August 31, 2013

Back to School: Why property values rise when schools are excellent

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:36 pm

I live in Berkeley. My granddaughter Mena is about to start kindergarten here — at an excellent school. But a lot of people who live in Oakland are now really really jealous because they want their kids to go to an excellent school in Berkeley too. So why live in Oakland and risk going to a crappy school? Why not just move to Berkeley? Because the property values in Berkeley are some of the highest in America and, get over it, sometimes people just can’t afford to live here unless they gots big bucks.

Berkeley is no longer the sweet little hippie town out to save the world that it used to be Now Berkeley appears to be a yuppie’s dream come true.

How ironic — that those children of hippies who were raised here, and then rebelled, became yuppies and moved to the suburbs to get away from Berzerkeley? They would never be able to afford to buy a house here now. Heck, I couldn’t even afford to live here myself if I hadn’t lived in the same place for 33 years.

But back to my hypothesis: That people move to cities and towns where the schools are good — simply because the schools ARE good.

So which comes first? The chicken or the egg? Do property values go up because the schools are good in any particular city — or do the schools become good because property values have already gone up?

I’d like to suggest a good way to find out for sure. Let’s pull all of our myriad troops out of Europe and Asia and Africa and North and South America (and most likely Australia and Antarctica too) and spend all those wasted trillions of dollars that we’ll then save on giving just one low-rent city in America the best schools in the entire world instead!

Let’s take Detroit for example.

If Detroit was guaranteed beyond any doubt to have the very best school system in all of the world, would YOU move there? I bet that you would. Would Mena and our family move there too? I bet you anything that we would be sorely tempted (except for the snow of course — I hate snow)

PS: And for all you sparkling new kindergarteners throughout the world this September: Happy first day of school! And I hope that you also have the best schools and teachers in the world as well — and that they teach you love and kindness and how to think for yourselves.

PPS: Berkeley Camp Tuolumne, one of the most beautiful places in the entire world, just burned to the ground in the Yosemite Rim fire. Let’s take the money we save by not invading Syria and use it to bring Camp Tuolumne back to life again. Who cares about Syria besides oil barons? I care deeply and profoundly about my lost Camp Tuolumne paradise.

PPS: Berkeley Camp Tuolumne, one of the most beautiful places in the entire world, just burned to the ground in the Yosemite Rim fire. Let’s take the money we saved by not invading Syria and use it to bring Camp Tuolumne back to life again. Who cares about Syria besides oil barons? I care deeply and profoundly about my lost Camp Tuolumne paradise.

And here’s yet another example of how far from reality America’s corporate-owned government is now: Fukushima, apparently, is about to release enough radioactive waste to contaminate the entire planet — yet what is our “government” doing about this insane catastrophe? Getting ready to bomb Syria of course. A nuclear nightmare world-wide is brewing and corporate-owned America is claiming to worry about some fake-propaganda “chemical weapons” scam in Syria instead? That’s insane.

A deadly radiation tsunami is heading straight toward Berkeley — yet our corporate-owned government is only busy “fixing the information” and “wagging the dog” in the Middle East? It’s March 2003 deja vu all over again, only even more stupid.

August 24, 2013

Elder cleansing: Why is the GOP killing off its own base?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 11:41 pm

The GOP has developed such a callous and cold attitude toward slashing American senior citizens’ healthcare and Social Security benefits that it almost seems like a “put granny on an ice floe” mentality — or even elder cleansing. However, these cold-hearted right-wingers, even though they seem to be totally in love with throwing the Greatest Generation under the bus, need to be very careful what they wish for. Why? Because the aging white population of America is currently the GOP’s most loyal group of supporters — and the GOP appears to be killing off its own base.

The GOP’s recent massive efforts to eliminate HUD housing subsidies for seniors and to support banksters’ heartless foreclosure efforts on America’s old folks can only mean that even more homeless seniors will soon be found dead in cardboard-box coffins under even more freeways across the land. Oops, there goes another voting block that used to be in the GOP’s pocket — unless dead souls can vote.

And how about the GOP’s death grip on raising student-loan interest rates? I recently went to a symposium on the subject and learned that, under current GOP-sponsored regulations, a whole bunch over-60 voters will actually still be paying off their student loans from out of their Social Security checks! And just how many of those desperately cash-strapped former students will be staunch and faithful Republicans? Party loyalty doesn’t pay off at all these days.

And major funders of the GOP such as the Koch brothers, Goldman-Sachs, Citizens United, Chevron, the American Bankers Association and the Chamber of Commerce don’t seem to have a moral bone in their body when it comes to straight-out greed. More GOP voters actually die because of greedy corporate behavior than the number of Americans who were killed in the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the Twin Towers combined. Too bad. But then most of these voters were old anyway.

And what about this new Super-NAFTA secret treaty called the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the Grand Old Party is pushing so hard through Congress right now? How is that going to effect seniors after even more of America’s wealth is pumped out of our pockets and into the rich-dude Wall Street neo-con corporatist pipeline?

And speaking of pipelines, how many more seniors are going to croak because of the fracking water they drink?

And when I went camping in the high Sierras with my granddaughter Mena’s pre-school class last weekend, it was very curative and relaxing Someone else did all the cooking. However, I still wouldn’t want to be camping up there 24/7 — still not willing to join the Donner Party just yet, even despite all the GOP’s good intentions toward us seniors in that direction.

The GOP’s current policies toward its senior-citizen base are clearly so non-beneficial to our health that they remind me of that old Twilight Zone episode, “How to Serve Man”.

I may be old but I’m not dead quite yet — and, GOP, I would really like to keep it that way.

PS: Who else gets benefits from government largess? Global corporations, the ultimate welfare queens. So why doesn’t the GOP slash and burn corporate “entitlements” too?

And what part of the country receives the most food stamps, welfare payments, medicaid, educational aid, unemployment benefits, hurricane relief, etc? Why it’s the Red-State south of course — another firm base for the GOP that it is also busy trying to kill off. If you are a redneck, supporting the GOP is likely to get you killed too!

August 23, 2013

Were the Sixties just on “pause”?

The America’s Cup yacht races on a Trinitron screen did not draw overflow crowds to San Francisco’s Marina Green on Monday.

If a TV personality tells an American audience that something terrible happened in the Middle East and then runs a sound byte of a Republican saying that it’s an abomination and is entirely Obama’s fault and follows it with a quote of a Democrat saying the Middle East is in shambles but it isn’t all Obama’s fault, the rubes think that’s an outstanding example of fair and balanced journalism.  Then they tune into a long and convoluted analysis of the implications of a personnel change on a base baseball or football team and can later give a verbatim report on what was said and state eloquently why they disagree with the expert commentary.  Are sports more important than politics?

If a newspaper reporter who has been covering the Dodgers for years is suddenly traded to a San Francisco newspaper (for an undisclosed amount of cash and a draft pick?) most fans expect that the wordsmith will have a St. Paul’s moment and suddenly be rooting for the Giants.  If he doesn’t woe betide him who tries to keep his previous enthusiasm for the despicable rivals from “shaky town.”  It wouldn’t take long for a ME (managing editor) to tell such a traitor to hit the showers.

Genuine enthusiasm is vastly different from spin.  If, hypothetically, a veteran travel writer were given a lucrative writing assignment to go to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and make it sound like a panacea for anyone suffering from traveler’s ennui it would be a challenging opportunity.  If, however, an alert writer went to the remote destination in Western Australia and had a delightful experience because it catered to his distinctive personality, then he would have to caution readers that they might not share the stamp of approval that he gave to the area that exemplifies the advice that if you love Sacramento, California, then you can reasonably expect that it might be worthwhile to head for the hometown where Skimpy’s Bar is located.

When we were in Fremantle, Western Australia, the young people in the hostel where we were staying were very strong in their recommendation that we take a train excursion to Kalgoorlie, so we did.  When we arrived, we noticed that they might have been playing a practical joke with the expectation that we would be disappointed by the result, but the joke was on them because the World’s Laziest Journalist has, since the time we first viewed “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” been fascinated with the topic of gold prospecting.  Not everybody will be wowed by a chance to visit the Prospectors’ Hall of Fame, but for a Fred C. Dobbs wannabe, it is an exhilarating travel experience.

Could a writer who lays on extravagant praise for a very specialized destination be considered a practical joker like the kids in Fremantle or would he actually be something worse?  Is travel information more important than politics?

Does that mean that liberals should view George W. Bush’s forever war as the payoff for some political journalism done by practical jokers?

If a columnist were to be invited to some very exclusive parties held in conjunction with an event being held in San Francisco and were to get some very humorous quotes and some celebrity gossip scoops, it would be prudent to expect him to heap lavish praise on the vent itself, wouldn’t it?

If however, a writer were to go to the event venue and mix with the general public and come away with a lack of enthusiasm, could it be time to cue the “sour grapes” cliché?

When Sgt. Bill Mauldin was ordered to go to New York City, as WWII was entering its final phase, he was given “celebrity” travel priority which was equal to that level of importance usually accorded to someone with the rank of brigadier general or higher.  On the flight from Europe to the Big Apple the sergeant sat with the enlisted men and played cards rather than hobnobbing with the brass.  Ernie Pyle was at home eating K rations in a foxhole.

Would a columnist who has attended the Oscar™ ceremony, flown in the Goodyear blimp, and been to the Playboy Mansion be expected to be able to give the aforementioned generic event in San Francisco a fair evaluation if he observed the proceedings with the regular citizens?

These days nationally known journalists expect to be given celebrity status and the tradition of going on the road to take the pulse of the nation seems to be an extinct method of reporting.  Someone who has the profile of a brigadier general has very little chance of operating in the “fly on the wall” mode of operation.

Can you honestly imagine a Fox personality going into a workers bar and listening to the locals complain about how things are today?  Would Scott Pele be able to function as a “fly on the wall” or would he cause a sensation if he walked into a neighborhood bar in San Francisco?

Have the opinions of the man in the street evaporated completely as a factor for evaluating newsworthyness?  That could explain why politicians now seem to completely disregard what the voters want when they are making decisions which will profit the companies run by the fellows who also make large reelection campaign donations.  When counterfeit journalism can be palmed off on the suckers as fair and balanced analysis, the country that tolerates such a masquerade is in deep trouble.

Is it time to write a column comparing and contrasting the state of the art for journalism in the USA today with how it was in Germany in 1937?

What if a rogue pundit were to speculate about what is really going on behind the scenes in the Middle East and correctly hit the nail on the head?  Would that open the gates to a cable TV gig or would it merely earn the poor blighter the cell between the ones reserved for Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning and Edward Snowden?  (Is the rumor true that Charlie Manson and Sirhan Sirhan have adjoining workout areas and that they can talk to each other but not see each other when they burn calories?)

After noticing that the Texans for Public Justice website had posted a story announcing the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate a dispute involving Texas Governor Rick Perry and the Travis County District Attorney, the World’s Laziest Journalist hopped over to Yahoo and sent a tip to the news desk at the Mike Malloy radio show.

The World’s Laziest Journalist isn’t going to get invitations to the Bohemian Grove so we’ll take the Zen advice to be grateful for the beef in our bowl and enjoy stumbling over interesting topics that are new blips on our pop culture beat radar, such as the niche group that invalidates the warrantee on their digital camera and customizes them to take photos using infrared light.  We recently encountered such as the images at the brick and mortar location at 720 Geary Street in San Francisco.

About two dozen students were arrested this week protesting the plight of the City College of San Francisco.  The arrests got only a fraction of the news coverage that the arrests of the students protesting the HUAC hearings in the same city got in 1960.

“Subversives:  The FBI’s war on student radicals and Reagan’s rise to power,” by Seth Rosenfeld (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York N. Y. © 2012 by Seth Rosenfeld) showed up recently in the Friends of the Berkeley Library used book store and we immediately snapped it up.  A student is quoted as saying “We do know, however, that others of (FBI director Herbert) Hoover’s statements either are based on lack of information or are made in bad faith.”  The book indicates that in a confrontation between the FBI and wiretapping laws, the result resembled something that would have outraged Edward Snowden.

The author seems to believe and resent the idea that student’s lives and reputations provided convenient stepping stones for St. Ronald Reagan on his path to the White House.

San Francisco columnist Herb Caen loved rubbing elbows with the “swells” and earned a comfortable living writing columns about his various experiences doing that.  In 1960, Caen did defend the student who protested the HUAC hearing and was hit with a tsunami of letters objecting.  Rosenfeld quotes Caen (on page 96) as writing:  “To sum up, what I object to most heartily is the attempt of the Committee to smear the students present as ‘Communist stooges.’  There is no more effective way of enforcing conformity and instilling fear.”

Sarah Burke, in the August 21 – 27, 2013 edition of the East Bay Express, reports (pages 10 – 11) that the University of California at Berkeley will achieve a national first when they approve a new redistricting which will give the school its own city council district.

[Photo editor’s note:  In the summer of 1969, when the song “The Age of Aquarius” was  ubiquitous the World’s Laziest Journalist spent some afternoons lounging in the sun on the Marina Green in San Francisco.  The nostalgic appeal of returning there to mix with the general public to get a photo of the America’s Cup festivities to use with the new column was overwhelming.  Seeing an aircraft carrier start out on a journey to the waters off Vietnam by sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge evoked a greater emotional reaction than learning that a yacht race was being canceled because the winds were too strong for a second race on Monday August 19, 2013.  (Wouldn’t stronger winds just make the sail boats go faster?)]

Edward R. Murrow, in a speech to Radio and Television News Directors,  said:  “ . . . Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night . . . the time normally used by Steve Allen is devoted to American policy in the Middle East . . . .  Otherwise, it (television) is merely wires and lights in a box.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Sea Cruise,” “Big Bear Lake,” and “Red sails in the sunset.”  We have to go get a Virginia City Muckers’ t-shirt.  Have a “Eureka!” type week.

August 19, 2013

Madam Jane predicts: Don’t buy any more cars

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 11:19 am

What ever happened to America’s old economic self-reliance? And when, exactly, did my country stop being a democracy? And exactly what can just one single solitary American like me do to save America from corporate plunder? I know! I’ll ask Madam Jane!

So I contacted my favorite fortune teller on her hot new Facebook page.

“I keep hearing all this nasty stuff about what is going on in America today — and it scares me,” I told her. “At this point in time, America is practically a NSA police state, our military has millions of uber-weapons trained on every country in the world including our own, corporate greed rules the day, and government-subsidized oil companies and coal companies and nuclear waste companies will have totally shut down the planet within 50 years.”

“That sounds about right,” replied hash-tag-M-J. “This planet’s 50-year warranty is just about up. You’ve pretty much nailed it.”

“But despite all this,” I continued to whine, “you never, never hear anyone in a real position of power even hint or suggest that a disaster like this might be happening — or that any intelligent solutions to our problems could possibly be found. All these jokers seem to come up with during these last crucial days are plans to eliminate abortions, stand their ground, buy more guns, kill more people, pollute more air and hand over even more perqs to large corporations. That’s just stupid. So what can we do that is smart?”

“Don’t buy any more cars.” Huh? That’s it? That’s all you got?

“If people stopped buying cars, then I wouldn’t have to sit through all those TV car commercials. Just sayin’.”

“Are you trying to tell me,” I said, “that the world’s future will be safe if only I can keep away from automobile showrooms? And if I never buy a new car again, that will that save the planet?”

“Pretty much.”

I just shook my head. But then I thought, hey, why not? Doesn’t sound any more crazier than giving international corporations huge tax breaks that American small businesses can only dream of — or privatizing prisons into slave-labor sweatshops or making it a whole lot harder for us average Americans to vote (or have our votes counted).

Okay. No more car-buying for me.

“And when you — and seven billion single solitary other ordinary folks just like you — finally wake up and demand a stop to the Earth’s destruction, then corporations will be forced to follow,” said Madam Jane sagely.

“But do you predict that they will?”

“Of course they won’t,” might be one prediction that M.J. could give — or else, “Damn straight they will! People aren’t stupid,” might be the other. But which will it be? The lady or the tiger?

PS: My daughter Ashley the baker just invented a buttermilk pancake/bacon cupcake with maple syrup frosting. She calls it “The Breakfast Club”. Don’t even need Madam Jane to predict that it will be a great success

August 16, 2013

“ . . . do you look in the mirror and wish you had hair? . . .”

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

Will next year’s defending America’s cup champ be New Zealand? 

If the mainstream media is ignoring the plight of the Los Angeles county assessor, the story of how San Francisco taxpayers got hustled by the yachters, and any potential link between a California Senator’s husband and the bullet train that voters don’t seem to want, shouldn’t the World’s Laziest Journalist extend an example of interline courtesy and join with the big names in journalism by blowing off those topics?  We won’t harp on the idea that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors seem to be envious of the situation in Marina del Rey that has critics of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors alleging that the unique situation there handed the politicians a cash cow for their reelection campaigns.  Mum’s the word.  Why spoil the surprise for the voters in the San Francisco Bay Area if they are in for an expensive example of “getting blind sided” (again!)?

There is an old folktale (which we just made up) that tells the story of a columnist from the Leprechaun Journalism tradition, who is driving late at night in the industrial section of a large university town and sees an automobile accident occur.  He rushes to the car which is starting to burn and pulls a beautiful damsel from the wrecked vehicle.  Since she has magical powers and she doesn’t want to demean his integrity with offers of numerous writing awards, she makes him an offer that cuts to the very core of his being.  She says he can either win the lottery but must never write again or he can have a very limited online audience which will include the newsrooms at the New York Times, the Columbia Journalism Review, CBS Evening News, and the Berkeley Barb.  If he chooses the latter, he will see some of his most unique insights into national politics in rewritten form used by those august news media but he won’t get any royalty checks.

The World’s Laziest Journalist was reminded of that grim fairytale recently when he noticed that Jalopnik ran a story about taking a flight in the Goodyear Blimp and, a week later, another about a taking a flight in a B-17 G WWII bomber.  We had written about experiencing both modes of transportation many moons ago while functioning as a staff writer for “Just above Sunset” online magazine.

It might seem foolhardy for a columnist, who can wonder if his newest offering will be read by folks at the Sydney Central Backpack Hostel, a film critic in Great Britain, and the 1961 SPHS Scranton Pa. guy, who is one of  the Vice President’s best friends, and, if we send him the link, one of the top editors at Playboy Magazine, to mention the possibility that the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) may go on  strike because they would have the Rhett Butler reaction to such a remote labor dispute.  If, however, the columnist goes to extensive lengths to provide evidence that bolsters a contention that a continuing effort to bust unions and reduce wages is exemplified by that very local bit of labor strife, then such a hypothetical effort might, at least, get a closer read by the denizens of the New York Times newsroom.

Back when the pundits were discussing the possibility that President George W. Bush would order troops to go to Iraq, some wags mentioned “the Pottery Barn” rule.  Now that things in Iraq are spinning way out of control again, we await the resurrection by the war hawks of that principle and a debate about urging President Obama to send some new troops back to Iraq to insure Democracy for the Iraqi people there and to uphold America’s commitment to that country’s freedom fighters.

After noting that Edward Snowden did not seem to reveal any information that was new and heather to, completely unknown by the American public, we have started to wonder if a pundit on the Internets could get into hot water by commenting on facts already known to the American public.  There was a small item online that indicated that Snowden had accused America’s Free Press of complete dereliction of duty after 9-11.  That story was ignored by the mainstream media.

With all that in mind, the World’s Laziest Journalist is starting to think that it might be prudent to search for other more innocuous tidbits of information that would be much less likely to instigate patriotic American Republicans to bandy about the word “traitor” and the phrase “war criminal.”

Would it be an example of irony if some over zealous American Patriot recklessly labeled Edward Snowden as a war criminal for doing what the lead American Prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trails, Robert Jackson, said must be done when an individual perceives that his country is perpetrating some immoral actions in world affairs?

Wouldn’t a columnist be much better off using items such as the information that the San Francisco Beard Papa outlet is a local franchise for a company in Japan that specializes in French pastry and that they are on the verge of expanding into the Hollywood section of Los Angeles?

Folks who regularly read the material produced by the World’s Laziest Journalist know that the columnist has a high regard for the events that took place 79 years ago when Ernest Hemingway and thousands of troops for the Allied Forces liberated Paris might expect that after he finishes reading Michael Neiberg’s new book “The Blood of Free Mena:  the Liberation of Paris, 1944,” a full column review may follow.

This book describes the scoop columnist Alice Moats scored when she sneaked into Paris more than a month before D-Day.  Hemingway got much more publicity for claiming that he arrived in the City of Light a day or two before the other soldiers.

Speaking of WWII, fans of the fifty year old novel “Catch-22” will want to consider reading the new book by Patricia Chapman Meder titled:  “The True Story of Catch-22” (the real men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II).  The author was the daughter of Willis E. Chapman, who was “Col. Cathcart” and she provides the fact finding keys for the classic war novel romain a clef.

Fans of Heller’s novel may well want to learn all the background information knowing that this new book will increase their enjoyment of the half century old classic and, perhaps, inspire them to go back (to their college days?) and reread Heller’s book.

That reminds us, we should go back and search for the passage that explains how Yossarian bought eggs for a nickel each and sold them for three cents each but still made a profit.

The Occupy the steps of the Berkeley Post Office Building effort was still continuing as this column was being posted.

Recently, we bought a used bargain copy of “Beyond Coincidence” by Martin Plimmer and Brian King.  Chapter two, which is a series of examples, opens with a story of a woman in Berkeley CA, who went outside her home and became locked out.  While fretting about her dilemma, the postman arrived and handed her a letter from her brother in the state of Washington.  He had visited recently and sent the letter to return a spare key he had been using.

Speaking of obscure but influential, one might think that there would not be an example of the concept “an obscure recording by Elvis Presley” but since these are the dog days in the news (and punditry?) business when the Congressional summer vacation means that there won’t be much political news and since Friday August 16, 2013, is Elvis Memorial Day, we’ll try to listen to the laughing version of “Are you lonesome tonight.”

While a performance in Las Vegas was being recorded, Elvis changed the lyrics and broke himself and the band up with laughter.

The musical group Daddy Yankee has posted a video on Youtube for their song about gasoline.  Since the anniversary of the day Elvis Presley (supposedly) died will coincide with the publication date for the next World’s Laziest Journalist “the week in the rearview mirror” column, we found that the Elvis track, allegedly proclaimed by Paul McCartney to be the best recording ever by Elvis, had less views than the ditty about what makes cars go.  The laughing version of “Are you lonesome tonight” was at the 70,000 hit level when we checked.  “Gasolina” has racked up more than 38 million hits.

New words for 2013?  How about “selfie”?  It means a self portrait and usually referrs to something of the kind of tourist snapshot plus mug shot combined that are posted by young folks on Facebook.  It seems like a gimme to think that this word will land on the list of new words for this year.

[Note from the photo editor:  The sports world extravaganza known as the America’s Cup Yacht Races is being assessed as a fiasco for this year, but the media is overlooking one important aspect of the minor sports news story:  taxpayers in the Bay Area, thanks to some contract lawyers who earned their fees, will be obliged to cover any financial shortfall.  News photos of the sporting event may have some stock shot value for political pundits if the citizens ever decide to make a retroactive fuss over the fact they have been hustled.]

“Kim” Hubbard said:  “Now and then an innocent man is sent to the legislature.”

Now the disk jockey will play a song that tells the story of Elvis set to music in Bill Parsons’ (Bobby Bare) song “The All American Boy,” Elvis’ saddest song “Old Shep,” and the laughing version of “Are you lonesome tonight.”We have to go see if we can purchase a Kangaroos Football Club t-shirt.  Have a “do you look in the mirror and wish you had hair” type week.

August 9, 2013

Unfacts, lies, and propaganda

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

Getting a snapshot of the 2013 Zeitgeist

Living a week under the condition red alert was a flashback to the good old days when lefty pundits could criticize George W. Bush for his policies rather than having to exert some effort to defend President Obama for doing what Dubya did while he was in the White House.  At least the week long condition red alert took the focus off the NSA’s (alleged) unnecessary monitoring of various means of communication.

If Obama is busy doing the same thing George W. Bush did, how can the people who criticized Bush defend Obama?  Likewise, how can the Republicans who defended Dubya attack Obama?  Isn’t there a kind of demon who suddenly becomes the exact opposite of what it was perceived to be?

Do the pundits who criticized the Bush plan to do some electronic snooping in the name of Homeland Security have any grounds for praising Obama for doing the same thing?  Do the Republican propagandists have any logical way to denounce Obama for using the old Bush era “Red Alert” ruse to defuse the topic as a subject for a debate?

Journalism is (theoretically) supposed to fact check the politicians so that the citizens can make a well informed decision at the voting polls.  Unfortunately, it is up to consumers of news media to do their own fact checking and now both parties seem to be willing accessories after the fact for the murder of quality journalism in the country that spawned Murrow’s Boys.

Doesn’t it make sense that a party of greedy capitalists, who endorsed the con man attitude of caveat emptor, would encourage journalism to morph from an obsession with truth into an endless source of doubletalk that bamboozles the rubes?  We wonder what the Democrats’ explanation could possibly be.

If a pundit with access to the Timer Travel Machine were to travel back to 2006 and announce that in 2013 a Democratic President would be wrestling with the tantalizing possibility of adding Syria to the list of American quagmires, such a hypothetical columnist would be hauled off and forced to endure a cooling off period of psychiatric evaluation.

On Thursday, August 08, 2013, Uncle Rushbo was kvetching about the fact that Obama’s first nationally televised comments about the new Terrorists’ Threat came on the Tonight Show.

Uncle Rushbo can’t bitch about Obama doing what Dubya used to do because that might prove to be inconvenient in 2016 when JEB is running as the Republican Party nominee for President, so he has to use attacks on the personal level to criticize the President.  Hence he was saying the appearance on the Tonight Show diminished the Presidency.

Rush specifically mentioned that John F. Kennedy did not go on the Tonight Show, back when Jack Paar was the host, to tell the nation about his assessment of the Cuban Missile Crises.  Limbaugh either chose to forget or didn’t know that Fidel Castro did go on the Tonight Show, after deposing Fugencio Batista, to make overtures to Washington.  Facts are just pesky details for “America’s Anchorman.”

Rush questioned Jay Lenno’s credentials for being a Journalist rather than a stand up comic.  Limbaugh said “I’m not being critical of Leno at all.  And I was not at all surprised that Leno would ask better questions than the White House press corps does.”

Quoting something that Chris Cillizza, wrote in the Washington Post, Limbaugh continued:  “As we have written before in this space, the idea that a serious journalist can’t have fun is not one that’s broadly held by the people who, you know, consume our journalism. Leno’s interview with Obama proves that the opposite is also true; that a ‘fun’ person can also be serious.”

[Could the World’s Laziest Journalist humbly suggest that when journalism takes a break from being oh-so-serious, it should be dubbed “Leprechaun Jorunalism”? ]

When it seemed like Limbaugh was going to address the issue of what makes a good journalist, he veered away from that interesting topic.  (We could do an entire column on that topic.)

Bringing the focus of the rant back to himself Uncle Rushbo continued:  “ . . . I do something that you don’t find elsewhere in the media.  I combine the serious discussion of issues with irreverent satirical comedy, with credibility on both sides.”  Isn’t the both sides contention often contradicted when Uncle Rushbo abruptly cuts off a liberal caller?

Was Uncle Rushbo intimating that Journalism should be one sided rants that can (as Fox has established in court) tell lies with a cogent punch line thrown in to prove that Conservatives have a sense of humor?  Fox tried to establish a Jon Stewart type of late night comedy punditry amalgamation of entertainment but failed to achieve acceptable ratings.  (John Douglas, a pioneer FBI profiler, has said that a frequent hallmark for serial killers is a strange sense of humor that many folks “don’t get.”)  Would Uncle Rushbo maintain that he is a better journalist than Hunter S. Thompson was?

We wonder what percentage of the audience for Uncle Rushbo, Hanity, and O’Reilly go to the bother of doing any fact checking about what they have heard.  How many ditto heads have read the book “Out Foxed,” let alone make the effort to see the movie of the same name?

In 2006, to the best of our ability to discern, no American journalist had bothered to fact check what had been said at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial nor had any of the modern day versions of Murrow’s Boys bothered to ask a participant of the WWII War Crimes Trails if they saw any evidence to indicate that George W. Bush may have (inadvertently) been seen in a harsh light if the standards of conduct applied retroactively to the Germans were used to evaluate the legality of Bush’s war policies.

The challenge facing Republican strategy policy makers in 2006 was to find a way to get the Democrats to slowly accept and implement the Bush program without it seeming to be a sell-out of the Trojan horse school of clever political maneuvers.

Obviously any pundit who pointed out existence of such a deception would be denounced as a raving lunatic from the most recent graduating class in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory training class for new employees.

According to Uncle Rushbo, President Obama, who was highly visible in the “hands on” mode of being the Commander-in-Chief when Osama bin Laden was being snuffed, went into stealth mode of operation on the night that the raid on the Americans in Benghazi was happening.  Are the conservatives hinting that this could be Monica 2.0?  Are the liberal pundits faking a lack of comprehension?  “What, me worry?”

Attack the man, because the liberals can’t attack Obama for continuing the Bush agenda.  If they did, that might be inconvenient when JEB get the nomination in 2016.

Are Americans supposed to believe a short radio segment riddled with unfacts and bumper sticker slogans rather than assiduously working their way through a complex and scholarly rebuttal?  If that’s an accurate assessment how long will it be before they start thinking that they are oh-so-clever when they ask the question:  “Sock it to me?”?

Uncle Rushbo gets very upset when lefty pundits use personal attacks on him, yet he has no qualms about attacking the President and charging him with demeaning the Presidency by talking to Jay Lenno.

When Uncle Rushbo is attacked personally, he usually responds with a counterattack that brings the lefty a fulfillment of Andy Warhol’s promise.  Should an obscure online pundit who wrote about a chance encounter with a War Crimes Trials expert and an earlier analysis of the American lead prosecutor’s opening statement at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial launch a vitriolic personal attack against Uncle Rushbo in the hopes of getting a tsunami of negative publicity for his efforts?

As the summer of 2013 peaks, attempts to provide rational discourse for political issues is about as difficult an assignment as it would be to get a rabid Dodgers fan to go see the Giants host a three game home series with their archrival and convincing this fellow to “root for the home team.”

It ain’t gonna happen.

That, in turn, may explain why Jay Lenno and John Stewart are becoming more important to politicians than interviews on the network news programs.

When a hallmark Bush gambit becomes part of Obama’s repetoir of ploys, some pundits may realize that the situation is similar to that moment when the home team’s fans head for the parking lot in the 7th inning.  At that point some mildly amusing (forget about perceptive and cogent) punditry has been put out of read.

[Note from the photo editor:  A file shot of a man using an 8 X 10 camera seemed to illustrate our topic of looking for the Zeitgeist for this week.  Quality Journalism has become a thing of the past, as have view cameras.  Both are missed by aficionados.]

Ned Kelly said it best:  “Such is life.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Speedies song  “Let me take your Photo,” the Who’s “Pictures of Lily,” and Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome.”  We have to go see if we can buy a West Coast Eagles t-shirt.  Have a “your mother wears combat boots” type week.

August 7, 2013

Palestinians & Native Americans: Where the Lost Tribes of Israel meet the Via Dolorosa

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:18 pm

How many times do you ever even think about Native Americans any more? When was the last time that you have ever even seen one? Unless you live on the Pine Ridge reservation or near Chimney Rock or just saw the new Lone Ranger movie or watch reruns of “F-Troop,” I bet that they never even cross your mind.

You go to work, you watch TV and you do your shopping and laundry — yet hardly ever even think twice about the fact that, wherever you are in the United States right now, entire families of Native Americans at one time used to live on the very same land where you are standing at this exact moment

And the same thing can easily be said about Palestinians and Israelis too. Israelis hardly ever even think about Palestinians any more — except perhaps when they appear in movies attacking wagon trains or in occasional sit-coms like “Arab Labor”

And yet Palestinian families at one time lived on every single inch of Israeli land

“Sure, Jane.” you might say, “bad stuff sometimes happens — but to the victor always goes the spoils.” Yes, I too understand the concept of Lebensraum But that doesn’t mean that I have to brag about it or be in-your-face aggressive about applauding that it happened or even reveling in the slaughter — like some people do

“We are the red men, down-among-the dead men…” And apparently the Lost Tribes of Israel too.

PS: Here’s a great new idea for a bumper sticker that should be displayed on every single vehicle in occupied Bethlehem: “JESUS WAS A PALESTINIAN!” And He was. And He too was brutally driven off his land. And His family’s direct descendants are currently being brutally driven off their land too.

Yes, the Via Dolorosa — the Trail of Tears — is still alive and well in Palestine

August 2, 2013

In search of temps perdu in Berkeley

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



Council person Kriss Worthington addresses a “Don’t sell our Post Office” rally on Saturday July 27th.

As political protests in Berkeley go, last Saturday afternoon’s rally of citizens protesting the sale of the Post Office facility in the downtown area didn’t seem to be a chance to watch history in the making but then we were told that something else would happen after the speeches and music were concluded.  We were provided a hint that it would be similar to an Occupy event.  On a summer day, when it is cloudy and chilly the appeal of going to a political protest in Berkeley that wouldn’t be something that folks would be talking about for years to come (the fiftieth anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech from the top of a police car is rapidly approaching) was not exactly overwhelming but on the other hand no other choice seemed better.

There were three TV trucks there and that indicated that the event did have some news value.  The number of TV trucks can equate to the news level of an event and we have seen perhaps as many as 10 trucks in Oakland for an Occupy Oakland event.  We lament our lapse in penny pinching judgment that caused us to skip the chance to buy a souvenir T-shirt at the “Camp OJ” convention of TV trucks in Los Angeles, some time back.

Experience from Occupy events indicated that any effort to remove the tents which were pitched on the Berkeley Post Office front steps would come either after dark or perhaps at dawn on Sunday, so we considered the array of possibilities our solo news organization efforts could select because it was obvious that eventually there would be a photo op for the removal of the protesters.  When not if.

There was a lingering feeling of familiarity to the impending news event and it wasn’t just the Occupy events we had witnessed.

We weren’t too enthusiastic about the possibility that we could inadvertently need a friend to post bail if we got too close to a melee on a quiet Sunday morning, but we seemed compelled by more than curiosity to take a look-see early the next day.

Then we had a flashback.  Vietnam Veterans camped out in the lobby of the Wadsworth Veterans Hospital in the Westwood Section of Los Angeles back in 1981.  A summer co-worker at the Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers was a young fellow who was majoring in photojournalism in college and we advised him to monitor the events at the hospital very closely.

Leaving for work an hour early to swing by the protest and see what new developments had occurred became a part of the daily routine for both of us.  One particular morning, two or three TV trucks but no still photographers were documenting the removal of the vets from the hospital lobby.  Our young coworker took some photos and they were used by AP.  In his Junior year he had a portfolio that included his work appearing on the front pages of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Los Angeles Times.   He got a summer intern job at a daily newspaper in the L. A. area the next year.  We took a shot that turned out to be the only news photo (that we know of) that we’ve taken that appeared in the New York Times.

Didn’t the Wadsworth event bring world wide attention to the lack of care that was being provided to the Vietnam vets?   We thought that perhaps our next column might ponder the fact that the “never again” meme is always forgotten, new wars are started, and vets always have to protest to get better care despite the patriotic sentiments expressed as they marched off to the various battlefields around the world.

There have been stories online indicating that the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plants was much more serious than reported and we thought that skipping the plight of the Berkeley PO and writing about the thereat of radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean might be an good alternative.  Then we realized that the radio active debris story is being totally stonewalled by the mainstream media.  Could it be that the story is so negative that the chance that young folks might, if they realized “we’re all gonna die!,” go completely out of control and precipitate an “end of the world” orgy of excess is the real underlying cause of the news embargo on radioactive leaks?

While attending the Saturday event at the Berkeley Post Office we noticed that several other activists tried to hijack the media’s attention with their cause.  Postcards were collected and sent to Bradley Manning.  The prisoner hunger strike was mentioned.  Concerned voters were encouraged to support the efforts of workers promoting the gay marriage and abortion causes.

During the week we listened to Armstrong and Getty and noticed a curious phenomenon concerning money.  The “hottest show on the West Coast” pointed out the hilarious aspect of the Detroit going bankrupt story and the possibility that workers would lose their pensions.  Detroit’s financial plight can be, according to conservative thinking, traced back to the greed of the union workers.  The “greed” motive is being mentioned as the ultimate cause of the need for a resumption of the BART strike in the San Francisco area.  The BART strike will resume on Monday.

Unions tried, in the past, to get money so that union members could live comfortably while raising a family and sending their kids to college and then enjoy retirement living.  Now, however, union workers who want a living wage are deemed greedy but billionaires who have more money than they will be able to spend in their lifetime need to be given more tax breaks so that they can have even more money.  Perhaps we should write a column elaborating this economic disparity.

We noticed this week that Uncle Rushbo has been eliminated from the lineup of about forty radio stations around the country.  (Is the classic rock format making a comeback?)  We wonder if he ever noticed our column that warned him that when all the liberal leftist voices are eliminated from the American pop culture scene, the fat cats won’t want to pay Uncle Rushbo his enormous salary if there is no socialist propaganda that needs to be drowned out.

Won’t the tax cut hungry billionaires eventually deem Uncle Rushbo’s annual salary as an example of worker’s greed?  Can’t the radio executives find a new younger voice that will deliver the same seductive propaganda for a much smaller salary?  Isn’t Uncle Rushbo in a union?  Wouldn’t he, philosophically speaking, endorse an effort to disrupt his career and retirement plans by replacing him with non-union talent who would do the same pronucicating for a lot less money?

Recently we decided that it was time to take a night off and get away from political disputes, so we journeyed to a meeting of a local club for folks who like to pan for gold.  The effort of Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), to pan some gold, as seen in the movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” has been a leitmotif in our life since childhood.  The club meeting that we attended was devoted almost entirely to examining legal issues of the utmost importance to the club members.  Out comes the pen and the reporter’s notebook.  Scratch the idea of a night off.  There is one web site where many of the legal issues are listed and so now we have another topic in our “future columns” in box.  To get an idea of just how legally complexities are getting the attention of those hobbyists, take a look at the issues being discussed on the Western Mining Alliance (dot com) web site.

One professor at Berkeley has done a remarkable job of collecting information about the history of what the WPA did during the Great Depression (Please do not call it the Republican Depression!).  We’ve mentioned, in a previous column, that he is trying to promote the idea of a brick and mortar location for a New Deal Museum.  Perhaps if we do an entire column devoted to that topic then the feature assignment editor at the New York Times might give the effort some national publicity?  His scholarship can be seen on the livingnewdeal dot org web site.

Some of the peaceniks in Berkeley think that Bradley Manning should have been commended for following the moral advice delivered to the German war criminals in the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials but they conveniently overlook the fact that Manning isn’t in the German Army!

More than fifty years ago, Berkeley resident Philip K. Dick was writing novels predicting a fictional government spying on its own citizens.

As of 10 a.m. PDT on Friday August 2, 2013, the Occupy the Berkeley Post Office steps protest was still protesting the proposed sale of the property.

[Note from the photo editor:  For a photographer, who was told “it’s a great picture but it generates too much sympathy for the anti-war crowd” when AP passed on the chance to buy a Vietnam War protest photo in December of 1966, the potential of taking some career making protest photos in 2013 only evokes a strong déjà vu reaction.]

St. Ronald Reagan is reported to have said:  “A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.”

Now, since the theme of nostalgia has been recurring in this column, the disk jockey will play some songs that get automatic memory associations from the World’s Laziest Journalist.  Hearing Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t get you outta my head” will always make us feel like we are back in Australia.  The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the city” always takes us back to NYC in the summer of 1966.  Then he will play Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay.”  We have to go see the Peter Stackpole photo exhibition at the California Museum in Oakland.  Have a “Temps perdu” type week.

August 1, 2013

broken arm, broken healthcare system

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 9:23 pm

this report is gonna be short because i have to type it all with only one hand. hunt and peck. no capitalizations. that’s what happens when one breaks one’s arm.

and another thing that happens when one breaks one’s arm is that, after i had tripped and fallen over a piece of uplifted sidewalk in berkeley and got rushed to the hospital in a fire truck, i also quickly discovered how much our healthcare system has been looted and plundered by healthcare insurance company executives trying to score yet another million-dollar paycheck — at the expense of our hospitals, us patients and our hard-working doctors and nurses.

it took forever for me to get seen and treated.


the doctors and nurses and technicians at my hospital were all angels of mercy and friendly and skilled and kind. but there were only a few of them and only so much they could do in the time allotted to each patient — they could only spread themselves so thin.

“and how do you feel about working for sutter health, that big conglomerate that has taken over your hospital?” i asked all of them

“sutter health? i hate sutter health!” they all replied. hey, me too. and every single employee that i talked to said the same thing. and they didn’t just hate sutter health. they really really really hated sutter health. must be strange to have 100% of your employees hate you so much.

“there should be a law that says that when the salaries of executives of non-profit corporations reach over one million dollars a year, then that company’s non-profit status should be revoked.”

sutter’s greed is slowly eating our local hospital alive.

i would type more on this subject but gotta go take my pain medication and then try to figure out how i’m going to take a bath and drive a stick shift with only one arm. sigh. my total sympathy goes out to anyone who has ever permanently lost the use of an arm, a hand, a leg or any other appendage. don’t see how they can do it.

ps: between the heath insurance lobby, the nuclear-waste-creation lobby, the pharmaceutical lobby, the oil lobby, the coal lobby, the nra lobby, the bankster lobby, the gmo/agribusiness lobby, the war profiteer lobby, the tobacco lobby, the anti-regulations lobby, the aipac lobby, the pro-pollution lobby, the anti-education lobby, the offshore tax haven lobby, the anti-social-security lobby, the cia lobby, the hedge-fund lobby, the deforestation lobby, the anti-union lobby, the sell-off-our-post-offices lobby, the media-monopoly lobby, the food additive lobby, the strip-mining lobby, the keystone pipeline lobby, the pesticide lobby, the fracking lobby, etc., it’s a wonder that any of the rest of us americans are even still alive and functioning at all — and still even have all our arms and legs too.


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