May 31, 2013

Got Reality Gaps?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:24 pm

Dueling perceptions often compete for supremacy in the realm of conspiracy theories.   Is this a photo of a turtle’s shell or a manhole cover?

“Conspiracy Theory in America” (University of Texas Press, Austin TX, © 2013) by Lance de Haven-Smith came to the attention of this columnist when it was spotted in the window of the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco and seemed worth the trouble of being granted an exception to the rule:  “We don’t buy books to review them” because we have been worried by the idea that if we don’t soon find a comprehensive encyclopedia of conspiracy theories, we will have to fill the gap in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory reference library by writing such a book and that would be a lot of work to undertake.

It turned out that the book wasn’t aimed at readers hoping to reap new and sensational disclosures for the “round up the usual suspects” list of conspiracy theories.  The “Conspiracy Theory” (AKA CT) label has become the equivalent of a chess game that involves the “Fool’s Pawn” strategy, in which a beginner plays a game that involves only three move.  The victim makes one unwise move and the game is over.

Lance deHaven-Smith bolsters his claim that the CIA used the “conspiracy theory” label to attack critics of the Warren Commission Report by providing a transcript of dispatch #1035-960.

For debaters, the “Conspiracy Theory” label is the verbal equivalent of a come from behind walk-off grand slam in baseball.  Can’t you just imagine the voice of Mel Allen doing a play-by-play account of the debate?  “The Theorist asserts that one bullet can not possibly deliver that amount of damage to two victims and remain in (virtually) pristine condition. . . . the opposing debater steps to the plate.  Three on two out and the score is six to three against the ‘Official Version of the Truth’ team.  The pitch.  It’s a long drive to right.  The ‘Conspiracy Theory Lunatic’ charge is invoked! It’s outta here.  Home run!  End of debate!  The crowd goes wild as the batter (debater) trots around the bases.”

The defendants at Nuremberg were tried not for specific murders or incidents of torture, but (page 71) for “‘participating in the formulation or execution of a Common Plan or Conspiracy’ to wage aggressive war.”

The book discusses the “conspiracy theory of the Fourteenth Amendment” which was promoted by Charles Beard and his wife Mary in 1927.  The “Corporations are people” move started long before the current members of the United States Supreme Court were sworn-in.

On page 107, readers are informed:  MWAVE is the name of the CIA station in Miami.  Wasn’t it actually JMWAVE (J M as in Jose Martine?).

In the back of the book, in Table 5.1, we learn on an unnumbered page that in 1968 “With RFK out of the way . . . Nixon is reelected.”  WTF?

On page 106 a sentence that spills over to the next page states that the Warren Commission findings are unchallenged.  Apparently the author is unaware of the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations ( or chose to completely ignore that Inquiry.

Recently we found a used copy of “True Enough:  Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society” (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken N. J. © 2008) by Farhad Majoo and it asserts that the Swift Boater attack on 2004 Democratic Party Presidential Candidate John Kerry’s record in Vietnam was a “conspiracy theory” that aimed to turn the record of an undisputed war hero into the belief in a story of a dishonorable soldier who didn’t deserve the medals awarded to him.

Could these two books taken together convince an unbiased reader that in an era when no official explanation of baffling events can stand up to scholastic investigation that the government misleads voters with lies or are there valid gaps in reality that are due to occasional anomalies such as things not conforming to the scientific (them again!) laws of physics that get a temporary suspension during intensive moments of history that carry a tremendous emotional impact (“Back and to the left!”)?

The two books present an odd paradox.  In one instance in the deHaven-Smith book, the concept of “conspiracy theory” is used to dispel the effect facts might have on a debate, while Manjoo examines the fact that the Swift Boat vets didn’t supply any valid facts to change voters’ opinions about Kerry’s conduct in combat.  (“But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. . . . He loved Big Brother.”)

“True Enough” is an entertaining and informative book length elaboration that concurs with the psychological investigation done by Simon and Garfunkel that was summed up thusly:  “ . . . a man hears what he wants to hear and all the rest is lies and jest . . . .”

We have also acquired a bargain used copy of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.”  Disciples of St. Ayn Rand believe that capitalists were and continue to be benevolent philanthropists whose generous attitudes towards employees make the need for unions and strikes irrelevant, immaterial, and obsolete. Unfortunately the (Leftist?) folks who read about the Ludlow massacre, the Pullman strike, the Republic Steel strike (“Autopsies showed that the bullets had hit the workers in the back as they were running away; . . . .”  Op cit, page 392), and the Ford Motor Company strike, seem vulnerable to a more cynical attitude regarding duplicity and deception from captains of industry than the loyal fans of Ayn Rand do.

Zinn’s book makes a reader wonder:  If what you learn in history class was subjected to exaggeration, spin control, and rewriting, is it reasonable to expect the government to flat out lie about some events?

A copy of “It’s a Conspiracy!” written by “The National Insecurity Council” published by Earth Works Books of Berkeley CA in 1992 was acquired used for a bargain basement price.  It is a well done book but since there have been one or two more instances since 1992 where skeptics charge that the United States Government deliberately committed prevarications, a revised and update version of this work might be a good idea.  Whew!  Looks like we don’t have to write an encyclopedic overview of the topic of conspiracy theories after all!

Will the questions being asked about the details surrounding the recent death of a suspect in Florida spawn a new conspiracy theory about a cover-up?

Recent news reports indicate that top secret American Military plans and designs have been acquired by hackers.  That news makes us wonder why the military didn’t use the services of the companies that designed and provided the unhackable electronic voting machines.  Was there a conspiracy to exclude them and use the inept people who let this scandalous electronic invasion occur?

Some skeptics who think that the “low ball the bid and be caught off guard by cost overruns that will provide the missing margin of profit” trend may, in the future, be invoked by the a low bid winner of a facet of California’s coveted “bullet train” project (that voters don’t want to subsidize) out in the dessert.  Cost overruns can always be explained away by the old “blindsided by reality” (i.e. “no one could possibly have foreseen . . .”) ploy.

Can allegations of unexpected “cost overruns” be classified as a subcategory of “conspiracy theory” and thereby be exempted from embarrassing witch hunt style investigations?

There is supposed to be a march from Oakland to Stockton, to publicize allegations of “police brutality” in the bankrupt city, starting at noon on Friday May 31, 2013.  The march is scheduled to start shortly after this column is posted.  Will critics contend that police brutality in that city is being covered up?  We’ll have to include an update on that topic in our column next Friday.

If we score a press pass, we’ll go to the Conspiracy Convention ( ) this weekend in Milpitas and write up our perception of it for next week’s column.

[Note from the Photo Editor:  Dueling perceptions is the crucial element for conspiracy theories, so it seems that a photo that shows what some people may see as a turtle and others may just call a manhole cover with chalk graffiti markings qualifies for being the photo to run with this column.  Is it an image of a turtle or does it show a manhole cover?]

Legend has it that Aimee Semple McPherson’s response to reporters who were skeptical of her explanation of her kidnapping was the famous line:  “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

Now, the disk jockey will play (from the Twenties) “I Know that you know,” Peter and Gordon’s “Wrong from the start,” and Conway Twitty’s “It’s only make believe.”  We have to go put on our Gonzo Journalist disguise.  Have a “Just keep walkin’” type week.

Ye Olde Scribe’s TV PSA Plea

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 12:14 pm



Fade into pitiful pictures of puppies, dogs and cats at the pound before taking the “long” walk. Sarah McLachlan sings with extra drippy, tear encouraging, violins backing her up.

Voiceover Goon attempting to force you to tears says: It’s the end of a life of fun, frolicking. A long walk to that all too serious, final, frightening destination: the death of comedy. Soon to be almost as unfunny as Dennis Miller. Almost. Could ANYTHING be less funny than Dennis Miller: comedy killer, except maybe Lush Dimbulb?


Anyone Ever Notice…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 4:36 am


Anyone ever notice in many of these dystopian movies that while society has fallen apart they always have plenty of vehicles that work almost without fail, and plenty of gas? Who’s refining it? Who’s getting it out of the ground? Who is exploring for more, and where do they find all the working equipment to do that?

The one thing that could absolutely bring society to it’s knees, quickly, unless we seek other means of “fueling” society is somehow, magically, always available? The one thing that, done poorly, really could, and might, bring on a dystopian world is “no problem?”

What’s up with all that?

Maybe, in part, because they are written, and feature actors, who are well known right wingers? Who are



May 30, 2013

Taxation without Representation: A tale of two Tea Parties

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Jane Stillwater @ 2:16 pm

In 1773, a bunch of colonial patriots in Boston got totally pissed off at King George because they were being taxed severely by Britain and yet had no say in the matter. “No taxation without representation!” these brave American colonials cried. And then they dumped several bales of English breakfast tea into the Boston harbor. And the rest is history.

“No taxation without representation,” American patriots cried way back then. And now let’s fast-forward approximately 300 years ahead — to see how far we have fallen. There is another Tea Party in America now but these new modern Tea Party guys are currently doing the exact opposite of what the 1773 Tea Party guys did. This new Tea Party is now fighting as hard as it possibly can to get patriotic Americans taxed up the ying-yang instead — but with NO representation.

“But wait a minute,” you might say. “The new Tea Party does have representation. A whole bunch of its members are currently in Congress — and even the President and the Supreme Court seem to obey their every command.” Yeah, but. As the British used to say, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” And if you look closely at all those silver-tongued government “servants” in Washington who now swear all up and down that they are conscientiously representing the hopes and fears of this new 21st-century Tea Party? Well. Then. How come in real life these supposedly-loyal TP representatives actually always seem to be doing the bidding of Wall Street and War Street and huge greedy corporations instead.

Americans today are certainly being taxed and taxed and taxed all right — but not by any officials who actually represent their best interests. Clearly, policy-makers in Washington right now are not representing the new Tea Party’s interests — and they are certainly not representing your interests. Or mine either.

Unlike the brave Tea Party of 1773, our 21st-century Tea Party has been hood-winked.

According to, the average Washington lobbyist is getting paid over $100,000 a year to happily whisper sweet nothings into the willing ears of government officials in Washington — so that said lobbyist’s employer will get all kinds of tax breaks and perqs. And of course these government officials in Washington then go out of their way to represent only the folks with big bucks, not people like you and me or even the new Tea Party members — and especially not the new Tea Party rank and file.

Are you currently paying your very own lobbyist $100,000 a year to represent you in Washington? If not, then you clearly have no representation.

And mega-corporate road-hogs such as the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity spend how much on buying their representation in Washington? According to Mother Jones Magazine, just these two groups alone paid out 96.7 million dollars in campaign contributions during the elections of 2012. And did you also pay out 96.7 million dollars as well, to get your representative elected? No? Then your representative owes you diddly. Sorry, but that’s how it goes.

If We-the-People actually did have any representation in Washington, America would certainly not be in the hot mess that it is in now. We would all have good schools, a solid infrastructure and lots of housing and jobs, and with no outsourcing, no wars-for-profit, no bankster dirty tricks, no super-fund tax breaks for the wealthy 1% — and definitely no more “trickle up”.

If modern-day Americans had only still managed to maintain that feisty American historical spirit of “No taxation without representation!” that our brave ancestors fought so hard for, then Monsanto and the nuclear industry and Big Pharma and oil barons and banksters and Citizens United and the Koch brothers and Wall Street and War Street would not be running our government and owning it like they do. WE would be running it and owning it.

But now here we are instead — approximately 300 years after the original Tea Party heroes did their bit to bring us freedom from taxation without representation — and most Americans still haven’t learned a single thing since King George was our boss. Not one single thing.

May 24, 2013

The Capitalist’s apostasy


One TV station in the San Francisco Bay Area, on Saturday May 18, 2013, used an ironical sound byte to illustrate their story reporting on the commencement address given that day by Steve Wozniak in Berkeley.  In the brief excerpt, Wozniak urged graduates to take a page from the panhandlers’ guide book (folks in Berkeley are well aware of the existence of street people asking for a handout) and to be sure, later in life, to take time to have some fun or as the hippies in the Sixties used to say:  “stop and smell the flowers.”

The very next day some 30,000 people officially participated (there were many more unofficial runners) in San Francisco’s annual “Bay to Breakers” competition which combines a footrace with a Halloween practice run in May.  It was not immediately known how many of the racers were recent UCB graduates putting Wozniak’s advice into action.

A group of women wearing ball gowns may have been a good example of the event’s basic philosophy.  When asked if they were the “Gone with the Wind” team they laughed and said that a journalist last year had dubbed them the “Bevy of Beauties.”

The Mardi Gras atmosphere may have been exemplified when the band Posole, a self-described mariachi/surf band which will be appearing June 7, at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, provided the World’s Laziest Journalist with the opportunity to participate in an impromptu audition for the possibility of becoming America’s oldest roadie.  (Isn’t the chance for a career change from columnist to roadie rife with potential column topics?)

On Tuesday, May 21, it was announced that Superbowl L (the Roman numeral for 50) will be played in the 49ers’ Levi stadium.

While having supper in Oakland on Tuesday, we had stumbled upon a pre City Council meeting protest march that was urging the local municipality to endorse a national move to impose a tax on Wall Street which would collect funds to replace revenue lost in the austerity budget fad for cutting money for social programs.  We had never heard of the Robin Hood tax movement and so we took a few photos.  Folks who have not encountered news coverage of this topic can learn more at

A columnist, who first learns of a new topic by encountering a street demonstration, runs the risk of thinking that a topic is new and unique (scoop?) if he has limited access to the Internet where the topic may have been previously reported ad nauseum but the advantage of preferring the reporting from the field methodology of topic gathering is that it delivers a cornucopia of photo ops which may produce photos that can be used either immediately or at a later date.

Wednesday May 22, 2013 the only item on the World’s Laziest Journalist’s agenda was to do some fact finding for a future column comparing and contrasting the B-17 and the B-24, which were both used extensively as bombers (a drone with a crew?) in WWII.  The inspection of the WWII aircraft on display (through the weekend) at Moffett Field left us wondering if Edward R. Murrow were available to do a report today from the scene of a drone attack in the Middle East, would he make any nostalgic references to his famous “Orchestrated Hell” report made while flying a bombing mission aboard a British Lancaster Avro bomber?

While walking down Third Street towards the Caltrans station, we impulsively decided that since our mind is already made up and we prefer the B-17, what the heck . . .  since everyone knows what a B-24 looks like, we were free to improvise a day in Frisco and figure out the column photo question later.

If a columnist were to write a column later in the year about drones, wouldn’t it be convenient to have some stock shots of a piece of machinery that could be called a drone with a large crew?

[Note from the photo editor:  The Vesuvio bar in Frisco’s North Beach area has been there for decades and so it is often listed as one of the places where Jack Kerouac imbibed with his fellow writers.  Patrons on the Second Floor balcony can look across Jack Kerouac Alley at a mural on the side of the famed City Lights Bookstore.  Who knew that Jack Kerouac and Steve Wozniak would agree on the philosophical concept of chillin’?]

With all the attention to fun and frivolity it was easy to be distracted and forget that the situation in Washington D. C. was serious.  Could the Republicans’ enthusiasm for a new impeachment circus be compared to the segment in the movie “Cool Hand Luke,” where the escaped prisoner tries to outrun and outfox the bloodhounds who are following his trail?

In a cynical example of reverse racism, Uncle Rushbo was loudly asserting (“Please don’t throw me in that briar patch!”) that America couldn’t (in good conscience?) impeach the first President of Pan-African heritage.  Wasn’t his wink, wink, nudge, nudge implied in the tone of his voice?

As the Memorial Day Weekend for 2013 approaches, we realize that once again we have waited too long for making a serious effort for applying for a press pass to cover the 24 hour endurance race at Le Mans in France.

Formulating a game plan that blends serendipity safaris in search of interesting photo opportunities with attempts to offer unique observations about the contemporary political scene in the USA may sound a bit too whimsical to be practical, but the sad truth is that a freelance pundit is not bound by the implied obligations of party affiliation and can therefore make snide remarks about the emperor’s new clothes if the occupant of the White House is a Democrat or a Republican.

A hybrid combination of three dot journalism and the Gonzo style of reporting gives a columnist a great deal of latitude for making editorial and photo decisions.

For example in the San Francisco area, a new bridge is being built to replace one that is 75 years old.  Readers in Los Angles, New York City, and Fremantle could care less about a new bridge between Treasure Island and Oakland.  When the bridge encounters delays because of faulty bolts and the entire project is put in jeopardy, the news value of an item about that bit of local news gains some additional news value.  If the integrity of the entire project comes into question because of some greedy short cuts, then a mention of a topic that has not been used in the mainstream media becomes more pragmatic.

When the future of the project is called into question, a renegade pundit can muse about the curiosity factor of the possibility that the bigger a crime is, the less likely it is that some poltroon (we learned that word while reading some H. L. Mencken) will serve time in prison.  Perhaps we could do an entire column about the possibility that there is some kind of inverse proportion linking the amount of money involved in the commission of a crime and the length of a prison sentence.  Didn’t Jean Valjean learn that lesson first hand many moons ago?

One other advantage to inventing a writing style that combines three dot journalism with the Gonzo school of first hand observations is that it makes it much more difficult for trolls to disrupt the flow with a bumper sticker slogan.  Isn’t it more compassionate to toss them an occasional malapropism and watch them go into an ecstatic trance when they have the opportunity to point out the “mistake”?

What’s not to love about an esoteric and arcane tidbit of information that will cause a WTF meltdown reaction?  Could the Bay Bridge Bolts be compared to the Warren Commission’s exhibit no. 399?


Commentators from both the Republican and Democratic Parties seem to be in agreement about the fact that the United States Supreme Court decision on gay marriages could go either way (15 yard penalty for inappropriate cliché?) but a rogue columnist can have the opinion that a decision that could be compared to a walk off grand slam homerun for conservatives is a gimme call for cynics.


Journalists partial to either the Democratic or the Republican Parties seem to be in agreement about the reliability factor for the unhackable electronic voting machines.  Hunter S. Thompson (the godfather of Gonzo) might, if he were still alive and ranting, advise his fans to embrace a more cynical assessment.

General Douglas MacArthur said:  “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

The disk jockey will augment the music with a playing of Edward R. Murrow’s “Orchestrated Hell” broadcast.  The tunes for playing us out (“We’ll do it live!”) will be the Andrew sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” Edith Piaf’s “Mon Legionnaire,”  and Marlene Deitrich’s “Lilly Marlene.”  We have to go prepare for celebrating National Tap Dancing Day and National Towel Day (in honor of writer Douglas Adams) simultaneously on Saturday.  Have a “ya mean people get paid to do this?” type week.

May 21, 2013

Benghazi, IRS, AP stories: A shameful double standard

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 8:57 pm

Author’s note:
This article was originally published on the Madison Independent Examiner. Links to all of my sources (and more interesting reading) is available there. I encourage readers here to check them out. More of my articles are available for reading on my home page.

Full text (no hyperlinks):

The White House is on the defensive as three stories are inundating political news: The Benghazi hearings, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeting conservative groups and the Department of Justice (DOJ) seizing two months of Associated Press (AP) reporters’ phone records.

On Sunday, the president and chief executive officer of the AP, Gary Pruitt, called the phone records seizure “unconstitutional” and said the news cooperative has not ruled out legal action against the DOJ. Senate Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell said the same day that the IRS controversy amounts to a “culture of intimidation.”

In a House Judiciary Committee hearing last Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder referred to Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) behavior as “shameful.” The day before, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed out that there was no outrage “when groups on the other side of the political spectrum were under attack.”

Pruitt, McConnell, Holder and Reid may have good points. Republicans, Democrats and Independents should be outraged if Americans abroad are not given adequate security, the IRS is being used to target political enemies and the DOJ is being used to stifle freedom of the press. It is only fair, however, that both parties are treated equally by lawmakers, government officials and the media – and that has not been the case.

The shameful behavior of lawmakers, government officials and the media in the recent “scandals” work both ways. Both lawmakers and the corporate media fail to acknowledge is that there is a double standard at work. The Obama administration is being chastised for the same things that were overlooked during the Bush administration yet refuses to take higher ethical ground by continuing to violate constitutional rights and continuing a disastrous foreign policy.


The events at Benghazi were horrific, but so were the events at the 13 diplomatic compounds that were attacked during the Bush administration. Here is a list of those:

January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Gunmen associated with Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attack the US Consulate. Five people are killed.
June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber connected with al-Qaida attacks the US Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.
October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. US diplomatic offices bombed as part of a string of “Bali Bombings.” No fatalities.
February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Several gunmen fire upon the US Embassy. Two people are killed.
May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al-Qaida terrorists storm the diplomatic compound killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.
July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacks the US Embassy, killing two people.
December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaida terrorists storm the US Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall. Nine people are killed.
March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan (again). Suicide bomber attacks the US Consulate killing four people, including US diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers. (I wonder if Lindsey Graham or Fox News would even recognize the name “David Foy.” This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years on what’s considered American soil.)
September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four armed gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” storm the US Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people are killed, 13 are wounded.
January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. Members of a Greek terrorist group called the Revolutionary Struggle fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the US Embassy. No fatalities.
March 18, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Members of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire a mortar at the US Embassy. The shot misses the embassy, but hits a nearby school, killing two.
July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Four armed terrorists attack the US Consulate. Six people are killed.
September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen (again). Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the US Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband, whom had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred.

Total killed: 60. Number of outraged Republicans: 0. Two of the attacks in Pakistan and Yemen were repeat attacks on the same facilities, yet there were no publicized demands for increased security and little or no improvements in security at either location.

The hypocrisy of lawmakers regarding Benghazi goes even further. While both the State Department and Pentagon budgets have increased yearly, in every year since 2010, Democrats requested more for embassy security, construction and maintenance than House Republicans approved. Some of the notable Republicans that voted against increased funding are the same ones that are blaming the Obama administration and the State department for the lack of security in Benghazi: Rep. Darrell Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).

Meanwhile former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is allegedly accountable for the failure of security in Benghazi, warned on Feb. 14, 2011:

I was very clear with the Speaker about the deep concerns we have with the FY11 spending bill moving through the House floor this week. The scope of the proposed House cuts is massive. The truth is that cuts of that level will be detrimental to America’s national security. …Otherwise we will pay a higher price later in crises that are allowed to simmer and boil over into conflicts.

Many argue that Benghazi is scandalous not only because of the lack of adequate security, but also because rescue teams could have reached the embassy in time but were ordered to stand down, because the American people were not immediately told that it was a pre-planned attack and because of a perceived administration effort to hide its mistakes.

Some have even gone as far as to theorize, based on an editorial penned by Admiral James A. Lyons in the Washington Times, that the Benghazi attack was a staged kidnapping gone awry, intended to be an “October surprise” by the Obama administration with hostages taken and then being freed. Lyons asserts that there were plenty of military assets available to stop the attack before the loss of American lives, which is odd considering that he was not asked to testify in either hearing.

There are four points to consider that have surfaced in the hearings on Benghazi.

Firstly, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top Pentagon officials testified that the four-man special operations team referred to in the hearings, or any other ground forces, could not have made it to Benghazi in time to prevent the last two of the four deaths. Furthermore, the team had to be airlifted on a Libyan C-130 transport plane and the US government did not have immediate clearance from the Libyan government for that.

Secondly, the initial press releases that the attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration rather than a pre-planned attack were based on the intelligence reports available at the time. Even though there were protests occurring at the time in several countries over a trailer for an anti-Muslim film, it was obvious to many at the time that the attack in Benghazi was not about a movie.

Thirdly, it is unclear why references to a terrorist attack were not subsequently made and the White House has yet to explain the ambiguity in their press releases, but that does not prove that the attack was preventable and the administration failed to do so. It also does not help the GOP’s case in proving that the Obama administration covered up terrorism when it was revealed that the emails were altered before being released to the press.

Lastly, but not least, the real issue that may be scandalous is being overlooked by both parties and the media. When US personnel were airlifted from Benghazi the night of the attack, there were seven Foreign Service and State Department officers and 23 CIA officers onboard. This fact alone indicates that the consulate was primarily diplomatic cover for an intelligence operation that was known to Libyan militia groups.

Among the questions that have not been probed is why the Benghazi mission, with its large CIA contingent, remained open when other Western countries, most notably Great Britain, had pulled out of Benghazi in the weeks preceding the attacks because of security concerns.

The use of US consulates by the CIA as operational bases without adequate security is practice common to both Republican and Democrat administrations. So is the pursuit of a foreign policy that led to the overthrow of the previous Libyan government that angered the militants and put US diplomats in a precarious position there. Perhaps lawmakers and the media should be questioning that.

IRS Targeting Conservative Groups

Within days after the latest round of Benghazi hearings, another “scandal” erupted when it was revealed that the IRS gave extra scrutiny to conservative groups claiming tax exempt status under 501(c)(4) of the IRS code and that some of their applications were delayed.

Organizations are allowed 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status if they can demonstrate to the IRS that they are primarily engaged in “social welfare” and not politics. That is, the group has to be “primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the community,” but they should not be primarily engaged in partisan politics or electioneering.

The difficult part for the IRS is how to make that distinction, especially considering that since the Citizens United ruling the number of applications for 501(c)(4) status doubled. Neither Congress nor the IRS has defined 501(c)(4)′s sufficiently, leaving the door open for IRS auditors to make up their own, discriminatory rules

IRS employees are given little or no guidance as to how to do that. The use of keywords in identifying individuals or groups for whatever reason is standard practice in all government agencies. Republican leaders, furthermore, admitted today that there is no evidence that the White House had anything to do with the targeting of conservative groups.

It is more likely that IRS employees chose to ask additional questions of groups that use the words “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names not because of some political vendetta, but because they knew no other way to do so. Even considering, however, that many of the groups that were given extra scrutiny by the IRS are blatantly engaged in political activism, it is a form of profiling that should be frowned upon by all Americans.

The larger context of this “scandal,” however, goes beyond the specifics of keyword targeting, further questioning and delayed applications. Once again, lawmakers and media have turned the IRS “scandal” into a partisan issue when it is not. The IRS commissioner who resigned today was appointed under the Bush administration and the IRS engaged in the same practices targeting liberal groups such the NAACP, Greenpeace and even a liberal church before Obama was elected.

In 2004, the IRS went after the NAACP, auditing the nation’s oldest civil rights group after its then-chairman, Julian Bond, criticized President Bush for being the first sitting president since Herbert Hoover not to address the organization. “They [the IRS] are saying if you criticize the president we are going to take your tax exemption away from you,” Bond later remarked.

In 2006, a group funded by ExxonMobil called Public Interest Watch pressured the I.R.S. to audit the environmental advocacy group, Greenpeace, because it labeled Exxon-Mobil “the No. 1 climate criminal.” While the investigation was eventually closed, the IRS acknowledged it acted as a result of Public Interest Watch’s complaint.

The author of the Wall Street Journal article, Steve Stecklow, who reported that the IRS targeted Greenpeace on behalf of ExxonMobil, said in an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now:

This comes against a backdrop where a number of conservative groups have been attacking nonprofits and NGOs over their tax-exempt status. There have been hearings on Capitol Hill. Public Interest Watch was founded by a guy named Michael Hardiman who I interviewed, and he’s a Washington-based lobbyist. He’s a Republican….The records show he started to get a lot of money [in 2003], almost all of it from ExxonMobil.

Shortly before the 2004 election, the IRS audited a Pasadena, C.A. church called All Saints Episcopal and threatened to revoke its tax-exempt status because rector George Regas said from the dias, “Jesus [would say], ‘Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine.’”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said on MSNBC last Monday:

I wish there was more GOP interest when I raised the same issue during the Bush administration, where they audited a progressive church in my district in what look liked a very selective way,…I’m glad now that the GOP has found interest in this issue and it ought to be a bipartisan concern.

Meanwhile, conservative churches across the country such as the World Harvest Church in Ohio, were mobilizing Republican voters with little or no scrutiny, even going as far as flying Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, to three political events on its plane.

In 2006, pastor Mac Hammond of the Living World Christian Center in Minnesota said before welcoming her to the church: “You know we can’t publicly endorse as a church and would not for any candidate, but I can tell you personally that I’m going to vote for Michele Bachmann.” While the IRS did open an audit of that church, it went nowhere due to a “technicality.”

Many of the aforementioned cases occurred before the Citizens United ruling and that tax codes were much more well-defined under the 501(c)(3) rules at the time. There was little ambiguity in terms of enforcement under the C-3 rules, yet organizations were pursued nonetheless.

David Sirota, a columnist and best-selling author, points out in an article on that the targeting of political enemies during the Bush administration went much further than IRS paperwork and audits: “We learned that along with the IRS, Secret Service and FBI, the Bush administration may have also been using the Central Intelligence Agency against its political enemies.”

While no organization on either side of the political spectrum should be unfairly scrutinized by the IRS, the outrage in congress and the media now, after the IRS was targeting liberal groups during the Bush administration, further suggests a double standard.

A few democratic lawmakers and news outlets took note of it publicly at the time, but it has in no way reached the level of intensity that it has last week. Many of the same lawmakers and media pundits that are screaming bloody murder about the IRS now were curiously silent when it was done ten years ago, which suggests that they are only outraged when government resources are aimed at their friends, but will look the other way when those resources are aimed at political enemies.

Has congress and the media reached a new heightened level of awareness, or do they just not care about the principles of equal protection under the law, impartial governance, and a nonpartisan approach of government agencies? A closer look at the AP phone-tapping scandal may reveal more.

DOJ Phone-tapping AP Reporters

The AP phone-tapping is also an example of a policy enacted under the Bush administration that has been continued under the Obama administration, yet was met with little or no outrage or opposition as it was being put into place – another double standard at work.

The DOJ informed the AP that it had secretly obtained telephone records for more than 20 separate phone numbers assigned to AP journalists and offices, both cell and home lines, including the AP’s main switchboard. While no explanation was given, it is likely that this was a result of the AP breaking stories last May about a foiled terror plot coming out of Yemen, involving plans to blow up an airliner bound for the United States.

Regardless of the rationale for the actions of the DOJ and US intelligence agencies, they are a clear violation of the freedom of the press rights guaranteed by the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Once again, however, these actions are not unprecedented and are part of a larger pattern. Similar phone-tapping and other surveillance by government agencies was largely ignored by politicians and the press before the Obama administration.

Over a decade ago, journalist Jesselyn Radack leaked e-mails to Newsweek regarding a cover-up by the DOJ of an ethics violation in its interrogation of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh. The DOJ went after the journalist who published the e-mails, Michael Isikoff, obtaining phone records of the conversations without either of them knowing how.

Radack writes in the Daily KOS:

The latest revelation about the government infringement on AP confirms what too many whistleblowers…and journalists…already know about the national security state: when you speak truth to power, the government will use every weapon in its arsenal to silence you. I’ve been saying [that] for years – shouting into the wilderness…If the American media and public want to keep what’s left of their First Amendment rights, we need to wake up and see this latest attack on free speech for what it is: the government is using the criminal justice system to silence dissenters – a policy completely antithetical to a constitutional democracy that enshrines the freedoms of speech and the press.

Radack’s experience is not unique. In 2004 FBI agents obtained the phone records of Washington Post staff writer Ellen Nakashima, “who was based in Jakarta, Indonesia, at the time,” the Post reported in 2008, after FBI director Robert Mueller apologized. The FBI also obtained telephone records of an Indonesian researcher in the paper’s Jakarta bureau, Natasha Tampubolon. According to the Post, “records of New York Times reporters Raymond Bonner and Jane Perlez, who worked in Jakarta in 2004, also were compromised.”

In 2006, after ABC reporters Brian Ross and Richard Esposito broke a story about the CIA’s secret prisons in Romania and Poland, a senior federal law enforcement official told them that the government is tracking their phone numbers in an effort to root out confidential sources. “It’s time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,” the source told them in an in-person conversation.

In another leak case, New York Times reporter James Risen has been fighting a subpoena from Obama’s Justice Department for years. The Obama DOJ was after his sources for a chapter in his book about the Bush administration, State of War.

The Obama administration inherited the case from the Bush administration, and despite the fact that the district court judge sided with Risen during both the grand jury and trial, DOJ has continued to appeal the case. Last May, the DOJ argued before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that reporters’ privilege does not exist at all for national security reporters.

While reporters and news agencies are the focus of the AP scandal, they are by no means the only ones that are being targeted by federal agencies with surveillance tactics akin to those used by fascist and totalitarian regimes. The expansion of government surveillance power began in earnest with the USA Patriot Act and has been expanded ever since.

In 2005, the New York Times revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was conducting a secret and illegal wiretapping program in search of terrorists. Instead of reprimanding the government, Congress passed the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which made the practice legal.

After an AT&T whistleblower revealed in 2006 that a staggering number of emails and phone calls were being surveilled under FISA, another amendment to FISA was passed In June 2008 to further expand the scope of the government’s authority. A secret ex parte FISA court now exists solely to grant FISA warrants, which, as a lower court acknowledged, almost never denies a request.

Of course now, with the breaking news of the AP scandal, politicians and news agencies are expressing their shock and outrage at an unprecedented noise level. Yet years ago, when the measures that enabled the abuses were being put into place and codified under new laws, little if anything was heard in the press and there were no congressional hearings. Perhaps if something had been done before and not after the fact, Americans would not be at a point where many of their constitutional rights have disappeared.

Why the double standard?

There are many theories why Benghazi, the IRS and AP stories are getting so much attention in congress and the media when similar misconduct was largely ignored in the past. The partisan behavior of both parties suggests that few politicians care about a foreign policy that treats all nations in an unbiased manner, keeps Americans abroad out of harm’s way, and provides equal protection under the law with impartial government agencies and services.

Many on the left claim that is simply because a non-white democrat is in the White House and the right is in attack mode, worrying about upcoming elections with nothing meritorious to run with. Many on the right claim it is because these “scandals” are worse than similar ones that occurred under the Bush administration.

While there may be some truth in both perceptions, politicians and the media fail to put the double standard of politicized government based on ideological bias into a larger context. Radack touched upon an overriding theme it when she wrote of “speaking truth to power” and one can expound on that concept in the context of the recent “scandals.”

That context is better described as an ideological bias in Washington and the corporate media which tilts to the right in favor of the moneyed establishment over anyone or any group that challenges the status quo. Liberal groups who pursue causes such as the anti-war movement are not treated the same as conservative groups who pursue things such as the anti-tax movement because liberal causes tend to be at odds with the corporate oligarchs, while conservative causes tend to be aligned with the interests of the ultra-rich.

David Sirota, writing for, sums it up very well:

…When conservative groups happen to be treated like liberal groups, the Washington Outrage Machine turns the noise up to 11 – even though when liberal groups were targeted, that Outrage Machine remained dormant. And with today’s national press corps reoriented around amplifying – rather than challenging – power, this double standard is then predictably reflected in a corresponding discrepancy in coverage.

The same concept applies when Democratic administrations are perceived to be challenging the status quo of moneyed elite, even though the policies and actions of the Obama administration have continued to benefit large corporations, Wall Street banks and the military-industrial complex.

Politicized administration of law and public policy is never acceptable, no matter which party is in power or who or what is being targeted. The recent Benghazi, IRS and AP “scandals” should be frowned upon by every American. But Americans also need to take a stand against all destructive foreign policy decisions and constitutional infringements no matter which party is in power.

That should have been done when the policies and practices that led to these abuses were being put into place over ten years ago. Overlooking trends in law and government because a favored political party is in power will catch people sleeping while their constitutional rights are being trampled. Selective outrage, double standards and hypocrisy will never move the country in the right direction.

What you can do

Call AG Eric Holder and tell him exactly what you think of the trampling of constitutional rights: 202-353-1555. You can also call your members of Congress and demand immediate, strong oversight. Ask them stand up to the national security apparatus that has been complicit in creating and empowering government agencies that are undermining the constitution. Tell them to act like representatives of the people and the co-equal branch of government that Americans elected them to be.


ABC News

NBC News

NBC News


Refreshing News


The Hill

Washington Post

Think Progress

The Hill

Washington Times

Wired / Danger Room

Madison Independent Examiner – Embassy attack…

Nation of Change

Consortium News

McClatchy (PDF)

Washington Post

NBC News


Wall Street Journal

Democracy Now

Baltimore Sun

LA Times

New York Times

Houston Business and Tax Journal (PDF)

Chicago Tribune




Washington Post

Daily KOS

ABC News

Press Freedom Foundation

New York Times

Huffington Post

Madison Independent Examiner – 14 defining characteristics of fascism…

Electronic Frontier Foundation




May 20, 2013

Getting used to the future: Why I’m going camping this weekend

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 11:54 am

Consider this message in your inbox to be like a vacation e-mail response. “I’m going camping this weekend — roughing it, so to speak. No electricity. No automobiles. No computers! No heating and cooling units, no public library, no TV and no Berkeley Bowl Marketplace for food.”

Just me and a tent and the great outdoors, up on the Tuolumne River.

Will I survive? Given my low-level camping skills, the answer to that question might actually be “no”.

But going camping occasionally is always a good idea. It makes us more grateful for the soft life we now live down in the cities. And it should also make us appropriately angry that our greedy, stupid and immoral leaders have systematically squandered the incredible wealth of our national cornucopia on unnecessary, stupid, immoral and endless wars.

Happy Memorial Day — although it looks like no one in America seems to remember what our thousands and thousands of heroic dead soldiers should have been fighting for but were not — the right for ALL Americans to have a future that doesn’t involve living in tents.

May 17, 2013

The case of the missing photographs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:30 pm

Just because a photo is ubiquitous on the internet, that doesn’t mean that a columnist has permission to use that particular picture.  A columnist can either do a lot of clerk work to get permission to use a particular image or he can start carrying a camera and take pictures that he will give himself permission to run and then start to learn html coding.

When a photo librarian for the Associated Press got a request, in 1966, from LIFE magazine for a copy of the picture of Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby, things got complicated when the future World’s Laziest Journalist noticed a copyright notice on the photo.  According to the ground rules the lowly photo librarian had to say “no” to one of the biggest and most prestigious members of the news coop organization.  It was the weekend and it was quite likely that there were no managers around to consult.  Then the beleaguered photo librarian ran into the AP’s Chief Executive Officer in the hall.  We quickly explained the dilemma.  He asked “What would you do if I weren’t here?”  We told him the ground rules required me to say “no.”  He hesitated a beat and then said:  “Pretend you didn’t see me.”

A column containing that vignette would be so much more eye appealing, if we could run the image of the murder happening but since it seems unlikely that even if the columnist started on Sunday morning to track down the copyright owner and get permission to use it online, the self imposed deadline of doing all that in time to post the column on Friday May 17, 2013 renders the question moot.  It will be easier to relate the incident and then challenge readers to do a Google Image search for the famous photo.

Since images enhance the drawing power of online postings, it is tempting to toss any old image on the top of the column and hope for the best, but a rudimentary acquaintance with photography indicates that the image needs more eye appeal than, for example, a snapshot of the columnist at a recent college commencement program.

If a columnist has talked shop with more Pulitzer Prize winning photographers (three) than reporters (one), then perhaps it might be realistic to assume such a fellow can make a valid claim to a better than a beginners knowledge of photojournalism and therefore should have a legitimate claim to having some photo editing competence.  If such a person wants to run photos he took, he knows there will be no hassles about permission to use any of those images with his column.  The unauthorized use of a copyrighted photograph could cause a remarkable increase in the amount of non productive clerk work and the best way for the World’s Laziest Journalist to avoid that unnecessary drudgery is to only use photos taken with his personal Coolpix.

It helps, of course, if the selected image has something to do with the contents in the column, but if the columnist has established his niche in the “three dot journalism” style of running multiple short items that cover a wide swath of subject matter just about any photo of anything could be deemed germane and useable as long as it was a good image.

In the past we have recounted getting a photo lesson in the AP lunch room from Eddie Adams and that name will impress folks who know the history of photojournalism, but folks who don’t recognize the name might like to know he is the guy who took the famous picture of the Police Chief in Saigon blowing out the brains of a suspect.  Tracking down permission to run that image is more clerk work than time permits so, again, we refer to curious to the wonders of the Google Image search site.

Do we need to get permission to post a photo we took?  Some time back, while working as a columnist for Just Above Sunset online magazine, we got the chance to take a ride on a B-17-G and write the story about the experience.  At one point, we borrowed the camera being used by Alan Pavlik, the photographer and the web site’s editor and publisher.  We flopped down flat on the ground and took one photo.  Now, it seems prudent that we secure his permission to use that photo (which was published with a large selection of the photos he took) with this column.  Once we got that permission (10-Q message sent) it should be a piece of cake.

It didn’t work so click on this link:

(Readers may have to copy that URL and paste it into their browser.)

Our flight on the B-17-G was something that had been on our bucket list since high school, but in the tradition of fair and balanced journalism and in the tradition of the Ford vs. Chevrolet debate, we may still have some more work to do.  An assortment of WWII aircraft from the Wings of Freedom Tour (see more info at is coming to the SF Bay area and if we get a chance to get a ride on the B-24 that is coming to Moffett Federal Air Field next week, we could then do the judicious thing and cast our vote in the B-17 vs. the B-24 controversy.

We will probably go out to Moffett and take some photos of the WWII aircraft and mention the expedition in a future column because that will give us a convenient excuse to run (at least) one of those photos.

Speaking of missing photos and B-17’s, about a half century ago (how can that be if we are only 28 years old?  [Haven’t researchers proved that everyone online is 28 years old?]), we were reading up on the Liberation of Paris in WWII and we came across an account of a wild cowboy American pilot who flew a B-17 between the legs of the Eiffel Tower to fly under it.  It outraged the French people because of the reckless disregard for their national icon.  We saw one photo of the stunt back when we read about it but we have never seen a copy of that image online.

The editors at LIFE magazine knew the allure of a stand alone shot because of the popularity of their “Parting Shot” feature, which drew numerous submissions each week.  We have, in previous columns, suggested that the editors of LIFE and some commercial entity, such as Nikon and/or Eastman Kodak, should collaborate on an online version of that popular feature.  (Hellfire, if they need an editor to select one photo a day to be featured as the best, we know of a fellow in Berkeley who might volunteer his services.)  If they adapted a policy where every submission appeared online and each day one was selected as Best of the Day, they would probably get some fairly impressive hit numbers and submissions.

What makes an image jump off the computer screen?  There are plenty of hot rods with flame paint jobs and there are a great many Rolls Royce automobiles in the world but when we did a Google Image search for a Rolls Royce with a flames paint job we found only two valid suggestions.  One of them was a shot we took in Berkeley CA and posted on our photoblog.

Recently, in our attempt to do a survey of the contemporary pop culture scene, we came across the concept of “soap opera news,” and getting a chance to take a photo to illustrate a column on that topic, would be challenging.

This week, Norman Goldman, tipped his listeners to a US Supreme Court Case decision in the case of Robert Pelkey’s towed car that could serve as an example of soap opera news.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has been quite critical of the journalism industry.  We recently lambasted CBS Evening News for relying too much on footage of an interviewee crying.  Aren’t those weeping people interviews Exhibit A in the case to prove the existence of Soap Opera News?  We are not too sure about the legality of taking a photo of the TV screen showing an example of the soap opera news crying phenomenon and so we only mentioned it.  We note with interest the fact that last weekend Scott Pelley shook up the Journalism world by seconding our idea that America’s free press has become a parody of itself.  Come to think of it, some of the blustery anchors do remind us of that sly old fox, Marshal Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) in the film “True Grit.”

Doing some digging to find some interesting tidbits of information and going places (such as Moffett Field) to see some interesting things and to watch some events happen helps the World’s Laziest Journalist cope with the challenge of breaking the boredom barrier in Berkeley.  It helps if we come up with some material that is new and unique.  Such as?  Isn’t it about time for an announcement be made and AP to run some photos of the location for where the Obama Presidential Library will be built?  Have your other sources for political punditry hipped you to the latest pop culture phenomenon named Paris Jackson?

While Fox reports on the latest Obama scandals, aren’t the treehuggers who are disappointed in the XL pipeline, the potheads who are miffed about the crackdowns on medical marijuana dispensaries, and the peaceniks who disapprove of all drone strikes (not just the ones Dubya authorized) supposed to rally to Obama’s defense?  Lotsa luck on that.

Charles Batman, the managing editor of the Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapaers once said:  “I have seen the future of Rock and Roll and it is . . . litigation.”

Now the disk jockey will play our highly subjective list of the best one hit wonder (that qualification eliminates Les Paul and Duane Eddy from consideration) guitar recordings.  He will play Link Wray’s “Rumble,” Jorgan Ingman’s “Apache,” and Jody Reynold’s “Endless Sleep.”  We have to go charge the batteries for our Nikon Coolpix camera.  Have a “keep ‘em flying” type week.

May 15, 2013

America: The place where Israeli neo-cons get their Big Ideas!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:49 pm

Some people are always unjustly accusing Israeli neo-cons of learning their rather barbaric occupation strategies (of torturing, killing, harassing, stealing from and jailing Palestinians) from the Nazis — but that’s just not true! Israeli neo-cons actually stole their barbaric, inhumane and uncivilized methods and ideas from America! And I have the maps to prove it too.

You know that map series that shows the changing demographics of land distribution between Israel and Palestine, from 1947 to present times? With the Israeli lands all illustrated in white and the shrinking native lands illustrated in green?

Well, I’ve been working on creating a demographic map of America between 1492 and present times too — illustrating land distribution between Native Americans and Euro-Americans in 1492, 1700, 1850 and now. And will it look familiar? Oh yeah. So stop trying to blame the current Israeli neo-con foreign and domestic policies on the Nazis — when we already gots a winner right here in the good old U.S.A.

PS: Here is my version of the above-described demographic map of America, that I’ve drawn so far — except that I got the green bits and the white bits mixed up. Mercator would probably be rolling over in his grave right now but, hey, it’s the best I could do.

And now perhaps it’s time to start working on a new map — of what America’s very own “Project for a New American Century” neo-cons have in mind for Israel next. And this one is gonna be big, even bigger than my map of the U.S. And it’s gonna use up a hecka lot of green ink too — stretching all the way from Algeria and Libya, through Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, all the way to Uzbekistan by 2050. Will get back to you on that one.

PPS: A mainstream Israeli newspaper has just reported that an ex-Bush official believes that the current chemical weapons charges against Syria are all false flags, planted by Israeli neo-cons. And if Bush’s guy is right, the Israeli neo-cons probably also copied that idea from all those American false-flag reports that Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons as well

And now those copy-cat Israeli neo-cons have just dropped bombs on the Damascus airport.

Since 1997, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, etc. have all suffered violent military and economic attacks by American neo-cons. And this roll-call of preemptive aggression on the Middle East reads just like a page out of the PNAC playbook

And now even East Jerusalem is under attack by Israeli neo-cons

When we all voted for Obama in 2010 and again in 2012, we naively assumed that we had finally put an end to all that PNAC craziness. But no, no, no and no. The PNAC plan is obviously stronger than ever right now. So much for hope. Obama is clearly a PNAC type of guy.

And apparently America’s current upper escalations of power are also Al Qaeda types of guys too. According to Global Research, “[T]he recent Israeli strikes prove outright that Israel, acting on behalf of the US, is fighting on the same side as Al Qaeda in Syria. Western efforts to bolster supposed ‘moderate rebels’ have clearly only bolstered what has always been the main demographic of the militant ‘opposition’: Salafi/Jihaddi inspired and fomented militias, that do not espouse anything close to democracy.”

As Dorothy Parker used to say, “What new hell is this!” It’s a Hell that is costing American taxpayers their very life-blood, that’s what.

PPPS: Here’s a recent report from Gaza by an American doctor visiting there:

“…The refugee camps we visit seem even more soiled and overcrowded than before, and there is trash everywhere. The UN is running out of money to maintain its food assistance program and people are revolting…. Gaza is a pressure cooker. The UN predicts that Gaza may become inhabitable after 2020. But we will keep coming back as long as we can. Our conscience demands this of us

Sounds like a Native American reservation to me — as best described here by Johnny Cash: and and

PPPPS: Sanctions on Iran? Screw that. Somebody needs to put sanctions on those sleazy, war-mongering Israeli and American neo-cons And what if Russia, Iran, China and India started a boycott of America and Israel too? What then? Here’s what: All of the shelves in all of the WalMarts in America and Israel would stand empty quick as a wink.

May 10, 2013

Syria, Benghazi, and Impeachment

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:24 pm

Republicans, who hate President Obama with a white heat level of intensity, impeached President Bill Clinton for a lie under oath about getting a blow-job and have been searching for a reason to impeach Obama since he was “President elect,” have managed to get the mainstream media to misunderestimate the political potential of the deaths of Americans in Benghazi and may be in position for an ambush attack regarding impeaching Obama. 

America’s mainstream media’s tendency to practice wolf pack journalism (led by Fox?) was operating at warp speed this week as all hands became obsessed with a Cleveland crime story, while the Republicans performed the chess moves needed to put the pieces on the playing board in place for achieving the ultimate goal of the political maneuvering regarding the investigation of the Benghazi debacle.

Would the Republicans be so disloyal as to move towards impeachment while the President was distracted by American involvement in a new war in theMiddle East?  Doesn’t folk wisdom advise that everything is fair in love, war, and politics? 

Realization of the ultimate political advantage of discovering deliberate lies regarding the events inBenghazimight explain the level of enthusiasm at Fox regarding the need for a full investigation into the back story about the handling of the events inLibya.  When sharks smell blood, it’s a good idea not to get caught between them and the source because the concept of “feeding frenzy” is something you don’t want to experience first hand. 

If reporters and politicians still trade information in the “off the record” mode of communication, then all parties might realize the political potential to be found in revelations about Obama’s whereabouts the night of the Benghazi events and thereby know that a headline grabbing search for the truth might be worth the effort, then a long replay similar to the Monica Lewinski circus may soon push the national discussion about guns off the top of the political agenda list. 

Where were the drones when the attack inBenghaziwas happening?  Aren’t drone strikes as readily available inLibyaas the delivery of a certain brand of pizza is in theUSA? 

The fact that the President’s whereabouts for the night of September 11, 2012 isn’t being reported, may mean that the Benghazi investigation may be a stealth way to introduce some embarrassing information into the news cycle without looking like it is just another political smear campaign.  If President Obama has to lie under oath about the particulars of his schedule for that night, the Republicans would, once again, be able to loudly proclaim their brand identity with family values while evoking echoes of theClintonproceedings.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Congressman Mark Sanford, who was a leading critic of President Clinton’s inability to manifest the family values embraced by the Republicans, regains his status as a leading guardian of public morality by speculating where President Obama was (and what he was possibly doing) on the night of September 11, 2012?

In an era of a kaleidoscopic aspect to news coverage, a return to the constant drum beat of a slow procession to impeachment proceedings might have some additional nostalgic appeal for the Republicans.  (We noticed a small item online this week informing readers that the North Korean missile units had quietly implemented a stand down order.) 

Mike Huckabee, according to a Google News search earlier in the week, was the only Republican breaking the informal “news embargo” on the word “impeachment.”  

If the lame duck President wants to drag out the process, that will only be to the advantage of the Republicans who would love to have impeachment proceedings coincide with the mid term elections in 2014. 

If, on the other hand, the Democrats don’t want a long and nasty series of news events, while they contend with the riggers of reelection, then they might have to explain to the President that expediency trumps loyalty quite often in Washington D. C.

The mainstream media, for the most part, are owned by wealthy conservatives who would (presumably) be very cooperative with any efforts to act as accessories (like the chorus in a Greek tragedy?) for the effort to bang the drums slowly and gradually build the volume to a the level of a howling (lynch?) mob demanding “justice.”

Meanwhile, the Republican pundits seem to be missing a chance to ask why the terrorist’s widow isn’t being questioned by the interrogation specialists atGuantanamo. 

The conservative pundits don’t want to exploit the impeachment implications of theBenghaziattack because they don’t want to tip their hand too soon.

The leftist pundits don’t want to bring the subject up because they don’t want to give the Republicans the idea of going that route. 

“Bert Stern Original Mad Man” a film about the career of photographer Bert Stern provided us with a one night opportunity to experience time travel back toNew York Cityin the Sixties.  We considered doing a review of the film as the only topic for this week’s column, but, even though we enjoyed the movie thoroughly, the historic nature of the first full week of May 2013 overwhelmed the value of focusing exclusively on the pop culture diversion.

We had also considered doing a column about gun songs, but our effort to solicit suggestions on Facebook, produced only one title:  the Beatles’ “Happiness is a warm gun.”  We did some fact checking and found that Lorne “Bonanza” Greene had recorded a song titled “Gunslinger’s Prayer” and Weird Al’s song “Trigger Happy,” was on Youtube.  Doing all the fact checking for an entire column about gun songs wasn’t feasible due to the time available and so perhaps, since guns seems to be the key issue for the 2014 mid term elections, we will ration out mentions of popular gun songs over the next year and a half. 

The California Supreme Court disappointed pot smokers, who had approved a 1996 measure to sanction medical marijuana, by saying that cities had a legal right to quash dispensaries within their municipal borders. 

On Tuesday of this week, the Armstrong & Getty featured a guy from the save the plastic bag dot com web site, who alleged that the idea that wildlife dies because of plastic bags is a myth and that since he has never seen pictures of the garbage island in the Pacific Ocean (apparently his Google image searches were unsuccessful) it doesn’t exist. 

Isn’t it remarkable that all the things that treehuggers say always turn out to be myths but that any attempts to question facts from conservatives are automatically classified as lunatic conspiracy theories?

How long will it take conservatives to note that the case of the missing women in Cleveland, the terrorist discovered last week, and the recent flawless inspection of millions of homes in the Boston area might, if taken together, be enough to prove a need for a police inspection of all homes in America? 

Speaking of the homeless, we heard a story on KCBS news radio that indicated that the (compassionate Conservative Christian?) citizens in the San Jose area wanted several million dollars to be appropriated to hire park rangers to keep encampments of homeless people out of some parks in the area.  What happened to the “austerity cuts” meme? 

Randi Rhodes, on Thursday, told her radio audience that if the police fumble on a call about a woman being held prisoner in a house, perhaps the Good Samaritan caller should just say they suspect that marijuana is being grown on the premises.  That should, she asserted, get the SWAT team to investigate the tip and search the home.

Norman Goldman, (who is a lawyer) also on Thursday, gave his listeners a heads-up about theClevelandcase.  The DA there has filed murder charges stemming from the alleged amateur abortion efforts of the suspect.  If the abortions provide the basis for a murder conviction, the case could become a landmark game changer for the pro life abortion foes.

Charles Ramsey became an Internet celebrity this week when he provided the quote of the week:  “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl runs into a black man’s arms, I said, ‘Something is wrong here’.”

The disk jockey (for his suggestions for best gun songs) will play the Victory at Sea theme music, the 1812 Overture, and the theme song from the TV show “Have Gun Will Travel.”  We have to go see “Gatsby” and see if it is as bad as the reviews lead us to believe.  Have a “Kapooyah, kapooyah!” type week.

May 6, 2013

Stuck in history: Mother’s Day, Niles, Bikers & Charlie Chapman

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:38 pm

“Would you like to play Charlie Chaplin’s mother in my new movie?” a film student at UC Berkeley asked me recently. Of course I would. Yeah. Sure!

Did you know that Charlie Chaplin’s mother suffered from and finally died of tertiary syphilis, which she contracted while being forced into prostitution in the gold fields of South Africa by her greedy and unscrupulous husband? And that Charlie then grew up in a Dickensian-style orphanage in the slums of London? It’s true.

And did you also know that Chaplin made a whole bunch of his movies in Niles, California — back before Hollywood was Hollywood and Niles was Hollywood first? And that Niles is just 30 miles south of Berkeley? And that Niles is now one of the antique-store (and biker-bar) capitals of the world?

Just for a moment, let’s take a break from all the lies and propaganda we are all currently being bombarded with on our flat-screen TVs (propaganda that tells us Syria has WMDs just like Iraq did; that Iran, not the CIA, is the world’s baddest Bad Guy; that only Wall Street needs and deserves a bailout; and that John Kerry has the absolute right and cajones to contest honest elections in Venezuela but did diddly-squat to contest dishonest elections in Ohio Instead, let’s return to those simple days of yesteryear when everything was uncomplicated and nice and the Little Tramp was king of comedy.

That’s what happens when you visit Niles, CA.

Niles is a sweet little all-American town with a main street and steam trains and an old-fashioned tearoom that is offering Mothers Day high tea.

I remember my own mother with very mixed feelings. She’s dead now (death is the ultimate career change, BTW), so it’s obviously too late to be working out all that emotional spaghetti with her in person — so on Mothers Day these days I just have to say goodbye to all that ambiguity and just let it all go.

But apparently Charlie Chaplin couldn’t — and didn’t. He always thought that he was the one who drove his mother nutzo and never even knew that she had syphilis.

Did I drive my own mother around the bend also? Did Barbara Bush drive young GWB nuts? And what was Anton Scalia’s mother like? We should ask Sandra Day O’Connor about that one.

Happy Mothers Day.

According to Mary Catherine Bateson, her mother (Margaret Mead) completely changed the way that babies were brought into the world and how children were treated here in America. At a time when American children were regimented rigidly with regard to feeding times and that babies were tortured with weird-looking instruments immediately after their birth, Mead let the world know that, in Samoa it was okay to hug one’s child and even actually breast-feed it when it was hungry instead of just letting it cry for three hours and then feeding it only from a bottle.

My mother herself wrote in my baby book that the hospital staff where I was born didn’t hardly allow my mom to see me during the first whole ten days of my life — and then they had the chutzpah to tell her that she couldn’t breast-feed because her milk had all dried up. No wonder so many American guys have such fixations with breasts! And American women seem to be fixated on them too. Just ask your nearest local plastic surgeon.

So. Perhaps the simple days of yesteryear weren’t so simple after all. Charlie Chaplin’s mother was bonkers from syphilis. We had the great 1929 stock market crash. And World War I was basically a slaughterhouse driven by propaganda and lies — so much so that the main difference between then and now appears to be that, back in the day, no one had flat-screen TVs.

But Niles’ silent-movie museum, antique stores, biker bar and tea room are still nice places to go on Mothers Day, and to dream about a simple and peaceful time long ago — one that never really existed.

PS: I also got to play another mother in a recent Academy of Art student film as well. Here’s the link:

PPS: Chicago’s probate court system seems to have developed a rather unique way of celebrating Mothers Day. First, court attorneys who act as guardians for elders (at $250 an hour!) actively seek out home-owning old people; send in a phony doctor who declares them to be incompetent; get them tossed into a warehousing-type old people’s home; sell off the helpless elders’ homes; and then pocket the profits

How can people like this sleep at night? And how can they ever even look their own mothers in the eye after doing these grossly egregious things to other people’s mothers?

May 3, 2013

Fox cries: “Wolf!”

Filed under: Commentary — Bob Patterson @ 12:27 pm


Conservatives, who were unaware that Fox ignored the fact that Dubya completely disregarded the principles of invasions established at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials, have been very enthusiastic about the Fox effort to find out the facts about events related to an incident in Benghazi, Libya, which is where the threat of nationalizing British Petroleum’s holdings are rumored to have caused an investor with large amounts of stock in that company (a fellow who owns newspapers in Great Britain, Australia, and the USA?) to urge the company’s largest stock holder (AKA Queen Elizabeth) to use military means to protect their cash cow.

The Fox team stonewalled criticism of George W. Bush but has suddenly had the journalistic St. Paul’s moment when they saw the chance to investigate a Democratic Party President for (possible) malfeasance regarding the attack in Benghazi.  Why do they have such different attitudes about Presidents from opposing parties?

Speaking of reviving the double standard, on Tuesday Uncle Rushbo took fiendish delight in repeatedly playing Larry Flynt’s endorsement of the Republican Congressional candidate in South Carolina, Mark Sanford, because of the family values conservative’s implicit endorsement of the double standard and exposure of hypocrisy in America regarding morals with a recent high profile love affair.  It wasn’t clear if Flynt was being sarcastic or ironic with his endorsement, nor was it clear if Uncle Rushbo was being ironic with his enthusiasm about Flynt’s endorsement.

If President Obama makes a military move into the Syrian Civil War without calling for a vote in Congress, would the masters of the double standard forget that George W. Bush pulled two similar stunts, and call for the immediate impeachment of Obama for using illegal means (executive order) for starting a new war?

Uncle Rushbo is encouraging his listeners with a high school level of education to look down on the Democrats (with a college education?) as “low information voters.”

Recently, while doing some fact checking on Ayn Rand, we noticed that she is not mentioned in any of the various “Beginners Guide for Dummkopfs” series of introductory books.  What’s up with that?  Could there be a conspiracy among scholastics to discredit her and keep her out of those comprehensive survey books?  Is that comparable to the fact that most compact histories of the United States fail to mention the reign of Emperor Norton?

Is there a secret double standard in the world of academic Philosophy?  You are automatically disqualified if too many people buy and read your books?  If that’s the criteria would that mean that the author of “Mein Kampf” was also a disqualified Philosopher?

Would it be an example of the double standard if compassionate Christian conservatives insisted that leftist pundits had to produce grammatically flawless work while they enthusiastically approve the eloquence level of the President who mangled his thoughts with examples of grammatical errors that were hilarious?  Is there a double standard for articulation?

If the Republicans cringe when they are compared to Nazis and the Democrats have conniptions when they are accused of using Gestapo tactics, why doesn’t some University professor, whose area of expertise is the Third Reich, speak out with the tie breaking vote and say which of America’s political parties are putting the principles elaborated in “Mein Kampf” into action in America’s political arena?  Do both American Political Parties each have a double standard for judging allegations of being like Germany’s dominant political party in the Thirties?

Does the mainstream media care (or know) that most voters in California are very unenthusiastic about building a bullet train for the Golden State.  Supposedly the husband of one of California’s Senators owns a company that (reportedly) will play an integral (and very profitable) role in the historic upgrade effort.  Our efforts to fact check that allegation have been unsuccessful.  Doing a Google News search was very futile.  It seems like the Democrats in California have a double standard regarding the appeal of an obvious boondoggle.

Is there a Double standard for news coverage of protests?  Would an anti-war rally that attracts a million people and had no violence, injuries, or arrests get more coverage than a small march with some smashed windows, broken bones, and arrests?

In a Democracy, can the citizens be forced to pay for a Bullet Train that the majority doesn’t want?  In a Democracy would the President start a war the voters don’t want?  It looks like the citizens of the USA are going to get the XL pipeline whether they want it or not.

Do Republicans have a double standard regarding the care of wounded veterans?  Benefits for vets are a commendable endeavor before a new war starts and then are subjected to sequester cuts when the wounded vets come home?

Is there an unspoken double standard in the world of journalism?  Does the kid who mumbled the f-bomb word in North Dakota have to embrace the “rugged individual” school of achievement and start at the bottom of the ladder while rookies like Luke Russert, one of the Bush twins, and Chelsea Clinton start at the network headquarters?

Speaking of Texas, we noticed that the New York Times quoted Barbra Bush’s response to a question about JEB’s turn in the White House by saying “ . . . we’ve had enough Bushes.”

Would disregarding his mother’s opinion help JEB establish an image of him as the political version of a rebellious youth?  Are the Republicans going to use the “cross the red line” as an excuse to promote an image of Jim Backus in an apron to goad Obama into stretching the boundaries of Dubya’s “Forever War” to include Syria?

Will the image of a reluctant JEB be used to set the stage for a carefully orchestrated campaign in the mainstream media to get him to accede to a public outcry to accept a draft nomination in 2016?  What are the latest British bookie odds on JEB?

Would the do nothing party goad Obama into a war with Syria that would destroy America just to see Obama’s legacy ruined?  Is that a double standard of patriotism?

Meanwhile over on the campus of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory, the staff has been alerted to a move to switch to a higher level of activity and that all leaves and vacations are being canceled to start work on new explanations to prove that some nefarious plot was unfolding recently.  In the radical left wing (is that ironical or what?) of the main building, some extremists are pointing out that since some “fine tuning” of the chemicals in cannabis sativa are producing some very specific psychological reactions, a new possibility for accelerating the dumbing down of the USA exists.  Could it be, they ask, that in a manner similar to the fluoride conspiracy theory “they” are dumping chemicals into America’s water supply that cause people to become more bellicose, belligerent, and argumentative?  Are psychologists calling it the “McLaughlin” effect?

Are the members of the mainstream media analyzing the implications of the challenge of assembling a detonator or when it comes time for them to do that do they suddenly switch to some innocuous bit of information that is interesting, possibly humorous, and completely irrelevant?

Is it true that a restaurant in San Francisco is about to become involved in a scandal that alleges they have been substituting horsemeat as the main ingredient in their dog soup?

Saturday, May 4, will bee National Comic Book Day featuring some free comic books at locations around the USA.  It is (coincidentally?) also Kentucky Derby Day.

[Note from the Photo Editor:  The May Day Protest Parade in Oakland was very low key and lacking in news value, but the photos that the World’s Laziest Journalist took at that event are the only available images with some “news value,” so we figure using them is better than not using any at all.]

“I’m endorsing Mark Sanford for U.S. Congress because no one has done more to expose the sexual hypocrisy of traditional values in America today,” was Larry Flynt’s effort to win the “quote of the week” competition for the Kentucky Derby week.

Recently we suggested that Willie Nelson should sing a duet with Mick Jagger.  The disk jockey recently found on Youtube a version of the perfect Derby Day song, “Dead Flowers,” featuring Willie and Keith Richards so he’ll start us out with that and follow it with Peter Paul and Mary’s “Stewball,” and Spike Jones’ “Beetlebomb.”  We have to go make some bets.  Have a “Mad Men” type week.

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