January 31, 2014

Super Bowl, Olympics, and the Imperial Presidency (2.0)

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 2:29 pm

The entertainment industry’s awards season has shifted into high gear, football fans are eagerly awaiting the Superbowl this weekend, and the TV news anchors obsessed on the traffic problems caused by ice in Georgia this week.  Automobile enthusiasts learned that a museum for the “inventor” of the Ford Cobra, Carroll Shelby, is in the seeking funding stage of development.  The Winter Olympics will be next week’s big diversionary news gambit from the media.

Thanks to cable news’ need for new sensations syndrome, criticism and analysis of the State of the Union speech was (reluctantly?) given priority for one day.  Did anyone see a Libertarian spokesperson get network airtime to respond to the President’s speech?

The elation of the Democrats in response to the President’s State of the Union speech may have been a bit premature because, upon reflection, what Obama did by resorting to the strategy of using executive orders as a way around a recalcitrant Congress is to grant the Democratic Party’s retroactive approval of George W. Bush’s concept of the Imperial Presidency.

Since there was no particularly gruesome news story to report on Wednesday of this week, the political propaganda factory (AKA the news media) was forced to focus the public’s attention on a macho dynamic Republican who may have subtly been employing the macho hombre attitude of “Let’s see if Hilary can do this!” to confront a reporter with a chance to become a nationally known personality because of a failed attempt for a gottcha moment.

Senator Ted Cruz responded to the President’s State of the Union speech with an opinion piece for Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal that was very critical of the Imperial Presidency of Barack H. Obama.  Democrats who do not appreciate high quality hypocrisy will never understand what makes Republicans tick.

The President’s Year of Action may be the start of the Golden Age of Hypocrisy because this do-si-do maneuver now has the Democrats spouting old talking points that the Republicans used to defend the tactic when it was used by George W. Bush and the Republicans are recycling old Democratic criticism against Dubya to make citizens think ill of Obama.

This couldn’t have worked out better for the old Dubya cadre if they had meticulously planned it while they were occupying the White House.  Some conspiracy theory minded cynics make the bold assertion that the Bush junta used some very devious methods to engineer the Obama win in 2008 and then left the fellow in the White House no other option to salvage his legacy but to carry on Bush’s Forever War just as the Texas petroleum prodigy posse intended.

A large number of folks who will tune in to the Superbowl are mostly interested in seeing the commercials which makes us wonder: since the football fans get meticulous scrutiny of the play they just saw, why doesn’t a cable channel provide in-depth analysis of the Superbowl ads right after they air?  Heck if the casual viewer cares more about the sales pitches, why doesn’t some obscure cable channel have experts explain the hidden persuaders angle to the day’s biggest attraction and ignore the game completely?

Since Australia wants to promote tourism, why don’t they (with a little help from their friends at Qantas?) pay for a live commercial during the Superbowl featuring an attractive lass in a bikini reporting live from Bondi Beach or Cottesloe inviting the Americans struggling through the coldest winter of the Global Warming era to “come on down” and work on their tan?

Speaking of “Think Big!,” a friend in Kansas is going to get a passport and immediately head for Mexico.  Me thinks we should send her a “Best of Edith Piaf” album for her birthday.  Did Piaf do a cover of “April in Paris”?  What is Paris’ official theme song?

Speaking of Paris and Poughkeepsie (Didn’t famed model/photographer/war correspondent Lee Miller call both bergs “home”?) a gal pal in that area of New York wanted to lure the World’s Laziest Journalist into a screenwriting project.  Since we have seen two of our ideas appear on the TV screen and got nada for our efforts, we are inclined to send her a copy of Syd Field’s bible for rookie screenwriters and wish her the best of luck.  If we had a nickel for every time in L. A. that we heard “we’ll write it together and you will get half of the money!;” we’d have enough to buy a latte at a trendy coffee emporium.

How many folks would tune in if CBS reran the Ed Sullivan show featuring the first live American performance by the Beatles?  Replay the whole damn thing.  Commercials and all.  (“I want my Maypo!”)

The prospects for progressive pundits for the next three years are very grim.  In cold weather when a car won’t start a driver will often persist in trying and wear the batter down and thus insure that a call to Triple A for road assistance will be necessary.

The progressive pundits will spend the next three years trying to reassure the male voters that a woman Commander-in-chief for Bush’s continuing Forever War won’t be so bad.

Won’t Ann Coulter have such fun asserting that she was just joking when she was goading liberal men to boldly assert that:  “The old broad is the lesser of two evils.”?

Is it true that Karl Rove is saying:  “If they give the nomination to Hilary, we should pick Barbara Bush.”?

According to the hottest radio show on the West Coast, this week, in Sacramento, for the first time, a woman is the courtside announcer for an NBA team.

If the World’s Laziest Journalist were to be the only pundit to mention that Obama is using the “turnabout is fair play” philosophy and adopting the Bush Imperial Presidency methodology would all the paid commentators ignore the scoop or would they be ordered to not give the idea any chance of “going viral” via any publicity?

[Bike and pedestrian accidents are trending higher in San Francisco and the photo editor thought that a recent spot news photo could be used to illustrate a column that strongly hints that the President is throwing the Democratic Party under the bus.]

Annie Jacobsen, in her book “Area 51,” wrote (page 62):  “When the press disseminates false information that helps keep classified information a secret, the CIA sits back and smiles.”

Now the disk jockey will play Pete Seeger’s “Where have all the flowers gone?,”  “Die Antwoord’s “I Fink U Freaky,” and a Waylon Jennings song, which we recently just heard for the first time, “Must you throw dirt in my face?”  We have to go buy the new copy of Ukulele magazine.  Have a “Just kidding, dude!” type week.

Quote of the Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 10:43 am

“Republicans blaming Barack Obama for not getting things done is like John Wilkes Booth blaming Lincoln for missing the end of the play.”

-John Fugelsang

January 29, 2014

Global (and judicial) warming and cooling: Why we get both

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:17 pm

It seems to me that the reason we get global warming in some places and global cooling in others should be as plain as the nose on your face — at least to those of us who live in Berkeley.

Whenever it gets hot in Walnut Creek, over the hill from Berkeley, we always get a strong wind here as our own cooler air rushes over to balance out Walnut Creek’s hotspots.

So global warming and cooling should clearly work in the same way — except on a planetary scale. As Florida really heats up, for instance, cold air from the Arctic should rush in to balance temperatures out. And hurricanes and tornadoes appear to be getting bigger and nastier here to compensate for temperature changes somewhere else. All over the planet, increased warm areas are being balanced out by increased cold areas — and vice-versa. That’s my new climate-change theory and I’m sticking to it.

And Justice works the same way as well. We gotta have liberty and justice for all — and not just for Poobahs and cartels. Because if we don’t, it’s all going to even out in the end eventually — one way or another.

Everyone everywhere keeps track of these things.

And when justice only goes to the wealthy and not to the poor, things definitely get hotter in one spot and cooler in another.

When big banks act unjustly and screw small homeowners, they are creating a financial “Polar Vortex” When corporations get billions in welfare while people who actually need government services — and pay taxes for them too — are told they are moochers, then areas of highs and lows are created and wretched imbalances are struck.

When Justin Bieber doesn’t get deported for being drunk and disorderly yet other hard-working non-citizens who are helping to make America stronger get thrown in jail just for being on this side of a border, fair weather could become cloudy with a chance of injustice (although Bieber has just set a legal precedent that immigration attorneys all over America can now use to defend their clients. Way to go, Beebs!)

According to Noel Castellanos, “Justice is doing more than saving the drowning people, it’s changing the ones who are pushing them into the lake.” And in all too many countries all over the Global South, where social justice and economic democracy are in short supply, both economic disasters and violent (and non-violent) revolutions are common. “Why should I respect the rule of law when it doesn’t respect me?” seems to be the gist of thinking in the Global South.

And as social, economic and legal injustices become more and more common in America now too, and more and more of America’s “justice for all” has become only “justice for corporations,” economic democracy is now becoming a museum piece here too, a thing of the past along with crank telephones and kerosene lamps — leaving us open for violent (and non-violent) revolutions to start flowing into the low areas here too.

Handing out fake justice to some but denying it to others is a really good formula for making peace impossible all over the world and in America too — and, to paraphrase that old TV commercial, “Peace is our most important product”.

And apparently both the weather system and the justice system in America right now are refusing to tolerate extreme highs and lows.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

PS: Speaking of justice, at this month’s Berkeley-Albany Bar Association luncheon (curried chicken and caesar salad at the Berkeley City Club), a prominent trial attorney gave us his annual talk on what the U.S. Supreme Court had been up to this past year. And here are some things that he said. If I got any of it wrong, it’s my fault — not his. So don’t judge him. Judge me — for taking bad notes.

“The first thing you should know about the current Supreme Court is that it has a 44% approval rating with the American public.”

And regarding individual judges, the speaker told us that, “Thomas is silent on the bench at all times. He never asks any questions. Scalia is very influential, but I can’t see why. He also never looks at any foreign laws and is totally not interested in what other countries think. His originalism comes at a very bad time, however. Imagine if Thomas Jefferson had been like that. Kagan used to be a dean — and deans are all about authority. Alito is a pleasant person but has always worked for the government and has never worked with individuals who were being oppressed. Ginsberg used to work for the ACLU. Sotomayor is one of the most impressive on the court.”

“Five of these judges have committed our country to terrible things that they never revealed to the Senate during their confirmation hearings.”

“According to Dworkin, the job of a judge is philosophical and broad — and when doing it in a democracy, you also need to understand the basics of a democracy as well.”

“This year it is still the five vs. the four, and the four’s teeth are worn down to a terrible point because four is not enough.”

“Scalia came out against actual innocence this year. Most of us think that if you are proven innocent after sentencing, you should be able to turn in your orange jump suit and go home. One man, after 17 years in jail, was proven not to have committed the crime. Scalia disagreed that he should be released.”

“Criminal law has become an incredibly regulated event with regard to sentencing. Judges no longer have the flexibility in this area that they once had.”

“The Court struck down the identity-card voting law in Arizona. Thomas and Alito dissented.”

“Regarding ex post facto sentencing, Sotomayor wrote the opinion. Guidelines that were not in effect at the time of sentencing can’t change the sentencing later.”

“Regarding one DNA verdict, Scalia, Kagan Sotomayor and Ginsberg got together on this one — slowing that it was not just the usual straight five-to-four mix last year.”

“What if a defendant stops talking after he is arrested? Can his silence be commented on or held against him as evidence of guilt?” Not sure how that case turned out.

“Right to a lawyer — a competent lawyer, providing standards for attorneys not only the standards provided by the state bar. Trevino v. Thaler was habeas corpus case regarding ineffective assistance of counsel.” The court ruled that Texas didn’t consider that Trevino had ineffective counsel before sending him to Death Row.

“Daimler v. Bauman. Dealt with Argentina’s Dirty War and jurisdiction. No, you can’t hold to account foreigners involved in torture overseas. This one was recently decided.”

“The race factor: Not appropriate for U-Texas Austin to use it for admissions without an airtight justification and the application of direct scrutiny. Only Ginsberg dissented.”

“Adequacy of drug warnings are preempted by federal law.”

“U.Texas medical center v. Nassar: Employment discrimination must be proved by lots of evidence. Ginsberg dissented.” The Supreme Court made it harder for employees who were charging discrimination and retaliation to win their cases.”

“Class actions: The Supreme court has been limiting them in the past. However, in Angen v. Connecticut Retirement Plans, materiality did not need to be proved in order to establish a case as a class action. Alito, Thomas and Scalia dissented.” I just bet they did.

“Patents: DNA cannot be patented. Unanimous decision. Things that are open and obvious don’t deserve a patent. But no one on the Supreme Court knows much about patents. They are all generalists in an age of specialization — but, in their position, must take a broad range of cases anyway.”

PPS: Am leaving for Haiti on February 12. According to Dr. Paul Farmer, Haiti has undergone centuries of injustice on a frightening scale. According to Farmer, “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that’s wrong with the world.” And Haiti is now also the victim of climate change as well.

Haiti is a perfect example of what I have been talking about here. And apparently Haitians are totally ready to support both “justice for all” and climate stability — and also Jean-Bertrand Aristide as well. Go them.

Ye Olde Scribe Says…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 9:04 am

A corporation is a “person” in the same sense that THE Rock is actual a “rock.”

January 24, 2014

Paranoia strikes deep: Why wisdom & kindness trumps greed, paranoia & fear

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 9:57 pm

I used to really really hate housework but don’t hate it so much any more — ever since I developed my fabulous new housecleaning system wherein I just do 15 minutes of housework a day, but do it each day consistently, using a timer so as not to cheat.

You’d be surprised how much you can get done in just 15 minutes, but you gotta do it daily, no matter what — even if some newbee student dentist has just finished scraping all those extra bone fragments out of the socket of your recently-pulled (phantom) tooth and then practiced her rusty stitching techniques on your poor bleeding gums.

And here’s another added bonus to my housecleaning system: After having spent approximately 5,475 minutes a year for the past six years on trying to keep this damn place clean, I have actually sort of started to bond with my home.

So. A few days ago I was cleaning stuff out of an old filing cabinet, and came across a whole bunch of articles that I had written way back in the day — back before we had all kinds of self-publishing apps available online; and even back before there was FaceBook or blogs or Kindle or Twitter or even Instagram and YouTube.

And, way back in those old paleo days, writers such as myself had actually been forced to photocopy our articles, write up a cover letter and then send them all off to magazine editors with self-addressed stamped envelopes enclosed. Totally old school. Can you even imagine doing that now?

And there at the very bottom of one of those file drawers, I found over two hundred rejection letters from various editors and publishers. Amazing.

Dontcha just love publishing over the internet instead? (And thank goodness for net neutrality too — which is currently being threatened. Shouldn’t we start boycotting Verizon, AT&T and Comcast over this? C’mon, all you independent bloggers, Tweeters and self-publishers, let’s get off our butts and fight for less intervention and more high-speed!),0,522106.story

And speaking of the internet, those huge and powerful corporations which now own our government are still using it to spy on all of us — and not just us writers. Now why would corporations want to do that? Because they are paranoid. And greedy. And afraid.

I used to be paranoid and greedy and afraid too — but am now here to tell you that, in the long run, paranoia and greed and fear are just too damn much hard work. Wisdom and kindness are better. And easier too. Just ask Jesus. And Gandhi. And Martin Luther King Jr.

“But Jane,” you might say, “that kind of slacker attitude could get you killed.” True. It certainly got King and Gandhi and Jesus killed. But at least I would die while feeling all proud of myself as I cross over — not huddled up in some miserable isolated Midas-like earthly fortress while watching the rest of the world end before my very eyes and with only my black, ice-cold-hearted evil soul (that nobody else would ever want to spend time with, ev-ah) to keep me company. Yuck.

Anyway, back at the filing cabinet, I began reading through some of my old articles again — and some of them were really actually quite good. The one about my struggles to get my aging father into an assisted-care home was particularly poignant — and how my mean sister had dragged me through probate court after he died, just when I was grieving the most. I later published it on the internet, entitled “Probating the Family Feud” — and a lot of people actually read it there too.

And I also found something I had written back in 2005 — back when Fallujah was a horrible war-crime-induced hot mess; about all my efforts to embed with the Army there. And how I finally did embed with the Marines in Heet and Haditha two years later

But apparently Fallujah is still a war-torn hot mess even today; the only difference being that Iraqis, not Americans, are now doing most of the killing in Al Anbar province. So does that make all this current senseless slaughter of civilians less of a war crime — because civilians are now being senselessly slaughtered by local hordes instead of by American hordes?

Ten years later, I still want to go to Fallujah.

Or as one friend in Iraq calls it, “Fallujahpaloooza”. Laughter through tears.

And then I discovered, hidden back at the very bottom of my filing cabinet, a rough draft of my first novel. I loved that novel so much! But NOBODY would publish it. Nobody. That novel had everything — love, death, war, peace, history, philosophy, drama, even intergalactic travel — and even one fast-moving chapter on how wisdom and kindness always trumps greed, paranoia and fear. “Pictures of a Future World” was the title. I may get around to publishing it yet — but this time I’ll try Kindle.

PS: Here’s an excerpt from my old unpublished novel, “Pictures of a Future World”:

All eyes turn to the Shaman, who continues to speak from his deep trance.

The atmosphere in the sandstone kiva comes alive. The Shaman moves his mind to a new point of consciousness. Another one of his emanations begins to speak, this time in an intensely penetrating tone. “There is a tree on the mesa top,” the deep voice slowly intones. “It has watched the raider warriors kill our people one by one. It has seen us begin to build our houses here in the dark shadows of the canyon walls instead of up on the sunny mesa tops where they belong…so that we might be safe…from the raider warriors.

“They are killers.

“We are prey.

“So has it always been. So shall it always be.

“There is no place that we can go on the face of this earth that is safe from them…either now or in the far distant future… when even our mesa-top trees are dead.

“Raiders will always hunt peaceful men.

“They will find us, and they will kill our bodies just as the coyote kills the hare.”

Absolute silence falls like a black shroud inside the kiva.

Everyone waits for the Shaman to speak again. Even the Shaman himself waits. Is this all that he is going to say? By now the ceremonial kiva is as bright as day, the elders rigid with attention.

“Of these things we must never be afraid, ever,” the Shaman continues. “The raiders may search us out, the barbarians may chase us down and trap us and corner us like rats…from now until the end of time.

“The needy ones, the greedy ones will hunt us in order to make our wisdom and our abundance their own. They will act out of evil caused by envy, jealousy or need. Whatever their reasons — that is the way of it. No place is safe. We must be prepared to give up our bodies at any time, willingly and without fear or regret.

“Because our bodies are not us.”

The Shaman breathes slowly now, and the clan members sense that he is struggling within himself, trying to clarify what he alone is seeing, forcing himself to go on. A moment passes. The mask presses heavily upon him. Finally he continues: “We of the pueblo all know this. We are all made brave because of this knowledge. This we know: That always men of peace will die bravely. That always barbarians will try to kill us and to take our spirits.

“All of us know that the spirit of a man of peace can never belong to a barbarian and can never be harmed. Ever. It is this knowledge that gives us the courage to continue to live without fear in a world exploding with enemies, enemies gone mad with their own anger and need and violence and lust for our blood.”

The air inside the womb-like kiva begins to take on a life of its own; humid, dense, and pulsing.

Inside the ponderous deer-head mask, the Shaman tries to refocus his energy. He watches his body and his mind divide into a series of complex grids. Each one of these grids contains an image of himself. A part of him wonders which grid is his real self. A part of him knows that his real self is all of them — or none.

More chanting fills the air. The Shaman forgets about the raider warriors. They are a part of life. They will always be there…like the trees. Like the mesa.

Gonzo punditry from a sidecar

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:33 pm


“My Man Godfrey” starring William Powell and Carole Lombard from 1936 was selected to be the first film in the Pacific Film Archives new Funny Ha-Ha series and was shown on Thursday January 16, 2014.  Since the film is a screwball comedy about efforts to rehabilitate a homeless guy, we made an attempt to try to get one of Berkeley’s panhandlers to be our guest at the nostalgic look back at a Depression era depiction of the life of a pauper.  The film confirmed the cynical view that the more things change the more they don/t.

While walking back to our base of operations, we chanced upon a new addition to the Berkeley business scene and opted for a nosh and a late night coffee.  We were operating in the guise of a Herb Caen wannabe searching for column items that would be interesting, amusing, and informative.

Did you know that football injuries are not a new topic?  One of the clerks at Pacific Cookie Company on Telegraph Avenue informed us that the subject had caused her grandfather,  Dave Meggyesy, to quite his job as a professional football player and write a book on the subject.  He was given the opportunity to go on the Dick Cavett TV show to promote his book (isn’t such video content called “promobabble”?).  It turned out, according to the clerk, that a fellow guest that night was Janice Joplin and the singer, we were told, came on to the author.  We then had the chance to view an excerpt from that episode that was available on the Youtube website.  The St. Paul moment when Meggyesy heard a bone snap sounded familiar.  Seeing the snippet of the show made us realize that we had seen that particular installment of the Dick Cavett Show when it was originally broadcast.  Is it time for a paperback publisher to reissue Meggyesy’s  book, “Out of their league”?

Extreme Pizza on Shattuck Ave. seemed like a logical place to look for a new entry in our attempts to find the best pizza in Berkeley.  What we weren’t expecting was a chance to cross an item off our Bucket List.  While returning to the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory at its secret location in the vicinity of the UCB campus, we noticed a motorcycle with a sidecar attached.  It was in front of the pizza parlor and a nearby panhandler informed us that the owner worked inside the pizzeria.  We have done a story about the replicas of a 1939 BMW motorcycle (Google Imz-ural) but a ride in a motorcycle sidecar was an item that still lurked on our Bucket List.  We learned that the cycle’s owner was connected to the Shattuck Ave. source for a pizza fix.  Since he did not have a spare helmet with him, he offered the chance for the World’s Laziest Journalist to return on Saturday for a ride in a sidecar.  We have ridden in a biplane and the view from the sidecar is better because it isn’t restricted by wings and a fuselage.

What does a whimsical description of a trip through Berkeley in a motorcycle sidecar have to do with insightful and perceptive political commentary?  Americans are avid advocates of the idea that the free press in the United States delivers the important information to the citizens that permits them to make informed decisions about which political candidates are the best choice.

Unfortunately the poor saps don’t get any news about the situation at Fukushima and the most likely scenario for the attempt to contain the damage.  The suckers don’t get much specific information about the Target hack or where it originated.  For complex political reasons, it is best if the free press just totally ignores the end results produced by the George W. Bush military adventure in Iraq.  The cost effectiveness of the money being spent to support American military operations in Afghanistan is too complex for the listeners of Patriot radio.

Soap opera news that gets viewers all choked up watching a video clip that is the TV version of a classic Dorothea Lang still photo of a Depression era woman looking all forlorn and bedraggled, is now considered the modern equivalent of “This is London calling” journalism.

Journalism in the United States today might best be compared to the experience of asking a buddy about the hundred dollars he owes you and in response getting the question:  “Did your mom get out of the hospital yet?”

The Pacific Film Archives retrospective of classic American Comedy moves, on Sunday January 19, 2014, featured the 1933 Marx brothers “Duck Soup,” which tells the story of how a rich woman was able to coerce the fictional country of Freedonia into accepting Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) as the country’s Prime Minister.  He promptly starts a war.  The film seems to be a prescient parable prediction of the Presidency of George W. Bush and that idea could be expanded into a complete column.

Would a column about poor officiating and bad sportsmanship in a football game be a suitable topic for use in the realm of progressive punditry?

In the Golden Age of skim reading and the short attention span, the challenge for someone who is expected to produce a steady stream of attempts to refute the Republican strategy of disparaging Hillary by providing sexist humor (where were the sexist Republicans when Sarah Palin was in the spotlight?) that questions the wisdom of giving the vote to (to use Frank Sinatra  terminology) frails, the challenge will be enormous because you can’t refute a funny one liner with a classroom lecture on liberal values.

The only valid way to fight a humorous attack is to “top” the one liner.  For example, when a woman said to Prime Minister Winston Churchill that if he were her husband, she would put poison in his coffee, he replied that if he were her husband, he’d drink it.

If the Republicans want to make Hillary the butt of their jokes for the next two and a half years, then the Democrats need to respond with ridicule for the Republican candidates.

The Brad Friedman’s Bardblog website pointed out a marvelous bit of Chris Christie humor by showing members of his audience a duet done by Jimmy Kimmel and Bruce Springsteen.  (Google hint:  Jimmy Kimmel Born to Run Spoof)

The Republican strategy for the Presidential Election seems to be a repeat of 2012.  They will let the media grind a series of Republican front runners into mincemeat and then at the last minute provide an unsullied “savior” candidate who has been waiting in the wings.  Our prediction for the last minute reluctant Republican candidate is JEB Bush.

We will annoy the snot out of a good conservative friend and ask if he can sees truth in this question:  Is the quality of journalism on Fox similar to the level of excellence rating given to the security provided for the audience at the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont?

Would skepticism about Global Warming cause biased media to ignore San Francisco’s January “heat wave”?

Political issues are a lot like the weather.  Everyone talks about them, but neither party actually does anything to solve the problems.

As Janis Joplin once said; “Tomorrow never comes.  It’s all the same fucking da-a-a-y, man.”

Now the disk jockey will play Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get you outta my head,” Brad Buckland’s “Boomaroo Flyer,” and Slim Dusty’s “Lights on the hill.”  We have to go find a good Australia Day party to crash.  Have a “Get it while you can” type week.

January 17, 2014

Same as it ever was

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:31 pm

[<B>Note:  This column is an example of Gonzo commentary and is therefore exempt from the fact checking process.</B>]

Jack London’s “The People of the Abyss” paints such a grim picture of people who are doomed to an abysmal existence of constant sorrow that will inevitably lead to an early grave but it does offer a possible view of the world that some political recidivists want to revive for America in the near future.  Was London’s tale of picaresque adventures titled “The Road,” a precursor of beat literature?  Was London’s “The Iron Heel” an inspiration for “It can’t happen here” or just a book that would hardly ever be compared to “The Canticle of Leibowitz”?  Did London’s “John Barleycorn” inspire “The Lost Weekend”?

After skimming through a copy of a Jack London biography we encountered in the Berkeley Public Library, we hightailed it off to the world famous Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue to see if they had an affordable used copy of the Library of America’s book containing those five of London ‘s social novels.  They did and so we paid cash for it (are charge cards the new century’s version of eight track tapes?) and started reading.

London was a socialist and so if he were still alive today he would probably do an appearance on Jon Stewart’s TV show to lament the status of the unemployment benefits that were recently terminated by the Simon Legree Republicans in Congress.  No one in their right mind really expects them to be reinstated, but the liberals are expected to play the game and urge the recalcitrant Republicans to recant and approve the resumption of the checks that prevent despair in the ranks of the job seekers.  The challenge for the Republicans is to find the rhetoric that will make their hard hearted response seem to be a logical extension of their compassionate Christian conservative philosophy.  Quibbling over parliamentary procedures is, of course, the perfect example of how Jesus Christ would answer the question:  “Do you want to restart the checks or not?”

London might be sarcastic about the free press’ feigned outrage, which is supposed to make the Democratic “attempts” to perform a resurrection on the social program that has flat lined look genuine, but is, instead, designed to divert attention from other topics where some back room manipulation is needed.

When the Target security breech was first announced, the hottest show on the West Coast made the assertion that the source of the hack was in Vietnam.  Have you seen any news stories about the source of the mischief?  Why is that information about the specifics of the source of the hack being ignored in the American media?

Are the doubts about the potability of water in some areas of West Virginia coming from the same whack jobs who say they can “prove” global warming is occurring (i.e. “the Scientists?  [Doesn’t that sound like the name for a Goth band?])  Aren’t those two ideas equally ludicrous?  Who would decline a drink of smelly blue water just because one of the global warming posse said it was “dangerous!”?

Is Fox or the New York Times presenting better and more coverage of events in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon?

While we were reconnoitering the Jack London cabin (made with material from London’s Yukon cabin) we encountered some transplants from Boston who were exploring their new hometown area and gave them some recommendations about how to most fully enjoy (one of London’s recurring themes in life) their new local area.  Get a guide book, lest you obliviously sail past an obscure location that features an arcane attraction that would amuse and fascinate newbies and long time residents alike.  That conversation could easily be expanded into a full length column about the delights of living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Heinolds’ First and Last Chance (bar/saloon) in Oakland has always been synonymous with the name Jack London and so on Sunday January 12, 2014, we went to that city to have a look-see.  Was London really one of their “regulars” back in the day?  They have a photo of a young London reading a dictionary in that very building (the owner gave the lad the book as a present) for Doubting Thomases and fact checking columnists.  The unique bar, which tilts because of effects from the famous 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, can best be described by the word “über-funky.”

While we where at that gin mill (the First and Last got its name because it was the closest tavern to where oyster fishermen “clocked in” and “clocked out” for their jobs), we had to order a diet Coke™ because hey didn’t have Sarsaparilla. (Taking photos of Jack London’s cabin and Heinold’s saloon in Oakland CA,for this column seemed like the most likely solution for this week’s challenge for the photo editor.)

While savoring our drink we chatted up the bar tender and realized that we could easily write a column about the great bars of the world, where we have had a libation.  (We missed the real Quinn’s in Tahiti [the one that’s there now isn’t the legendary original according to what we have read].)

We could also do a column just limited to the famous bars that were a “home away from home” for great writers.  Didn’t Jason Miller, who wrote “The Championship Season” (Go 49ers!), used to drink at the Dinner Bell in Dunmore Pa.?

In the spirit of “ripped from today’s headlines,” we noticed that in the “People of the Abyss,” the homeless were kept out of London’s parks at night and that the police roused anyone attempting to sleep in public at night.  Sounds like the same complaints we heard recently, while visiting residents of Berkeley’s People’s Park.

We have suggested to one of Berkeley’s most noticeable panhandlers, known by the street handle of Ninja Kitty, that he run for Congress on a “I’ll get rid of the homeless in Berkeley” platform.  The conservatives would expect him to implement a “Getting a job (i.e. work) will set you free” style program and the Berkeley liberals would expect him to help expand the under funded social programs to help the homeless and also vote for him.  He’d be elected in a landslide.  Hit the pause button for that idea, he told us he is too young to be a Congressional candidate.  Maybe he can just help collect signatures for councilman Kris Worthington’s petition?  Ninja Kitty does, however, have a facebook page.  (

Originally we had intended to write a column for this week that compares and contrasts the movies “Wolf of Wall Street” and “American Hustle.”  The two are simultaneously both similar and quite different.  It’s like one baseball game that’s a no-hitter pitched by Nolan Ryan, and another contest between Boston and New York that, after the lead chances several times, ends 13 to 12, with a bottom of the ninth inning walkoff grand slam (for the Yankees, naturally).

London, if he were still alive, would probably be able to take diverse bits of information, such as the annual traffic fiasco, that inevitably accompanies the Forth of July fireworks display in the Marina del Rey area, the recent resignation of L. A. Sheriff Lee Baca, and the political headaches for New Jersey Governor Chris Cristie, and combine them into one coherent column, but we’ll have to check with the Marina Tenants Association for the background story and get back to you on that challenge.

In Chapter 27 of Martin Eden, London wrote:  “When he starved, his thoughts had dwelt often upon the thousands he knew were starving the world over, but now that he was feasted full, the fact of the thousands starving was no longer pregnant in his brain.”  Does that explain why Republicans prefer to discuss the homeless while enjoying a good meal?

Now the disk jockey will play Boston’s “Don’t look back” album, Chicago’s “Greatest Hits” album, and John Denver’s “Rockey Mountain High” song (has that become the official anthem of the Legalize Pot movement?).  We have to go see if the record high temperature for San Francisco in January will be set today.  Have an “over the lips, and through the gums; look out ribs here it comes!” type week.

[After a clerk at the Pacific Cookie Company on Telegraph Ave. bragged that Janice Joplin had “come on” to her grandfather on a national TV talk show and then went online to prove it, we knew we had a great item for next week’s column.  Tune in next week at the same bat time, same bat channel for the full story.]

January 15, 2014

From a different perspective: Rethinking Ariel Sharon & Chris Christie

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:01 pm

Ever since Ariel Sharon began rising up through the ranks of Israeli neo-con politics by hook or by crook, I’ve always viewed him as a Bad Guy. But maybe he wasn’t all that bad after all — at least not within the time-frame right before his sudden stroke. According to former IGF officer Roi Tov, Sharon might have finally seen the light and started actually implementing some of the few hopeful features of GWB’s ill-conceived “Road Map,” now a document as long-forgotten as Mr. Bush himself.

Tov is an Israeli journalist who I always love to read because he always seems to have juicy insider knowledge of all the latest hot gossip about what is going on in the highest Israeli neo-con circles. And according to Tov, Sharon had been taking the Peace Process a little bit too seriously right before his sudden stroke and, like Rabin, needed to be stopped.

Sharon himself must have constantly been aware, like all good neo-cons everywhere have known since way back in JFK’s day, that when you play in neo-con Big Leagues, you gotta toe the current party line or else. But at least Sharon, there toward the end, might possibly have tried at long last to do the Right Thing toward establishing peace with Palestine — perhaps knowing full well that doing so would cause him to tangle with the Shin Beth. Perhaps I should give Sharon snaps for that. Taking on the Shin Beth is not for the timid of heart.

Perhaps Sharon finally wanted to atone for being the Butcher of Sabra and Shatila. Hey, it could happen.

But, if so, Sharon must have also forgotten the Number One neo-con rule: “Cross us and you are a dead man. We eat our young.” Sucks to be you, Ariel Sharon!

Anyway. We may never know the whole story. Neither Sharon nor Rabin are talking. And neither is the Shin Beth.

Israeli politics are so much fun to watch — almost as much fun as watching American politics. Which brings me to the subject of Chris Christie. “What did he know and when did he know it?” seems to be the big question on everyone’s lips. But, for me, the real question here should be, “Why the freak do Americans continue to passively put up with all of America’s constant and soul-killing traffic jams in the first place?”

If Christie and/or his loyal staff hadn’t caused the Fort Lee traffic jam, then something else would have caused it.

There are traffic jams all over America right now, night and day. 24/7. And nobody seems to even notice or care. We all just passively endure wasting hours and hours of our life each day that we will never get back.

For instance, the new San Francisco bay bridge is awesome to look at, but as a vehicle-mover, it sadly fails. The old bridge handled up to one-third more cars-per-hour than this new, spectacular one.

But all these new bridges and old bridges and freeways and rush-hour traffic jams all beg the huge major question, which is: “What kind of harsh air-pollution hazards are all these idling, gridlocked vehicles creating? And when are we going to finally take climate change seriously and start eliminating the use of pollution-causing motor vehicles entirely?”

This new scandal regarding Governor Christie and Fort Lee might be offering us a really good opportunity to start a national dialogue with regard to, first, the development of more public transportation options in order to alleviate traffic jams and save the air, and, second, finally doing something about the limited safety and diminishing returns of using cars themselves in this disastrous day and age of life-threatening climate change.

January 13, 2014

Ariel Sharon (1928-2014): My country, because of thee…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:59 pm

Sweet land of liberty? “For thee I mourn.”

Ariel Sharon just died. He was America’s friend. What does that say about us? The Butcher of Sabra and Shatila just died, a friend of Washington DC for the last 20-odd years, feted by the White House, praised by Congress — from every mountainside.

Sharon is the kind of man that catches the eye of American leaders.

Men like Ariel Sharon are lifted up and feted and praised. Men like Ariel Sharon, who can coldly give orders to kill hundreds of women and children without a second glance or a second thought? These kind of men? These are the kind of men we can teach our children to admire and praise?

I’m sorry that Ariel Sharon is dead. I’m sorry when any human being dies. I’ll even be sorry at my own death — but it is for America that I mourn for the most at the passing of Ariel Sharon. America, who used to bravely condemn the actions of mass murderers? America who fought against Stalin and Hitler? America now actually feeds these monsters with cold hard cash — and places cold, hard weapons in their hands.

“Land where our fathers died….” Let freedom ring.

January 10, 2014

Doublethink becomes ubiquitous

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:31 pm

The quaint old days when political disputes could be a topic for a lively conversation are long gone because these days folks are living in a binary choice world. The question isn’t about how to describe a glass that is filled to 50% capacity with water. Either the glass is full or it is empty. Did President Obama trip and spill the glass on the carpet? Wasn’t the Bush legacy a full glass?

The journalists operating in Washington D. C. can only hope to curry favor with their “sources” by running propaganda information which will (theoretically) win some genuine scoops in return for the favor. In fact, isn’t all that it gets the gullible player, an invitation to the next exclusive party and another chance to choose which propaganda to run? Pundits out in the boondocks don’t even have the chance to score a scoop on good propaganda material. All the rubes can do is to try to get off a good one liner or make an intuitive guess about a taboo topic.

Hitler said in “Mein Kampf” that true believers shouldn’t ever (not even one time) admit that there was a grain of truth in the argumentation offered by the opposite team. With that advice in mind during 2014, the public discussions of items in dispute will closely resemble the images of the “no man’s land” in WWI era trench warfare. There won’t be any common ground. There won’t be any truce on Christmas Day. With that set up, the liberal pundits will never make a single point with the compassionate, conservative, Christian Republicans all they can do is to ridicule Uncle Rushbo and his clones.

Should liberal pundits preach to the choir or try to goad trolls into posting “your mother wears combat boots” assertions in the comments section?

Fox is either the only sane source for information of a political nature or it is a one sided farce of lies, opinions and propaganda which would make Joseph Goebbles weep with envy.

No gray scales ever! Life has become a series of coin flip judgments. No middle ground. Binary choices only from here on out. History has become gelatinous and if you are not inclined to do extensive research at the local library, you might just as well flip a coin when pondering events that outrage liberals and amuse and reassure compassionate, Christian conservatives.

If women and children get killed while machine guns are used to control striking (pro Communist?) workers, that’s a regrettable example of collateral damage before that bit of spin terminology was created. Will conservative owned media side with the workers when it comes time to run stories about the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre?

If drones were not available to bomb Mexico after a diplomatic slight of Uncle Sam, then naval bombardment just had to do. It’s not bloody well likely that the media will take a 100 years look back at the Tampic Affair and have any more sympathy for the civilians killed by collateral damage there than they do for the collateral damage that might accompany a modern day drone strike.

If American parents felt a smug superiority about being safe, a century ago, from a conflict on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean over an assassination in a place called Sarajevo, the feeling would only last until the bankers and capitalists saw an opportunity for war profiteering. If massive profits were available, then the inspiring patriotic sloganeering at the decisive moment would magically appear and then it was time to sing; “we won’t be back ’til it’s over, over there.”

Hitler lavished praise on short slogans and catchy phrases, because when he was writing about a verbal knockout punch; bumper stickers had not become ubiquitous.

After a large number of Australian troops were slaughtered because of the assassination of a fellow at Sarajevo, the leaders of Australia declined the opportunity to send troops that far from home again in WWII. They informed the British Prime Minister that the Australian troops would only be used to defend Australia. American politicians didn’t learn that lesson.  (Our photo illustration for this week is a file photo of the WWI memorial statue in Kalgoorlie Western Australia.)


When America became involved in World War II, the Republicans immediately made the political moves to revoke the overtime pay laws because they didn’t want it to seem like workers were guilty of war profiteering with the massive amounts of extra pay that would be necessary during WWIL. They did not, however, say anything about the need for charging for cost overruns. It was assumed that thee would be a need to exceed the budgeted amounts that were part of the fight for the Four Freedoms (Can you name all four?) in the free world. If a defense Industry had cost overruns should capitalists eat the shortfall or should the taxpayers (who were being drafted) pick up the tab? Don’t taxpayers usually get treated like the fellow in the song that says “Six rounds were bought and I bought five!”?

Isn’t there an old political maxim that says a capitalist is always right and that workers can always be assumed to have Communist sympathies?

Will American troops be sent back to Iraq? Will American troops be sent into South Sedan? When will American troops be sent to bring Democracy to Syria?

Len Dighton in a non-fiction book about the follies of war, titled “Blood, Tears, and Folly,” described how the troops in WWI were motivated to charge into the machine gun fire of the troops defending the German line. He said that a fiendishly clever method called the “creeping barrage” was used. According to Dighton, the British Artillery would start a bombardment in back of the British lines and slowly walk it up to the British trenches. The occupants were free to choose to stay there or join with their comrades (can we change that word to “mates”?) in running into the hail of machine gun bullets being sent their way.

The folks back home didn’t get the particulars about the creeping barrage. They were only given the stories about the brave lads who were fearless while charging at the German lines.

Did General Douglas MacArthur get the nick name “Dugout Doug” in WWI?

General MacArthur was ordered to depart from the Philippine Islands by President Roosevelt in early 1942. He followed orders and left 78,000 members of the American military behind. He got the Medal of Honor. The others were left to contend with the rigors of the Death March. During his stay in Australia, he became known as “Dugout Doug.”

Republicans have one version of the events at Ludlow, Veracruz, and WWI. Democrats have a very different interpretation of the same episodes. You can find both versions online.

The diametrically opposed assertions “The glass is empty!” vs. “It’s full!” mean that fair and balanced journalism methods will soon be applied to the study of history and it won’t be necessary to read either version. Voters will know what version they will believe will be based on their political philosophy and so political debate will be unnecessary and irrelevant during 2014.

Apparently, the World’s Laziest Journalist will have to settle for finding non controversial information and facts that are amusing and entertaining and let the election results speak for them selves in 2014 and again in 2016.

Wouldn’t columns featuring information such as the fact that silent era comedian Charlie Chaplin was the director of a 1967 movie starring Marlon Brando (The Countess from Hong Kong) be non controversial and of equal interest to both Republicans and Democrats with curious minds?

Edward Grey when assessing the outbreak of WWI, said: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

Now the disk jockey will play Hank Williams Jr.’s “I got rights,” the Beatles “Run for your life,” and “Snoopy and the Red Barron.” We have to go see if corporatocracy is a legitimate word. Have a “how you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm” type week.

January 9, 2014

Like pulling teeth: Adventures in gardening and dentistry

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:44 pm

Two rather interesting things have happened to me lately. First, I had one of my teeth pulled this week — totally not a fun experience. And, second, while still oozing pain and eating Hydrocodone and climbing the walls, I started reading a book about plants by Michael Pollan, entitled “The Botany of Desire”. So now I have suddenly become an expert on both pain-killers and gardens.

Having one’s tooth pulled is like, er, pulling teeth. It really hurts. So from now on I plan to brush and floss constantly and do whatever it takes to keep my remaining teeth healthy and clean. Someone recommended gargling with Bombay Sapphire twice a day. I’d try even that.

Even though the student doctor who pulled my tooth at the UCSF School of Dentistry was an angel of mercy combined with Dr. McDreamy, having one’s tooth extracted is never pretty. I kept reciting that mantra “Challenges make me stronger” in the dental chair and silently doing jin shin jyutzu — but even that didn’t work. I’m a wimp. And not only that but once the tooth was out, they wouldn’t even give it back to me to give to the Tooth Fairy. Rats.

Then, once finally back home and safely collapsed into bed, I took some of those “opioid” pain-killers they gave me — and dreamed that I was an escaped convict running a funeral parlor in my childhood hometown (Millbrae) and hiding under my daughter Ashley’s bed (probably from NSA). Forget that. No more weird Kubla-Khan dreams for me. I’m sticking with aspirin.

Now I’m wishing there was something I could do to replace my poor sweet little lost tooth, but there doesn’t seem to be anything. Getting a dental implant is expensive — $3,000 per tooth, even done by a dental student. Who can afford that? Not me. So now I’ve got a big gap in my teeth. How ugly is that! However, I won’t be alone for long. Two-thirds of America will soon be joining me in being gap-toothed as well unless affordable dental insurance becomes available reasonably soon. But if not, then we’ll all be totally ugly together, not just me. America goes third-world. Who would have thought.

I also have a postage-stamp sized garden attached to my apartment, which grows nothing. According to Michael Pollan, this shouldn’t be happening — unless there has been some really heavy-duty weed killer sprayed there at one time. Yes, there was. But not by me. So, apparently, what I need now is all new dirt. And at the rate that American agribusiness keeps using millions of tons of herbicides and pesticides each year, all of America will soon be needing all new dirt too.

“Actually, it’s not the heavy use of herbicides and pesticides that is causing the most problems on huge agribusiness farms,” to summarize one of Pollan’s chapters on the potato, “but rather the monoculture nature of their crops. Organic farmers can vary and rotate what they plant and thus stave off insect and fungal infestations — but if your main customer for potatoes is McDonalds, then you have to plant Burbank russets and only Burbank russets all of the time. So it is Americans themselves that are causing the major use of [stuff] like Roundup and Roundup-Ready GMOs.”

So if I promise to plant a huge variety of everything in my garden, from fingerling potatoes to roses to dandelions, then will at least SOMETHING finally grow?

And will I also be able to grow a new tooth?

PS: Aside from Michael Pollan, why else have my thoughts been turning to gardening lately? In the middle of freaking January? Because this winter has been the sunniest one in Berkeley that I have ever seen. It’s like freaking summer here now, like July, every day — even going beyond April or May. even declared Berkeley a drought area the other day. Time to bust out the seeds.

Michael Pollan also wrote about cannabis in his book on plants. “Marijuana doesn’t make you forgetful of everything. It just makes you forget [stuff] that’s not important.” Interesting. I always forget names. So I guess names aren’t all that important or necessary for me to remember. Whew. I’m off the hook then. Am not getting senile dementia after all, just sorting out my priorities.

And maybe that’s why Alzheimer sufferers forget so much mental stuff too — they might be shutting down everything that won’t immediately help them to cope with this devastating disease (yes, I know that Alzheimers also rots its victims’ brains — but isn’t that just one more good reason for them to shut said brains down?)

PPS: With regard to raising the minimum wage here in soon-to-be-toothless America, wouldn’t it make more sense to just cut the rate of inflation instead? Starting by eliminating the Federal Reserve and its tendencies to print meaningless Monopoly money and to finance Endless War? And, while we’re at it, let’s stop giving out billions in “food stamps” to corporate welfare queens like Bank of America, BP, WalMart, Halliburton and Monsanto. Works for me. And can we also please bring our millions of jobs back from overseas too?

Back in 1963, I made $1.75 an hour while working in the post office on weekends and during summers. With this money plus some help from my parents (yes, they could also afford to help me back then), I was able to graduate from San Jose State College without requiring any student loans. And in 1966, when I got a big salary-bump to $3.50 an hour for working the stamp window instead of sorting mail, I was able put myself through graduate school at UC Berkeley, just by working during summer vacations. Can you even imagine staying alive and not homeless in Berkeley today on that kind of salary — let alone paying for your tuition at Cal as well.

What has happened to all of America’s jobs and wealth since the 1960s, back when we were the richest country in the world? That’s a no-brainer. It’s all flown away into the pockets of Wall Street mega-bankers, the numbered Cayman accounts of war profiteers and the fat wallets of all those corporate welfare queens who currently own and run our government.
While it’s always a good idea to raise America’s minimum wage a few dollars, it’s also important to stop runaway inflation — and to also start lowering a certain type of maximum wage as well: The maximum amount that rich guys can steal from us before they get sent to jail.
And we need to put some teeth into these new regulations too.

PPPS: New development. Holy cow. Now I’m all sitting here in abject pain being caused by my phantom tooth that has already been pulled. Why can’t I have the same dental plan that Congressional representatives have!

January 3, 2014

Lenny Bruce, Alan Ginsberg, and Rush Limbaugh

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:32 pm

Jann S. Wenner had a very seductive way of convincing writers to work on his new magazine; he would promise them life in the journalists’ Valhalla by saying:  “You can write about anything you want” and since prospects for liberal punditry at the beginning of a year that will consist mainly of covering the Republican Sitdown Strike in Congress at a time when leftists have been banished from the ranks of talk radio, the only way for management to generate enthusiasm from beleaguered columnists is to duplicate the vague mission statement that lured talent to the headquarters of Rolling Stone Magazine at 625 Third Street in San Francisco almost a half a century ago.

Who wouldn’t want to be assigned to escape Winter in the Northern Hemisphere and go to Canberra to write an article titled “SummerNats is Decadent and Depraved!”?  The defunct Scanlan’s Magazine started a journalistic tradition of writing an installment in the Decadent and Depraved series of sports exposes when they sent a rookie to cover the Kentucky Derby.  That pioneer of Gonzo Journalism is gone, but shouldn’t the tradition be preserved to spark enthusiasm in a new generation?

Since the 2014 SummerNats is being held this weekend in Canberrra, it’s too late to seek an assignment that would subsidize a trip there.  Wouldn’t the 2015 installment of an annual Australian event that uses the unofficial motto of “beer, boobs, and burnouts!,” seem like an excellent choice to qualify for being included in Scanlon’s magazines series of profiles of depraved sporting events?  We should probably send them a query letter rather quickly.  (Note:  we used a file photo from the 2009 SummerNats as the illustration for this column.)

If Dr. Hunter S. Thompson isn’t available to spoof political punditry in 2014 by writing a scathing piece to fill the space under a headline that reads:  “Is the USA ready for a chick President?;” then who in the Gonzo bullpen is a better choice than The World’s Laziest Journalist?  Wouldn’t a quote from Frank Sinatra about “frails” put it over the goal line?

Aren’t the Republican strategists beginning to assemble an arsenal of sexist sentiment in anticipation of the 2016 Presidential Election?

Since articles about the unverifiable results from the electronic voting machines must either be an enthusiastic endorsement of that questionable facet of democracy in action or be a nominee for the Conspiracy Theory Bunkum of the year award, it might be an example of discretion to aim, instead, for something more accessible.  Since the schedule has just been posted, it may be time to decide how (not “if”) we will cover Noir City 12, the film festival that starts in San Francisco later this month on January 24.

If Phil Robertson just got forgiveness for his recent controversial rant, could it be that conservatives are slowly building toward a denouement in 2014 that provides a crucial turning point whereby Uncle Rushbo either gets absolution for using the N-word on the air, or destroys his career and becomes a martyr for freedom of speech?  Would the Leftists’ holy trinity of freedom of speech then become Lenny Bruce, Alan Ginsberg, and Rush Limbaugh?

Fox got some publicity by airing the F-bomb word as part of their New Year’s Eve coverage.  Is this going to be the year of the on air F-bombs?

Since progressive radio talk show host Norman Goldman had a scoop about how the series of “fiscal cliff” crises had been broken, we would rather not write a sloppy seconds version of that obscure aspect of American Political History.

We have missed the deadline for applying for press credentials for covering the Oscar Awards Ceremonies which will be held at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood in just a few weeks.  Perhaps we can channel the spirit of Gonzo Journalism and talk our way into getting a special deadline dispensation, getting a press pass, and then doing some reports about this year’s mad scramble to give acceptant speeches.   (Garry Cooper gave the shortest acceptance speech.  It consisted of just one word:  “Thanks!”)

Speaking of eloquent sales pitches, perhaps we can convince Jerry Cimino to resurrect the Beatmobile (AKA the Beat Museum on Wheels) and take a contingent of writers on a round trip from the North Beach area of San Francisco to this year’s celebration of Hemingway Days in Key West, Fla.  If we could get a ride on such a hypothetical quest journey, we could do a series of Gonzo reports on our continuing effort to establish Hemingway as the prototype Beatnik.

The assignment desk at the World’s Laziest Journalist World Headquarters will tantalize the staff with the possibility that in 2014 somebody will be assigned to cover the 24 hour sports car race at Le Mans before being given the task of being the results wrangler for the Mid-Term Elections Desk later in the year.

Speaking of Demographics, recently a friend insinuated that crusading liberal journalists are “mouth breathers.”  If he thinks that Leftists are dummies, perhaps we should start doing some fact checking for a column that would provide statistics to back the contention that the average PBS News Hour audience member has a better education than the high school dropouts who are addicted to the quality level available at Fox propaganda?

Have some clever Republicans started using reverse psychology?  Aren’t some staunch Republicans starting to wear some Wendell Wilkie “No Third Term” buttons from the 1940 Presidential Election as a way of introducing a move to grant President Obama an exemption from the two terms limit?  Isn’t that a stealth a way to manipulate disgruntle Democrats into either endorsing a third term for Obama or expressing public disappointment in the lame duck’s track record?  If the Republicans do pass such a change, wouldn’t Barick Obama still be young enough for a third term in 2020 if the incumbent isn’t’ a fellow Democrat.

Berkeley blogger, war correspondent, and grandmother Jane Stillwater, tipped us to the fact that this year’s Boucher Con known as “Murder at the Beach” this year, for the fans of mystery novels will be held in Long Beach California and so we are penciling in coverage of that event which will be held November 11 to 16, this year.

The new film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is a Horatio Alger, rags to riches, saga that will motivate and inspire young Republicans for decades to come, and so we may soon write a full film review as a column.  The Ayn Randian premise of the film is simple:  If a fellow makes millions of dollars, it doesn’t matter who else gets hurt in the process.  The real question is “How many Oscars will it win?”

It brings to mind the old Hollywood wisdom:  “Be careful whom you step while climbing to the top, because you may have to step on them again, on your way back down.”

Speaking of wolfpack capitalism, will 2014 be the year that the Republican majority Congress starts to take measures to solve the looming prospect of a deficit for the Social Security program?

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson described the Myth of Sisyphus aspect of a late start when he wrote:  “The press handler was shocked at the idea that anyone would be stupid enough to apply for press credentials two days before the Derby.”

Now the disk jockey will get us in the SummerNats frame of mind by playing Jerry Lee Lewis’ “What made Milwaukee famous,”  Rusty Warren’s “Bounce your boobies,” and the Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coup.”  We have to start checking to see if a certain couch in Marina del Rey is available for crashing during the Oscar weekend festivities.  Have an “I want to thank the members of the Academy . . .” type week and a happy new year.

January 2, 2014

Keeping abreast: Hazards of picking wives based on mammary-gland size & politicians based on…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 8:35 pm

If you are a guy who is out looking for a bride who you would want to spend the rest of your life with, what qualities would you look for in a perspective life’s companion? Compatibility? Sunny disposition? Common interests? Kind heart? Brains? Earning capacity? What? Remember that we’re talking about selecting a wife who you will have to hold conversations with for approximately two hours a day over the course of the next 60-odd years (that’s 43,800 hours) — and even wake up next to each morning approximately 21,900 times.

All too many American males these days seem to pick their future life’s companion based solely on her mammary gland size. Good luck with that one! 60 years from now, your wife’s mammary glands will be a moot question, but you will still have to talk to her — and you’d probably be bored out of your mind by that time if you have selected her for her breast size alone (or, conversely, if she had married you solely based on the look of your sexy six-pack package, she might be bored out of her mind by that time too!)

So here’s some good advice, gentlemen (and ladies as well): Pick your future spouses based on the size of their minds and their hearts, not on the size of their implants!

And I wouldn’t recommend Phil Robertson’s method of picking wives either — which just might land you on a sex-offender registry for the next 60 years. But then apparently Robertson and his duckie friends used to be just one more bunch of yuppie fraternity boys trying to break into “The Hills” until they discovered they could make more money by representing southerners as ignorant unwashed bigots.

And this same rule — of seriously examining long-term consequences before making important decisions — also needs to be applied to how we pick our politicians as well.

Selecting a congressional representative or president or governor or even local dog-catcher based solely on information you have gleaned from the Koch brothers, Citizens United and Fox News may make you feel good at the time — but 60 years down the road when the planet has been destroyed by pollution, radiation, Endless War and climate change and you are poor as a church-mouse because there are no more unions or Social Security to protect you and your children are uneducated and starving on sweatshop wages, you will definitely look back on those elections and say, “What was I thinking!”

And also do try to apply this “Mind and Heart” rule to how we select our healthcare as well. Let’s try to be more aware of what happens next, cause and effect, in this respect too, before we fall for all those pretty ads that tell us that Sutter or Humana or Blue Cross is “On Our Side” — while behind closed doors these guys are happily screwing America’s doctors, nurses and patients, people like us, for every penny of ours that they can get their hands on.

Approximately 1,800 Americans die from lack of healthcare per day In the next 3,650 days, we will needlessly lose approximately 6,570,000 Americans — stone cold dead so that CEOs of health insurance companies can own yachts. Where is the long-distance thinking here? Where is the outrage?

When you look at the long run, only single-payer healthcare makes sense.

Bottom line: It’s time to start seriously keeping abreast of our long-term hopes, goals and aspirations here in America, or else we’re never gonna find any long-term happiness here either — just an empty handful of public-relations-generated illusions and a whole big bunch of “Coulda shoulda woulda….”

PS: Another way that Americans are constantly being fooled is by having our strong sense of justice, honesty and morality turned inside-out and then used against us. If someone on TV keeps telling Americans over and over again that acts of murder, theft, lying, bigotry and greed committed in our name are actually just good Christian values, Americans naively tend to believe this.

As a whole, Americans are kind, generous and moral people who always want to do the Right Thing. But what is the right thing? Bankers who steal from both our government and their clients? Corporations who deliberately sell us junk that will kill us and happily poison our air if it saves them a buck? War profiteers who send our sons and daughters overseas to act as their personal goon-squad thugs and then send our same sons and daughters back home in a box when their usefulness is over? And racists and bigots who thump the Bible in order to justify their own evil ways?

Justice? The Ten Commandments? Freedom and patriotism and the First and Second Amendments? Most Americans believe in these things — and so these very beliefs, the solidly-felt beliefs of good people, are constantly being used against us by Bad Guys in order to pillage and lie and steal in the name of God, apple pie and the Flag.

It’s time for Americans to start keeping abreast of what is really happening to them — not what is only supposed to be happening. And it’s time for our leaders in sheep’s clothing who are always talking the talk to actually start walking the walk as well — of justice and fairness and morality — or else go off to jail where they belong. “Thou shalt not murder, steal or bear false witness…” must apply to us all.

PPS: And speaking of breasts, apparently we ladies should also be keeping our breasts away from the Pacific ocean forevermore — if we don’t want to get cancer. Why? Toxic radiation.

Here’s a video of some guy with a Geiger counter walking along a beach near San Francisco. Just watch his Geiger counter jump up from a normal reading of 34 to an outrageously-high and dangerous reading of 156 as he approaches the Pacific ocean. Please Please Please let this video be a fake! Otherwise we females here on the West Coast are clearly in big trouble.

However, somebody else just wrote to tell me that I should stop worrying about radiation drifting over here from Fukushima. “Why worry about Fukushima when 47,500 55-gallon steel drums containing nuclear waste had already been dumped out near the Farallon Islands between 1960 and 1970, and there’s a fair chance that those barrels might be now starting to corrode and open. So why would anyone be surprised by high levels of radiation at a beach near San Francisco? And why assume that it’s coming all the way from Fukushima, more than 5000 miles away — when so much was dumped here, just 30 miles away?” Why indeed.

We shoulda looked more closely at who we voted for 60 years ago!

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