the bag and what’s not.

If the fictional American Women’s Sharpshooters Team were ever to broadcast this hypothetical advertisement, a good many Republicans might wonder “Whose side are they on?” This supposed ad would only use Republican talking points so what’s for them not to like?

Liberals, who strenuously object to the idea of PACs and advertisements run by groups whose funding is a mystery, are unanimous in the idea that it is mandatory to do all the groundwork necessary to get the Citizens’ United advantage removed from politics. Could they, simultaneously, use the Judo principle of turning an attacker’s strength against himself to confuse and outrage the very people who wanted to expand the freedom of speech concept to include advocacy groups and the people known as corporations?

Obviously the long hard slog to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United decision will provide leading liberal spokespersons with job security for years to come and we wish them God’s Speed.

In California, proposition 32, is being touted by backers as a remedy for the PAC problems, but many analysts are saying that the measure will give further legal backing to the very practice it is supposed to remedy. Who doesn’t think that’s a hysterically funny example of using lies to trick voters? Folks outside California can read up on the issue but they should look up both the “for” and “against” arguments. Some critics of the measure say that the proposition will only limit what unions can spend on political ads and not do anything to inconvenience wealthy conservatives who want to buy election results.

The Republicans, who want to prove that they have a sense of humor that will make people laugh, are also urging wage-earners to donate to a group that advocates passing the measure that some wags are calling “the Billionaires’ Bill of Rights.”

That, in turn, causes us to wonder if Republicans, when they ask their children if they smoke pot, want their kids to tell the truth in response to that question or if they are looking to get verification that conservative kids have learned the lesson of sounding very sincere when they lie or make campaign promises. What advice would Ayn Rand give to children who are being asked: “Do you smoke pot?” Is there a smoke-lie rule that applies? I.e. if you can get into trouble over pot, just tell a convincing lie.

Since the Republicans seem determined to blame President Obama for the deficits caused by the wars George W. Bush started but kept off the balance sheet, why didn’t President Obama proclaim that the “off the books” expenses had become a bipartisan American tradition and keep them off the books? When President Obama served his partial term as Senator didn’t he learn the old political legend that the Republicans spend like there’s no tomorrow when they are in power and then talk up balanced budgets nonstop when they are not in power?

Since Bishop Romney’s strategy of stressing his business record, which he won’t discuss, and giving assurances that his tax forms, which he won’t release, provide compelling reasons for electing him President have produced poll results which indicate a virtual tie; the World’s Laziest Journalist is beginning to think that political punditry has become superfluous and that it is time to start writing columns that are less partisan by tackling topics such as “Have the Oscar Ceremonies changed much since we took photos of Francis Ford Coppola with Mario Puzo?”

Columnists, who consider their mission is to provide snide comments about all politicians, might be more inclined to ask their audience if watching the Republicans try to ignore a major hurricane disaster reminded them of King Lear. Many people might not get the joke and ignore the source but when Ayn Rand advised her disciples not to vote for St. Ronald Reagan for President, didn’t she get ignored too?

The world’s laziest journalist has always been fascinated by picaresque adventures and the people who chronicle their travel experiences but it wasn’t until after posting last week’s column that we learned that Henry Miller had written a book about his experiences on the road. We were disappointed to learn that the Berkeley Public Library didn’t have a copy to borrow, but Moe’s Bookstore on Telegraph Avenue had a used volume of a collection of Miller’s work for sale. It included the text of “The Air Conditioned Nightmare.”

After living in Paris for almost a decade, Miller had returned to the USA because Europe was on the brink of a cataclysmic war and he wanted to write a book about the return of the prodigal son experiences he would gather while traveling around his native land.

Pseudo Intellectuals (moi?) will be delighted to find a cornucopia of very intriguing pre Pearl Harbor pop culture trivia in the book. Miller assumed that his audience would know who the writers Hermes Trismegistus and Kenneth Patchen and British actress Olga Nethersole were but we had to look them up. The names of these once famous personalities have become rather obscure examples of Google-bait.

For a columnist who has covered various episodes from the Occupy protests in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco, Miller’s laundry list of social complaints sounded very much as if they “were ripped from today’s headlines.”

If economic inequity was a topic for Henry Miller seventy years ago and if it will be a hot issue for activists seventy years in the future, what then is the benefit that will be derived from doing the work necessary to post columns online about the issues that are generating the news events that transpire as the United States prepares to celebrate the workers of the world on Labor Day of 2012? (Were the people who worked to establish Labor Day as a legal holiday, asked the HUAC question?)

If the prospect of providing reading matter for a bookstore customer seventy years in the future were very rational, then working to do some fact finding and providing some speculative comments about the personality of a Mormon bishop might be worth the effort, but if seeking fame and fortune are not valid motives for doing all the required labor, then the only reason left is: “Just for the fun of it.” If that’s the case . . . .

If Scanlan’s Magazine was open to sending a leading practitioner of the Gonzo style journalism to report on the festivities surrounding the running of the Kentucky Derby, then maybe (just maybe mind you) they might be willing to give the World’s Laziest Journalist a similar assignment and send him back to the Oscars™.

Other than giving permission to our self to use a picture we took at the Oscars™ almost forty years ago, we have no way to prove to Scanlon’s that we covered the awards program back in the mid Seventies but if Bishop Romney can convince America that his unavailable business history is just as valid as Nixon’s secret plan to end the war in Vietnam, then perhaps there is still hope.

Quote wranglers will be delighted with the assorted possibilities provided in the works of Henry Miller. We like this incomplete sentence: “A man seated in a comfortable chair in New York, Chicago or San Francisco, a man surrounded by every luxury and yet paralyzed with fear and anxiety, controls the lives and destinies of thousands of men and women whom he has never seen, whom he never wishes to see and whose fate he is thoroughly uninterested in.”

The disk jockey will play some music he thought might have been appropriate at the Republican National Convention: AC/DC’s song “Big Balls,” the Kiwi song “My father was an All Black,” and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” We have to go over to Frisco to see “Vertigo,” which is the best movie ever made (according to some Brits). Have a “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” type Labor Day Weekend.

August 26, 2012

Romney Ryan 2012 GOP Convention Patch


August 24, 2012

3 days in Jakarta: Cheap massages & desperately seeking Obama

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:13 pm

After spending ten hours in the Doha airport and 24 hours at the Singapore airport, I was totally looking forward to spending three whole days in Jakarta — but had no idea what to expect. Jakarta? Capital of Indonesia? Located on the island of Java, famous for its coffee and Krakatoa? Where Mel Gibson fell in love with Sigourney Weaver during their “Year of Living Dangerously” Barack Obama’s old boyhood home? What is Jakarta really like? I was about to find out.

An old friend of mine from back when we both worked at Berkeley law offices met me at the airport and immediately whisked me off into a fabulous whirl of fun and food — a sort of three-day-long “Girls Night Out”.

Jakarta has definitely changed a whole lot since 1965 when Sukarno was top dog and Linda Hunt was taking photos of poor people rioting in the streets. Poor people no longer riot in the streets here. Now they know better. The foreign and local “extractive industry” moguls who apparently own most of Indonesia these days have done a really good job of teaching Indonesian poor people to know their place — except of course for a few pesky ingrates over in East Timor. But they no longer count now, having been mostly killed off.

The poor people in Indonesia clearly know their place now — just like the “extractive industries” in America are also happily teaching America’s 99% our places so they can steal our resources too.

But oil companies no longer have to kill people in America to get their hands on our land — because, unlike the people of East Timor (or Sitting Bull or Geronimo either for that matter), Americans have become so, er, gullible that they now allow the “extractive industries” to legally seize their property by use of eminent domain.

According to environmental researcher Allison Grass, “The controversial Kelo v. City of New London (2005) is credited with broadening the interpretation of ‘public use’. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New London, deciding that the city could take private property and give it to another private entity for ‘economic development’. The Court decided that this met the ‘public use’ provision of the Fifth Amendment.”

What does this ruling mean for Americans? It means that if the “extractive industry” wants your land, they can have it. Period. And you of course will be S.O.L. Never forget that extractive-industry people are running a very harsh economic dictatorship behind that Oil Curtain — and they are not our friends.

As I was being driven though the streets of Jakarta, it became immediately clear that this city is now more like Dallas than Zuccotti Park. Neiman Marcus fans would feel right at home here. The Bush dynasty would love it. And my guilty secret? I too loved Jakarta.

First my friend and I went off to a top-of-the-line beauty salon for full-body massages. Only five dollars! Then we went to the old port of Jakarta where the docks are lined with funky old wooden schooners still being used for transporting goods to and from Indonesia’s 1700-odd islands.

Next we went to visit the old Dutch colony of Batavia. Did you know that the Dutch East India Company was one of the world’s very first global conglomerates? Back in 1602, it was a pioneer poster-boy for globalization — and was probably just as cruel and ruthless back then as Monsanto is now.

What to see and do next? Off to a wonderful Rijsttafel dinner with some delightful Indonesian women and a handful of ex-pats from America, Australia and Korea. And then another body massage. I could get used to this!

Next we experienced a top-of-the-line display of wealth that went way beyond my mere concept of “mall”. So much money here in Jakarta. Streets crammed with chauffeur-driven Mercedes and BMWs. And then after the “shopping complex” experience, we visited a folk-art museum, ate avocado ice cream and — went for a massage!

I owe so much to my friend from Berkeley and her Indonesian friends for giving me the full Jakarta experience.

And the food here! Marvelous. Everyone was getting ready to observe Ramadan in this mostly-Muslim country — and everyone here was either eating or shopping for food or thinking about eating. Me too!

Next came a tour of Jakarta’s largest mosque. “It is the third largest mosque in the world — only Mecca and Medinah have larger ones.” I’ve been to both those other mosques but this one was different — all modern in design and using lots of copper and chrome.

Across the street from the mosque was a large European-style cathedral. Catholics in Indonesia? Yeah. Just like there were Catholics in Nagasaki when American pilots in World War II used Nagasaki’s cathedral spire as a landmark for dropping their atomic bomb, wiping out 8,500 Japanese Christians attending Sunday services in one shot Ah, the smell of burning Christians in the morning. One of America’s finest hours. But I digress.

Time for another massage.

“You know what I would really love to do here?” I asked my wonderful new Indonesian BFF. “Can we go see where Barack Obama lived as a boy and also visit the school that he went to?” The school was easy to find. The two homes where Obama used to live were harder to find — but a local journalist gave us the 411 and we actually found them.

“Did you know that Barack, as a boy, was reputed to be rather pudgy — and that he confused his fellow students because his step-father was Indonesian and his mother was a white American and yet he had really curly hair. Most students finally decided that he was from Papua-New Guinea. And did you know that Obama’s father was an oilman?” No I didn’t. An oilman? Hmmm. Then I can’t understand why Republicans don’t just love Obama. Republicans always seem to love anyone who exploits natural resources for their own benefit (not ours).

And those were my three days of (not) living dangerously in Jakarta. And now it’s time for me to go off to spend yet another night in yet another airport — Narita, in Tokyo. “Ah, but wait!” said my old friend from Berkeley and my new BFF from Jakarta. “We still have time to fit in just one more massage!”


August 23, 2012

Why Would a Woman Vote for the GOP?


“If you are going to San Francisco . . .”

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:32 pm

While tourists chase beatnik ghosts, they often ignore aspects of the current pop culture scene, such as graffiti artist Elvis Christ. Wouldn’t it be ironic if future tourists envied the folks in 2012 because of their opportunity to see contemporary San Francisco art history as it was being made?
Elvis was hard at work in San Francisco, earlier this week.

Finding a story on the Hispanic Business website about a trust fund that the Republican Party’s presumptive Vice Presidential nominee had “forgotten” seemed like a good topic for a column but since the Republican Party’s “presumptive” nominee has based his campaign on his business record and has refused to release his tax records which would clarify questions about his qualifications for the Presidency, and since that clever bit of coyness seems sufficiently alluring to earn the fellow a virtual tie in polls; we deem the prospect of doing the work to produce a column that offers intelligent analysis of the implications of an overlooked trust fund an example of absurdity for inclusion in the Dadaism Hall of Fame.

The fact that this week’s polls show that the Presidential race is a toss-up, means that the only people who will question the final results that are produced by the electronic voting machines in November will be conspiracy theory lunatics. It also means that it is too late to present facts which might help informed citizens change their mind about which candidate will get their votes. As the croupier would say when the roulette ball hits the wheel: “No more bets!” The die is cast. It’s time to write columns about sailing ships (the America’s Cup competition has started in San Francisco Bay), sealing wax, cabbages, and kings.

Would people who doubt the existence of global warming because it is based on the opinions of scientists be likely to consider the validity of an effort to use Schrödinger’s cat as a metaphor that explains the three card Monty game Mitt Romney is playing with his tax returns? “Ah, hah, Mr. Romney. you have the Maltese cat? You are a card, sir.”

We sent a link to the forgotten trust fund story off to radio talk show host Mike Malloy because he has more media clout and a bigger audience.

People seem to find the fact that TMZ found and published a photo of Paul Ryan without a shirt more interesting than the forgotten trust fund (or the completely ignored story about Paul Ryan’s girlfriend while he was in college. [Google News Search hint: “Paul Ryan girlfriend college”] Keli Goff at The Root seems the reporter who got the scoop)

We have been intending to shift the focus of our columns to feature topics such as the effect the death of singer Scott McKenzie might have on tourism in San Francisco because that, at least, might lure some new readers from across the big pond, to this website.

Tourists from all over the world arrive in San Francisco and, equipped with maps, and then go walking around the various neighborhoods trying to imagine what it was like being there in the past during the Beatnik era.

Back in the Sixties, one had to dig deep to learn that the area around the Bus Stop bar had been called “Cow Hollow.” That was the past. The Beatniks had come (the location of the legendary Six Gallery was about three or four blocks away) and gone but who cared about the writers from the past when everyone was hip to Flip Wilson’s comedy routine about “The Church of What’s Happening Now!”

Learning to drive a stick shift V-dub on the streets of San Francisco at the time when folks were still chuckling because of Bill Cosby’s comedy routine on that very topic wasn’t funny because you could very easily get into a car crash whilst learning to make the deft maneuvers with the clutch pedal and the brakes. Yeah, forty years later it may seem amusing, but not when it was actually “going down.” There were laws governing how the front wheels of a car had to be positioned when parking on one of the famed hills.

Who cared about Beatniks when the cast recording of “Hair” was ubiquitous? Beats were from a different decade. Jack Kerouac was an old man in his forties reportedly living in Florida. The Mamas and the Papas, the Doors, and the Jefferson Airplane were young and most likely would be playing a gig at the Filmore West very soon.

Back in the Fifties, when the Beat Generation in San Francisco was a popular media topic, the beats would have been talking about topics such as: the Bay area disk jockey Don Sherwood, Herb Caen’s columns, and the arrival of the New York Giants at their new west coast home.

The beatniks had had their day and when the hippie era arrived it was time to enjoy KFOG and KABL radio, read Herb Caen’s columns, talk about Benny Bafano’s sculptures, see the Fantasticks, and voice an opinion about the War in Vietnam.

Young folks who stay this summer at the San Francisco Civic Center hostel will see a poster listing the lineup at the Filmore, for a concert on the 1969 Labor Day weekend. They can look at the poster and just try to imagine what it would have been like to be able to go see that show. About three and a half years ago, we were in that hostel, looking at that poster and thinking that very thing: “Wow! What would it have been like to be in San Francisco that weekend and have the option of seeing that show?” Then we remembered, we had been seriously considered buying a ticket to that particular show until we got the chance to spend that weekend going for a job interview at the newspaper published in South Lake Tahoe.

On Tuesday, August 21, 2012, while doing some fact checking in the Beatnik North Beach neighborhood, we noticed a local artist using masking tape to make some political statements.

The map wielding tourists were searching for Beatnik ghosts and ignoring a fellow who was doing some street art. We wondered if, forty years from now, tourists would be wandering around the same neighborhood wondering what it would have been like to stop and chat with Elvis Christ. Since we can’t rationally expect to have that opportunity in 2052, we decided to take some photos and asked about him and his work now whilst we had the chance.

When we started back to the Transbay Bus Terminal, we encountered a photographer named “Grant” who had been shooting an assignment at the City Lights Bookstore for Interview magazine. He had been taking photos of the store owner, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who was also a poet, a book publisher, and a genuine member of the group of pioneers who started the Beat Era back in the Fifties.

It would have been a great photo-op if we could have gotten the chance to take some pictures of Grant and his subject, but it has always been a tenant of the World’s Laziest Journalist’s philosophy that (as they used to say in the Sixties) you have to stop and smell the (pop culture) flowers along the way. “Be here, now!”

Writing about the pop culture is similar to writing about horse racing. In the future, historians will look back on the summer of 2012 and focus on specific stories which will have become significant factors for inclusion in books about the election of the President in that year, but for a columnist trying to writing about the summer of 2012 as it is happening; an encounter with Elvis Christ will provide a desperation chance to solve the weekly dilemma “What will this week’s column be about?”

Ayn Rand has said: “Whoever tells you to exist for the state is, or wants to be, the state.”

Now, the disk jockey will play a Pussy Riot album, a Jefferson Airplane album, and Scott McKenzie’s “(If you’re going to San Francisco) Wear a flower in your hair.” We have to go check out the column potential of the Blackhawk Auto Museum. Have a “California Dreaming” type week.

August 22, 2012

War on women and the self-destruction of the GOP

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 3:20 pm

Author’s note:
I know a lot of readers on this site have heard about Rep. Akin’s comment, but see what a moderate Republican woman has to say about that.


In May, when Democratic National Committee “chairman” Debbie Wasserman Schultz called out the Republican party for “waging a war on women,” many pundits thought it was just political rhetoric. Since then the actions and public statements made by GOP politicians may have confirmed her statement and may ultimately lead to the self-destruction of the GOP in the next election.

The comments last Sunday by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), who is trying to unseat Claire McCaskill (D-MO) from the U.S. Senate are, using an overused metaphor, icing on the cake. In an interview with KTVI-TV over the weekend in which he was questioned about his strict views on abortion, Akin replied that women rarely get pregnant from rape, saying “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.”

Legitimate rape? Mr. Akin, are you kidding or completely ignorant? In his defense, Akin later said he meant to say forcible rape, but as the President says, “rape is rape.” Yet Republican politicians seem to want to redefine rape and classify it into categories, which are simply not going to sound very well to rape victims and most women in the U.S.

Here are a few more examples of how the GOP is burning itself up with women voters. Well, at least those who have self-respect and vote with their conscience:

•A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to “accuser.” But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain “victims.”
•In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (I know this sounds crazy, but it’s reality).
•Republicans have a bill in congress that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.
•Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids’ preschool program. Why? No need, they said: Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.
•Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. That is, for humans. Republican Dan Burton, however, has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. (You can’t make this stuff up).

Apparently the GOP is doing all they can to hand the next election to the Democrats and President Obama.

Renee Davis puts it nicely, succinct and clearly on her web site, Unite Women:

I am a woman, a survivor of rape, and a registered Republican. You have issued an apology for the uneducated “off the cuff” remark you made where you stated “from what I understand from doctors, pregnancy [ as a result of rape] is really rare. If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has a ways to try shut that whole thing down.” Todd, I do not accept your apology!

The problem that goes to the core of this issue is that no matter what your apology says, you and your friends have left most of your more moderate members behind and traded us in for a very extreme view.

Number one, women have the right to determine what happens to their body and to not be raped, assaulted, or molested whether that is by a rapist or an elected official who thinks they have the right to dictate what she should do. You and your friends do not want government intrusion into your lives ONLY when it suits your beliefs – period!

You and your like-minded friends, who do not agree with the Affordable Care Act yell from the roof tops that personal religious freedoms are being infringed upon because it requires women to have access to birth control. What I find so interesting is those same people have no problem creating legislation that does just that to the women of this country. For example, have you forgotten Todd that little piece of legislation that you and GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan co-sponsored a bill called “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill which, among other things, introduced the country to this bizarre term “forcible rape,” as if there is some other form of rape?

Renee continues to list every House “representative” that voted for this form of legislation on her site.

Yet a conservative Republican like Mike Huckabee, who is a paid shill for Fox News, makes an apology for Akin on his program and says “Sometimes Good people are conceived in Rape.”

Let’s add some further commentary to that. Romney, by his campaign rhetoric, and Ryan and Akin are proven to be to big supporters of war(s) by their voting records. So, here’s another scenario for Huckabee and the rest of the GOP:

That young man was supposed to find a cure for cancer, but he died in Afghanistan. And that young woman was supposed to invent a source of inexpensive, clean energy…but she suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. And that young man buried in Arlington was going to be the father of a new world leader that would have ended all wars and brought peace to this world, except he died in the wars YOU support and fund.

Just as the GOP’s argument against women’s rights goes, wars murder the future as well. Yes, Americans do consider life really important. It works both ways. Good luck in the polls in November

Read more, gets links, a slideshow and video here: Madison Independent Examiner – The war on women and the self-destruction of the GOP

August 21, 2012

The Todd Akin Republican Rape Panel


You Sure Daddy Woulda Done It This-a-way?


August 20, 2012

How the corporate media lies to you

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 4:39 pm

Author’s note:
The use of video news releases (VNRs) may not be new “news” to most of the readers of this site. George Bush even admitted that they are used by the U.S. government in a press conference, as is shown on the video embedded in the original posting of this article. However, here is some information on what to do about them…


Many people have heard that the mainstream corporate media lies to people. But few know exactly how that is done. As long ago as 2006, a study by The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch in Madison publicized one technique – video news releases (VNRs). While most VNRs are created by corporations with the intent of selling a product, the U.S. government uses them to sell its policies.

Dozens of television stations have been investigated for broadcasting VNRs produced by corporations or the U.S. government and passing them off as real news. The use of VNRs without full disclosure of the source is illegal and carries a fine from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Television newscasts, which remain the most popular news source for most people in the United States, frequently air VNRs without disclosure to viewers, without conducting their own reporting, and even without fact checking the claims made in the VNRs.

Many of the corporate reports, produced by drugs manufacturers such as Pfizer, focus on health issues and promote the manufacturer’s product. Disclosure information regarding the source is sometimes removed when it is broadcast by the television channel, as was the case with Fox-owned stations in St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Miami and South Bend, IN.

Here’s one example of a corporation using a VNR, as reported by TV News Lies:

NEWS ALERT: A man survived a jump from a plane this afternoon. He was not wearing a parachute and he credits his new Nike Plane Jumpers with cushioning his fall.

Now let’s say that story is completely true. All the networks and printed media pick up the story. Front page, lead story. Well, what they forgot to tell you was that the plane was a 2 seater plane, and it was on the runway, stopped, and the jump was from 3 feet off the ground. Now the full story was available to all the media, but Fox News does not feel that those details are important.

That may be a great corporate plug for Nike, but it is nothing that is even close to the truth about what really happened in that event.

A bigger problem arises when the U.S. government uses VNRs to “sell” policies such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A classic example is a VNR put out by the state department about Jessica Lynch. It was the basis for a story published in the Washington Post, written by “journalists” Susan Schmidt and Vernon Loer (which has since been redacted once the truth came out):

Pfc. Jessica Lynch, rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army’s 507th Ordnance Maintenance company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Lynch, 19, a supply clerk, continued firing at the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds and watched several other soldiers in her unit die in fighting 11 days ago, one official said. The ambush took place after a 507th convoy took a wrong turn in the southern city of Nasiriyah.

“She was fighting to the death,” the official said. “She did not want to be taken alive.”

Great story, but the only problem is that none of it was true. The truth is, Lynch never fired a shot at Nasiriyah. Her rifle jammed during the attack. She suffered shattering injuries when a rocket-propelled grenade struck her Humvee, causing the vehicle to crash. But she was not shot or stabbed.

Another VNR used by the U.S. government was the staged, fake coverage of the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad. The truth is that the jubilant crowd cheering the take-down of the statue was a rent-a-crowd from Saddam City, a poor neighborhood some distance away and the entire VNR was staged by army psy-ops.

According to an article by Peter Maas writing for The New Yorker:

Propaganda has been a staple of warfare for ages, but the notion of creating events on the battlefield, as opposed to repackaging real ones after the fact, is a modern development. It expresses a media theory developed by, among others, Walter Lippmann, who after the First World War identified the components of wartime mythmaking as “the casual fact, the creative imagination, the will to believe, and out of these three elements, a counterfeit of reality.” As he put it, “Men respond as powerfully to fictions as they do to realities [and] in many cases they help to create the very fictions to which they respond.”

Many of these these outright lies elicit the intended response from Americans, as was apparent in the overwhelming public support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Many people continue to be oblivious to the fact that corporate-owned media and TV news lies to them. One of the 14 defining characteristics of fascism is a controlled media. That is obviously the case in the U.S., where journalists who are supposed to be doing their jobs and reporting the truth simply rebroadcast or reprint VNRs without any fact-checking.

SourceWatch recommends that Americans report suspected VNRs to the FCC after contacting the managing editor of the station in order to determine that it was indeed a pre-packaged segment from an affiliate. Here’s how to file a complaint:

Go to On the right side of the home page, under the column titled “Bureaus and Offices,” click on “Enforcement.” This takes you to the Enforcement Page. On the right side of the page, under “What We Do,” click on “Broadcast Issues.” On the next page, under “Information You Can Use,” click on the fifth line down that says, “Payola and Sponsorship Identification.” There you will find the sections of the Communications Act that require broadcasters to disclose whether broadcasted matter has been aired in exchange for money, services or other valuable consideration. The page contains a table listing enforcement actions that have been taken, with links to descriptions of those actions. Below the table are instructions about “How to File a Complaint.”

According to the Independent UK, spokesman Craig Aaron from Free Press, another non-profit group that focuses on media policy, said more than 25,000 people have written to the FCC about the VNRs.

It will be interesting to see what happens when more and more Americans realize that much of their news is fake. Will TV news outlets continue to lose viewers as more people turn to the internet for their news? That seems to be the case. According to a Pew Research Center report in 2011, viewership for Fox News declined by 11 percent, CNN plummeted by 37 percent, and MSNBC was down 5 percent.

No one likes to be lied to.

Read more, get links and video here: Madison Independent Examiner – How the corporate media lies to you.

August 19, 2012

Today’s Quotes: No, Bill, Religious Zealots Are the Problem, Not Atheists


August 18, 2012

Paul Ryan, Mama’s Boy


August 17, 2012

America Meets the Mitt

Filed under: Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 5:38 am


August 16, 2012

New campaign, old strategy?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:18 pm

In “The Selling of the President 1968” (Trident Press 1969), author Joe McGinniss described the trials and tribulations that the Nixon team had to surmount in that year’s Presidential Campaign, and since the challenges are quite similar to those being faced by the Romney Ryan ticket, we thought that simultaneous reviews of both that book and Timothy Crouse’s “The Boys on the Bus” (Ballantine Books paperback edition 1972) would be relevant as the Republican Nation Convention draws neigh.

McGinnis describes (on page 39) the difficulty of marketing Nixon eight years after he lost the 1960 battle with John F. Kennedy: “Trying with one hand, to build the illusion that Richard Nixon, in addition to his attributes of mind and heart, considered, in the words of Patrick K. Buchanan, a speech writer, “communicating with the people . . . one of the great joys of seeking the Presidency;” while with the other they shielded him, controlled him, and controlled the atmosphere around him.” Same problem, different Republican candidate, different year.

The star of the Nixon strategy team was a fellow named Harry Treleaven who came to the Nixon camp’s attention after he took a leave of absence from J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in 1966 to work on a congressional campaign in Texas. The incumbent was a Democrat named Frank Briscoe and Treleaven assessed (McGinniss’ book pages 44 – 45) the race this way: “There’ll be few opportunities for logical persuasion, which is all right – because probably more people vote for irrational, emotional reasons than professional politicians suspect.”

Picking Paul Ryan made liberals very angry, which, in turn, made conservatives very happy. President Obama’s initial reaction seemed to be the use of logical argumentation to change the conservatives’ emotional reaction. Wouldn’t seeing the dismantling of the Social Security program make liberals even angrier? In a world devoid of logical thinking, wouldn’t that make the conservatives even happier?

The 1968 Nixon campaign perfected the strategy of making some news just in time to get it placed on the evening network news programs, which meant that the Democrats would be left scrambling the next day to contend with damage control, while Nixon & Co. started the game anew. Adjusting the campaign to the timing of media news cycles was a breakthrough innovation.

The fact that Mitt Romney made his announcement early on a Saturday morning will be an irrelevant descriptive fact for most of the writers who wished to comment on the selection of Paul Ryan as the “presumptive” Presidential nominee’s presumptive running mate, but for the World’s Laziest Journalist, that example of odd timing looked like the metaphorical “kiss of death” for Mitt’s chances to win the fall election. In the Internet era of 24/7 news coverage, one time may be just as good as another so long as the candidate’s media advisors don’t care about the news cycles for more traditional media such as influential newspapers, weekend network shouting matches, and magazine journalism.

If the announcement occurred at breakfast time in the Eastern Time zone that means the candidate was willing to reduce his West Coast audience for live coverage of the announcement to a pathetic minimum of what he could have had by choosing the timing with a better regard for strategic planning.

The preview editions of the Sunday editions of both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times were on the delivery trucks heading for the Saturday advance sales market. No way to get free publicity about the announcement into those valuable assets.

The early edition of the New York Times Sunday paper was probably holding a news hole for a crash close on the story, but there was no way they would hold the Week in Review Section (and run up extensive amounts of overtime) for a Presidential candidate who treats journalists with the same sneering “that’s all your going to get” condescension that he delivers to the potential voters. Why should that attitude remind this columnist of Nixon?

Don’t some of the weekend round-up shouting matches tape their programs on Friday afternoon? In this cost conscious world, what made Romney think he could inspire a dispensation involving excessive amounts of overtime pay for the union workers?

Did Romney expect the networks to call in their Monday to Friday anchor persons to read the story on Saturday night’s installment of their network’s evening news program? What did LBJ say about “If we’ve lost Cronkite . . .”? Does a weekend substitute carry the same level of gravitas as Edward R. Murrow?

Did Newsweek hold the cover story for “crash close” coverage of the announcement?

Where are the adult Republican media advisors who helped write the book for the 1968 strategy described in Joe McGinniss’ book “The Selling of the President”? Why didn’t Karl Rove help avert this example of inept spin control strategy?

Timothy Crouse, in his 1972 book, “The Boys on the Bus,” (page 195) said: “Then Nixon decided to hide out for a year and stop feeding the press handouts. Instead he fed it George Romney.” Does History repeat itself? Could Mitt claim that he was brainwashed into making the ill-timed Saturday morning announcement?

Is there another Republican of Nixon’s stature standing in the shadows waiting for a dramatic call to unveil a secret plan to end the Vietnam War . . . or balance the budget . . . or whatever? Or are the Republicans going to be satisfied with replaying the Goldwater debacle or a 1968 style squeaker?

Over the ensuing weekend, did the TV shows, which love to promise their audiences a variety of behind the scenes insights into what is really happening, mention the hidden implications of the odd timing of the announcement?

Crouse (on page 322) describes the major innovation in news coverage of Presidential campaigns: “Here in 1972, with the new law that obliged contributors to make public their gifts, was a unique opportunity to follow the big corporation rats as they stole out of their holes to deposit a large bag of cash at the door of some candidate and – almost invariably – ask for some favor in return.”

One of the disadvantages of reading books more than forty years old is that some aspects of the text will leave the modern reader hanging in suspense. Treleaven’s 1966 candidate won, but how the heck will we ever satisfy our curiosity and learn what happened to the guy who beat Briscoe 58 to 42 in a traditional Democratic stronghold? What ever happened to George H. W. Bush? (Maybe we’ll get lucky and a reader in Texas can post an update in the comments section.)

On page 10, Crouse quotes newsman Karl Fleming: “So eventually a very subtle kind of thing takes over and the reporter says to himself, ‘All I gotta do to satisfy my editor and publisher is just get what the other guys are getting, so why should I bust my ass?’”

Does that mean that the World’s Laziest Journalist didn’t have to dig out a copy of Crouse’s book and track down a copy of McGinniss’ book, do some fast and furious reading, and then fire up the computer at 0600 on Monday morning? We couldda skipped most of the work and just churned out a few words about Mitt making a bold gamble by catering to the demands of the far right and then posting that anemic effort. Whatever.

Either one of these two books will provide a reader with a better basis for evaluating this year’s election process and taken together they provide conclusive evidence for proving the case for believing that America’s freedom of the press is rapidly approaching the final chapter for the history of an institution experiencing a terminal illness. If the voters are not going to make their decisions based on a well informed evaluation of the issues, then America’s free press is doomed to extinction.

Oscar Wilde said he wouldn’t trust anyone who didn’t judge people solely on their appearance and Harry Treleaven believed (McGinniss book page 44) “Most national issues today are so complicated, so difficult to understand, and have opinions on that they either intimidate or, more often, bore the average voter .”

Joe McGinniss quoted (page 131) Richard M. Nixon as saying: “Let us remember, the main purpose of American foreign aid is not to help other nations but to help ourselves.”

Now the disk jockey will play the AC/DC song “Problem Child,” the Rolling Stones’ song “Sparks will fly,” and the 1968 Nixon campaign song “Bring Our Country Back.” We have to post this week’s Week in Review column a few hours early and attend to some administrative matters. Have a “Hidden Persuaders” type week.

August 15, 2012

Singapore: Stalinist housing blocs & feng shui

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:10 pm

After spending a rather unique night trying to sleep on glorified lawn chairs at the Doha airport, I finally arrived in Singapore — blurry-eyed and confused. And that’s not a good condition to be in when trying to navigate through the Singapore airport — because this airport is HUGE. Imagine the Great Mall of America, Rodeo Drive and a mini-Disney Adventureland combined with more restaurants than you could eat at in a month, an elaborate system of people-movers and thousands of happy tourists and shoppers, all tacked onto miles and miles of terminals, departure gates and runways — and you pretty much get the picture. The Singapore airport is HUGE.

“Where is the closest transit hotel?” I bleated piteously.

“After Terminal 3, get on the tramway, turn right at Cartier, walk a half-mile past the third food court, it’s next to the butterfly garden.” Found it!

For approximately $60, I was able to rent a sweet teeny-tiny little hotel room in miniature for six hours — and promptly fell asleep. It was like they had shrunk a hotel room at the Hilton to fit into your closet. I loved it.

And what’s not to like about the Singapore airport — if you are a Material Girl. Everything you can imagine is on sale here. WHAT will this place ever do if people ever wise up and discover that material goods can’t buy you happiness — and also when the world runs out of raw materials? Then the Singapore airport will be screwed. But until then, the place is like a freaking MUSEUM for material goods, the ultimate wet-dream for Material Girls.

The airport also offers a two-hour free tour of the city of Singapore. My plane doesn’t leave for Jakarta for another seven hours. I’m on this!

“The island of Singapore consists mainly of parklands and highrises,” said our guide. And it did. So many lovely parks. Hand-groomed parks very much like Central Park in New York — only miles and miles and miles more of them.

“Why do you have so many parks?” I asked.

“It’s good feng shui,” said our guide. Oh. Okay. “The ancient art of feng shui tells us that the way your home or business is laid out can strongly affect your fortune. And having good feng shui brings you good luck and having lots of greenery around brings you even more good luck.”

Well, it does look like all those miles and miles of parklands and trees and manicured flower beds and well-trimmed lawns really are bringing Singapore lots of good luck. America should try that!

And springing up like gigantic mushrooms from all of these parks were many many tall skyscrapers and housing blocs. The total effect here reminded me of Pyongyang, up in North Korea. After Americans had leveled the city flat with thousands of bombs back in the 1950s, Pyongyang was rebuilt on a grid of parklands, skyscraper hotels for tourists and Stalinist housing blocs.

Of course the parklands in Singapore are hecka lot nicer and the housing blocs here are far more luxurious than in Pyongyang — but the effect is the same: The good feng shui of parks to offset the bad feng shui of housing blocs and skyscrapers.

Back home in Berkeley, our current mayor and most of our city council appear to be trying to Manhattanize Berkeley just as fast as humanly possible. But. They are leaving out that other highly important ingredient of good feng shui — the parks. If our current mayor wants to cram Berkeley full of Stalinist housing blocs, fine with me. But where are the parks? So next election I’m going to vote for Kriss Worthington for mayor instead.

That is, if I ever get out of the Singapore airport alive. One could live here comfortably forever — except that there are no parks (unless you count runways).

PS: Mitt Romney has named Paul Ryan to be his vice presidential running mate. Paul Ryan! Electing those two would be like electing the Beagle Boys to guard Uncle Scrooge’s bank vault. With Romney and Ryan in charge of our treasury, we can almost count on being burgled for every last red cent that we own.

A vote for these Beagle Boys may be a really great idea — but only if you yourself are a Beagle Boy too. Most of us are not.

According to Robert Reich, “Republicans want to obliterate any trace of the [Bush] administration that told America there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and led us into a devastating war; turned a $5 trillion projected budget surplus into a $6 trillion deficit; gave the largest tax cut in a generation to the richest Americans in history; handed out a mountain of corporate welfare to the oil and gas industry, pharmaceutical companies, and military contractors like Halliburton (uniquely benefiting the vice president); whose officials turned a blind eye to Wall Street shenanigans that led to the worst financial calamity since the Great Crash of 1929 and then persuaded Congress to bail out the Street with the largest taxpayer-funded giveaway of all time.”

Bush was the ultimate Beagle Boy. And now we are supposed to forget all that and let them force the Romney-Ryan Beagle Boy team on us too? Exactly how dumb do they think that we are?

What would Unca Scrooge do?

Maybe I should just stay here in Singapore after all — because it has such good feng shui. But no. My flight leaves for Jakarta in two hours and there are no backsies on my plane ticket.


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