July 26, 2013

Hilary vs. JEB 2016 race “too close to call”

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:29 pm

Oakland mayor Jean Quan addresses a Zimmerman verdict protest demonstration on Saturday July 20, 2013.

[<B> Note:  The legal department insisted that this column be clearly labeled as a work of fiction and attempt at achieving humor so that it would be exempted from the ministrations of a member of the fact checkers’ union.</B>]

Since JEB Bush and Hillary Clinton both have such a commanding lead in the mad scramble for their respective party’s Presidential nomination, the World’s Laziest Journalist News Organization conducted some polling to asses the likely winner of the (hypothetical?) expected 2016 match-up and have determined that the race is, at this point, too close to call.

Mrs. Clinton, a former Little Rock Arkansas housewife, became known during Obama’s Second Term for her efforts to establish a political strategy consulting firm in Washington D. C.  Then she decided to become her own top client and run for President.

JEB Bush, who has been Governor of Florida, is a recognized authority on academic matters and he runs a Journalism consulting firm which lists Fox as its top client.  He also has been a top military advisor for the fellow who occupied the White House before the Obama Recession devastated the American economy.  JEB, before he entered politics in Florida, was a famous musician who might be best known as a pioneer in the mariachi surf sound because of his no. one hits “Swimming to Miami,” “Alligators in El Paso,” and “Deficit wipeout!”

Speaking of Florida’s and America’s political future, the Astrology desk at the World’s Laziest Journalist News Organization is predicting that Congressman George Zimmerman, who was a famous crime fighter before he entered politics, will win reelection to a second term in the 2016 general elections.

Conspiracy Theory aficionados are speculating about the possibility that an investigation is needed regarding their suspicion that a bit of a combination psy-ops and jury tampering might have occurred in conjunction with the George Zimmerman acquittal.

Liz Cheney has upset some Republicans by announcing that she would like to run for the Senate from Wyoming.  When her father suddenly announced that he had concluded that the best running mate for George W. Bush should be Dick Cheney some curmudgeonly Democrats objected because the rules specifically state that the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate can not be from the same state.  Dubya was a Texan and the Dickster was living in Texas, but when the objections were raised . . . faster than you can say “Poof be gone!,” Dick Cheney was suddenly a Wyoming resident.  Why shouldn’t the same magical logic apply to his daughter?

Speaking of forgotten past news items, this week in San Francisco a bicyclist was charged with vehicular manslaughter and the case was being described as a first.  Wasn’t there a pedestrian killed by a bicyclist on Ocean Front Walk at the Venice Beach back about 1978 or 79?  Didn’t the AP move a photo on the wire (at least for a regional split) of a related protest?

Did anyone else notice that in the last full week of July 2013, both the Uncle Rushbo and the Norman Goldman/Mike Malloy factions of talk radio seemed (cue the Hallelujah Chorus song) to be in agreement about one thing:  Americans don’t care about the birth of a kid who might be the King of England 65 years from today.  Heck the American media seems this week to be ignoring the trials and tribulations for one of Michael Jackson’s kids.  Back in the day couldn’t he make world headlines by holding his kid over the edge of a balcony.  Are news editors that fickle?

The Armstrong and Getty radio show criticized CBS Evening News for using the royal birth as a lead item.  Apparently the CBS news team doesn’t care about the fact that Iraq has been determined to be in a state of Civil War (should the USA send troops?) and that Syria’s Civil War may also need some American troops.  It’s as if CBS had sent a guy to cover the Battle of Britain and he sent back a report about how the Princess was handing out candy bars in an air raid shelter.  Wouldn’t CBS have wanted something more hard news-ish?   One day soon, won’t the “Peace in our time” era be celebrating its 75th anniversary?

This weeks news story about another accident involving an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us that we have intended to write to the Columbia Journalism Review and ask them if the continuing series of ads proclaiming that British Petroleum has helped the Gulf area return to normal, which accompany the CBS Evening News Broadcasts seen in the San Francisco Bay area are seen in the same context around the USA and does that constitute a conflict of interest?  If the phrase Ethics in Journalism isn’t an oxymoron, then could the folks that teach journalism consider the BP ads an example of applying the “hide in plain sight” principle to the concept of bribery?

Should the Columbia Journalism Review call CBS out for a conflict of interest?  Maybe we’ll send the URL for this column to the editor of that publication and ask about that.

Was there any other criticism this week of CBS Evening New that we missed?

Private Eye, a publication in Great Britain, epitomized the prevalent opinion for most Americans with their headline:  “Woman has baby.”

We have heard an unconfirmed report that the folks who participated in the Occupy movement are planning on having a reunion in Kalamazoo soon.  Our reaction to that was to suggest that a famous Kalamazoo resident should come out of retirement and help them with a benefit concert.

Isn’t the “Elvis isn’t dead” exhibit in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory’s Hall of Fame a perennial favorite with the tourists who are granted the rare privilege of a tour of the facility’s campus?

Why is there so much secrecy surrounding the annual “Conspiracy Theory of the Year” award ceremony?

Some dismal Democrats are asserting that Detroit’s bankruptcy ploy is a shameful attempt to destroy the pensions for people who worked for that city all their lives.  The Democrats say destroying lives and stealing pension funds as if that were bad.  In a country with a large contingent of homeless citizens, isn’t it appropriate to have voters’ attention focused on a city full of empty and abandoned homes?

If a Republican politician is caught in a sex scandal he can just ignore it and win reelection, but if a Democrat is accused, an immediate resignation becomes a matter of national honor.

The drugs in baseball scandal seems to be a news story on steroids and it won’t go away.

The stalled bridge story in the San Francisco Bay area might win national attention if some New York based editors ever stop to think that perhaps the crumbling interstructure meme has gone to the extreme and the West Coast Oakland Bay Bridge stall out story may soon be used to exemplify the idea that America is now building new bridges that are already unsafe the day they are opened.

We have been reading some political history and apparently up until 1946 the Thirties were called The Republican Depression.  After the end of WWII, the Republicans renamed it the Great Depression and folks like Dick Nixon won elections in large numbers.  The communist hunting California congressman won his seat in Congress in a district that had been home to a fellow who had scored high on the liberal side of the conservative vs. liberal measurement scale.  See how well a good bit of spin can work?

In a week where the bitching about the NSA surveillance of e-mails and phone calls was seeping into some Republican talking points, no one suggested that if the snooping is as good as its proponents say it is, then perhaps the NSA will finally be able to figure out who made huge profits on the short sale of airline stocks at the time the World Trade Center was attacked.

It seems like the World’s Laziest Journalist will, once again this year, miss the Hemingway Days festivities in Key West.

[Note from the photo editor:  There were a good number of historic photo opportunities happening lately but getting some photos of a rally that protested the verdict in the George Zimmerman trail was the only event we were able to attend and photograph, hence our ability to select the best frame to accompany this column was a bit limited.  We did the best we could with the resources we had.]

Anton Chekhov has been quoted as saying:  “The word “newspaper-writer” means, at very least, a scoundrel.”

For no particular reason the disk jockey wanted to play us out with songs about drinking in Mexico so he will play Heino’s song “In einer Bar in Mexico,” Marty Robin’s “El Paso,” and Waylon and Willies’ “Clean Shirt.”  We have to go celebrate Mick Jagger’s 70th birthday.  Have a “get off my cloud” type week.

July 25, 2013


Filed under: Guest Comment — Ye Olde Scribe @ 6:27 am

July 22, 2013

Be very afraid: What happens when the other bad guys get drones too?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:30 pm

OMG! What if American neo-cons aren’t the only imperialist bastards to start developing and using drones! What if some other imperial bastard bad guys also start using drones too? Or Goldfinger or the NSA or the phone company gets them? Then, obviously, what would happen next is that wedding parties in Oregon and Ohio and women and children in New Hampshire and New Mexico will also have to keep their eyes on the skies 24/7 too — just like they now do in Pakistan and Palestine!

And when (not if) this happens, we can realistically expect to see a whole new 9-11-style fear-and-loathing scenario being played out every day on every quiet, peaceful suburban street in America.

Yes, thanks to drones, war might easily be coming to America soon — just like the Pentagon has already generously brought war to the doorstep of almost every other country on the planet.

When the American neo-con military-industrial complex began developing and using drones, it obviously opened a whole new can of worms. And are we any safer now because of these drones? NOT. What goes around comes around. Thanks a lot, War Street.

“But, Jane,” you might say, “you’re acting just like Chicken Little here. No one else is gonna be able to develop drones — or be able to use them either.” Hey, why not? Drones are basically model airplanes with payloads. How hard can it be to develop one of those? All that the other bad guys have to do is just infiltrate some model-airplane rally in Ohio — and it’s Goodnight Cincinnati.
Someone just informed me that Monsanto is currently also developing drones. Dare to plant some heirloom tomatoes in your back yard and you’re toast! “Step away from the tomatoes!” That is, if you get any warning at all.

And I also just learned that in Afghanistan the Taliban are now able to bring American imperial bad guys’ drones under radio control and then use them to strike back. What if DuPont seized Monsanto’s drones? Or the Mafia seized control of your friendly local police department’s drones? Or psychopathic child-stalkers in Florida got their hands on one. Or if they started having drone wars on “Big Brother” or “Survivor”? Or what if those mean girls at your old high school got “droned” by the science nerds. Fox News could use them to knock off us liberals. Scouting could even offer a “I built a drone!” merit badge. And I bet that those same National Rifle Association marketing executives who brought us Sandy Hook and Stand Your Ground would just be creaming their jeans at the thought of selling every household on every block in America its very own drone.

The possibilities for death from the skies are endless here. And you don’t even need to have access to yellow-cake or reactors or cyclotrons to kill people either!

Be very afraid.

PS: The National Security Agency should also start being very afraid too — but for a different reason. If the NSA truly is listening in on all of our phone conversations and reading all of our FB pages and e-mails, then it must surely know for certain what billions of people all over the world are currently saying about their outrageous spying operations — and not one of these billions are hitting the “Like” button either.

It must be really scary for the NSA to eavesdrop on so many of the world’s party lines — only to discover that everyone who is anyone is talking trash about THEM

PPS: And speaking of national security, I just went to see The Lone Ranger — and loved it. It seems that the Lone Ranger and Tonto were actually keeping the Old West safe from corporate corruption! So where are they now when we really need them?

Then I went to see “World War Z,” a biology-gone-wild thriller that you just gotta love But then on the way home, I tripped on a broken sidewalk, broke my arm and ended up in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, giving a whole new meaning to the term, “blockbuster”.

And another summer blockbuster that I’m all excited to see is “Elysium,” with Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. “In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined planet.” This is the logical extension of what is currently happening on our corporatized planet — except that in Elysium in 2154, the American imperialist bastards of the future have even awesomely hotter-looking robots and drones than they do now.


July 19, 2013

Weddings, Justice, and Journalism

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:28 pm


Tuesday verdict protest in Oakland CA

[Due to austerity budget measures the services of the fact checker have been eliminated for this column.]

A very wealthy conservative who is upset with the impact the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage will have on family values has decided to form a corporation and will hire a bevy of extremely attractive young ladies to fill the board of directors and will then marry that person/corporation. His law staff assured him that it will be legal since corporations are people and since the definition of marriage has been expanded far beyond the limitations of “between a man and a woman,” his marriage might offend some liberals who preach family values, but it will be a legal marriage.  He expects that some private tapes of his romps with the board of directors might actually win some adult film awards and that a reality TV show deal is a “gimme.”  What young couch potato wouldn’t enjoy the vicarious experiences of an old curmudgeon with the power to hire, fire, and manage a de facto harem?

Great Britain announced this week that the Queen has decreed that gay marriages will be legal.

Speaking of “family values,” the Armstrong and Getty radio show assures listeners that the mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, will become famous nationally because of his hypocrisy regarding sexual exploitation.

Another news item about Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who may be charged because of a weekend incident, was featured on that radio show because it made a Democratic Party politician look like a family values hypocrite.

Paul Krassner’s opinion, awhile back, in The Realist magazine that the Democratic and Republican political parties in the USA were examples of the old “identical twins separated at birth” phenomenon caused extreme skepticism when we read those words.  After last weekend, when the Republicans hailed the verdict for the George Zimmerman trail and President Obama shrugged it off with a comment about how the jury had spoken, we noted that our opinion of Krasner’s insight will have to be revised to a much higher level of esteem.

On the 8 a.m. CBS radio network news broadcast for Tuesday, July 16, 2013, listeners were informed about a violent reaction to the verdict in the Zimmerman trail occurred in a franchise for a well known fast food hamburger chain in Los Angeles CA.  Folks who actually live in that berg don’t need to hear Jack Webb doing a voice over capsule description of their home town to know that more than one franchise operates in that large metropolitan area and that the specifics about which particular one was the scene of the fracas would be a relevant fact that should have been included in the news item.

The CBS audience also heard about another facet of the nation’s reaction to the verdict and was told that a third night of unrest had occurred in Oakland.  Since it was a chilly gray overcast day the chance to run down to the Oakland City Hall area and see if we could get some photographs of the clean-up efforts for possible use with a weekend wrap-up column seemed like a constructive way to pass the time.  Some mediocre news photos were not worth using.

On Tuesday night, we went down to the City Hall area of Oakland for a personal inspection of the potential trouble spot.  There were about two dozen people assembled there at 7 p.m. with four TV trucks and a large contingent of police standing by to handle any unlawful conduct.

On Wednesday night CBS Evening News did a feature story on the Civil War battle at Fort Wagner in Charleston harbor.  They noted that one fellow was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor (which he received many years later in the mail) but didn’t tell their viewers that the Fifty Forth Massachusetts Regiment, the first black unit recruited in the North, was engaged in a dispute over equal pay when they were given the assignment to attack Fort Wagner, which was, according to Otto Friedrich’s article titled “the Trial of Sergeant Walker,” a virtual suicide order.  A fellow who was a hero in that battle, Sergeant William Walker, was later executed for mutiny sparked by the equal pay dispute.  This week probably was a bad time to publicize any facts about American History containing any instances of racism.

In an episode of “An American in England,” broadcast in 1942, which, according to Joseph E. Persico’s biography of Edward R. Murrow, was “a time when black GI’s were being lynched by white American soldiers for dating English girls,” hinted that there was some animosity based on racism occurring between the members of the American military stationed in Great Britain during WWII.

Speaking of racism and the military, until recently we had never heard of “the Double V” campaign, now we see that Bloomsburg Press has just published Rawn James, Jr.’s book titled “The Double V:  How Wars, Protests and Harry Truman desegregated America’s Military.”

The public’s enthusiasm for the America’s Cup Races, which are being conducted on San Francisco Bay, has failed to generate a massive amount of interest for local sports fans.  Some of the contests have been described as one boat races, which might tend to diminish the amount of illegal wagering those contests could generate.  Not to worry, any financial shortfall caused by lower than expected attendance and related revenues will be covered by the local taxpayers.  San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll Wednesday wrote:  “Conspicuous consumption, the kind represented by the extremely pricey – and useless for anything else – America’s Cup boats is sort of rude in this era of austerity.”

We have been told that the one boat races are the equivalent of the timing of practice laps for a car race that are used to determine the starting positions for the participants in the race.  The intrigue factor for a lone boat sailing on the bay isn’t quite as appealing as a chance to get an up close look at fast cars vying for the pole position at the Indianapolis 500.

After being acquitted of the charges that Lizzie Borden used an ax to chop up her parents, did she convert her fame into a fortune?  Isn’t becoming a pop culture star the ultimate step in the process of the rehabilitation of a person suspected of criminal activity?

[Note from the photo editor:  Photos that were more feature-ish than hard news were taken on Tuesday night July 16 in Oakland at a verdict protest rally.  For a photographer, who was offering anti-war protest photos to AP 47 years ago, less dramatic photos of protest signs taken earlier this week were good enough.  (The writer, who claims to be 28 year old, might have to remind readers at this point that this column has not been approved by a member of the fact checker union.)]

Homer Simpson has been quoted as saying “I didn’t do it.  Nobody saw me do it.  You can’t prove a thing.”

Now the disk jockey will play Girls with Guns’ song “Girls with guns,” Elton John’s “I feel like a bullet (in the gun of Robert Ford),” and Ry Cooder’s “The Girls from Texas.”  We have to do some fact checking to learn what Peaches said to Browning.  Have an “Oxbow Incident free” type week.

July 16, 2013

Birth control and abortion: A man’s right to choose!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:37 pm

I recently saw a cartoon of a man walking out of an X-rated video store — only to be confronted by an irate bunch of women picketing him and screaming, “Masturbation is murder!” and “Life begins at erection!” Truly hilarious. But perhaps a lot of people who saw this cartoon missed its main point. Ironic sarcasm? Sure. But also by its shear absurdity, the cartoon made it clear that an American man’s reproductive decisions are his and his alone — and that a woman’s reproductive decisions are mostly his too.

I think that we’ve all seen photos of grinning federal, state and local lawmakers who have just voted in favor of making various birth-control and anti-abortion laws mandatory for all women. And most of the people in these photos are men.

So maybe it’s time to turn the tables here and take away a man’s right to choose too.

The possibilities are endless.

Suppose, for instance, that some man wants drink a few six-packs on a Saturday night and make drunk-dialing booty calls? Nope. His state’s legislature has just made that illegal. No more right-to-choose for you!

Or let’s say that you and your wife have decided to have children. Maybe one or two? Not gonna happen. Laws have been passed. No condoms or vasectomies for you either. You must now have ten kids and change all their diapers and pay child support for all of them too — whether you want to or not. Screw right-to-choose for men.

You wanna play around at the office Christmas party? No way! Maximum sentence here. Jail time. You have no choice. Wanna cheat on your wife? No, no, no and no. There’s a law against that too.

Oops. OMG! You just had a wet dream. That’s a $10,000 fine and a year in the slammer. “Baby killer!” Plus some pro-life fanatic might shoot at you too.

Make up your own examples here. Have fun with it.

How about that we make laws demanding that boys should be taught from birth onwards that their whole duty in life is to propagate the race — nothing else. Let’s keep ‘em barefoot sperm banks and chained to the kitchen. Let’s stop giving the males of our species any choice at all, especially their right to make decisions regarding their own reproductive organs — which they clearly can’t manage to keep inside their pants without stern legislative help.

Turnabout is fair play.

Male lawmakers all over America have certainly had fun taking away American women’s right to choose lately, and some of the bizarre things that they have come up with so far have just got to be jokes Reality itself these days has become so weird and far-fetched that even Andy Borowitz’s recent satire on this subject might actually really become yet another facet of male lawmakers’ current Taliban-like right to choose what women can or cannot do with their own bodies.

Then there’s the fact that over 10,000 men show up at the ER each year because an erectile dysfunction drug like Viagra has given them an unrelenting stiffie. Each of their ER visits costs these guys approximately $1,778. According to NBC News, “In all, the mean annual charge for episodes that began as an E.R. visit for priapism was $123,860,432.” So shouldn’t we be passing laws that make use of Viagra illegal too? For wasting all that good sperm?

But how about that we pass another new law instead, one that will finally make sense? How about passing a new law that says only women are qualified to make any and all laws regarding their own reproductive freedom.

No men allowed.

PS: About three years ago, I looked in the mirror and said, “OMG, I look old — what can you do with OLD?” That’s obvious. I should become an actress!

Since that time, I have played all kinds of older women in approximately 60 student films — kindly grandmothers, women dying of cancer, judges, burka-wearing Afghan ladies, the devil’s minion, business executives, homeless women, doctors, society matrons, aging sluts.

Last Saturday I played a drunken barfly in a honky-tonk saloon at a morning shoot, and then an aging whore in 1850 San Francisco in the afternoon (and they paid me in pizza).

“So, Jane, what’s your point?” My point is that there are all kinds of women out there — just like there are all kinds of men. And almost all of us are totally capable of making our own freaking decisions regarding our own reproductive organs. It’s time for our leaders to go legislate on more important stuff (such as putting Wall Street criminals and War Street weapons profiteers in jail for criminal destruction of life after birth) and leave our individual reproductive choices alone.


July 14, 2013

Slavery Stocked the Nation, Finally, the “Season” is Open Again!

Filed under: Commentary — Ye Olde Scribe @ 10:59 am

July 12, 2013

WWII version of “Spy vs. Spy”

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:26 pm

War protest sign in Berkeley CA

“The Irregulars:  Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in wartime Washington” by Jennet Conant (© 2008 by Jennet Conant Simon & Schuster New York N.Y.) is a handy book to have around if you just happen to be surrounded by peacniks in Berkeley who are outraged by the fact that the United States, the country that saved Great Britain with desperately needed supplies for use during the Battle of Britain, has been conducting monitoring of the Internets and phone calls to protect the world from terrorists.

Roald Dahl, who introduced the concept of tiny malicious creatures called Gremlins, was a wounded war hero who was reassigned to diplomatic duties in Washington to help the American President (FDR) decide to break his campaign pledge to not send American boys to fight in Europe’s war by waging an extensive public relations effort via planted stories in the American media to convince the citizens that duty and honor compelled a reversal of the popular (with Americans) policy of non intervention.

The pilot and war time casualty was also dashingly handsome and so seducing American Congressional representative Clare Booth Luce (AKA Mrs. Henry “Time magazine” Luce) was part of Dahl’s mission because issues such as cabotage in the post war world were at stake due to the small print in the Lend Lease agreement.

The Brits were also more than a little curious about what faction of the French government in exile would be favored by the Americans.  Would FDR be more partial to General de Gaulle or would he favor General Henri Giraud?  Could stories be planted in the American media to swing the choice in de Gaulle’s favor?

Fighting for freedom in the Battle of Britain was a highly touted motivation but when it came time to consider an end to colonialism after the war, enthusiasm waned.  If the French didn’t retain ownership of French Indo China after the war would that be a bad omen for the country that owned and operated India as a colony?

Having troops in Vietnam during WWII was a great tactical advantage for Japan.  Detailed explanations of how they gained the use of that bit of territory for use by their troops when they fought to take control of places like Burma is usually missing from books about the run up to the War in the Pacific.

Otto Friedrich’s 1989 book “the Grave of Alice B. Toklas” also came to our attention this summer and his 1959 article “How to be a war correspondent” was fascinating because it recounted how Friedrich “covered” the war in French Indo China from Paris.  The main challenge was to add phrases such as “wade through turbulent flood-swollen streams,” “knife through sweltering jungles,” and “fighter bombers zooming low” to statistic laden French government press releases handed out in Paris to inform American readers about the progress the fight against a Communist take over in Asia was progressing.

Friedrich revealed the secret of being a war correspondent in a far away nation:  “The outside world needs nothing more than a few announcements of enemy casualties and an occasional declaration that the ‘terrorists’ are on the run.”  Don’t the French have a saying about how things never change?

Sunday will be Bastille Day and so this week might be a good time to finish reading our bargain used copy of “Americans in Paris:  Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940 – 44,” by Charles Glass.

Edward Snowden is in the news this summer and is being accused of treason for revealing information that has been widely known for years.  Since Hans Fallada’s “Every man dies alone” is a cautionary tale about the futility of opposing a government committed to war, we wanted to flip though it again.  It is a fictional retelling of the story of a German couple who left postcards critical of Hitler all over Berlin in the early Forties.  Mostly all of their work was turned over to the Gestapo and proved to be useless.  The hapless war protesters were executed.  Will the real life source for this novel become the patron saints for the bloggers who have been critical of the foreign policy used by both the George W. Bush and Barrack H. Obama administrations?

Book reviewers for the mainstream media have a fiduciary motivation for reading an assigned book all the way through as quickly as possible, but a columnist who is just trying to find a new column topic and simultaneously do some reading for entertainment purposes tends to use a pile of books in the same cavalier way that a couch potato uses his remote clicker.

The World’s Laziest Journalist may read a chapter in Lenny Bruce’s “How to talk dirty and influence people,” then pick up Camus’ “The Rebel” and flip through it to see if any of the underlined passages will proved a closing quote for this week’s column, and then because Hunter S. Thompson’s 75th birthday will be July 18, it might be a good idea to go back over the highlighted passages that follow the classic line:  “We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to take hold.”

Perhaps we should reread Hemingway’s short story “the Killers” and then do a parody for a column that would compare the Social Security program to Ole Anderson?

Berkeley and San Francisco both offer  parsimonious book readers a wealth of bargain opportunities for used book buyers and since Berkeley is known for being liberal and also is home for a very respected school of Journalism, we have acquired (for a modest cost) a vast array of books that offer a very critical analysis of the Bush Administration written (mostly) by well known names from the realm of American Journalism.

When future historians look back on the wide assortment of voices warning Americans of impending disaster, they will have to wrestle with the question of why the citizens, in the face of overwhelming number of Cassandra voices, reelected George W. Bush.  Perhaps some future historian will propose a full length book that attempts to see it as an entire nation contending (subconsciously?) with a death wish?

Which brings us to the nagging question of the week:  “If Rupert Murdock can use hacking to get scoops, why can’t the NSA monitor e-mails and phone calls to keep the free world safe from terrorists?”

The topic of impending disaster brings us back to the large number of books dealing with the events just prior to America’s entry into WWII when Roald Dahl would have to do his spying on the USA.

Many of America’s future journalism movers and shakers toured Europe and were inspired to write dire warnings about the implications of the Spanish Civil War and the threat Hitler represented.

Low information voters were too occupied by the task of getting a job during the latter stages of the Great Depression to pay close attention to and try to critically analyze the implications of the war in Ethiopia and the Spanish Civil War.

The children from the low information households would provide the essential manpower for fighting the war that the vagabonding journalists saw on the horizon, so maybe the people who were flocking to see “Gone with the Wind” should have paid more attention to the efforts being produced by the multitude of foreign correspondents churning out content for America’s newspaper readers.

The folks in the San Francisco Bay area are being informed that the opening of the new Bay Bridge will have to be delayed while the authorities address the issue of some safety violations.  Will any writer tackle a book assignment sometime in the future for elaborating the real challenge?  The politicians know that the project has to be completed.  What can be done to make that happen in such a way that the only people vulnerable to legal proceedings will be the mid level managers if a disaster strikes in the future?  Aye, lad, there’s the rub.

The new issue of the East Bay Express contains an article by Darwin BondGraham, titled “BART’s lead negotiator has a history of illegal behavior.”  It only strengthens our hunch that the true goal in this local labor dispute is to continue the policy of union busting that began by St. Ronald Reagan.

[Note from the photo editor:  War protests in Berkeley go back a long way so a sign at a bus bench in the downtown that was critical of the War in Iraq wasn’t attracting many readers this week.  We thought that a photo of the sign would be relevant to a column on reading matter.  The sign shows a drawing of a hand holding a shoe and folks should know that throwing a shoe is an extreme demonstration of disapproval in Iraq.  The only English words on the sign say:  “Iraq is devastated.”  For critics of the Iraq War that tells readers what the sign maker had to say.]

Lenny Bruce wrote:  “My reading matter ran the gamut from a technical book on intercontinental ballistic missiles to Jean-Paul Sartre’s study of anti-Semitism but all I knew about (George Bernard) Shaw was that he wrote Pygmalion.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Summer time,” “Having a heat wave,” and “Summertime Blues.”  We have to go look for our next used book treasure find.  Have a “We’ll always have Paris” type week.

July 9, 2013

Oakland: Politicians tried to tear out its heart but the city lives on!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:54 pm

I’m currently reading Michael Chabon’s latest best-seller, “Telegraph Avenue,” wherein he describes how the construction of the humongous Grove-Shafter freeway back in the 1960s destroyed enormously huge chunks of both north Oakland and Oakland’s downtown. I just drove along parts of that freeway this morning and, OMG, was Chabon ever right!

The Grove-Shafter freeway, at the time of its construction, was the largest freeway interchange in the world by far — carved right out of the very heart and soul of the City of Oakland. It was humongous. Miles and miles and miles and miles of it — and it’s almost a half-mile high in some parts too. Dominating everything. And this monster freeway that can almost be seen from the moon has been slammed right down into the middle of an extremely densely populated city.

“But, Jane,” you might ask, “what became of all the people who used to live in all those houses that were destroyed and who worked in all those destroyed businesses?” Over 8,000 homes and local businesses were destroyed. “And how did the city ever recover from that, the most high-handed use of eminent domain ever?” you might ask next. It didn’t. The knife of the cruel Grove-Shafter freeway still slices through the heart of Oakland today.

It’s almost like the city’s politicians planned it on purpose, to destroy Oakland’s affordable housing sector and strong working class. “What’s more important, really?” they probably asked themselves, “the lives and hopes of the citizens of Oakland — or getting commuters to San Francisco from Walnut Creek faster?” The answer here is obvious.

And then, according to 2012 Oakland mayoral candidate Arnie Fields, Jerry Brown stepped up to the plate next.

“I want a people-friendly city,” Brown happily declared during his many “We the People” campaign stump speeches for mayor back in 1998. And yet somehow Brown. after being elected on this people-friendly platform, still managed to increase property taxes and assessments (even despite Proposition 13) in working-class West Oakland residents and to run a disastrously huge “blight-removal” campaign there.

And the next thing you knew, retirees in West Oakland who had owned their homes outright for years or working-class heroes who paid their mortgages on time were suddenly being forced into foreclosure because they couldn’t afford to come up with an additional $15,000 or more in taxes on the spur of the moment; or because suddenly their homes (but not homes in the same condition in the more yuppie parts of Oakland) were being condemned for “blight”.

Bye-bye West Oakland. Hello developers and condos. And it didn’t even take a freeway to knock all those houses down.

But still the City of Oakland held on.

And then along came Occupy Oakland in 2011 — and a pro-corporatist police riot was staged that cost Oakland taxpayers approximately three million dollars So. Where was all this extra money to come from? Perhaps by shutting down even more Oakland schools and dropping the wages of Oakland’s municipal employees? Sounds like a plan.

In 2012, five Oakland schools were closed

And now the City of Oakland just had a one-day strike by its municipal employees, who have been faced with even more economic concessions to the City — none of which are in their favor. Municipal employees have suffered many benefit-package take-aways in the past few years — but have been given absolutely no new perqs. Watch this SEIU video for proof:

But still the people of Oakland hang in there (and please always remember that, in the end, it is only the people themselves who can actually turn a city into a City). And the people of Oakland still have flash and charm too! And there is still a THERE over there in Oakland — despite all its politicians’ herculean efforts to tear out its heart and soul.

PS: And there still is a Chez Panisse here in Berkeley as well, even after a disastrous fire at the restaurant last March destroyed much of its dining area I just went there for my birthday. We had apricot ice cream, salmon and squid salad. The squid salad was actually quite good. And the newly-rebuilt place looks just like the old place — except that all the wood and brass are more shiny.

PPS: And speaking of politicians, I just got one of those “What to do about Congress” chain-letter emails, demanding that all congressional representatives receive the same health plans, pension plans, working conditions, etc. that the rest of us do. Sure, why not.

And perhaps we should also demand that our congressional representatives stop getting the same tax breaks that they give to large corporations and start getting the same (lack of) tax breaks that the rest of us (don’t) get instead

And we also need to pass a Constitutional amendment that our senators and representatives can only be allowed to spend the same amount of money on their election campaigns as the amount of money that average voter in their district earns in a year.

PPPPS: I bet you anything that Edward Snowden could find asylum in Oakland! That’s how Oakland rolls. People there don’t take any shite. Not any more. They’ve already been through enough.

And if Snowden isn’t happy in Oakland (which has Yoshi’s, the Oakland Athletics, Harborside, Lake Merritt and Fairyland for crissake — how could he not be!), then he’s more than welcome to come seek asylum with me. But, warning, if he does that, he might have to babysit my granddaughter Mena, the Hugging Saint of Berkeley I’m just sayin’. I’d trust him with that.

If Snowden had been alive back in 1776, he definitely would have signed the Declaration of Independence. Hope he had a nice Fourth of July stuck in the Moscow airport alongside of Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock.

Oops, I just tried to post this article on my blog and got a message that read, “Invalid Security Token”. What the freak does that mean? That the NSA doesn’t like Oakland either?

July 5, 2013

Jobs, Prosperity, and genocide?

“What’s with the mask?”

If Disney Films and Jerry Bruckheimer are helping Hollywood make films like “The Lone Ranger,” which makes bankers, railroad builders, and the American military look like a gang of ruthless outlaws in disguise, then, perhaps, it’s time to resurrect the House Un-American Activities Committee because this new flick couldn’t be any more anti-American if it were written by the most notorious of the Hollywood Ten.  Luckily, the owners of the major media have (apparently) required their reviewers to pan this new attempt to besmirch the reputation of the capitalists who built American and provided jobs and prosperity for all the citizens.  All the major reviewers who are pounding this new release with a relentless stream of invective are to be commended by their bosses.

Is it just a coincidence that this film about the conquering of the Old West begins in the depths of the Depression?  Did the winning of the West lead to the Depression?  Is it a co-inky-dink that the film opens in San Francisco and that is where the union movement led to the general strike in the Thirties that helped inspire a trend towards unionization all across America?

Sure, some reviewers from leftist publications will probably insinuate that this new film from the team that gave America the Pirate Jack Sparrow is just trying to retell the saga of the Lone Ranger as a samurai warrior lost in a spaghetti Western fighting the greedy capitalists who exploit the workers in the world of saloons and six shooters.

In a subtle cinematic reference (without the Col. Bogey March) the director hints that the workers who built the transcontinental railroad were de facto slaves similar to the Prisoners of War who built the Bridge on the River Quai.

The film makers go out of their way to twist history, logic, and geography and set this story about the transcontinental railroad in Texas.  It’s a wonder that the script writing team (a nom de plum for Dalton Trumbo?) didn’t call the bandits the Bush gang.

At one point when the dynamic duo realize that sometimes a good man has to use a mask although the two crime fighters are not shown celebrating Guy Fawkes Day.

Bleeding heart liberals have always had a difficult time coping with the measures that were necessary for carrying out God’s plan and making the manifest destiny a reality.

The Comanche tribe’s effort to Occupy Texas was unsuccessful and would be a forecast of how the later attempts to Occupy other parts of the USA and disrupt the capitalists’ paradise would end.  It’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature or the capitalists, either.

Robert Newton’s portrayal of Long John Silver set the standard of excellence for cinematic pirates for the baby boomers but when Johnny Depp’s role as Capt. Jack Sparrow came along, it suddenly became a basis for debating the right to the “best ever” claim.  The Question “Can Depp do it again with an effort to become the Lone Ranger’s sidekick Tonto?” was sufficiently intriguing to lure the World’s Laziest Journalist out of the rebel encampment in the Berkeley foothills and go over to San Francisco during the BART strike to catch a bargain matinee showing of the new “Lone Ranger” flick.

Perhaps, the new film could be compared to “Apocalypse Now” set in Texas?  Would there be some hidden hipster references to Lenny Bruce’s “Thank you Mask (not Masked) Man”?  What would the music sound like?  Would it be an outstanding example of an existentialist drama?

The initial indications (such as the movie’s score on the Rotten Tomato site) were that the film didn’t cut the mustard.  Some snooping on the Movie Review Query Engine site reinforced that initial impression.

The World’s Laziest Journalist does not try to be a contrarian with movie reviews but the tsunami of negative reviews caused us to wonder if there was the kernel of a column in that facet of the new flick and made it worth the effort to see it and write a review.

Spoiler Warning:  It will be necessary to use some of the film’s gotcha moments to continue the analysis of the underlying themes and therefore we strongly advise any of the left wingers who still think they might want to see this example of anti-American propaganda that they should only continue reading this review after they have indulged their urge to see it.

The visionary capitalists who built America are depicted in this film as being the Doppelganger equivalant of the barbarian Cavendish gang of outlaws.  The fact that on the day that we saw this new film, the Forth of July, the CBS radio network news at 9 p.m. PDT reported that there is an inconvenient law that forbids the USA from paying out aid to a country that has experienced a coup d’etat by their military and, they implied that the law, for pragmatic reasons, will have to be ignored in Egypt’s case is just an inconvenient co-inky-dink.

Didn’t John Wayne use the line:  “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”?  Doesn’t that line of reasoning apply to countries too?

If Americans see “The Lone Ranger” and believe the propaganda they will be prone to believing the wildest conjecture about the compassionate conservative Christians running the USA today.  For instance, the other night Mike Malloy told his listeners about a new conspiracy theory that suggests that somehow “they” hacked into the computer on Michael Hastings car and overrode the driver’s commands and caused that car to crash into a tree and kill the journalist who wrote the Rolling Stone article that ended General Mc Crystal’s military career.

Edward Snowden is learning the “You can run but you can’t hide” lesson, but the journalists seem to be still clinging to the Liberal daydream of instilling the French Three Musketeers (Communist?) philosophy of “one for all and all for one” into America’s workers.

An example that is ripped from today’s headline might be found in the San Francisco Bay area this week.  The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers are out on strike.  The AC Transit Authority contract ran out at the same time but they didn’t go out on a simultaneous strike.  How long will it be before the Daily Worker Newspaper makes some snide suggestions that the old “divide and conquer” philosophy is at work here and that “they” got to the AC workers and promised some favoritism while “they” destroy the BART union?

If some radicals believe the propaganda in “The Lone Ranger,” folks might expect “them” to destroy the BART union first, break their word, and then set their sights on the AC Transit workers union.  St. Ronald Reagan (Raygun?) started the union busting trend and so it does not seem too conspiracy theory-ish for liberals to wonder if the BART and AC unions will be destroyed in sequential order.

[This just in:  The BART strike negotiations will continue while the workers agreed to extend the current contract for the next thirty days.  Service was scheduled to resume at 3 p.m. PDT on Friday July 5, 2013.]

Did the Pullman strike, the Ludlow massacre, and the Ford plant strike really occur or are they just urban legends concocted by Communist writers to scare the low information voters?

Intellectuals will probably make the assertion that hipsters should see this film just to see how many clever instances of “homage” to other movies they can spot.  Does the bank robbery scene remind you of “Bonnie and Clyde”?  Does one shot remind viewers of another shot in “Lawrence of Arabia”?  Does the bridge explosion sequence evoke memories of the Bridge on the River Kwai?

True patriotic media owners will not let their film reviewers suggest that this Western movie is worth seeing.

What will it say about America if, after being subjected to a tsunami of negative reviews, this film does great business?  Hopefully the dumbing down of America will be sufficiently established and the rubes who haven’t seen the film will agree with the critics and will render it a financial debacle and thus discourage additional sequels for this attempt at entertainment which should precipitate a move to reconvene the House Un-American Activities Committee.

The World’s Laziest Journalist (AKA the frugal cinephile?) thought that “The Lone Ranger” was interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking and well worth the price of a bargain matinee.

[Note from the photo editor:  Is a film which asks “what’s with the mask” a subtle endorsement of the Occupy Movement?  Just asking!]

Orson Wells has said that directing a movie is the greatest train set a boy could ever hope to have.  Which brings up the question:  “What was the biggest train wreck ever filmed?”

The critics have viewed “The Lone Ranger” and have agreed with Rhett Butler:  “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

Now the disk jockey will play the William Tell Overture, Paul Revere’s “Indian Reservation” and the Renegades song “Geronimo.”  We have to go smoke the peace pipe.  Have a “who was that masked man” type week.

July 4, 2013

Manning, Snowden, Egypt and the 1776 Declaration of Independence

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:42 pm

“Edward Snowden must be caught and punished at any cost.” Who said that? Was it some overbearing British sovereign back in 1776 who said it? Had Edward Snowden just signed the American colonies’ famous Declaration of Independence? The way that Snowden has been hounded and pursued and intimidated in the last few weeks, one would certainly think so.

According to an essay entitled “The Price They Paid,” signers of the original Declaration of Independence of 1776 were also hounded, imprisoned and even tortured and killed because they stood up for their beliefs

And here we are now, 237 years later, out celebrating the Fourth of July like it actually meant something — while true patriots like Edward Snowden are being hunted down like dogs on the highway by the FBI, the CIA and the NSA. And nobody here seems to either notice or care.

And ditto for Bradley Manning.

According to a recent article by Paul Rogers on current revolts in Egypt, Brazil, Tunisia, Turkey, etc., “The sheer unpredictability of mass protest [is] a matter of great concern to political elites and their security cohorts across the world. That really is deeply worrying for them, and something that will cause them to double their efforts to track what is happening and predict its evolution — an effort no doubt aided by the use of PRISM and the other forms of mass surveillance. What, though, if even those systems don’t have a proper handle on what is happening [or can actually keep a lid on it either]? That will give political elites sleepless nights in the weeks and months to come.”

First comes Occupy Wall Street. Then comes the Arab Spring. And then Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, not necessary in that order. Like in the spring of 1776, popular revolts against economic tyranny seem to be popping up all over like wack-a-moles. No wonder George III was afraid.

“So what’s your point, Jane,” you might ask. Hmmm. I guess my point is that working class people, little people, the salt of the earth people like you and me are making our current economic ruling classes just a tiny bit wary on this Fourth of July weekend of 2013.

But they still haven’t started to get pee-your-pants afraid quite yet. They still have armies and police and the NSA and even the NRA. And trillions of dollars stashed away in the Caymans and penthouses on Wall Street and Michelin-starred restaurants to eat at. “What me worry?” Not quite yet.

But they are worried enough — that the salt of the earth might someday finally get tired of being used, trod on and taken advantage of while they continue to be corporate welfare queens — that they are out there stalking Edward Snowden and torturing Bradley Manning and fretting about what is happening in Egypt and Brazil and Turkey.

But the economic elite almost certainly know that the little people here in America will never get uppity because they know that most Americans are under their thumb; out celebrating the Fourth of July by watching fireworks displays on TV, drinking Cokes and going shopping at dollar stores.

PS: I myself am celebrating Independence Day by going down to the Berkeley marina and watching the fireworks in person — and by reading Keith Richards’ autobiography, “Life.” Now there is a true revolutionary! Of course. But he is also someone who has worked really hard all his life and cared about his work deeply. Richards must have spent about a gazillion hours studying music.

True (and successful) revolutions like Richards’ require sacrifice, thoughtfulness, talent, courage, compassion and a whole bunch of work — but perhaps not quite so many drugs.

July 1, 2013

BART strike photo report


Pickets walk the strike line at the Downtown Berkeley BART station
































Photo captions left to right:

Electronic sign at the Ashby BART station states the obvious

John Allen usually sells copies of the SF Chronicle in the BART station, but he had to move to street level on Monday.

The AC Transit F bus was still getting commuters to work on Monday.

Large news organizations were scrambling to get aerial views of the snarled traffic on Monday morning.  Smaller news organization had a very restricted austerity budget and had to settle for getting photos that showed the strike and its photo ops at stations in the Berkeley area.


The local strike story was featured on the 7 a.m. PDT CBS radio news network broadcast.

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