June 28, 2013

(Gay) Pride and Prejudice and a comic book columnist

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:35 pm


On Tuesday, the Supreme Court made a decision because, they asserted, prejudice in the voter rights case was an outmoded consideration from the past, then the next day they struck a blow to protect gays from marriage discrimination.  Due to the fact that irony does not work well on the Internets, the World’s Laziest Journalist was on the verge of pulling the old “best of” dodge and skipping the weekend roundup column for the last full week in June of 2013.  One day the SCOTUS five are saying that racial prejudice is extinct in the USA then the next day a reconfigured majority of five says that since the work of eliminating discrimination against gays is still far from the finish line, they had to lend a helping hand.  Which is it? Is bigotry dead or not?

Will the late night comedian/political commentators try to get laughs by saying that the Supreme Court missed an opportunity when they did not get involved this week with the furor over Paula Deen’s use of the N-word?

Paula Deen suggested that she needed to be executed by a crowd of stone throwers and that got us to thinking that perhaps President Obama could offer patriotic Americans from the Democratic and Republican parties a chance to buy a spot on the firing squad that might be needed some day to deliver a death sentence to Edward Snowdon.

That, in turn, brings up this question:  If Snowden is stuck in an area that is not a part of Russia, why doesn’t the United States’ State Department send someone from the American Embassy in Moscow to meet with the suspect, shoot him, and then use diplomatic immunity to walk away from the event?  Would that be so very different (and less messy) than using a drone strike to “rub out” the fugitive from justice?

We had hoped to write a sensational column, for this week, about the decline of journalism in America and maybe link the work of real journalists from the past such as Ernie Pyle and Hunter S. Thompson to the comic book hero, Spider Jerusalem, who is a popular and highly paid columnist who exposes political corruption and scandal.

Has the story arc for Journalism in America gone from Edward R. Murrow’s “This is London calling” to a comic book hero with weird glasses in less that 75 years?

The World’s Laziest Journalist had assumed that conservative animosity would trump the Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection” clause and deliver a ruling that rendered marriage rights for gays as being unconstitutional.  We were wrong.  It was just like the time we picked Native Dancer to win the Kentucky Derby.  We were wrong then, too.  Twice in one lifetime?  We won’t let it happen again!

A friend in the Eastern Time Zone called right after the decision was announced and said that the New York Time confirmed my erroneous prediction.  We were listening to Armstrong and Getty and challenged the accuracy of the headline on the Internets.  Our friend read more and amended her assessment because it seems that the great gray lady (as the famous newspaper is called in the gin mills that cater to journalists) had posted a bad (“Dewey wins!”) headline.

Randi Rhodes said that both landmark decisions, when considered together, indicated that the cause of States’ Rights had been bolstered by the week’s history and that continued political stalemate had been assured by the decisions.

Speaking of the status of Journalism in the USA, we had recently noted that some citizen journalists were advocating the use of a consortium approach to investigative journalism.  Since we have monitored the news media coverage of events in the Los Angeles area concerning the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors and their administration of the Marina del Rey area, we are aware that the concept of investigative journalism is a complex and time consuming way to fight for gaining access to information that is deliberately put out of reach.

A web site that is intended as a central clearing house for altruistic investigative journalism projects was announced recently.  There is a tendency among writers to want to jealously guard against the theft of intellectual property but there is also a human tendency to want to participate in a community project that is working towards a large goal that is unavailable to the lone wolf rogue journalist.  (Insert nostalgic reference to Sartre, Camus, and Combat newspaper in Occupied Paris here.  [Them again?])  We will expand this topic in a subsequent column.

Speaking of lone wolves, citizen journalists, and the Internets, we went to San Francisco on Sunday June 23 to cover the City Lights Bookstore’s birthday celebration.  We got some OK photos outside the store but our tendency of avoiding claustrophobic situations to work “on spec” caused us to miss the chance to get to the poetry room to get a photo of Lawrence Ferlinghetti signing books.  It was amazing to see how much drawing power a beatnik could still have.

Berkeley is looking to increase tourism and the fiftieth anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech from on top of a police car is rapidly approaching, perhaps the city fathers should consider holding an anniversary event.

The saga of Spider Jerusalem, which is the product of the creative team of writer Warren Ellis and artist Darick Robertson, was told in the Transmetropolitan comic book series.  It was published in the late nineties and the early Dubya era, and contained a good number of accurate predictions of technological advances and political malfeasance.  The comic book columnist hero fits in with our recurring leitmotif of famous journalist, so we made an effort recently to chat with Robertson and get some photos of him doing a drawing of “the helmet,” which can be seen as a prediction of Google glasses.

If citizen journalists hope for fun, fame, and fortune, but get aced out of the fame and fortune by the proprietary attitude of the high priced media talent (and their “owners”?), then the Leprechaun attitude will become more prevalent in journalism than Hunter S. Thompson ever imagined.

Would it be rational to expect the Huffington Post to hire an Internets loose cannon (let alone Fox) or would it be more realistic to expect that only those who subscribe fully to the “ya gottta go along to get along” style of expressing opinions are acceptable to management as members of the team?

We picked up a bargain copy of Joseph E. Persico’s biography of Edward R. Murrow recently and were reminded of just how much time devoted to dealing with office politics was necessary at the time that he was reporting live from London during the Battle of Britain.

When Ernie Pyle showed up in England in December of 1940 to cover the effect that the Battle of Britain was having on the ordinary citizens, he stayed in a posh hotel and was not bothered by the riggers of rationing.

Did anyone hire Woody Guthrie to go to London to report on the effect on workers that the Battle of Britain was causing?

The dog days of summer draw neigh and so the next few weeks may be a very opportune time for a columnist to begin a whimsical attempt to find amusing and amazing feature material while the Supreme Court Justices do some relaxing and start to select the next batch of cases needing their attention.

Horace wrote:  “The man who is tenacious of purpose in a rightful cause is not shaken from is firm resolve by the frenzy of his fellow citizens clamoring for what is wrong, or by the tyrant’s threatening countenance.”

Now the disk jockey will play  “Here Come da Judge,” “Strange fruit,” and Waylon Jennings’ “WRONG!,”   We have to go look for a time travel machine.  Have a “Great Caesars’ Ghost!” type week.



June 27, 2013

Cheney in Hell: Making friends with dead folks

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

I’m sick and tired of being around alive people. They are just a whole bunch of work. From now on, I’m only going to have Dead People for friends. Do you know how many dead homo sapiens there are in existence right now? 117 billion dead people That certainly offers up a big new bunch of “friending” possibilities to chose from! How does one go about contacting the dead? I’d love to know.

A friend of mine just sent me a list of the top five countries that are super-hard to get extradited from. I just hope that Edward Snowden can get to one of these countries alive — so that I won’t have to list him as one of my new dead BFFs too.

One of the countries that was listed is Dubai. That certainly explains why Dick Cheney moved Halliburton there But maybe Cheney should have moved his business to Hell instead. There’s positively no extradition from Hell! Plus then Halliburton would be there waiting for him when he finally gets there himself.

“Cheney, what were you THINKING when you bombed Iraq!”

I really really want to learn how to communicate with the dead. Who wouldn’t just love to interview J. Edgar Hoover for instance — on his opinion of the NSA. The man surely would be in ecstasy over the kinds of things that the NSA can now do. But how the freak does one talk to someone in Hell? Would that be the ultimate fireside chat or what!

“But, Jane,” you might say, “anyone can talk to the dead. All you have to do is just open your mouth and let words come out.” And therein lies the hard part. How can you manage to get the dead to talk back?

PS: After attending the recent Netroots Nation convention in San Jose, I went on a tour of local Dead Folks on my drive back to Berkeley — starting with the world-famous Rosicrucian Museum. Boy do they have a lot of mummies and such. Dead guys galore. I was clearly among friends.

Next came the Winchester Mystery House, which is supposed to be haunted. But no ghosts talked to me there either. Snubbed. Guess Sarah Winchester is a Mean Girl at heart.

After that I stopped by Skylawn cemetery, to have a nice cozy chat with my pop and my mom. I always sit by their graves and tell them all the latest hot gossip about my life when I go there. But, unfortunately, not even Mom and Pop were able to talk back.


June 25, 2013

Ye Olde Scribe Presents: Where’s Waldo Snowden?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 2:32 pm


Back before Waldo became a hunted corporatocracy pariah .

Is Waldo Snowden in China?

NO, that’s not Waldo, Waldo Watchers. That’s Wilma! Wilma, wife of union member Fred Flintstone who was fired for striking by Mr. Slate of Koch-Rock Industries, whored herself out to try to save Fred’s job. Since then she has been slaving away in a locked rock sorting factory that burned down. Since no doors would open she is assumed to be dead.

Of course the factory was heavily insured so Fred’s loss was Koch’s gain. Mr. Slate and Koch have managed to make the residents of Bedrock think it’s all the fault of “those damn all powerful unions.” You know: the few unions that are left, and keep compromising to hold on to jobs?

Is Waldo Snowden in Cuba?

No, that’s Woof: Waldo’s dog. Of course because there’s been a blockade of Cuba since they’re not mega- corporate friendly we’re not sure he’s there. All that we see is his tail.

They have to eat something.

Where’s Waldo Snowden?

The fascists who hired him really want to know. You see he brought to the attention of the world that two administrations cared so much for America’s safety they privatized our national security: hiring unsecure companies to kill anyone they wished during events like Katrina, build death showers for our soldiers during wars, provide little water and bad food and, in Waldo’s case, pour over the private phones calls and other communications of private citizens.

Of course they NEVER, EVER would betray their country and sell, or trade or give away such to our enemies for profit, would they?

Would they?

Would they?

Do you know where Waldo Snowden is? If you do please call 1-800-corpshill.

Don’t worry.

We won’t monitor that phone call.


Trust us.

    Scribe’s Final Word


This edition of Scribe has been brought to you by Wally World. Did you know Waldo is known as “Wally” in England? Scribe didn’t. Scribe means, really, “Wally?” England? Does he have bad teeth; eat steak and kidney pie, drink warm, almost flat, beer? Does he go to the pub and fight off zombies? Is his trunk called a “boot” and his hood a “bonnet?” Does he find English maids sexy? Have sex with bulldogs, or did Winston mean something else when he kept saying “Bully!!!” Does he have big bollocks? When he was a cartoon: well he’s kind of a “cartoon” now, but you know what Scribe means, how come that cartoon wasn’t more like those LSD-driven toons the Beatles had drawn of themselves? Was it because he’s having enough problems trying not to be found and he doesn’t need another bad TRIP?

Can someone go ask him, or does Scribe have to keep asking questions?

June 22, 2013

What a NERVE: Spy agency accuses Snowden of spying (& my next NN report)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 4:12 pm

I swear, folks, that I’m not making any of this stuff up.

An American spy agency that currently has all of its greedy tentacles tightly wrapped all around every single household in the entire world — and not in a good way — has just accused EDWARD SNOWDEN of being a spy. How ironic is that!

And I’m still attending the Netroots Nation convention in San Jose, where we are currently learning about even more and better government and corporate ironies.

For instance, Rep. Mike Honda just spoke about how he himself was born in an American concentration camp for immigrants — but never even dreamed that concentration camps for immigrants would once again happen here in the “Land of the Free”.

Isn’t having the NSA tapping all our telephone lines making us “free” enough already? Apparently not.

Next I went to a symposium on immigrants’ rights. Apparently a comprehensive immigration bill is not being passed in Congress right now, but it should be. But then the growers and packers who currently exploit and endanger their undocumented slaves will have to deal with having said slaves come out of the shadows and throw them in jail.

Mexico currently trains most of our skilled construction workers. Americans then steal their skills — but still have no shame about bitching that these skilled workers are here? Huh?

And then Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa told a tear-producing story about how the Maytag plant in his community suddenly closed down and moved off to China. How ironic. Our workers are being fired so that their jobs can be moved to Asian sweatshops so that corporations can pay less taxes and get cheaper labor at a high cost of you and me — yet Edward Snowden is the one that is being accused of being unpatriotic.

Irony is alive and well here at Netroots Nation.

Then there was a free food-truck event here, and then Senator Jeff Merkley and Dolores Huerta and Howard Dean spoke about stuff — mainly about how America today needs to boldly face up to the challenges of today’s America; not to challenges that may have been important to rich people back when Herbert Hoover was first elected president.

Get your head out of the sand, America. Or else climate change, endless war, domination by the greedy, etc. are gonna super-fry your butt as it sticks up there in the air. How ironic will that be.

Senator Barbara Boxer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi spoke next. “Republicans want to shut down the government,” Pelosi said. No they don’t. They want to own the government. And they already do. Another hypocritical irony here.

“I don’t know why Boehner cries all the time. Imagine if I did that!” said Pelosi. That’s ironic too.

And then there was another free lunch. Yay! And after that? Will the NSA accuse me of spying too — for running my blog?

PS: Tomorrow I’m gonna cruise by the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum on the way home, to look at all their mummies. America, wake up — or you may end up being mummified too.

Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Al Gore and others who fight for peace and justice — they are the waves of the future. How ironic is it that all that most Americans are doing right now is learning more and better mummification techniques — and being led by dinosaurs like Anton Scalia, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, AIPAC and Dick Cheney.

June 21, 2013

Reporting from NN on unions: How the URSCR, the most powerful union in America, is destroying our country

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:10 pm

Here at the Netroots nation convention in San Jose, CA, the presence of various American labor unions are in evidence everywhere.

The National Education Association tells us a sad story about how 300,000 American teachers have been laid off in recent years — ever since No Child Left Behind decided to leave teachers behind too.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America says that they are ready, willing and able to put our country back to work, “rebuilding America’s energy systems, crumbling roads, bridges and transit systems.” Isn’t it time for them to finally start implementing our “Rooftop Revolution” and bring solar power into every home?

The Alliance for American Manufacturing demands the creation of more stuff that is “Made in America” — and I have their key chain to prove it too. “Make corporations pledge to move jobs back to the United States where they belong.” It’s as simple as that.

The SEIU gave a Karaoke party here. I got to sing along with 2 Chainz — and support American workers at the same time.

The unions here at Netroots Nation all represent good people, strong workers and proud Americans, trying to put the American economy back together again.

But there is one union in America that did not come to Netroots Nation.

There is one union in America that is doing everything it can to block our American economy from moving forward.

There is one union in America that goes on strike constantly, for months at a time, even though these strikes severely damage our country.

There is one union in America that bullies and threatens its members to keep them in line.

There is one union in Americ that misappropriates its members funds — and even outright steals them if it thinks it can get away with it.

There is one union in America that is lazy, self-serving, corrupt, inefficient and determined to destroy the very fabric of our country whenever it can.

“What union is that?” you might ask.

It’s the URSCR, of course. The Union of Republican Senators and Congressional Representatives. And Washington DC is their union town.

PS: I’m currently attending a workshop on “Red-White-and-Blue-Washing,” wherein our good American jobs are being all shipped overseas and yet corporations try to make it appear that these jobs are being created at home. NOT.

Thanks again, URSCR.

“It can’t happen here”

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

“Roi Ottley’s World War II: the Lost Diary of an African American Journalist” (University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas © 2011) edited by Mark H. Huddle came to our attention while we were in the Berkeley Public Library looking for books with information about the fall of Paris in 1940.  We had never stopped to consider the potential existence of material that would cover the topic of the journalism in WWII done by writers with a pan African heritage.  A footnote reported that an article by John D. Stevens, titled “From the back of the Foxhole: Black correspondents in WWII” indicated that there were at least twenty-seven such individuals.  Could one of our columns spawn a doctoral dissertation project?

We had never before heard of the double “V” campaign that sought to publicize (and correct?) the irony that pan African soldiers from a country with segregation laws had risked death to fight a war against the white supremacist philosophy expressed by the Third Reich.

We learned that Roi Ottley had attended St. Bonaventure College and since we were preparing to act as tour guide to San Francisco for a high school classmate who had attended that institute of advanced learning, we knew we’d have something new to add to the conversation as we did the tourist bit in the bay area.

Recently we noted that Democrats were a tad disappointed in the developments in the realm of the XL pipeline, gun control, immigration reform, and the Civil War in Syria, and so we thought it would be a good idea to get a stock shot of the suicide hot line that is located adjacent to the Golden Gate Bridge combination bike path and walkway.  Maybe some disgruntle Democrats need to hear a bit of the old “buck up and stay the course” encouragement rather than doom and gloom assessments of how the Bush Forever War is lasting a long, long time and seems about to be expanded into a new Middle East country.

“Jersey Bill” is an avid bicyclist, but he thought that the Golden Gate Bridge’s effort to combine a walkway and a bike path was a klusterfuk.  We concurred.  Jersey Bill and his wife passed on the suggestion to go out to Treasure Island and see where the Pan Am office had been located.  They were, however, up for a trip down Nostalgia Lane to the intersection of Haight and Ashbury.

We knew that a Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream store now sits on one of the corners of that world famous intersection and we decided that a photo showing the new franchise for the chain that made the Cheery Garcia flavor and is situated less than two blocks away from a home that was once occupied by Gerry Garcia, might be a chance to work in some sly references to AARP aged peaceniks who protested the war in Vietnam and must now work up some new anti-war slogans to express their disapproval of President Obama’s program to supply weapons (and technical advisors?) to the Syrian rebels.

One of the stores in the area was hosting a jam done by a local musical group called the Garden Band.  We looked them up and they have a page on Facebook and that got us thinking.  Some time back we had a similar experience.  A local band had played a free concert in the nearby Golden Gate Park.  Sure enough the Jefferson Airplane also has a page on Facebook.  It’s a small (digital) world after all.

Old habits die hard and when we told our fellow high school classmate that we might describe the weekend tour of San Francisco in a column about Roi Ottley along with our recent prediction that the United States Supreme Court will declare gay marriage unconstitutional, Jersey Bill resorted to his decades old (how can that be if we are only 28 years old?) tradition of calling the World’s Laziest Journalist a crazy person.

He reminded us of one or two of the very few erroneous predictions we have made in  our long and distinguished journalism career.  Hell’s Bells, man, that’s half the fun of being a modern practitioner of the three dots journalism tradition.  Jersey Bill was unaware of the work done by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen.  He did know about Walter Winchell because he had been carried in the morning paper in the city where we had been classmates.

Since the three dot journalism style of columns indicates many rapid changes of topics and since the internet has encouraged skim reading, we had always assumed that the old style of one topic per column would be vulnerable to a skip-a-long reading method and since Herb Caen’s methodology was complete unpredictability of one paragraph to the next, imitating his style would trip-up the skim readers’ game plan.

A columnist who embraces the serendipity style can throw a rhetorical question, such as:  “Who is the only war criminal to win a Nobel Peace Prize?,” into this paragraph and then blithely move on to bankers’ chicanery in the next.

We tuned into the Stephanie Miller program on Tuesday of this week and heard her, Charlie Pierce, and the mooks inform their audience that some banks had determined that they were entitled to the insurance money that would be paid out to the people whose homes had been destroyed by tornadoes in Oklahoma.  The banks figured that they could collect the insurance company payouts to pay off the mortgages of the destroyed homes.  That radio team also pointed out that many of the Occupy folks were arrested for protesting the bankers’ greed but not one banker has been arrested for taking homes from hard working Americans.

Speaking of video of folks crying on camera, we learned on CBS Evening News, earlier on Tuesday, that a politician in Colorado who urged gun control is facing a recall challenge.

We told Jersey Bill that in our next column we would deliver a challenge to the folks who aren’t upset by the collection of Internets information.  In a free country what’s wrong with taking a look at a site that challenges your beliefs?  If you think that’s A-OK, then we double dog dare readers to just take a look at one of the web sites that offers custom tailored SS Officers’ uniforms.

The staff at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is working at maximum capacity this year because of the 50th anniversary of the vanishing grassy knoll persons of interest, the Cheshire cat WMD’s in Iraq, the building that just sorta fell down, etc., but the news item about some folks urging a new investigation into the accident that caused TWA flight 800 to fall out of the sky is causing the Personnel Department at the Amalgamated Factory (at a secret location in the Sierra Nevada foothills) to contact retirees and make lucrative offers to lure them back to the daily grind.

If any of the beloved inhabitants of the White House are ever caught in just one lie then patriotic Democrats will be forced by logic into considering the possibility that all the wild conspiracy theories from the last half century (starting on November 22, 1963?) have been refuted with lies.  Fortunately, the Democrats love the current occupant of the Oval Office so much that when he makes the assertion that the FISA courts, which have made 10,000 decisions in favor of government snooping but that the details of everyone of those cases makes complete secrecy necessary, is proof that he kept his promise to deliver transparency.  The Democrats believe him without flinching.  It’s as if all the Presidents have combined to pitch a perfect game as far as fibbing about mysterious unexplained phenomenon is concerned.

Jersey Bill takes a very dim view of the opportunity to jump on a bus near his home and go over to New York City to absorb some of the many cultural offerings and since many tourists remark that San Francisco bears a family resemblance to the Big Apple, (“Manhattan with hills added.”) we were not surprised when Jersey Bill informed us that he and his wife intended to get the hell out of Frisco sooner than we expected.

Thus, instead of spending Father’s Day continuing our tour guide service for a long time friend, we impulsively took one of the panhandlers in Berkeley out for an Eggs Benedict breakfast.  It was the first time he ever had that treat.  Listening to that fellow do a Howard Beale style rant we wondered why talk radio (or at least local cable access TV) doesn’t offer the audience a real choice and have a homeless pundit to push the debate to extreme freedom of speech limits?  Critics of talk radio contend that it is a variation of “good cop/bad cop” because the conservative hosts deliver conservative talking points and the callers second the motion.  On liberal talk shows, the host spends most of the phone time refuting callers who spout conservative talking points.

Do “they” just want to spin the illusion of public debates on all the current topics or do “they” really want a modern example of “no holds barred” brainstorming to solve problems?  Doesn’t being “intransigent” and ignoring other points of view, leave a whole lot more time for watching the NBA finals, the Stanley Cup playoffs, the mid season baseball games, and the NFL preseason exhibition games?  (Can players earn bonuses for extremely hard hits during an exhibition game?)

[Note from the Photo Editor:  The suicide hotline on the Golden Gate Bridge serves as a very grim reminder that there is a potential for some very lugubrious consequences if the United States Supreme Court makes some unpopular decisions later this month.]

We reminded Jersey Bill of Hunter S. Thompson’s  quote about how life should be lived:  “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming – Wow – What a ride!”

Now the disk jockey will celebrate National Music day by playing: “Just keep walking, Ambrose (Part V),” Duane Eddy’s Rebel Rouser,” and Waylon Jenning’s “I’ve always been crazy.”  We have to go observe Cuckoo Warning Day and International Surfing Day.  Have a “hang ten” type week.

June 20, 2013

Netroots Nation opening night: Howard Dean, the Tech Museum & magical thinking

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:58 am

Photos of Dean, etc. are at

Today, when I drove down to San Jose to attend the opening night of the Netroots Nation bloggers’ convention, you would think that I was getting ready to go off to the moon or something — not just 40 miles away. And when I got down there, all I wanted to do was take a nap — I had jet lag?

But my hotel had a refrigerator so I went off to Trader Joe’s to stock it with kale-cranberry salads and yogurt and tortilla chips.

At 7:30 pm, it was time to go off to the Tech Museum. Howard Dean is going to speak? Really? I love Howard Dean. He’s my favorite. Imagine if he had won in 2004 instead of just having Bush and Diebold steal the election. We would all have single-payer healthcare right now, and one out of nine American bridges wouldn’t be about to fall down because all our money is being spent on bombing Syria, etc. instead.

“When’s Howard Dean gonna speak?” I must have asked at least a hundred people. Lots of shrugs.

“I don’t know.”

“He already spoke!” finally said the 150th person I asked.

“What did he say?”

“I don’t know,” she replied. The Tech Museum has a lousy sound system. But finally I found someone who had heard what Dean said.

“He said, ‘We are the change.’” Really? I coulda said that.

But there sure are a lot of people here at this opening night. Plus there was lots of free food and I got to tour the Tech Museum and get my photo taken in a fake astronaut suit.

PS: How will change for the better ever come? Here’s my latest theory: Magical thinking.

“But, Jane,” you might say, “magical thinking changes nothing.” Yeah it does. Just ask the GOP.

Inside each of our rational adult selves, there appears to be a very small, very scared kid. And the best way to reassure this small, scared little kid is to tell him or her some magical-thinking fairy-tale stories. A little kid can’t tell the difference. A little kid actually thinks that magic works.

So you tell the little kid inside all of us some magical fairy tales. That’s what the GOP does. Big Bad Wolves and ogres and stuff. it’s Fox News’ bread and butter.

Magical thinking.

“We are the change?” Sure. Why not. Progressives could use some magical thinking too.

PPS: Human beings only really thrive when they have problems to solve. So here’s a problem to for us to solve, a Big problem to solve: World peace.

“Once upon a time, there was a little girl with a problem….” Fill in the blanks about how she solved it. Super powers? Magic wands? Or just being the change that we want to be.

June 12, 2013

The Fall of Paris, the Magic Bullet, Mick Jagger’s Birthday

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 3:34 pm

Cut social programs; spend billions in Afghanistan

In 1940, on June 14th, the German Army rolled into Paris and a photograph of the Nazi soldiers marching down the Champs Elise would be an appropriate metaphor for illustrating how many rank and file members of the Democrat Party felt this week as they watched the President and some important D-Senators put a retroactive stamp of approval on George W. Bush’s Patriot Act.  Obama has done what Dubya could not.  Obama has gotten the Democrats to go along with the Bush war policies.

In the book “Paris in the Third Reich,” by David Pryce-Jones there is one particular photo that shows a very somber and sullen group of people listening to music in a park in the fall of 1940.  You could take a similar picture at the local Democrats club this weekend, eh?

Due to a commitment to act as tour guide of San Francisco for a fellow high school classmate and his wife, we decided to post our week in review Friday column a bit early this week and as we prepared to do so we thought about how it might have been a tad premature to retire “write for Combat Newspaper” off our bucketlist.  Perhaps we will get a chance to (someday) cross-post our columns on a digital Combat 2.0 version of that history making newspaper.  On the other hand perhaps we will (someday) be offered a lucrative chance to become a columnist for the Paris Zeitung.  (“Bevus, did he just say “Huffington Post”?)

While doing the fact checking for our custom tailored tour of San Francisco, we have been desperately trying to revive the mental set we held when we first arrived in the area and so we have been reviewing the music from that era.  Head shops, hippie paraphernalia, and psychedelic posters were just as ubiquitous back then, as was the song “Age of Aquarius.”

At the beginning of this century, we often heard the kids at UCLA say:  “If you can remember the Sixties . . . you weren’t really there.”

How the heck can we possibly resurrect the vibes that made San Francisco in the late Sixties so special?  Can a retired school teacher from New Jersey possibly understand what it was like to be in the vortex of the pop culture scene?

We never did look up the guy from our college who had been a fellow worker on the college newspaper and yearbook.  We heard he was working in San Francisco and had devised a thing called the “A-Z pub craw.”  Later we learned that he had been working on a small local magazine devoted to (mostly) Rock’n’Roll music.

Our fellow alumni had a wide assortment of duties for that publication and (allegedly) one of them was to act as “handler” for that magazine’s most illustrious writer who described the unique experience that was San Francisco in the late Sixties in a book that was about beer and loafing in Las Vegas.

How can we possibly help our guests to recall the crazy time when it was unpatriotic to question America’s involvement in a war half a world away?  Now, of course, America and the politicians know that only a matter such as taking a side in the Sunni vs. Shiite religious question is worth the investment of time, money, and military resources.

A member of Berkeley’s art community (ironically?) recently gave some tour guide advice to the World’s Laziest Journalist which made the assertion:  “Don’t take visitors directly to the City Lights Bookstore.”  Of course not!  First we’ll take them to the Golden Gate Bridge . . . then we’ll head directly to the North Beach area.

Unfortunately we must gently warn our pal, Jersey Bill, that one of his strongest tourist requests will have to be eliminated from the agenda.  Due to the unbelievable work load daunting the staff at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory (located at a secret location in the Berkeley Hills area) campus, we won’t be able to provide a stealth visit to the legendary underground facility.

A conspiracy theory bubble is being experienced during 2013.  It is a bull market for conspiracy theories.  Not only is the staff busy with commemorative work during the fiftieth anniversary of the Magic Bullet, they are being overwhelmed by work focusing on recent current events.

A radical element of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory staff is (respectfully) suggesting that the fellow called “Edward Snowden” is actually a fictional creation designed to serve in the capacity of a Judas Goat to Legitimatize the Democratic Party’s implementation of the Bush Administration war policies.  What if Snowden is a combination Trojan Horse, false flag, clandestine operation all rolled into one that will soon do the Cheshire Cat disappearing act and never becomes available to answer such perplexing questions as why the hell didn’t the bloke just get filthy rich by writing a self help book for people who in the Golden Age of Austerity Budgets desperately want to parlay a high school dropout life into a 17 grand a month cushy gig?

Even the top rated members of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory Research and Development Department are baffled by the question:  “What the hell can a dropout do that’s worth that much austerity budget era salary?”

Are Americans expected to believe that the guy was a very highly paid example of a digital rent-a-cop who just sits at a desk and waits for an alarm notice to appear on his computer screen?  At which time, like a second baseman in a double play, he will notify his boss that the megadata has hit the fan?

Speaking of the mainstream media dropping the ball, the astrologist at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is still just about the only person in the universe predicting that a conservative majority Supreme Court will earn the undying gratitude of critics of (as Mike Savage calls it) San Francisco Values by declaring gay marriages unconstitutional.  In the spirit of “Dewey Wins!” journalism, shouldn’t some of the mainstream media be doing contingency feature stories about the potential for a tsunami of legal nightmares if gay marriages are declared unconstitutional?

In the era of skeleton news staffs, maybe it makes sense for them to avoid wasting time on a hypothetical and thys should just stand by to do a “breaking news” emotional meltdown approach to a “no one saw this coming” SCOTUS decision.

Paris Fashion Week will celebrate its 70th birthday this year (just like Mick Jagger) but history buffs will recall that the first Paris Fashion Week was held in New York City due to the fact that many thought all the bunting with swastikas would class with the new dresses.

Who knew that when the first Paris Fashion Week was being held that eventually both the Republicans and Democrats in the USA and New York City would eventually embrace preemptive invasions, waterboarding, and “If you see something suspicious, report it!”?  (We have seen reports that Chancellor Hitler became very annoyed with the number of people who filed phony “suspicious activities” reports just to cause neighbors to spend extra time contending with all the subsequent paperwork that had to be filled out.)

[Note from the photo editor:  What could be more patriotic than eliminating the Social Security program while spending billions in Afghanistan?]

The World’s Laziest Journalist has, in the past, been a wee bit cynical and sarcastic regarding the potential for Obama to join FDR and JFK in the Democratic Party Hall of Fame, but we that it is obvious that the fellow is a Republican, we’ll exercise our freedom of speech and go to warp speed to express some reservations.  If Uncle Rushbo and the Republicans want to impeach Obama we’ll stand by to provide some unbiased sarcastic remarks about the process as it unfolds.  We’ll go along with whatever happens, data gathering, impeachment, ideological stalemate, whatever but we’ll stay in the boat.  The prospect of a tiger scares the bejesus out of us.  Approving the data gathering reminds us of the old Winston Churchill quote:  “Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount.  And the tigers are getting hungry.”

Now the disk jockey will play Moby Grapes “If you can’t learn from my mistakes,” the Electric Prunes’ “I had too much to dream last night,” and Janis Joplin’s “Get it while you can.”  We have to go find our MTA map of Frisco.  Have a “fa-a-a-r-r-r out” week.

June 10, 2013

Profiles in Courage: Why John F. Kennedy had to die

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 4:04 pm

I have an old car. And I love my old car. But its funky old sound system consists of only a tape deck — not even a CD player let alone an iPod axillary port. So now I’m forced to play only old-school Books-on-Tape that I check out from the Berkeley Public Library every time I go on a road trip or I even need something to listen to while driving around town. And the BPL can only offer me a limited choice of funky old tapes to listen to — such as Dickens’ “Pickwick Papers” for instance. Or John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage”.

Remember when we used to be forced to read “Profiles in Courage” back in high school? Yeah, sure. But who the freak can even actually remember what JFK actually said. However, what JFK actually did say in this book is totally shocking. Why? Because it could have been written today — in today’s world, about today’s problems. And it also gives us a way to solve them.

How do you solve the problems of America today? According to JFK, it’s easy. You just show a little moral courage, exhibit a little moral backbone. Like, for instance, the moral courage exhibited by Kennedy himself. John F. Kennedy stood up to the military-industrial complex — because he thought it was the morally right thing to do.

And Kennedy died for his beliefs.

Who killed JFK? We may never know exactly who pulled the trigger or arranged the actual assassination (I myself favor the Pappy Bush theory), but we do know one thing for sure: Whoever did this evil deed has a “Profile in Cowardliness”.

I got so entranced by listening to Kennedy’s words on tape (read by his son John-John, by the way) that I went back to the BPL to check out the actual physical book itself. And guess what? This amazing book, one of the most important and relevant books to be read in the 21st century so far, could only be found in the children’s section of the main branch.

Kennedy wrote about eight U.S. Senatorial heroes who, at great cost to themselves, put America’s interests above their own, especially in times when other Senators were consistently only looking out for their own petty self-interests — and the interests of those lobbyists who had bribed them into corruption.

Senator Daniel Webster, for instance, “was not a Massachusetts man but an American,” who fought like a wildcat to preserve the sanctity of the Union. Imagine how Senator Webster would have reacted today if he had read the following article in “The Voltaire Network” entitled, “Kennedy, the Lobby and the Bomb,” regarding how AIPAC had spent billions of dollars buying members of the Senate to vote in Israel’s (not America’s) best interests.

If Daniel Webster was on the floor of the U.S. Senate today, you bet that America wouldn’t be dealing with the trillion-dollar-plus aftermath of the nuclear arms race in the Middle East that we have been facing since Kennedy was assassinated shortly after telling Israel prime minister David Ben-Gurion that getting The Bomb was a no-no.

“While all NATO member states and countries of the communist bloc were following the example of the USA and the USSR and taking a first step towards nuclear disarmament, Israel was acting secretly on its own, and Kennedy was determined to prevent it [and told Ben-Gurion of this intention in June of 1963 too]. Kennedy’s death a few months later eased the pressure on Israel. Johnson chose to turn a blind eye on the activities at Dimona.”

Johnson also turned a blind eye to the brutal strafing and bombing of the USS Liberty in 1967 by Israeli fighter jets, wherein 34 American soldiers were deliberately butchered

Webster would definitely have stood up to the Israel lobby.

In “Profiles in Courage,” JFK also wrote about brave Senator Edmund G. Ross, who was soundly defamed by his colleagues for not letting corporate scallywags sack and plunder the post-bellum South. And today, Ross would surely never have voted to give Monsanto a license to plunder America’s farm and food industries like our current cowardly bought-and-paid-for Congress just did

Another example of courage that Kennedy cited in his book was Senator Robert Taft’s protest against the illegality of the Nuremberg trials. “You can’t try someone for crimes ex post facto,” said Taft — or words to that effect. Taft’s highly unpopular stand, however, helped pave the way for the 1949 Geneva Conventions. But his stubborn defense of upholding the Rule of Law in America also cost him his bid for the presidency.

And today? Taft surely would have been horrified by Guantanamo, America’s perverse dark side evil twin of the Nuremberg trials — where Nazis have become us.

And Sam Houston? He became the most despised man in Texas because he opposed his state’s succession from the Union — kind of like when Congresswoman Barbara Lee was the only person in the House of Representatives to stand up against America’s stupid and brutal attack on Afghanistan. Or like Senator Paul Wellstone, who mysteriously died in a plane crash shortly after voting to oppose GWB’s evil and avaricious war policies

If Sam Houston were alive today, however, Texas would still be despising him because you can bet your boots that old Sam would have also stood up against Bush’s Folly — Bush’s disastrous war on Iraq.

And in the early 1960s, John F. Kennedy also took a brave stand against unnecessary, trumped-up and preemptive war — putting our nation’s interests above those of Wall Street and War Street when he tried to stop the military-industrial complex’s disastrous war on Vietnam.

In October of 1963, Kennedy apparently also questioned the CIA’s expanding role in declaring and conducting foreign wars on their own — especially the show that they had been running in Vietnam. Shortly thereafter, Kennedy was killed.

In the words of current NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, “You can’t come forward against the world’s most powerful intelligence agency…. No one can meaningfully oppose them. If they want to get you, they’ll get you in time.”

No wonder John F. Kennedy had to die.

PS: I’ll be attending the annual Netroots Nation convention again this year — if my wonderful old car can make it all the way to San Jose, that is. It will be happening on the weekend of June 20-23. Totally fun, educational and entertaining. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

June 7, 2013

Wiretapping becomes patriotic!

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:22 pm

Kalgoorlie’s War Memorial

Obama’s efforts to wean the Democratic Party onto Bush Administration policies, which gave members of the Democratic rank and file fits of apoplexy during the Bush reign, seemed completed this week as Democrats and Republicans in both the Congress and the Senate shrugged off reports of government access to citizens’ phone records with an extremely blaze attitude.  Paranoia is patriotic and privacy is passé.

Could any of the politicians, who are überenthusiastic about the prospect of fighting terrorism by inspecting phone records, be vulnerable to manipulation (i.e. blackmail)?  Wouldn’t veteran married politicians, who had (hypothetically) placed multiple phone calls to single young attractive people at odd and non-business hours, be able to act (a key word) enthusiastic about such snooping?

The transition from a Bush Administration promoting invasions, drones, wiretaps, torture, and Guantanamo to a Democratic Administration that continues those policies as if they were venerable American traditions came to completion this week and thereby eliminated any tarnishing on the concept of a Bush Dynasty as an American version of the British Royal family and thus eliminated the largest negative factor from the prospect of JEB Bush’s participation in the 2016 Presidential Primary contest.

For the lefties who find that idea repugnant there were other topic during the first week of June for them to use to vent their outrage, such as the prospect of learning a new list of names involved in the baseball steroid scandal and a new installment of soap opera journalism as a beloved celebrity tries to lick throat cancer.

The Getty and Armstrong radio program, earlier this week, intrigued their listeners with the possibility that California voters had been victimized by a fraud that would result in a need for taxpayers to subsidize the costs of a bullet train.  We jumped online and learned that a court case, which is underway in Sacramento to consider the future of the costly venture, is a complex and confusing topic and any attempts to simplify the Gordian Knot of issues involved would only produce a tsunami of WFC (Who ******* Cares?) reactions in the Facebook mentality atmosphere of the current American Pop Culture scene.

Anyone who wants a tsunami of Facebook “likes” would be better off collecting celebrity gossip items, rather than trying to becoming the pundit other pundits read first.

Back in the Sixties, a series of photos graphically showed a distinctive style of cobwebs produced by spiders who had ingested LSD.  Earlier in the history of the Internets, the topic of kittens who had been taught to paint caused a stir.  Would it behoove the “like” level of the World’s Laziest Journalists’ efforts to go viral with punditry on Facebook if we subsidized the costs of investigating the artistic efforts of feline Rembrandts who had been dosed with LSD?

Marc Eliot in his book “Steve McQueen,” on page 68, describes a tense confrontation between Steve McQueen and Frank Sinatra on the set of the film “Never So Few.”  Finally Sinatra laughed.  They became friends for life.

Once upon a time, the judge in Malibu (according to a reliable source) was outraged when her housemaid was bitten by the neighbor’s dog.  The judge, who was a woman, was determined to “read the riot act” to the owner of the offending canine.  On the day following the scheduled confrontation her staff breathlessly awaited the judge’s report.  She told them:  “Mel Gibson has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen!”

Speaking of blue eyes, why doesn’t someone rebroadcast the TV special that was used to welcome Elvis back to America after serving his hitch in the Army in Germany?

Our efforts to e-duplicate (metaphorically speaking) Genghis Kahn’s slog to go visit the Pope in the Vatican via going viral on Facebook produced the fact that recently Australia’s Tourist Bureau brought several lucky individuals to their happiest country in the world (according to a recent Wall Street Journal story [who owns that newspaper?]) to become gainfully employed doing their dream job.  (Like Kerouac in “The Dharma Bums”?)  That, in turn, made us wonder why the Fox Media Empire doesn’t provide Good Morning Australia (GMA) to various cable companies in the USA.

If after a hectic morning Americans could tune in to an early morning TV show that exemplified the old folks adage “the world’s can’t end today because it’s already tomorrow in Sydney,” wouldn’t that in itself be therapeutic and inspiring?  The chance to deliver to Americans some feature stories would help boost tourism wouldn’t it?  If Sydney has a statue of Ivan, Queen Victoria’s dog, what would be the American equivalent of such a canine tribute?

“MarijuanAmerica:  One man’s quest to understand America’s dysfunctional love affair with weed,” written by Alfred Ryan Nerz (Abrams Image New York © 2013) caught our attention in the Berkeley Public Library’s main branch’s new books section and since we are a pushover for a new variation on the drive around America subgenre of literature and since columns that address the topic of the devil weed always get extra readers, we checked it out and will read it for a review in a future column.

Speaking of driving all around the USA, we wonder why some of the cynical, ever vigilant political pundits on TV haven’t questioned the curious fact that a lame duck President is doing an extensive amount of traveling to attending partisan fund raising events.  Should we start wearing our Wendell Willkie era “No Third Term” button again

In an era of austerity budget cuts some cities in the San Francisco Bay Area were uncomfortable with the concept of paying local police for providing extra security for a lame duck President raising funds for candidates spouting the liberal philosophy.

That brings us to FDR’s 1940 campaign promise that America’s kids wouldn’t be used as cannon fodder in a war on foreign soil. At the same time, Australians were a bit perturbed that many of their young men had been sent to participate in the slaughter of millions of young citizens of the British Empire in a war that was waged thousands of miles away from their homeland.  The Australian Prime Minister during WWII, John Curtin, told Winston Churchill that the Aussies in the military would only be used to defend their own country.  The American President seemed more concern with the potential loss of Australian land to an invading Japanese military than the British Prime Minister was.  The Brits were concerned about protecting access to oil in Saudi Arabia (sound familiar?).

Prime Minister Curtin, who isn’t mention in many history books about WWII, kept his commitment to his citizens and the Aussies were not sent to the European Theater of Operations as they had been after an Austrian nobleman had been “offed” by a (tah dah!) deranged lone gunman operating in Serajhivo.  When they promised to “never forget” the sacrifice made by those who died at Gallipoli, they kept their promise.

[Note from the photo editor:  Many Americans who are baffled by the word “Gallipoli” would be astounded to learn (by Watching Good Morning Australia?) that Kalgoorlie’s War Memorial is prominently displayed near the train station where most of the city’s tourists arrive.]

Would Australians be traumatized by the thought of sending troops to participate in the Syrian Civil War if they knew it is (relatively speaking) close to Gallipoli?

Isn’t it an odd coincidence to note that media moguls in the USA seem as reluctant to permitting foreign media into the lucrative market in America as were the staff of the German OKW during WWII?

Feeding Good Morning Australia to America’s cable TV audience might “poison the well” as far as pure ideology is concerned and therefore be as unappealing as the possibility of including Triple J radio, Sky Rock, and (if it still exists) Radio Caroline to the folks who get an app that lets them listen to thousands of American radio channels.  (Cue the image of the hall of mirrors sequence in “Lady from Shanghai”?)

The purity of America’s political philosophy must be insured and thus restricting access to foreign political punditry is as essential now as it was back in the day when news was controlled by Goebbels, eh?  Berkeley CA once elected a member of the Socialist Party as mayor and so American’s must be ever vigilant to stand guard against the possibility that their kids’ minds can be corrupted again by claptrap ideology from foreigners, eh?

The French teach their kids “One for all and all for one” (Just like in the book ?)  Do you want your kids thinking like the members of a famous Oakland motorcycle gang?  This is America and our motto (which should be on the money) is:  “Every man for himself, boys!”

W.E.B. du Bois said:  “Freedom always entails danger.”

Now the disk jockey will play AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” the Bee Gees’ “Nights on Broadway,” and Olivia Newton John’s “Have you never been mellow?”  We have to go investigate the disappearance of pay phones.  Have a “clean phone records” type week.

June 6, 2013

NSA spying on Verizon phone records is nothing new

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 11:58 pm

Author’s note:
Here we go again with another “scandal” that should have been uncovered during the Bush administration. Now watch the fascists blame this on Obama…

The “shocking” revelation that the NSA requested phone records from Verizon is not surprising to anyone who has been watching the rise of the police state that America has become since 9/11. The only thing new is now that a British newspaper published the story, the U.S. media and congress have to acknowledge it very publicly.

Today, lawmakers such as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) defended the practice as essential for national security. Others such as Rand Paul (R-KY) and Jeff Merkely (D-OR) called it, respectively, an “astounding assault on the constitution” and an “outrageous breach of Americans’ privacy.”

While Senator Feinstein stated that the practice has been in place since 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) more correctly pointed out that “it’s gone on for some seven years.” Indeed, the legal justification for monitoring the phone calls of U.S. citizens can be traced back to the Patriot Act, which became law on October 26, 2001.

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO), both on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a March 2012 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that most Americans would be “stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act.”

Americans would be even more stunned to learn that Verizon’s approximately 120 million customers are not the only ones being snooped on by government agencies – nearly every American is. And most Americans who rely on print and TV news probably have never heard of fusion centers and exactly what they do at the expense of their tax dollars.

Regarding the recent disclosure of the NSA court order for Verizon customer phone records, Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the ACLU, said in a statement:

Now that this unconstitutional surveillance effort has been revealed, the government should end it and disclose its full scope, and Congress should initiate an investigation. This disclosure also highlights the growing gap between the public’s and the government’s understandings of the many sweeping surveillance authorities enacted by Congress.

Like so many post-9/11 surveillance laws passed under the vague guise of “national security,” the policies of the U.S. government violate the civil liberties of ordinary Americans that should be guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and other laws.

The Senate report and the activity of fusion centers makes it clear that these facilities are designed to spy on American citizens, invading their privacy while doing nothing to stop terrorism. The request by the NSA to monitor the phone records of Verizon customers is only one pixel in a part of a much larger picture.

Many of the newly reborn proponents of civil liberties and constitutional rights were silent when those freedoms were being trampled upon as congress was running all over each other to let them be taken away shortly after 9/11. Now, our “news” is filled with “scandals” when the real things that Americans should be concerned about are ex post facto.

This is yet more evidence that America is turning from a democracy or constitutional republic into a corporate fascist state. Just look at the 14 defining characteristics of fascism and decide for yourself.

Read the full article, get links and a video here: Madison Independent Examiner.

Just in time for my birthday: Chez Panisse is opening again!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 8:39 pm

Who the freak ever wants to get older? Certainly not me! So about ten years ago, I started searching around for some really hard-core reason to actually want to start looking forward to celebrating my birthday each year. And what could be more exciting and wonderful than having dinner at one of America’s very top restaurants in order to celebrate! So that’s what I did. And now I save up my money all year and then treat myself to dinner at Chez Panisse on my birthday. It’s a great idea.

Now I can actually look forward to getting older (well, sort of).

But there’s just one little fly in the ointment here. Chez Panisse caught on fire last March and the whole front of the building burned down.

Hot to worry, however. I just heard that Chez Panisse will actually be re-opening again soon — and just in time for my birthday! That is, if they ever decide to let me back into the place.

There’s a really good reason why we Muslims try to keep away from drinking alcohol — and therein hangs this tale. On my 70th birthday last year, I bought a bottle of my mother’s favorite brand of cheap vin rosé from the local CVS to take along to the big dinner event, thinking that this would be a great token gesture toward my now-departed mother on my behalf. After all, she did give birth to me, right?

But my kids just kept pouring the stuff into my glass without me noticing and, darn, by the end of the meal, I was totally smashed and completely passed out.

“Would you like me to call 911 for your mother?” asked a courteous and rather concerned waiter.

“Not necessary,” my son-in-law replied. “She’s just drunk.” And then he picked me up, threw my unconscious body over his shoulder and walked out. How humiliating. Thank goodness I can remember nothing!

But will Chez Panisse ever let me back in again to celebrate yet another year of getting older? If I promise to stay on the wagon? Since my next birthday will be coming up in a few weeks, we’ll soon find out.

Last year’s birthday dinner was definitely one that I will never forget (but sincerely hope that Chez Panisse won’t remember).

PS: Dinners at Chez Panisse are expensive, sure, but not anywhere near as expensive as one of those screwed-up Lockheed-Martin F-35 bombers that have already proved to be a complete waste of us taxpayers’ money

I figure that if our so-called leaders had just taken that $84,000,000,000 that they’ve totally wasted on the F-35 so far and spent that money on sending people to Chez Panisse for their birthday dinners instead, then approximately 700,000,000 birthday boys and girls could now be celebrating bigtime at the newly-reopened Chez Panisse — including you, me, and every single other person in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Cheers!”

PPS: And with regard to Homeland Security, which has spent most of its Boston budget allotment for the last several years checking up on Occupy Wall Street and other legitimate American protest groups instead of following known leads on known terrorists? Imagine how many more people could have eaten their birthday dinners at Chez Panisse with that wasted money too?

Homeland Security apparently spent billions in Boston investigating Occupy Wall Street movements in Bean Town. How much have they spent? Let’s say three billion. That would have been 2,500,000 happy diners celebrating their birthdays at you-know-where instead of so many people in Boston injured or killed because DHS didn’t do its job.

Three billion dollars is enough for every man, woman and child in Berkeley to celebrate their birthdays at Chez Panisse 21.9 times — or else for everybody in downtown Boston to eat there, including airfare here and back.

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