January 30, 2013

Spoiled brats: How neo-con kiddies demand their Second Amendment rights but refuse to obey the rest of the Constitution

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 8:40 pm

How come so many right-wingers, neo-cons, corporate RepubliDems, NRA lobbyists, Fox News commentators and radical-extremist talk-show hosts are currently getting all up in our faces about how wonderful the Second Amendment is? “Second Amendment! Second Amendment!” they cry night and day. That’s all we ever hear from these guys. You would think that they might occasionally mention the rest of the Constitution occasionally as well — but no.

Right-wingers, gun lobbyists, Tea Party congressmen and corporatist-owned radio talk-show hosts all scream and yell and hold their breath and throw temper tantrums about the sanctity of the Second Amendment constantly. But have they ever thrown tantrums or held their breath when other parts of our Constitution were violently stepped on — especially by they themselves? Er, no.

Where were these spoiled brats when George W. Bush trampled all over our Constitution and forced several illegal wars down our throats? Silent as the tomb.

Did these spoiled brats ever throw themselves down on the sidewalk and wail and flail around violently when the PATRIOT Act gutted so many of our sacred rights as citizens? No, no, no and no. Nary a peep from the right wing noise machine.

The Constitution begins with “We the People…” But you never hear any right-winger ever bitch and moan about how America is now run by “We the Corporations….” Right-wingers, the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, John Boehner, etc. apparently have never met a corporation they didn’t like. “Corporations are people!” they always cry. And what about the rest of us? Chopped liver? “Pretty much.”

Section 2, paragraph 1 of the U.S. Constitution states that, “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” George W. Bush used that clause again and again to mire our country in the quicksand of trillions of dollars of debt, and not one right-winger anywhere seemed to even notice that our George had illegally used presidential executive privilege — let alone voice any objection to its misuse. We never heard any protests at all from the Tea Party, the NRA, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Grover Norquist or any of those guys. GWB was using executive powers to benefit the wealthy 1% but not the rest of us? Fine with them!

And speaking of GWB, doesn’t the Constitution also state somewhere that you gotta be elected before you can live in the White House? Bush was never elected. Both the 2000 election and the 2004 election were blatantly stolen. But there’s been no outcry from any right-winger about that. Hell, Anton Scalia didn’t even seem to mind. And neither did AIPAC or CPAC. What’s with that?

And what about our First Amendment rights such as “Freedom of Speech”? You never ev-ah hear right-wingers’ strident voices raised in hue and cry whenever ordinary people like us are arrested and beaten for practicing free speech.

“Freedom of Religion”. Worth fighting for? Yeah sure — as long as it only includes some kind of weird slash-and-burn Wall Street and War Street version of “Christianity” that wingers go nuts over and that Jesus would have abhorred.

And what about protecting Native Americans’ freedom of religion too? That the land itself is considered sacred? No freedom there. “Just shut up, stop whining and let the Great White Father shove his tar-sands pipeline up your throat.”

I’m not even going to mention Muslims’ freedom of religion. For right-wingers, it simply doesn’t exist.
And what about the 19th Amendment, which dares to speak out against involuntary servitude? Neo-con spoiled brats have no issues with this one — just as long as we allow them to keep their prison labor system of involuntary servitude going. And their involuntary sweatshops in Asia and Haiti that have stolen our jobs. And sleazy American factories that keep their doors locked even when there is a fire. And those thousands of WalMart workers who aren’t allowed to organize or demand a decent wage or respect? Does that count as involuntary servitude too? Apparently not.

And the 19th amendment also covers the right of everyone in America to vote except, apparently, in Virginia — where right-wingers are trying to return to the old “Three-fifths of a person” approach.

And what about “Freedom of the Press”? Are right-wingers defending it at all? Hell no. Just ask WikiLeaks’s founder about that one — or even the New York Times. It seems that if you ever even dare to publish anything in America that goes against Wall Street and War Street, you end up either fired or in jail. Like Bradley Manning for instance. No right-wing temper tantrums or breath-holding over him. The only exception to this rule is when the neo-con media darlings on talk-radio or Fox News get called out on their lies. Then right-wing spoiled brats really do start holding their breath.

Amendment Four? No illegal search and seizure? Violating this one is the right wing’s sweetest dream. “Gotta protect the Homeland!” they cry — apparently protecting it from We the People.

Amendment Six? “Right to a speedy and public trial.” You never hear right-wingers throw a fit about this one either — only about their treasured Second Amendment.

Then there’s Amendment Eight. No cruel and unusual punishment. Abu Graib? No outrage. “Zero Dark 30″? That torture got cheers. Mordechai Vanunu kept in solitary confinement for eighteen years by Israeli right-wingers because he spoke out? Or the countless Palestinian non-violent protesters now in Israeli neo-con jails? “Oh goody!” But these particular cruel and unusual things are all happening to foreign nationals, not us. However, even when horrible things like that happen right here at home too, right-wing spoiled brats still don’t even care. “Bradley Manning? Leonard Peltier? The Cuban Five? Lynne Stewart? Chris Williams and other legal medical marijuana growers and dispensers? Martin Luther King Jr?” Yawn.

Rep. Alan Grayson just wrote an article in the Huffington Post stating that Tea Party right-wingers in Congress are attempting to violate two other Constitutional Amendments — the 14th and the 27th. “As Texas Gov. Rick Perry would say, ‘Oops’.”

I could go on and on about all the parts of the U.S. Constitution the right-wing has happily gutted over the last several decades. But you get the gist. For them, only the Second Amendment counts.

But I have an important question here to ask “We the People” of America regarding the right wing’s constant spoiled-brat behavior. “At what point do all these temper tantrums and breath-holdings get old?”

When do “We the Parents” finally put our foot down, stand up for our own selves and send spoiled-brat Wall Street and War Street and Wrong-Wing Street and Wreck-the-Constitution Street off to bed without any supper? Apparently never.

January 28, 2013

Who was Jafsie?

[Fox has legally established the right to present lies as news and therefore one of the unintended consequences of that judicial ruling is that individual consumers of political punditry (such as this column) are solely responsible for any concomitant fact checking deemed appropriate.]

“Cemetery John,” written by Robert Zorn (The Overlook Press, New York N.Y. ©2012) slowly and methodically dismantles the case against Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was tried and executed for participating in the theft of some children’s clothes from the home of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh.  Any reader of this column who assumes that Hauptmann was fried in New Jersey’s electrical chair because he was found guilty of the murder of the kidnapped baby has probably relied on other less comprehensive reports about the notorious crime.  In “Don’t Know Much about History,” author Kenneth C. Davis blithely informs his readers “ . . . but the evidence in the case was always strong against him (Hauptmann).”  (“What we have here is . . . failure to communicate!”)

Zorn’s book not only contradicts the conventional wisdom about Richard Bruno Hauptmann, he names a specific person as the mastermind of the famous heinous crime and builds an extensive case to bolster his assertion.

According to Zorn, academics have formulated a computer program that achieves a much higher accuracy rating for handwriting analysis than the human experts have scored in the past.  This innovative example of computer superiority confirms that his suspect actually wrote (at last parts of) the ransom notes delivered to Col. Lindbergh.

Dr. John F. Condon, whose initials JFC were used to derive his handle as Jafsie, served as the go-between for negotiations with a suspect (or suspects?) demanding money from the Lindberghs for the safe return of the baby.

Dr. Condon spoke directly to a suspect and later was reluctant to swear that Hauptmann was the person with whom he spoke.  Initial descriptions of the suspect given to police after his first encounter with an alleged kidnapper contradict the physical appearance of the man who was executed in the electric chair for being the one and only perpetrator of the vile deed.  Dr. Condon, AKA Jafsie, was, according to Zorn, coerced into upgrading his level of certainty and eliminating all his previously expressed doubts about Hauptmann being the man to whom Dr. Condon, at a second meeting, handed the ransom money.

Zorn raises a question about the possibility that the “Trial of the Century” actually took place in a location that did not legally have jurisdiction over the matter.

The conviction and execution of Hauptmann provided a foundation for a wide variety of careers for lawyers, politicians and police officials.  In the Thirties, any assertions about gaps in logic concerning the case quickly earned the sensational publicity seeking source a major amount of ridicule and (subsequently) a chance for inclusion in the Conspiracy Theory Hall of Fame.

Zorn alleges that some of the seats in the court room were sold by a local police official.  Coverage of the sensational trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann provided a springboard to fame for some of the journalists who reported on the proceedings.  Columnist Walter Winchell was one of those lucky individuals.

The antediluvian (has using big words gone out of fashion?) columnists’ technique, called three dot journalism, of using an ellipse to separate unrelated items has been superseded by the trend to streamline the demands on a reader’s attention span by adhering to the policy of one topic per column, but in the era of channel surfing via the remote control, perhaps the eclipse of the ellipse style will end?

Could separate and distinct topics, such as gun control, filibustering and storm damage legislation, which were separated by the use of three dot journalism, actually have a narrative thread which connects them all together?

With the new rules for filibustering, could a Senator introduce a ban on assault rifles with a dramatic public announcement which delights advocates of gun control and then later use the recently amended filibuster rules to anonymously kill the possibility of having a vote on that item and thus win the continuing supply of campaign donations from various gun supporting groups?  Aren’t all things possible through prayer?

Voters in California, who are “news junkies,” may have heard some (one or two?) disturbing rumors, last week, that both of their Democratic Senators allegedly gave stealth support to the piss poor filibuster reform measure that was approved by the Senate.  According to one radio report, a Senator who disapproved of the anemic reform actually told reporters the names of Quisling Democratic Senators who had quietly betrayed their constituents but he was quickly silenced (by senior Democratic Party officials?).

As the World’s Laziest Journalist understands it, the new filibuster rules present very ominous possibilities that only a vigilant free press can prevent.  At the end of December, the Congressional vote on Sandy Storm relief was postponed until after the New Year’s holiday.  The first day of the New Year, it was given immediate Congressional approval amid much loud hosannas in the news media.  Most folks didn’t notice the small footnote attached to the story:  Since a new congress was being sworn in, the approval of the measure by Congress meant that to be enacted into law it had to re-win approval in the Senate.

Those good ole boys in the Senate were, as the new session got started, mighty busy with filibuster reform, gun control, the annual State of the Union name calling competition, and (tah dah dah dutt dutt daaaahhh!) immigration reform and so it is possible that in all that excitement they have forgotten how many bills, such as the Storm relief bill, needed to be passed.  Now, they have to ask themselves another question:  “How many of the voters will notice/care?”  To which we can only add the traditional San Francisco question:  “Well, do ya, punk?”

In a country that is known for its dedication to a free press and truth, fretting about this slight oversight going unnoticed is probably a fool’s errand.  Since the World’s Laziest Journalist’s headquarters operates with limited access to commentary in the free press (the access costs money) we might have missed ample examples of instances where this possible sin of omission has been mentioned.  If it has not, then just as soon as the posse known as the New York Times national desk reads this column, they will (we must assume) pen a lead editorial calling the Senate to task for the glaring political fumble.

In all the excitement over the Judicial ruling that President Obama exceeded his authority with some recess appointments, the Journalists commenting on the sensational development seem to have missed a partisan implication question.  Will the Republicans use that decision as the grounds for starting impeachment proceedings against the President they love to hate?

Speaking of gun control, Zorn reports that Col Lindbergh was armed when he accompanied Dr. Condon when the doctor went to pay the ransom money and that the famous flyer noticed a fellow (who most likely knew that the Lindbergh baby was dead and that the ransom transaction was a fraud) walking away from the rendezvous location.  If (subjunctive mood) Col. Lindbergh had shot that person in the back, would he have been exonerated for an act of vigilante justice or would he have been convicted of murder by a jury of gun control advocates?  Just asking.

It will soon be the fiftieth anniversary of the time when Lee Harvey Oswald said to journalists:  “I’m a patsy.”

Now the disk jockey will play Johnny Cash’s “The Long Black Veil,” Merle Haggard’s “I’m the only Hell my mama ever raised,” and the Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley.”  We have to go buy a “Go Niners!” T-shirt.  Have a Lombardi Trophy winning type week.

January 21, 2013

Django Unchained & Zero Dark 30: 160 years later, they’re still torturing colored folks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 5:53 pm

In honor of Martin Luther King’s birthday this year, I treated myself to a movie marathon, watching “Django Unchained” and “Zero Dark 30″ back-to-back. And it was like a cold slap in the face.

“Django Unchained” allegedly took place in 1858 — and here we are now, 160 years later, where things have apparently changed and we’re now being all civilized with our I-phones and our electric cars and our digital TVs. Nobody enslaves “colored” people any more and tortures them like that any more, right? This is the 21st century!

No one ties “colored” people up with ropes and beats them and beats them and beats them and then sics dogs on them any more, right? That’s barbaric. That’s why Lincoln freed the slaves and Dr. King marched in Montgomery, right? What happened to Django was old skool.

But hold onto your popcorn, guys. “Zero Dark 30″ is about to come next.

When the theater screen darkens, suddenly here we are again, right here in the 21st century, but still tying up “colored” people with ropes, beating them and beating them and then siccing dogs on them.

“Hey, but that’s different,” you might say. In what way?

In “Django Unchained,” we saw a man have all that he owned taken from him — simply because he wasn’t White — and then we saw him beaten and tortured when he fought back against the Master.

In “Zero Dark 30″ we also see the end results of years and years of “colored” folks in the Middle East having everything taken from them by the Master too — and then when they too fought back, they too got beaten and tortured.

So how come we cheer Django Freeman on but hate Osama bin Ladin? Both are “colored” men fighting for their very lives.

But I digress.

This commentary is not about whether bin Ladin was or was not a good guy. Obviously he was a bad guy — even making his wives do his laundry by hand, according to “0D30″. Wouldn’t even buy them a washer and dryer.

This commentary is about how far Americans have progressed, between 1858 and now, along the path to moral evolution. Not an inch.

In 1858 we had Candyland, where Leonardo di Caprio’s character used torture to maintain his power over people of color who rebelled against their own exploitation.

And now, 160 years later, we have the CIA instead — with Jessica Chastain’s character using torture to maintain her power over people of color who rebelled against their own exploitation. On past Martin Luther King birthday holidays, I’ve honored the day by watching “The Long Walk Home” or “The Help,”, listening to Joan Baez sing the hauntingly immortal “Birmingham Sunday,” and/or remembering back when I myself marched with Dr. King in Montgomery in 1965 — while seven months pregnant with my first baby.

During past MLK birthday celebrations, I was always filled with hope.

On this MLK birthday celebration, however, I was only filled with despair.

January 17, 2013

In your face: Homelessness in America

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 9:56 pm

And what are YOU doing about the vast new epidemic of homeless people flooding the streets of America right now?

America’s wealthiest 1% are doing something about it — they’re creating even more homeless men and women just as fast as they possibly can!

The Department of Defense is doing something about this problem too, creating vast brigades and armies of blind, paralyzed, traumatized and/or limbless disabled 20-somethings who should have been in their prime of life right now, the backbone of America’s labor force — but are instead sleeping rough, out on the streets.

The CIA, DEA, FBI, local police forces, INS, Homeland Security, TSA, etc. are also doing their bit regarding homelessness here as well — they are housing Americans in jails just as fast as humanly possible, with or without being charged with a crime. How patriotic is that! And you can even get thrown in a jail cell for using legal medical marijuana or driving an unregistered car (or being homeless). The vast American prison-labor system is always here to help out.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is also doing something about homelessness in America too — by actually supplying housing. Imagine that. And if HUD closed its doors tomorrow, America would immediately reveal its true self — as Great-Depression-style tent cities begin springing up like mushrooms and we start tripping over the dead bodies of homeless senior citizens left and right. Without HUD, America would look like background shots from the movie “Les Miserables”.

Thank you, HUD. It’s nice to know that somebody else besides just America’s 1% is getting a safety net these days.

But what am I myself doing about homelessness in America today? Besides giving an occasional dollar to a street person shivering out in the cold? Obviously not enough. (But I did act in a docu-drama on the subject recently. Does that count?

Can you imagine what it is like to stay out all night, every night, in the rain and the cold, vulnerable to criminals and rapists, being humiliated, vilified and scorned by those lucky enough not to have been chewed up and spit out by Wall Street and War Street quite yet, shamefully begging for spare change and having no place to go? I can’t.

If it was me out there on those mean streets, I’d be lucky to still be alive after only a week.

PS: Speaking of being homeless, I will be going to Haiti as part of a Global Exchange delegation at the end of March to do research on homelessness there. No other country in the western hemisphere has as many homeless people as Haiti — even though it is still being milked like a cash cow by the world’s NGOs.

According to journalist Bill Quigley, “Despite billions in aid which were supposed to go to the Haitian people, hundreds of thousands are still homeless, living in shanty tent camps as the effects from the earthquake of January 12, 2010 remain. The earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010 killing, according to Oxfam International, 250,000 people and injuring another 300,000. 360,000 Haitians are still displaced and living hand to mouth in 496 tent camps across the country according to the International Organization of Migration. Most eat only one meal a day.”

And you think that America’s homeless won’t fare any better than Haiti’s homeless if the 1% have their way? Think again. Just remember all those homeless Americans created by Hurricane Sandy — who are still homeless now. And then thank whichever God that you pretend to follow that it wasn’t you living out there in Far Rockaway.

And when the 1% finally get their hands on your Social Security money pot like they have been trying to all along, you won’t need a hurricane to know which way the wind blows either.

PPS: If you want to be a part of Global Exchange’s delegation to Haiti in March 2013, here’s the program’s contact information: See you there!

January 16, 2013

Ye Olde Presents: Commentary in Pictures

Filed under: Commentary — Ye Olde Scribe @ 7:54 am



January 10, 2013

My latest invention: The Kiddie Phone!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 5:47 pm

I have just invented and patented something called “The Kiddie Phone”™. Know anyone who might want to manufacture it for me? AT&T for instance? Or perhaps MicroSoft? Or the Pentagon?

This amazing new telephone concept is similar in many ways to the actual working cell phones that big people use — except that it has only two buttons and two buttons only. One button calls Mommie and the other one calls Daddy.

How do little kids use it? That’s easy. If, for instance, you are a little kid and want to get picked up early from your play-date because little Mergatroyd won’t share, then just press the “Daddy” button.

Or if you are a little kid and you’re lonely after your nap and want to talk with someone other than your daycare provider, just press the “Mommie” button.

Or if you are a little kid and you live with your daddy during the week and your mommie on weekends, you can always keep in touch with both parents.

And if you are being kidnapped or molested or are lost or are being bullied or endangered by mad gunmen, just push a button on my hot new invention and you’ll instantly be connected with help.

If, however, you are a starving child in Africa or a little kid being shot at by drones in Pakistan or IDF tanks in Palestine or a homeless child in some American ghetto, this phone is not for you. Unfortunately for you, little guys, in the eyes of the powers-that-be — you don’t count.

But, in my eyes, every child counts. Why? Because every single child in the world is a dearly-beloved offspring of the Family of Man.

PS: While eating hamburgers with my granddaughter Mena at Phil’s Sliders in Berkeley the other day, I had a nice chat with a cancer researcher who was eating sliders there too — and this is what she told me:

“I personally think that we are currently losing the battle against cancer.” But why? “Because cancer is basically caused by our very own bodies turning against us — and, for some unknown reason, this process seems to be escalating in America because something keeps knocking us out of balance.” Physically, mentally or emotionally? “Who knows.”

Fall-out from Hiroshima, Chernobyl, Fukushima, DU weaponry in the Middle East and nuclear power plants in America perhaps? Yeah, duh.

“Whatever the cause,” (and the researcher surprised me by saying that it wasn’t necessarily food), “whenever this type of imbalance happens, we get cancer — a sad-but-true fact. So. What can we do to get our bodies back into balance again? This is an interesting question.” Hey, I’m interested. Totally. And, since all of us either have had cancer ourselves, know a lot of people who have recently died of cancer or are currently fighting against it for their lives, then you probably are interested too.

“Apparently our bodies get out of balance when our genome sequencing is adversely affected. And we already know what it looks like when the sequencing is pushed out of balance — and we researchers even know how to get it back into the right mode again. But there is currently a very big gap between what researchers can do to help out this process and what your local oncologist or cancer center can do.”

“You mean,” I replied, “that it’s like when a doctor looks at an x-ray of a patient’s arm and can see whether or not a bone is broken and if so, how to fix it? And that doctors in the future will be able to look at a gene-sequencing ‘x-ray’ and see which gene is acting up — and then be able to fix it too?”

“Something like that — because a cancer is simply a gene that is out of control. However, currently, chemotherapy and radiation treatments nuke not only the out-of-balance gene but also its whole cell and the whole body as well. But with this new gene-specificity, the target we aim for is only the errant gene.” Sounds good.

“But right now, even though great research strides are being made against stopping cancer at the gene level, we have yet to find a way to get this type of research into the hands of the front-line cancer fighters, our local oncologists. It would be as if, like doctors everywhere who have already been taught to use bone-x-ray machines and then were given access to these x-ray machines as well, we now need to make these gene-sequencing and repairing mechanisms available on the local level too — and to train doctors how to use them as well.”

Not a bad lecture for the price of a few sliders!

“But I’m not in any way bad-mouthing chemotherapy,” continued the researcher over Phil’s famous organic salted-caramel milkshakes, “Life is always worth fighting for — and it’s also worth almost dying for during a few months of chemo if this means that you can live for a few years more. And while lots of researchers are now on the right track, it is like I said — we still have to get this methodology out to the doctors.”

Then the researcher brought up another problem with regard to innovative cancer research. “People like Lance Armstrong are willing to try anything to stay alive. Armstrong even took blood transfusions before each race and was willing to try experimental drugs. So why doesn’t this information also get trickled down to the local oncologists? Because the information delivery system here is almost medieval. And many doctors’ hands are also tied because of fears of malpractice.”

PPS: With regard to the many types of blended families here in America these days, you could also program the Kiddie Phone buttons to call whoever is most likely to love and care for said little kids — such as two Daddies or two Mommies or Grandma and Grandpa or both foster-care providers or even Big Bird and Elmo or Brad and Angelina in a pinch.

What only matters is that the next generation’s little darlings (ALL of them) are safe and taken care of.

Truth vs. Legend

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:25 pm

“Did Mr. Houdini really make the elephant disappear?”

“Yes,” I said.  “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Did President Bush make the expenses of running two wars disappear?  Telling the truth to Dubya’s loyal admiring fans would be as cruel and vicious as trying to take away their guns would be . . . and just as unproductive.

Modern Society is fueled by misperceptions.  Ridiculing the Emperor’s new clothes has always been a sure fire way to become an outcast.  A book of literary criticism summed it up in its title:  “Naked is the best disguise.”

In the early part of the Twentieth Century, there was a Congressman (everybody in Congress was a man back then and so the correct designation was Congressman) who was very popular and seemed destined to land in the Senate or the Governor’s office in Minnesota . . . until he criticized the role that bankers were playing in the effort to get the United States into the War to End All Wars.

That fellow, as a young lawyer, got into trouble when a bank sent him out to foreclose on a farm and he returned with the money that paid the farmer’s loan up to date.  The Bankers were furious and fired him.  He got his revenge by becoming a political activist who worked on behalf of farmers.  To show their gratitude, they elected him as their Congressman.

When a European member of nobility got shot and millions of soldiers were called on to die in the ensuing war, some influential decision makers in the USA saw the fracas as a sure way to increase profits for certain businessmen.  The fellow, who had been born in Stockholm Sweden, started saying things like:  “The war-for-profit group has counterfeited patriotism.”

Wasn’t patriotism what fueled the British soldiers’ charge into machine gun fire in the subsequent battles for “no man’s land” in WWI?  According to information we stumbled upon in a non-fiction book by Len Deighton, a curious thing called “the creeping barrage” may have augmented the patriotism.  It was alleged that in an effort to encourage soldiers to participate in the charge against the German line, an artillery barrage was laid down by the British.  It started behind the front line.  The shells were gradually moved farther forward and the soldiers in the trenches had the option of taking their chances with the barrage or running at the German line and see if they could get past them.  The image of brave young men running enthusiastically at the dreaded Bosch was very reassuring to the families on the home front.

The American Congressman had sealed his fate and his career in the halls of Congress was doomed.  He remained popular with his constituents, but they just couldn’t reelect him because of his views.  He tried in vain to become governor, but that didn’t work.

He was quoted as telling his son “In war it is not safe to think unless one travels with the mob.”

His achievements faded into the history books but not his name.  His son, Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. became a celebrity pioneer in the field of aviation.

In an article on a notorious TV appearance by the singer Madonna, writer Norman Mailer hypothesized that celebrities (and politicians?), who were rascals, would be forgiven so long as they didn’t commit the one unforgivable sin, which is going against type.  Hence celebrities who project an image of virtue are dealt with severely, by the media and fans, when they are caught in a scandal.

You could be a cynic who tells America that Houdini didn’t make the elephant disappear, but showing them how he did it would be completely unacceptable.

Did Robert Capa fake his most famous picture?  According to his biographer Richard Whelan, Capa was a rake-hell who often embellished his achievements with heaps of exaggeration and so the possibility that the “Falling Soldier” photo was an elaborate ruse is irrelevant.

Why is it that Elvis Presley was drafted but James Dean wasn’t?

When we first encountered a best selling history of the USA that had a title that (we thought) hinted it would be a “tell all” expose, we had visions of giving it a place of honor in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory reference library.  Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be “more of the same” that breathlessly described how various legendary American heroes had made the elephant vanish into thin air.

[Note from the photo editor:  the photos we had of Banksy’s Los Angeles art installation called “The elephant in the room” have disappeared from the World’s Laziest Journalist’s photo archives and so this column will run without an accompanying photo.]

Is it hard work to be the World’s Laziest Journalist?

Did a well known folk singer really “burst on the scene already a legend”?

Was Amy Sample McPherson really kidnapped?

Did one bullet really do all that damage in Dallas?

Did a famous editor lie to a little girl named Virginia?

Are Federal investigators still trying to learn who made money on short selling airline stocks on Sept. 10, 2001?

Did Building 7 ever really exist?

Was President George W. Bush really able to reduce taxes, wage two wars, and not make a significant increase in the deficit?

When it comes time to make the call always remember the old journalism axiom:  “Always print the legend.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Do you believe in magic,” “That old black magic ” and“ Magic moments.”  We have to go try to score some tickets for Houdini at the Hippodrome.  Have an “abracadabra” type week.

January 9, 2013

The news and déjà vu

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 2:54 pm

During the last half of the 1930’s, Europe was flooded with journalists from America, who were being paid to report on the ominous developments that indicated a trend towards fascism was occurring, and they, subsequently, became the subject for a trend spotting item for historians to unearth.  Concurrently radio was in its Golden Age stage and Hollywood was about to release the movies that marked the high water mark.  Critics agree that the films receiving Oscar™ nominations for 1939 were a remarkable collection of excellent movies that has never been equaled in the following years.

What makes 2013 different from 1939?  How good is radio these days?  In typical Irish style we’ll answer that question with another question:  Was there more or less political propaganda on radio in Germany in 1939 or in the USA today?  In the late Thirties in Germany, citizens caught listening to foreign radio stations were dealt with in a very severe manner.  Why doesn’t the app that lets Americans listen to American radio stations on their cell phone let them listen to foreign origin radio stations?

Have the movies gotten better?  An obsession with maintaining political correctness while attracting the largest possible number of paid admissions has rendered cinema moribund.  How many Ten Best lists included “Killer Joe”?  Is regimented thinking a bad symptom in a country that was founded on the principle of freedom of speech?  Ja,wohl!

How much demand for foreign correspondents is manifest in American Journalism today?

CBS had a list of foreign correspondents in Europe in the Fifties that was on the “all star” level.  Today about the only foreign correspondent working in Europe that we can name is Silvia Paggioli and she works for NPR.

Do the students attending college this year have any idea who Gerda Taro was let alone consider her a woman’s lib role model?

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat history but what happens when the young generation is discouraged from learning history at all?

Back when LBJ was in the White House, the current issue of the French language magazine Paris Match was sold on the newsstand in the PanAm building each week.  (Where?)  Recently Al Jazeera bought Current TV as a way of gaining entrée into the American media market.  So far the response seems to be a cold shoulder reception.  Copies of Paris Match are available in Berkeley Public Library each week, but due to postal delivery the latest issue may be a tad outdated.

Are foreign language magazines (and points of view) a superfluous, unnecessary expenditure in a country that has renamed French Fries as Freedom Fries?  Has Freedom of Speech become an expensive, useless luxury in a time of austerity budgets?

Yes, you can use your Interenets connection to read foreign language web sites if you can read and understand sites using foreign languages or can fiddle with the “translate this page” option, but the few that do can easily be dismissed as unpatriotic conspiracy theory nuts.

Reportage in Washington has become a breathless scramble for spin rendering journalism into a copy of coverage of Hollywood luminaries.  When was the last time you encountered news using the phrase “an investigation has revealed” rather than “according to a reliable source”?

Rogue pundits out in the boondocks have as much chance of uncovering a scoop as do the members of the in crowd in D. C.   Neither group is going to get anything but announcements and news releases because everything that happens now in D. C. happens behind closed doors and journalists sit back and wait for the official press release to be delivered to their desk.

While the World’s Laziest Journalist was in the process of writing this column, we encountered a used copy of James Fallows’ 1996 book “Breaking the News (How the Media Undermine American Democracy)” for fifty cents.  We have read that book before but our copy of it is still out on loan somewhere in the San Francisco Bay area so we bought a new used copy to refresh our memory.

If well educated Americans didn’t heed Fallows’ 1996 warning what would be the use for this columnist to finish writing this column in early 2013?  On a cold day with rain in the forecast for Berkeley CA, it boils down to a line from “Rebel without a Cause:”  “We gotta do something.”

On page 74, Fallows starts off chapter three by saying:  “Any reporter born before 1965 did not go into journalism for the money.”

Was he trying to imply that Robert Capa got his self kilt for altruistic reasons?

Could stories about how the small coalition of military, bureaucrats, police, and clergy in Spain, who tamped down the demands for better condition from the farmers and workers in the mid Thirties, be a warning to the protesters wearing Guy Falk masks to the Occupy events?

Isn’t it enough for Fox News to run a quote from the President saying that holding the debt ceiling hostage won’t be tolerated and a quote from John Boner (from the codpiece party) saying “We’ll see about that!”? Isn’t that a marvelous example of fair and balanced journalism?  Aren’t the buttinskis who inject any commentary way out of line?

Do the liberal pundits think that Americans have to be told that if an order doesn’t carry an implied threat, it is useless?  If a fellow receives an order from a boss, a sergeant in the Army, or his girlfriend there is an implied threat behind the order.  If you don’t follow the boss’ order; you will be fired.  If you don’t follow the sergeants’ orders you won’t get a weekend pass.  If you don’t follow a girlfriends’ orders . . . something bad will happen.

When a kid delivers an ultimatum and indicates that if the threat isn’t accepted, he will eat worms how much gravitas does it carry?  How much serious consideration does it inspire?  If the Republicans hold the debt ceiling hostage, will President Obama hold a press conference and eat worms?

If America has a debt crisis on Super Bowl weekend (or thereabouts) will anybody care?  Will the Yankees finally win Super Bowl rings?  Can the Super Bowl and Oscar™ events be compared to a chance to dance to “our song” on the Titanic?

Is Jim Morrison’s wish to see anarchy reign supreme in America about to be granted?

Recent news reports indicate that there may have been as many as 400,000 unjustified home foreclosures.  (How many foreclosed homes were owned by journalists?)  Does that upset journalists?  Fallows quotes Michael Kinsley, of Crossfire, as saying:  “Being paid more than you are worth is the American dream.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Born to lose,” Iggy Pop’s “I wanna be your dog,” and Frank Zappa’s “It can’t happen here.”  We have to go see about joining the SF Press Club.  Have a “the check is in the mail” type week.

January 6, 2013

Hey, hey, LBJ how many unborn fetuses were killed today?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:26 pm

Mention the topic of birth control to a group of Catholics and folks leap (knee jerk reaction) to the assumption that the conversation will soon be about abortion, but not this time.  While attending a Jesuit University in the early Sixties approving the use of birth control pills was an indication that the student was showing a nasty propensity toward unorthodox thinking and anticipated the need for the expression “get your mind right, Luke.”  A comedian (wasn’t George Carlin always the source for all truly funny original thoughts?) back then made the assertion that “Catholics make the best fascists” and thus were used to accepting theological precepts while in the “unquestioning” mode of learning, but for one student who didn’t want to create waves and rock the boat, there were some very disturbing tangential aspects to the birth control debate which led the rogue thinker to question the morality of warfare, which was a very, very convoluted line or reasoning and best left unexpressed in a regimented atmosphere that equated heresy with treason.

At a time when American involvement in the internal affairs of South Vietnam was limited to sending a few advisers to help the South Vietnamese military handle dissent as they saw fit, questioning the morality of warfare was incidental in a segment of society that concentrated on stressing the rationality of using sperm and ovum to play a variation on the game of “Russian Roulette.”

Since college, even at a Jesuit University, is meant to be a time for sharpening one’s intellectual acuity, one particular student in the early Sixties was asking himself obscure questions meant to challenge his ability to analyze and assess regimented thinking.  Such as?  If one of the Ten Commandments advises folks to not do any killing, how then could the Pope reconcile German Catholics and American Catholics trading bullets, artillery shells, bayonet wounds, and aerial bombardments with each other during WWII?

Shouldn’t the Pope, whom we had been convinced spoke with absolute infallibility, have stepped in and, like a football referee, adjudicated the dispute and saved lives?

How could the Pope reconcile extensive killing from one side of his mouth while simultaneously assuring married couples that the sanctity of life required them to play a high stakes game of chance out the other side of his mouth?

Either life is sacred or not, but to maintain that young couples had to gamble with their future because the lives of their potential progeny were sacred and that once their children reached the age of 18 they were just cannon fodder to be used as counters in a world wide game of Imperial chess isn’t logical.

[We keep hearing PSA sound bytes on the progressive radio station in San Francisco reminding listeners to register with the draft board right after they celebrate their 18th birthday.  Are liberals still dispensing advice on how to dodge the draft in Berkeley CA.  You must register.  It’s the law.  Try fact checking this idea.]

Resources for fact checking abounded at a Jesuit University, because teachers of philosophy, logic, and theology were plentiful, but the answer to our question remained tantalizingly elusive.  Ultimately we were able to pin down the official stance on war and killing as taught by the Pope and holy mother the church:  “A Catholic citizen of any country may, in good conscience, participate in any war fought by his country as long as there is reasonable expectation of victory.”

That explained it.  The American Catholics thought that Patton was going to take them all the way to Berlin, and the German Catholics thought that Hitler would quarterback a magnificent goal line stand by his team.  No problem.

However, there was one teeny, tiny problem with that vague and nebulous doctrine that was just about totally irrelevant until after graduation.  Early on in the American intervention in the affairs of South Vietnam, Americans were reassured that the United States wasn’t going to get bogged down in a long, arduous, and costly (in terms of lives lost) campaign for total victory.  The U. S. would fight until things were back under control and then (like the Cheshire cat?) withdraw from the area formerly known as French Indochina.

If the US wasn’t going for victory how long would it be until the priests in the USA unanimously opposed the War in Vietnam on moral grounds?

When the students at UC Berkeley chanted “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?,” were they referring to unborn fetuses?

Since we were assessed as having a draft status of 1-Y and since our nomadic existence precluded a chance to take vows and enter into the holy institution of marriage, our obsession with reconciling the birth control question with the problem presented by optional military adventures in foreign lands, was put on hold for a good long while.  LBJ explained the lack of involvement with use of the expression:  “He doesn’t have a dog in that fight!”

Later in life we became our own source for theological opinion by becoming an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church.  (We are still trying to fact check the assertion that all members of the Sixties band, The Rolling Stones, availed themselves of the same opportunity.)

Now that the fiscal cliff has been postponed and the only item of national concern is the perennial debate about guns, we have a chance to sit back, reflect on the past, and polish our omphaloskepsis (a word which baffles Word Spellcheck) skills and revisit some intellectual conundrums from the past.

Did the mavens of pop culture ever conclusively answer the question:  “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”?

How the heck did the Japanese Army become the Army of occupation so fast in Vietnam?  It sure did provide a convenient launching pad for actions against certain British colonies later in WWII but efforts to consult the history books produce only a gaping gap when a fact checker attempts to find out how the Japanese Army took over so fast in Vietnam.

If austerity budgets become necessary isn’t it logical to conclude that suspending school lunch programs and funding armed guards in every school in the nation, is just a “no brainer”?

What would Ayn Rand advise about cutting Sandy Relief from the budget?

If Secretary of State Cordell Hull was quoted by UPI in a story that ran the last weekend in November of 1941 as saying that Pearl Harbor would be attacked and that war with Japan was inevitable, what would he say about the possible odds for a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear program?

Recently we saw a news story that hinted that some poor blighters are still serving a life term in Texas prisons for smoking one joint (i.e. a marijuana cigarette) back in the Sixties.

[Photo editor’s note:  A photo taken in December of 1966 showed a lone war protester on Times Square in New York City in blizzard conditions holding a sign saying:  “‘I’d rather see America lose face than it immortal soul.’ Norman Thomas” was assessed as being a great shot that generated too much anti-war sympathy and thus turned down for use on the AP wire.  Since then it has disappeared without a trace from the World’s Laziest Journalist’s photo archives and we must rely on words without an accompanying graphic to lure some readers to this column.]

Is it too late for an old hippie to get national attention (Does CBS Evening News read the World’s Laziest Journalist?) by burning a fifty year old draft card?

President Lyndon Baines Johnson said:  “If we’ve lost Cronkite, we’ve lost the country.”  [Back in the Sixties unconditional love in the mainstream media for (Republican) Presidents was unavailable because Fox News had not yet been born.]

Now the disk jockey will play “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre,” “The Ballad of the Green Beret” and “Eve of Destruction.”  We have to go write a tepid review of the new movie “Not Fade Away.”  Have a “time is on my side” type week.

January 3, 2013

Breaking News: Walking Orange Gets Appointed AGAIN and The Quote Goat

Filed under: Commentary — Ye Olde Scribe @ 2:36 pm
Courtesy mikenitro94 @
Courtesy mikenitro94 @
Elected for his second term, looks like we’ll have even more BONERS in the not so “new” House! Only it’s spelled “Boehner.”  HOWEVER, considering  the mispronunciation vs. his fake tears, nasty, vile nature and his screwed up way of doing things?


Scribe quote goatAlso found at the same site as Orange Man, the following quote, or as Scribe prefers to put it: “In other Quote Goat news:” “Still no word on when America can get a restraining order against the Palin family.” -Posted by Attaturk

“Less government, more military” & other popular American riddles that have me stumped

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:50 pm

My friend RJ at just sent me a very interesting riddle: “Why are right-wingers always talking about cutting down on government spending and ‘red tape’ yet never ever try to cut down on military spending? Aren’t the armed forces part of the government too?” Ya got me stumped there.

Here’s another riddle I can’t seem to solve: How come us salt-of-the-earth American types who protest against all the banksters’ outrageous crimes get thrown in jail, while the criminals themselves are given “get out of jail free” cards like it was Christmas? Except, of course, for Martha Stewart.

More riddles: “Why is it okay for Al Qaeda to be the good guys in Syria and Libya — but are the bad guys in Lower Manhattan?” I’m all confused.

Why is it okay to tax middle-income Americans for an arm and a leg but not okay to tax rich people? “I wonder.”

How come everybody bitches and moans about the obesity epidemic and the cancer epidemic and the heart attack epidemic and the autism epidemic and the bi-polar epidemic but still live on junk food, never exercise and watch too much TV? And still have enough balls left to complain about single-payer healthcare? Can someone please explain this?

How come American taxpayers get to pay for the costs of demolishing Christian and Muslim homes in East Jerusalem yet can’t get any tax relief when our own homes are being demolished in Detroit and Cincinnati?

How come statistics (and election results and Fox News) show that Americans are definitely being dumbed down these days, but no one wants to spend any money on improving American kindergartens — let alone on upgrading our colleges. What ever happened to Sputnik?

Why do people fear climate change so much but still happily drive their gas-hogs around like there’s no tomorrow?

How come I can’t resist playing free-cell solitaire by the hour when I should be out doing the laundry and saving the world?

How can anybody in their right mind vote for any candidate that spends millions of dollars on getting elected? You would think that if a politician had that kind of money he (or she) might want to just retire to the Bahamas. Or give it to us.

“Why does America need to own approximately 800 military bases throughout the ‘Free World’?” Hell, if the freaking world is all that free, surely it doesn’t need all those American soldiers to keep it in line? And why does all this so-called freedom always end up costing us taxpayers trillions of dollars as well?

And how come most of “our” jobs are now located in places like China, Haiti and Burma? Isn’t that a really long commute?

And please explain the riddle of how all the top American industrial jobs here at home are now mostly being performed by prison labor? While the 1% sucks down Oxycontin and Prozac legally and the rest of us all get busted for using medical marijuana — just to make sure they have a large enough prison labor supply in jails?

And why are American labor unions that help the working class being given such a bum rap, but when Wall Street and War Street form unions that destroy the fabric of America’s economy, it’s called “Capitalism” and “Showing Initiative” — not welfare for the rich?

And why are the RepubliDems always saying that the fiscal cliff is a bad thing? If it is spozed to be such a terrible disaster, then why in the freak did they create it in the first place?

And why does 2013 still feel so much like 2012?

January 2, 2013

$, Guns, and Violence

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:30 pm

For someone who has not had a drink of booze for more than years, starting the new year by having breakfast at Lefty O’Doul’s sports bar in San Francisco might sound a tad misguided, but the World’s Laziest Journalist’s New Year’s Resolution for Thirteen is:  “Have more fun!”  So, a very good breakfast, with good (regular not Irish) coffee for a wee bit more $ than we are used to paying was in keeping with our game plan for the New Year.

After breakfast, we discovered that our plan to proceed to a movie theater complex and view Quentin Tarintino’s new movie was moving ahead of schedule and we could see the 11:30 a.m. show for a bargain matinee price and our budget could recoup the money we had spent on the (IMHO) lavish breakfast.

While watching the story of a freed slave who becomes a bounty hunter in Pre-Civil War America, we saw an opportunity to write a column that would suggest that the saga of mean slave owners could be interpreted as a parable for contemporary America with the plantation owners being the one percenters and the slaves seen as the exploited middle class and poor workers.  Some comparisons with a spaghetti Western, with some of Ennio Morricone’s music, could be thrown into the hypothetical column.

Watching the slaves fight with each other, literally as well as figuratively speaking, we were reminded of the Republican strategy for holding the Democratic Party at bay:  “Divide and Conquer!”  The Democrats fall for it every time!

Would “(Gun)Violence is as American as cherry pie” be a good headline for such a review?

We could do some pop culture nit-picking and point out that at one point what seems to be a Winchester 73 rifle is shown in the story that takes place before the Civil War started.

Writing such a column would be too much work and be a betrayal of our intention to ignore politics during a year in which no politician in Washington D. C. faces reelection and just focus on pop culture as a way of keeping our New Year’s Resolution.

Around Easter time, gyms will start running TV ads suggesting that viewers get in shape for summer excursions to the beach this summer.  (It is summer in Australia and folks going to the January White Sales can wear short sleeve shirts and other summer attire.)  Thing of it is anyone who has ever started toward that goal on New Year’s Day knows that exercise is like a train pulling out of the station.  It is recommended (for good reason) that people start with very easy workouts because their bodies aren’t ready for a long workout session that will burn up beaucoup calories.

The gyms should be running the ads now that truthfully advise that folks who start now and keep at it faithfully will just be starting to show results by the time tax season is over and have a small but realistic chance of showing some results by the time the July 4th picnic is being served.  Those ads will run about the time Ascension Thursday arrives and most of the people who pay to join a gym will have given up the effort by the time Independence Day arrives.

Easter of 2013 should coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the film “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and for fact checking purposes we viewed it on New Year’s Eve and noticed that the star studded comedy is still funny and that the story of a wild scramble for $ is ripe for comparisons to the current situation in the USA.  A group of travelers learn that they can acquire a large sum of money (an obvious metaphor for happiness) “under the W.”  Was this a very accurate prediction of the philosophy of George W. Bush in action or what?  So maybe we’ll have to permit some occasional political commentary to seep into our year of living (as much as our meager budget will allow) lavishly in decedent splendor.

On New Year’s day of 2013, a Perils of Pauline finish avoided the financial disaster that the journalists in the mainstream media have been (enthusiastically?) predicting and so the politicians have nothing to do until its time for a replay later this year in December so it would only be an exercise in wasted effort to write about politics before then.

Based on past experience we think it may be too late to start applying for press credentials to cover this year’s Oscar™ Awards Ceremony but then again (as we were once advised) it never hurts to ask.

Maybe we should start now to apply for credentials to cover this year’s Le Mans sports car race?

Maybe this is the year we will be able to scratch a ride in a DC 3 airplane off our bucketlist.

Later this month the Noir City film festival will take place in San Francisco.  Usually a film noir movie opens showing a guy who is doomed.  Maybe we could use some pessimistic pundits’ quotes to compare him to the USA?  Whoops!  Staying away from political commentary is going to be challenge to our will power.

If Jeb Bush is going to jump into the 2016 Presidential race maybe we could do a column with a headline about the Bush Dynasty’s will to power?

See how easy it is to get sidetracked?

Maybe we could report on this year’s installment of the annual motorcycle event in Sturgis?

Could this be the year that we finally get to Hemingway Days in Key West?

We have had a ride in a B-17 G bomber.  To be fair and balanced, should we go to a gathering of warbirds and get a ride on a B-24?

We’ve been to Casablanca, Kalgoorlie, and Paris but we have never visited Paris in the month of April.  For sure, we would have to break into the piggy bank to write a first hand account about that.

One thing for sure.  We are not going to write a first hand account about what it feels like to go sky diving.  We are limiting our fact checking to repeated viewings of “Point Break” and that all.  Then again . . .

Two of our high school classmates have indicated that (finally) they might come and visit California!  We have been exploring the Golden State for a good many years.  On our first visit to Venice Beach, some activists were trying to advocate for ending the war in Vietnam.  (Some of them still are.)  We saw Bobby Kennedy campaign in Cali for getting the Presidential nomination.  We have not exhausted the list of “must see” locations in California.  I guess we’re going to have to offer to help either or both these friends get to the sequoia trees.  If they like the outdoor stuff, we can heartily recommend a visit to Yosemite.  Matter for fact, if they insist we’d go back for a second visit to see if it has change much in the last 42 years.  (Once, in a letter to a friend in Vietnam, we achieved a life time best with a quadruple end patentees bit of punctuation.  [Maybe we can beat that record in a 2013 column?])  The Golden Gate Bridge always looks very impressive, even in snapshots taken by folks who don’t know diddley about taking good pictures.

Our trusty Nikon Coolpix seems to be getting a bit worn out (we know that feeling) and may need a replacement.  In three years, we have take a ship load of digital images (25,000?) but we are ready to go on a new photo safari when the opportunity presents itself.

Four years ago, when we went to Australia seeking fun, quality photos, and perceptive and insightful insights into life, we had secret hopes of building a bigger and better journalism career, but now that a year that will be an “eye of the hurricane” time period has arrived, we are going to take a sabbatical year and just enjoy life and play things fast and easy just for kicks and giggles.  Our columns will be reports on pop culture items and our progress.

It’s like the character that Tom Cruise played in Risky Business said:  “Sometimes you just gottta say ‘What the fuck!’”

Now the disk jockey will play Duane Eddy’s “Rebel Rouser,” Jody Reynold’s “Endless Sleep,” and Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”  We have to go fact check the price for a hostel bunk in Paris during the month of April.  Have a (as Aunty Mame used to say)  “Life is a banquet and some poor suckers are starving” (even on a tight budget [they say that the best things in life are free]) type week and a happy new year.

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