May 30, 2014

Thoughtcrimes come of age

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:30 pm

Lenny Bruce censorship

America has elevated shooting rampages to the level of a sacred religious rite and the only proof that is needed to prove that contention is the article in the Wall Street Journal that asserts that the media is doing the exact opposite of what the psychologists say they should be doing when a new instance of shooting strangers to become a celebrity unfolds on the cable news networks and the big networks’ evening news shows. The Armstrong and Getty radio show invited listeners to go to their website to get a link to the story. It’s just a remarkable coincidence that their show in the San Francisco Bay Area is preceded on a Fox radio station by the Wall Street Journal radio show.

Is it ironic to note that in the last week of May of 2014, in the land famous for Freedom of Speech, the hot topic was arguing over what can and can not be said about a wide variety of topics?

Is there anything about the shooting that hasn’t been said? Reading “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People,” we couldn’t help but imagine that if he were still alive, Lenny Bruce would find a way to say something which would offend both Liberals and Conservatives. Such as? It isn’t too difficult to imagine that Bruce would attempt to elevate the debate to new levels of vitriol by saying: “If prostitution were legal in Cali, those victims would still be alive.”

It isn’t difficult to imagine Bruce noting that if a good looking young man driving a new Mercedes Benz can’t get laid, then America has become a very sick nation.

On Wednesday May 28, 2014, Getty and Armstrong continued their criticism of the news coverage of the shootings (and stabbings) but fell short of going balls to the wall with their point of view. Should they push things to the limit by urging (in an egregious example of irony) people to send in money to start a Shooters’ Hall of Fame to raise the glorification of the shooters to an excessively high level of adulation?

The Wednesday edition of the Getty and Armstrong Show included one of the sidekicks telling a personal anecdote about bypassing the waiting phase at a Sushi bar and when the fellow was asked to explain why he got preferential treatment responded: “Because I’m white.” On Thursday morning that radio show quickly mentioned that the guy who told that anecdote was no longer working for the show.

Since Rush Limbaugh loves to goad the Liberals by uttering ideas that come perilously close to taking the concept of edgy off the deep end. Hasn’t conservative radio come to resemble (metaphor alert!) the chickie run sequence in “Rebel without a Cause”?

How would Liberals react if Uncle Rushbo read some old Lenny Bruce routines on his radio show? Bruce did use the “n-word” and if Limbaugh read the transcript of a Lenny Bruce rant that included the use of the “n-word,” would Liberals condemn that as a reprehensible way to sneak that word on to his radio show or would they then resurrect the old “freedom of speech” arguments that were (was it fifty years ago?) offered in defense of Lenny Bruce?

The national debate over gun control has morphed into a state of stalemate. Neither side will even listen to the other team’s points and (much to the relief of politicians caught in the middle) as a result nothing will ever be done about it.

Mass shootings are a very effective wedge issue and on Wednesday a law maker in California was proposing that citizens who think that a neighbor is mentally unfit to own a gun should be given veto power over any legal attempts to purchase a firearm.

The concept of a wedge issue is to take a dispute and get a wild exuberant political diversion going, ultimately do nothing to change things, and then get on TV and explain how and why the opposition political party thwarted the will of the majority of voters.

Bill Mahr said something that was deemed unacceptable by the patriotic conservatives and he was marginalized for his attempt to think outside the box. Don Imus was discredited by a conservative news organization and then hired by them when the value of his services fell to a much more affordable price.

Do you have an extra coupla billion dollars sitting idle and want to buy a NBA team cheap?

We have been reading “Death of a Pirate,” by Adrian Johns, which is about the phenomenon known as Pirate Radio as practiced in Great Britain during the last century.

The Liberal point of view on the publicly owned radio airwaves is as extinct as the Wolfman Jack radio show.

Sometime ago, the World’s Laziest Journalist predicted that when Liberal philosophy on radio becomes extinct, it would be necessary to resurrect the concept of pirate radio and offer clandestine programming being broadcast from beyond the borders and which could be heard inside the USA. Some folks say that the Internets fills that need but can a person in a car listen to a show being streamed on the Internets?

Lenny Bruce got in deep trouble for talking about things like gays, blacks, and drugs. He was very adamant about being given his right to free speech and when Rush Limbaugh makes headlines with a new outrageous quote, we wonder if Lenny Bruce would be the first to come to Rush’s defense.

Is freedom of speech a one way street only for Liberals or is it a two way street that Bruce would endorse? Partisan punditry is just cheerleading in disguise. Seeing Lenny Bruce defend Donald Sterling’s freedom of speech would be a hella notable example of doing a guest shot on a talk show.

On Thursday, formerNew York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, caused a stir by asserting that Liberals were stifling conservative teachers at Harvard.

Are there more Liberals condemning Rush Limbaugh for what he says lately, than there were Conservatives demanding the arrest of Lenny Bruce for what he was saying fifty years ago?

Gridlock in the gun control debate could be a symptom that freedom of speech has become moribund and that the most appropriate illustration of the situation would be a photo of the WWI trench warfare where the battle line did not move while thousand died maintaining the status quo. Don’t expect to see Lenny Bruce or anyone else asserting that legalized prostitution would have prevented the shootings in Isle Vista.

The main event between Hillary and JEB is more than two years from now and the thought of two solid years of “Yay for JEB, boo for Hilary” on talk radio is stultifying. Doesn’t America need partisan punditry in print, on the air, and on the boob tube so that it doesn’t get to be so predictable and monotonous that folks loose interest in the election? Or is that Karl Rove’s stealth game plan for the next Presidential election?

On page 31 of “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People,” Bruce wrote: “There was also some nut from Rye, New Yor, whose act consisted of standing on a chair, jumping straight up into the air and then diving and landing square on his head.”

Now the disk jockey will play George Carlin’s “Seven Word,” the Rolling Stones C******r Blues, and G. G. Allin’s “Needle in My ****.” We have to go see who’s playing at the Hungry I” in Frisco. Have an “omphaloskepsis” type week.

May 28, 2014

Camping: The ultimate American melting pot

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 10:18 am

Tired of doing the same old thing every day, me and my family decided to pack up our car with tents, coolers, bathing suits and hot dogs and go off camping last weekend. To a campground. In a national forest. And, no, we didn’t run into Cliven Bundy either. Thank God!

But we did meet a whole bunch of rednecks.

“So, Jane, how did that go?” you might ask, knowing me to be a leftie Berkeley liberal who actually believes all that psycho-babel nonsense that Jesus used to spout about being kind and all that other anti-NRA crap. Well, actually, it went really well. As long as we didn’t talk about politics with our new camping neighbors, everything was great. I learned that a lot of rednecks were really nice people (and also that having beer for breakfast was an honored American tradition).

I also learned that rednecks suffer from unemployment just like the rest of us do — and I also learned where to get an awesome tattoo. Their kids all played with my granddaughter Mena. They told us where the best hiking trails were. And I told them how pissed off I was that Yuppies are now taking over Berkeley — and how I had been in Iraq with the Marines.

All those self-proclaimed “redneck” campers in the tents all around us were actually very nice. They made good camping neighbors. We had lots of common interests. We bonded over stuff. As long as we didn’t talk about politics, we were good. They were Americans. I was American. There was lots of friendship material here to work with. It was like the Germans and the Brits having a Christmas truce in the trenches during World War I. We all really could get along if push came to shove.

If only our politicians and media would stop telling us how much we need to hate each other, I could see a way through.

Rednecks. Blacks. Mexicans. Asians. We are all Americans now. And we should all learn to act like Americans too. And we all need to start working together to solve our mutual problems ASAP — or else there is going to be no America left for us to fight over.

PS: The American Civil War of 1860 was the deadliest war ever fought by Americans. Ever. (That is, if you don’t count the untold millions of men, women and children who died in the Native American holocaust)

According to my recent Google research project, “The Civil War was America’s bloodiest conflict. The unprecedented violence of battles such as Shiloh, Antietam, Stones River, and Gettysburg shocked citizens and international observers alike. Nearly as many men died in captivity during the Civil War as were killed in the whole of the Vietnam War. Hundreds of thousands died of disease. Roughly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in the line of duty. Taken as a percentage of today’s population, the toll would have risen as high as 6 million souls.”

That’s approximately one-third more rotting dead bodies here on American soil than the number of Americans killed in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. Over 51,000 Americans were killed, wounded, captured or missing after just three days of battle at Gettysburg alone. 7,000 of them were just plain outright dead.

And how easily all that could be engineered to happen again. And it’s already started happening, in fact.

PPS: “But illegals stole all our jobs!” the redneck at my picnic table might have said if I had asked him.

“No, that’s not true,” I might have replied if we hadn’t all been camping and thus on neutral ground. “Our jobs were all stolen by huge corporations that outsourced all our jobs to Latin America, India and Asia. But also our jobs are being stolen by robots. Robots do our jobs better than we used to do. Plus robots aren’t human, don’t have to eat anything, don’t have families to care for and don’t complain.” And also, if we are in the military, our jobs are also being outsourced to drones.

PPS: Hope you had a nice Memorial Day. Always remember our military dead — and the humongous corporate profits they died for.



May 23, 2014

Blonds, Bourbon, and Bullets

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:25 pm


very extreme crop of sticker“Hotel Florida (Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War),” by Amanda Vaill, tells the stories of three different love affairs. For Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway, Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, and Arturo Barea and Ilsa Kulcsar, the Civil War in Spain was the setting for a love affair that occurred while they were gathering material that would make their experiences the envy of a new generation of journalists. Another new book, “Robert Capa (The Paris Years 1933 – 1954),” by Bernard Lebrun and Michel Lefebvre, provides the images that Capa took which established his reputation as the greatest combat photographer of all time.

Robert Capa stepped on a land mine in French Indo China (AKA Vietnam) sixty years ago on May 25, 1954 and these two new books will help remind older readers of why Hemingway and Capa earned places in the War Correspondents Hall of Fame and explains to younger readers why the two are held is such high esteem by a new generation of wannabes.

The two new books work better in tandem much like Rudolph Nureyev and Dame Margot Fontaine were good dancers but weren’t they so much better when they danced together?

The naggingest question about the Spanish Civil War was (and still is): “Why don’t the Americans help us?” It runs through the book as a leitmotif. If Americans are so damn adamant about the superiority of the democratic way of governance, why did they quietly stand by and let a fascist military leader win?

Could it be that the one percent in the USA in the mid Thirties was convinced that via the concept of “interline courtesy” they owed their real allegiance to Spain’s one percent and that mouthing platitudes about “the people” was just a necessary bit of public relations that had nothing to do with the binary choice between fascism and communism?

Reading “Hotel Florida” makes asking the question “Why didn’t the Occupy movement succeed?” an exercise in delusional optimism.

Vaill paints a vivid word picture of Capa taking some photos of Taro while she sleeps. A tender vignette in the midst of the unfolding tsunami of carnage is a commendable writer’s feat, but it is also very handy to flip to page 65 in the “Paris Years” book and actually see one of the frames Capa shot.

The theme of war as a crucible for love is also explored in the recently published “The Love-charm of bombs,” by Laura Feigel, which follows the intertwined sagas of several couples in London, during the Battle of Britain at the start of WWII.

“What Soldiers Do (Sex and the American G. I. in World War II Farnce),” by Mary Louise Roberts, asserts that part of the process of getting the soldiers psyched up to face enemy fire on the beaches of Normandy was to use the promise of earthly delights that awaited the ones who would liberate Paris.

“Love, Sex and War (1939 – 1940),” by John Costello takes a scholarly approach to the premise that during war members of the clergy turn a blind eye towards fornication and adultery as a way of enlisting the rubes into being enthusiastic about fighting (and perhaps dying in) wars for the benefit of a nation’s one percent elite. This book was published by Pan Books of London and may not have had much of an effect on public sentiment in the USA about the possibility that cannon fodder is not a high priority concern when war is in the offing for the One Percenters.

“The Hotel on Place Vendôme,” by Tilar J. Mazzeo” includes the same cast, the same setting (a famous hotel) but a different city. Paris instead of Madrid.

“We Saw It Happen (the news behind the news that’s fit to print),” edited by Hanson W. Baldwin and Shepard Stone (the 1939 book from Simon & Schuster) is a surfeit of stogy and stultifying material that inadvertently makes the subtle point that it is better if the men and women who will fight, photograph, and report a war, have some jolly good times before they keep their appointment in Samara.

Hemingway, Gellhorn, Capa, and Gerda Taro did make it seem like the good times at the Hotel Florida were the war time journalists’ equivalent of the legendary exploits of the entertainers who were the rat pack in Las Vegas.

Vaill reports that Hemingway’s employer the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA) was rather displeased with the first-person boasting aspects of the dispatches that Hemingway provided but that brings up a tantalizing question for literary scholars: Was Hemingway a prototype for the Gonzo Journalism trend in the Sixties?

Those who become obsessed with the Gellhorn and Heminway affair might also want to read “Gellhorn (A Twentieth-Century Life),” by Caroline Moorehead.

“Robert Capa (a Biography),” by Richard Whelan provides supplemental proof that Capa was a fearless, loveable rascal.

“The Hemingway Hoax,” by Joe Haldeman, will inspire some intricate Hemingway fan reactions. Why wouldn’t the World’s Laziest Journalist admire a book about counterfeiting Hemingway manuscripts?

George Orwell (nee Eric Blair) wrote “Homage to Catalonia,” which tells the story of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War as a volunteer soldier battling against fascism. It seems that Orwell didn’t enjoy enduring hardship and deprivation and then getting wounded for altruistic reasons. Hemingway makes it all sound like jolly good fun.

“The Women Who Wrote the War,” by Nancy Caldwell Sorel, provides a wide angle look at the niche topic of women as war correspondents. Why hasn’t a biographical film been made about the life and times of Dickey Chapelle? When Virginia Cowles was assigned to cover the Spanish Civil War, she packed only high-heeled shoes in her luggage. That was (to use Harry Lime’s term): “unwise.”

“Ernie’s War (The Best of Ernie Pyle’s World War II Dispatches),” edited by David Nichols, shows just how different the war looked to the folks in the 99%, who had to cope with rationing, wounded veterans, and such. Of particular relevance is the dispatch titled “The Horrible Waste of War,” which starts on page 280.

Martha Gellhorn and Robert Capa both landed on the beach on D-Day (soon to mark the seventieth anniversary) while bureaucratic snafus caused Hemingway and Pyle to arrive a day or two late.

The 34th annual Hemingway Days Festival, which will be held in Key West Florida from July 15 to 20 this year, will feature a Hemingway-look-alike contest. Perhaps this year they should add a search for doubles for Martha Gellhorn and Robert Capa?

The “Hotel Florida” book has leaped on to our top ten list of favorite books of, by, and about Hemingway and real fans of his won’t need a recommendation from the World’s Laziest Journalist to be inspired to buy and read this book.

Trend-spotting reporters at the publication affectionately known as “the Great Gray Lady,” may want to skim through some of the other books listed above and suggest doing a feature story about the possibility that some people do find that war can be a “turn-on.”

Elliot V. Bell, on page 136 of “We saw it happen,” wrote: “Almost without exception the big bankers are the sort of fellows you’d be glad to take along on a trip to your favorite trout stream.” Just like the folks who died or were wounded in Iran and Afghanistan would have loved to have had George W. Bush attend their tailgate parties?

The disk jockey will play the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Civil War” and a song titled “No Pasaran.” We have to go see the film “Words and Pictures.” Have a “rebarbative” type week.

May 22, 2014

Capitalism, Socialism & my trip to the Maker Faire

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 11:58 pm

What is capitalism? “Buy low, sell high,” you might say. Well, yeah.

But, sadly, no “modern” definition of capitalism seems to include a morality clause too. Wherever money is involved, all of our normally decent human values that we are so proud of seem to fly straight out the door. Thus capitalism these days happily encourages the more greedy among us to follow the immoral examples of WalMart, Monsanto and Massey Coal without feeling even the tiniest twinge of conscience or guilt.

“It’s just business.”

But capitalism also strongly revolves around the idea that if one person or company is mass-producing a product, then that saves the rest of us from having to go to the time and trouble to individually produce this product ourselves too, down in our basements each night.

But, hey, isn’t that also the definition of socialism too?

“Socialism is when the government owns the means of production,” you might reply, “instead it being owned by capitalists”. Yeah, but…. Whether the government supplies the product or whether capitalists supply the product, the most important result is the same — that you yourself don’t have to reinvent the wheel down in your basement each night. And to go it alone. Someone else is reinventing the wheel for you. And then manufacturing it too. All you gotta do is pay for it.

Both capitalism’s and socialism’s basic concepts revolve around the production of products — be they flat-screen TVs or healthcare — all being all bundled together to save us from individually having to re-create what we need. Because that would take each of us forever, right?

Thus, as I see it, the only true difference between capitalism and socialism is where the money ends up. With socialism, the wealth that is created by bundling together our resources and labor to make a product will then be spread around among all of us — while in capitalism, the wealth created by bundling together our resources and labor to create a product is not.

There’s a moral here somewhere. That you should hand-make everything that you need all by yourself? That it’s okay for the government to make products if they don’t charge too much but capitalists should be allowed to charge as much blood as they possibly can squeeze out of us turnips?

Who knows.

But the main point that I am trying to make here is that capitalism and socialism are both cut from the same cloth — the human need to band together to survive and to thrive. And socialism seems to help us all thrive better — whereas capitalism only helps a few to survive and thrive. So it’s up to us to make our choice as to which one we like best. Or else to design a benevolent combination of the two where everyone wins.

And also we need to decide whether morality is important to us or not.

PS: Recently I went off to attend the 2014 Maker Faire in San Mateo — me and approximately 50,000 others. Lately, I’d been hearing a lot about the so-called “Maker” movement and was anxious to go see what this was all about.

Basically, Makers are saying that they can replace large American factories and companies by once again bringing back the concept of cottage industries and making things on a smaller scale. Thanks to the internet, 3-D printers and such, inventors can roll out their products and sell them to us as easy as pie.

If this is true, then we won’t have to rely on the huge manufacturing capacity of industrial monsters like General Motors in order for America to stay in the manufacturing loop, right?

Well, the Maker Faire was both interesting and fun, but I sure wouldn’t count on some of these products to replace Hewlett-Packard or Boeing any time soon. The 3-D printers they had there were pretty much turning out costume jewelry and Lego wannabes. One booth had a Ford car on display, which got me totally excited. “You made this car with a 3-D printer?” I asked hopefully. No. Not even close.

And if you weren’t a nerd, it was hard to sort out what all the exhibits at the fair were about. And I was not a nerd. So most of us non-nerds just focused on the two things that were focus-able-on: Food concessions and steam-punk booths!

Although I did enjoy the fair a lot and was glad that I went, don’t be looking for America’s new Makers movement to be replacing all those massive Chinese manufacturing foundries and factories any time soon.

PPS: I’m also currently reading Chris Anderson’s book, “Makers,” and he sez I got it all wrong — and that the Maker type of production does involve more than just printing out glorified Legos on our Staples 3-D printers in our home office. “Countless micro-manufacturers will help drive the next big movement in the global economy” because, according to Anderson, “anyone with an idea can set assembly lines in motion.” In motion in China?

PPPS: On a more local level, here in my home town of Berkeley, “Maker” seems to be just another word for “Developer” these days — as our beautiful city is being systematically gutted to make way for all sorts of expensive new high-rises and condos. And to protect ourselves from these new “Maker” developers, we have started to put all sorts of voter-generated initiatives on the ballot.

Hey, we are becoming “Makers” too!–By-Becky-O-Malley


May 21, 2014

And the Stupidity Continues…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 3:33 pm


Understanding Today’s Right Wing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 7:16 am


They’ve come such a LONG way since their intellectual 60s roots! So much NOT to be proud of! SO many cons: intentionally manipulating others to get what they want NO MATTER WHAT, or how wrong. Unfortunately, metaphorically, the producers of Independence Day may have had the only solution…


May 16, 2014

Perception is Everything!

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

better cropped horseman
The Iowa caucuses haven’t been held yet and already the crazy talk has started. This time it isn’t Howard Dean’s mental facilities that are under attack, this time around Karl Rove is hinting/suggesting/implying that Hillary is a bit ding-a-ling-ish in the belfry . . . and the rubes in town are on his side!

Does America’s free press step in and label it as the start of the smear season? Noooo! They keep a straight face while Rove shows how easily they can be manipulated.

Didn’t America’s greatest warrior president George W. Bush say “Fool me once . . . won’t get fooled again!”? Hah! Dubya has misunderestimated America’s intelligence level once again. Who needs quality journalism when the Internets will deliver a “second the motion” effort from Rove that reinforces John Stewart’s recent example of propaganda in action with a comedy bit titled “The Bitches Are Crazy!”

If Stewart and Rove agree, Hillary is toast.

Is California’s third term governor positioning himself for a new attempt at winning the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination?

Hillary can explain in minute detail how the past severe winter proves that global warming is here, but the voters in America aren’t going to fall for that example of Philadelphia lawyer double think.

Can the Democrats get guys to vote for Hillary by explaining that she was the real brains behind Bill Clinton’s two terms in office?

If Karl Rove is suggesting that Hilary is non compos mentis, then the tone of the intellectual level for the next Presidential election has been set and it is up to the Democrats to see if they can use (Rush?) limbo dance moves to duck under it.

Speaking of the possibility that Cliven Bundy will run for Congress in his home state, is it true (as Jim Healy would say) that he wants his campaign to be a referendum on this question: “If Republicans, who hate President Obama, say they don’t like Obama is that a prima facie case for charging them with a hate crime?”

While pundits, journalists, and historians are doing the keystrokes for a massive amount of nostalgic pieces about events and pop culture footnotes from fifty, seventy five and one hundred years ago, who will be the first scribe to wonder if President Obama, who is prohibited from running for a third tem as the resident in the White House, will run for any other office after moving out of the place on Pennsylvania Avenue?

Once, previously, a former President, John Quincy Adams, returned to Washington as a congressional representative. President Obama is a relatively young man and appears to be in good health, so he might find the prospect of being a freshman congressional representative who gets oodles of facetime on the evening news broadcasts has a certain allure for a Democrat who could be a thorn in the side of the Republicans if he joins the cast of “usual suspects” who perpetually pepper the nightly news with comments representing the species often called “the loyal opposition.”

Meanwhile, in the late spring of 2014, commencement speakers are closely inspecting each new edition of the New York Times for tell-tale clues for trend-spotting items to be included in their attempts to sound optimistic as they send this year’s graduating classes out into a bright and shiny world full of home foreclosures, student debt, and a glutted job market.

Is the question “do you want an order of fries to go along with your order?” the official motto for the class of 2014?

How does the world look in the spring of 2014? We’ve set the tone for this year by telling a Boston Red Sox’s fan that our prediction is that Derek Jeter’s official last at bat in his last season will be a walk-off grand slam that wins the seventh game of the World Series. It’s just a premonition and we aren’t going to back it with a million to one bet. . . but we will call upon a trustworthy friend to make a certain wager regarding the results of the 2016 Presidential Election in the USA.

It seems that liberal talk show host Randy Rhodes is about to retire and if that happens will there be any Liberal pundits left in broadcast media? Don’t Conservative pundits need a target? How will Uncle Rushbo get along if he can’t go on a rant about Pro-liberal propaganda parading as news?

The Democrats are bound to be borderline apoplectic as they are haunted by the specter of a revived Bush Dynasty becomes a very real possible outcome and the Republicans, who have been seething with animosity every day that President Obama sits in the Oval Office, will whip themselves into a state of misogynistic frenzy while contemplating the potential for a woman reviving a Clinton Dynasty.

Each party will browbeat the public with worst case scenarios meant to goad every citizen of voting age into waiting in line for days (if necessary) to cast the most important ballot they will every have to submit via electronic voting machines that have no method of verifying the results.

Is it siege time in the Liberal world? Should we drink a toast and hurl our glass into the fireplace? “I can’t send my pundits out there! Their Sopwith Camels are being held together with bailing wire and chewing gum.”

If Liberal flavored punditry (propaganda?) is becoming extinct, perhaps the World’s Laziest Journalist needs to switch to presenting conservative talking points heavily laced with irony. That way we could offend almost all the liberal and conservative readers simultaneously.

If Americans don’t want liberal punditry in the pop culture, might that serve to goad an obstreperous pundit of Irish heritage to greater efforts or would it be better to (ideologically speaking) be time to start to establish the foundation for a digital underground version of the Resistance era printed newspaper Combat.

[Note from the Photo Editor: Perception is everything. Irony from a liberal is easy to misinterpret. Is a horseman approaching in the night a knight in armor or is it Ichabod Carne’s nemesis?]

George Carlin wrote: “Sign your petitions, walk your picket lines, bring your lawsuits, cast your votes and write those stupid letters to whomever you please; you won’t change a thing.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Doors’ “The End,” Johnny Cash’s version of “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” and the Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman.” We have to start celebrating Endangered Species Day today. Have a “Curse you, Red Barron!” type week.

May 15, 2014

God, Mothers Day & the Yosemite Rim Fire

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 12:50 pm

To celebrate Mothers Day this year, my wonderful children drove me up to visit the north rim of the Yosemite National Forest. It was the perfect road trip — not too long of a drive, yet exotic enough for us to know that we’ve Been Somewhere.

First we drove across California’s great central valley, and then up Highway 120 via Old Priest Grade, past Groveland and Buck Meadows, to the scene of last year’s horrific Yosemite Rim Fire. It was an awesome sight — and actually quite beautiful in a sort of post-apocalypticical way.

At a vista point called “Rim of the World,” overlooking the ghostly outlines of thousands of dead trees, we read a sign that told us how many square miles had been burned (400!) and that the cost of putting out the fire alone had been 127 million dollars — not to mention the amount of property and natural resources that had gone up in smoke as well.

Someone we met at the vista point also informed us that, “Aside from high drought conditions last year, one of the chief causes of this area’s extreme vulnerability to fire had been that the 2013 federal Sequester had cut the National Forest Service’s land-management budget by over $115 million.” And that information really pissed me off — that in order to save $115 million, we had lost $127 million instead.

But what pissed me off even more was the obviously-inebriated pseudo-Christian standing next to me at the Rim of the World, who was loudly proclaiming, “This was God’s will!” No it wasn’t.

It was the will of those idiotic and greedy RepubliDem/Tea Party idiots in Washington who came up with that dumb Sequester budget idea in the first place — and it was also the will of those surly international corporate thugs who are currently killing our planet on such a grand scale due to climate change. Is climate change caused by God’s will? Really? I thought it was just caused by greed.

Then my family and I went for a walk in a nearby grove of woods, in a magically-wonderful place where the trees had been saved.

“This is God’s blessing,” said yet another “born-again” tourist we met. No it wasn’t.

It was the blessing of approximately 5,000 firefighters risking their lives that stopped this rapacious fire, no thanks to the “Christian” wingnuts who cut our national park budgets right and left so that corporations won’t have to pay taxes and the Pentagon can fight Endless Wars on our dime instead.

It was a perfect Mothers Day for me, however. “Thanks, kids!” The view from the vista point was so spectacular that we could have sat there for hours just drinking it in. Plus I was given even more political insights to write about for my blog. A win-win situation.

PS: I really really like the idea of a benevolent universe/higher power that rejoices whenever Mankind finally manages to do something good — and that also views with alarm whenever Mankind screws up and resorts to greed and war.

But to say that “God” smiles down on idiots like, say, Cliven Bundy or Michele Bachmann as they completely lose touch with such concepts as “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” — or who smiles down on the good “Christian” violence-obsessed militarists in Washington who pay hundreds of billions of our hard-earned dollars to support Islamist fanatics who behead people in Syria, to support military juntas who hang protesters in Egypt, to support neo-fascists who burn people alive in Ukraine and/or to support drug lords who import crack-cocaine from Latin America and heroin from Afghanistan?

That’s stretching my credibility way too far. That’s far too much for me to believe.

PPS: And speaking of higher powers, exactly what kind of God allows Auschwitz and Hiroshima and the Nakba to happen?

And how can God possibly agree to smile down on America, a country founded on slavery and genocide?

How come God hates Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo but loves the Islamic inquisitionists that America’s War Street gleefully pays whatever it costs to behead Christian civilians in Syria?

How come God used to hate the Nazis in Hitler Germany but now loves American-sponsored neo-fascists Cossacks currently rampaging through Ukraine and burning people alive on the Odessa Steps?

How come God frowns on organic farmers but blesses the spilled blood of Monsanto?

I just don’t get it — unless of course Wall Street and War Street now have the hubris and chutzpah to set their own selves up as God.


May 9, 2014

“No one goes there; it’s too crowded!”

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

Crop of better shot

For a traveler, who had flown halfway around the world intending to have a meal at a restaurant in Santa Monica, Ca. that was a favorite of one of the fellow’s rock star heroes, it was very frustrating to learn that the place was operating in stealth mode. There was no mention of it in any of the travel guidebooks. In desperation the lad asked the other guests in the kitchen/dining area of a hostel on Lincoln Blvd. in the Venice area of Los Angeles, if any of them knew where Chez Jay’s was located. The World’s Laziest Journalist, who just happened to be one of those present when the question was asked, had been a longtime resident of that area and not only knew where it was, but he also knew why the owner had insured one peanut for a million dollars.

The place featured shelled peanuts and the floor was usually carpeted in shell fragments. One of the place’s regulars, a customer named Alan Shepard, had, as an inside joke, taken an example of the conjoined twin peanuts and the protective covering with him to the moon and brought it back to the restaurant’s owner. It was put in a bank safe deposit box and insured for the aforementioned sum. The place almost always operated at full capacity and so it was that it didn’t advertise to attract more customers. (Google hint: “It happened at Chez Jay’s”)

Celebrity journalists who arrive in the area where a major news event either occurred or will soon occur find their plight similar to the traveler looking for the famous stealth restaurant. The visiting newsies have to coax the juicy historical details from the local news hounds (such as the weekly Independent Journal Newspapers’ version of Woodward and Bernstein) who can supply the background for a breaking story.

For example, when Santa Monica’s city clerk endorsed an idea that urged the city council to fund the building of an island (similar to the way Treasure Island was built in the San Francisco Bay?), which could be used for all kinds of moneymaking ventures, the issue became a hot potato that caused a rift in the local political scene. The feisty Santa Monica Independent weekly advocated one side (reject it?) and the daily Santa Monica Outlook endorsed the project and the candidates for the city council who promised to make it happen. The New York Times was fascinated by the David vs. Goliath aspect to the feuding publishers’ backstory.

The New York Times assigned a scribe to do the story and when he landed on Third Street (when it was just another cross town street and not a world famous tourist attraction urban mall) he needed a lot of background information and he needed it fast.

Hadn’t the gambling ship Rex been the inspiration for the TV series Mr. Lucky? Didn’t Raymond Chandler fictionalize Santa Monica into “Bay City” to avoid nasty repercussions from litigious locals? Hadn’t a sports writer from the Outlook used a tip about presidential candidate Jack Kenney taking a stroll on the world famous beach to take a scoop photo that landed a photo sale and by-line in LIFE magazine?

It wasn’t like the New York Times guy had to know that WWII”s famous “See here, Pvt. Hargrove” soldier had become a resident of the city wedged between Venice and Pacific Palisades but facts are like DDT spray; when it is time to use it, you want it close at hand and available immediately. (Do they still sell DDT?) Speaking of WWII, many of the DC-3’s and C-37’s (the military version of the same famous airliner) airplanes were assembled at the Douglas factory in Santa Monica.

Two of the local reporters at the time when the New York Times wanted the inside scoop on Santa Monica went on to bigger and better things. One is now an editor for Playboy magazine and the other (who went ahead to the great city desk in the sky) became Time magazine’s White House correspondent.

In the era of instant analysis and dealing out “This just in!” panic attacks for cable TV viewers, background information is becoming an irrelevant and unnecessary extravagance.

Do readers across the USA need to know why, how, or even if there is a chance that Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband could profit from the sale of excess Post Office real estate? Would readers in Concordia Kansas really care if a California firm gets a bargain basement price (and some breaks for the property tax which is computed on the place’s value?) for some prime land and real estate in (hypothetically example) Rancho Palos Verdes?

On Saturday May 3, 2014, we heard on the CBS radio network, a fellow describe an article he had written for Fortune magazine (that would be published the following Monday) which describes how insurance rules are use to provide an instant cash bonanza for airlines that sustain a complete loss of an airliner that has become antiquated and has been “completely amortized.” The writer explained in detail how that could be a factor in the continuing saga of the missing Malaysian Airline airplane. Do readers in Poughkeepsie want to read something that sounds like a goddamn Business 101 lecture or do they want to see more video of the crying families screaming at the airline spokespeople?

We have heard rumors that if the Russians cut off Europe’s supply of natural gas, in a year or two, facilities which are being constructed in the USA to liquefy natural gas will open operating at full capacity if the product is in very short supply on the far side of “the Big Pond.”

Doing all the work necessary to fact check this allegation is beyond the capabilities of any body who is not part of a large media organization with extensive funding available to underwrite the background check. Austerity budgets mean austerity news coverage for anything with less than an immediate crises level of news priority. Keeping citizens fully informed so that they can make intelligent decisions at voting time is a prosperity era optional feature for the free press. Tough times mean tough editorial decisions.

Aren’t the media going to make a windfall profit bonanza with all the ads that will run during the next mid-term Congressional elections this year and then the 2016 Presidential elections? Conservative media owners will be quick to point out that it is foolish to spend monies that haven’t been received yet. Run the ads, deposit the checks, then talk about providing extensive news coverage to the rubes in fly-over country.

The Ferrari 250 TR roadster is a very rare and desirable automobile. Online fact checking indicates that only seven were made. Seeing one being carried by a flatbed truck in Santa Monica (many moons ago) was a car-spotter’s chance of a lifetime. Knowing that Phil Hill, a driver for the Ferrari race team, was a lifelong Santa Monica resident provides a feasible and logical background explanation for seeing such an exotic racing machine in the Western extreme of Los Angeles County.

Thanks to some image manipulation magic, the merry-go-round on the Santa Monica pier seemed, in the movie “The Sting,” to be in the middle of Chicago. Locals got a chuckle out of that illusion.

When the tantalizing prospect of voting for Prop 13 meant some tax relief for homeowners, the background story about the long term affects of the change were virtually ignored by the local examples of America’s free press. In the Sixties, a college education in California was one of America’s greatest educational bargains. Prop 13 was hailed as democracy in action. What wasn’t mentioned was that it took away money used to fund the low cost higher education and gave tax breaks to businesses.

Forty years later, the families of local homeowners can not afford the tuition bills that are used to finance the state’s colleges and universities. Many of the Golden State’s famous institutes of higher learning are forced to fill the classrooms with students from wealthy foreign families.

California voters got played and fell for the ruse. Isn’t tricking voters into approving measures which will eventually punish them and reward the corporations one of the more appealing and hilarious aspects for Republicans who run for office?

[Photo Editor’s note: For a column on Santa Monica, the best quickly available shot was a file photo taken about three years ago on the Third Street Promenade.]

In the opening paragraph of “The Big Sleep,” Santa Monica resident Raymond Chandler wrote: “I was neat, clean shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything a well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.”

Now the disk jockey will play Santa Monica’s official song (with vocals by Gloria Wood) Kay Kyser’s “When Veronica plays her harmonica (down on the pier in Santa Monica),” the theme music from “The Sting,” and Cheryl Crow’s song “All I wanna do (AKA the “Santa Monica Blvd.” song).” We have to go check and see if we can find where Raymond Chandler’s old office on “Oregon” Street was. Have a “Let’s go shopping at Henshey’s” type week. Since Saturday is National Train day, have a good one.

May 7, 2014

Lynne Stewart & her not-so-free “Get out of jail” card

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 1:13 pm

I can’t believe that the famous civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart was actually in Berkeley this week!

Berkeley used to be so very cutting-edge modern — but thanks to our current mayor and city council, my beloved city has degenerated into just one more developer’s paradise and wannabee suburb. So it did my heart good to see Lynne Stewart visiting our town.–By-Councilmember-Kriss-Worthington

Stewart, if you remember, was given an unusually harsh sentence in a Texas jailhouse by a Bush administration kangaroo court for doing what she has done best for the last 50 years — representing people who have no one else to represent them (even people who took scurrilousness advantage of her representation). And she was only released from this stiff jail sentence when it became clear that she was dying of cancer while incarcerated.

And now here she is, about to give us a talk on the trials and tribulations one has to go through in order to stand up for the underdog these days. And as we sat there waiting for the event to begin, someone who didn’t know what Stewart looked like came up to her and said, “Would you like to sign my fair-housing petition? Do you live in Berkeley or Oakland?”

“I live in Brooklyn!” Stewart happily replied. And that’s how we met her. Fragile but still tough.

Then another person started making small talk with Stewart about the food that being served at this pot-luck brunch. Really? You get a chance to talk to one of the greatest civil rights attorneys of the American century and you want to discuss recipes? Well, I wanted to discuss recipes too! “What was prison food like?” I asked her.


“Any vegetables served?”

“They gave us tough stalks of broccoli — which in an aging prison population with no teeth, this was a problem.” Then Lynne smiled. No bottom teeth.

“Mass incarceration needs to be forced off the map,” said the speaker who introduced Stewart. “We are so happy that you are here.” Me too. I was so pleased to see that Stewart was healthy enough to make it to Berkeley — and then make it up the stairs to the second floor of the Unitarian church, which was almost more than I could do.

“There are so many things going on in the Bay Area right now, that I’ll be glad to finally go back to Brooklyn where it is quiet. But I am here on a mission of gratitude, because it was people like you who got me out of jail. And while I’m not exactly a Luddite, I’m not at home in the electronic world either — but so many of you went online for me. You downloaded petitions and had people sign them. Over 50,000 people signed petitions to bring me home.”

And speaking of the internet, I just can’t resist pointing out that the loss of net neutrality will be (yet another) huge blow to democracy and freedom everywhere. And all those lies that neo-cons can’t resist telling us will continue to go unchallenged — And we would never have have become aware that Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Gaza, Ukraine, etc. have all been just one gigantic Pat Tillman scandal after another — only writ large. “I am not a crook” just doesn’t wash any more, thanks to the internet! But I digress.

However it wasn’t until Stewart got cancer, changing the conversation away from her being a political prisoner to being more about her personal story, that she was allowed to be released. Yet the issue of political prisoners is still dear to her heart.

“Being imprisoned has made me impassioned to work for both political prisoners and for women prisoners too — those who have no one to protect or represent them. All they have is four walls.”

The folks who put her in jail in the first place were all worried about what Stewart would do when she got out. “So they wanted me to sign a ‘remorse’ letter, saying I was sorry. And I wrestled with this because I did want to get out, to see my grandchildren. But my husband Ralph said that he would back me regarding whatever decision I finally made. ‘You do what you need to do’. But in the final analysis, I didn’t sign it. I just couldn’t let all the people who supported me down.”

How could she say to all the young lawyers who looked up to her, “Oh I didn’t really mean it, didn’t really stand up for my rights.”

Then Ralph Poynter spoke. “I was flying down to Texas for a New Years Day visit and I got this call while waiting in line at the rental car counter. ‘Lynne is free! She’s waiting for you in the parking lot!’ And I was so excited that I couldn’t even start my rental car and couldn’t even remember where the jail was!” And then he changed up his rental Ford for a Cadillac.

Poynter then talked about his own battle to get Stewart released. For months on end he had stood in front of the White House, and had collected signatures from across the world on her behalf. “Lynne has worked for 50 years, helping people in need — battered women, gays, victims of civil rights violations — so it was easy to get people to help her too. All of you have saved her life. And it has been a race to save her life. The poor-quality medical care she received in prison? They tried to kill her!

“But when Lynne started getting over a hundred letters a day, the pressure to have her released became serious. And when Lynne finally came home, she didn’t have MediCare. She had planned to go to Sloan-Kettering, but her MediCare had been cancelled while she was in jail because she had become ‘inactive’ and she would have had to wait eight months for her enrollment period to come around again.” Eight more months without treatment would have killed her for sure.

Finally, after two months spent solely on trying to cut through bureaucratic red tape, Stewart finally got Medicaid.

“I started right in with chemo,” she told us, “once we got my prison medical records sorted out. The prison doctors never talked to the outside specialists in Texas and it was all a big mess. ‘Why does everything take so long,’ my New York doctor asked when he finally saw my prison records. And because of this lack of communication, many women in prison die as a result.”

When she was in prison, Stewart tried to help her fellow inmates as much as she could. “And I still try to help them now. And it hurt then and it hurts now — to see them suffer. I still send them books that I think they will like. No note. But they know who it is from.” All prison mail is censored.

“People now say to me, ‘Lynne, you look so good! I thought you were dying!’ but I am still as bad as I was — except now I have liver cancer as well. But with cancer, there are so many things you can still do, so right now I am active. Good cancer doctors always say, ‘If you think you can do it, then do it!’ And I wanted to take this chance to see all the people who helped me for so many years.” Her activism gives her a great reason to fight to stay alive.

“And what about lawyers these days,” Stewart then asked. So many people are being arrested — and then they all sink below the waves. The quality of defense lawyering for the women she met in prison sucked eggs. “They lied and they were corrupt.”

“There used to be a raft of activist lawyers. Now there are none. It’s appalling. I myself have been disbarred. I can’t even work in a law office now, not even to do filing. Someday I hope to get my law license back.”

Then Stewart read a short poem by Bertolt Brecht entitled “And I always thought”:

And I always thought
The very simplest words
Must be enough.
When I say what things are like
Everyone’s heart must be torn to shreds.
That you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself.
Surely you see that.

PS: Stewart’s audience at the church was composed mostly of older white people such as myself — we were all survivors from The Greatest Generation, the horrible McCarthy era and the hopeful reforms of the 1960s. We in the audience were all idealists with hope for a better world, bravely still fighting against the mish-mash of greed, unnecessary war, pollution and election fraud that the world is stuck with right now.

Which leads me to my next question: How come we, like Lynne Stewart, became such hopeful idealists — while the rest of our generation became just a sad bunch of useless couch potatoes, mindlessly cheering on racism, sexism, fascism, and various lies from Fox News?


May 2, 2014

“Attack, attack, attack, never defend”

Filed under: Commentary,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:31 pm

crop of burning money

When Richard M. Nixon ran for Congress after WWII, he ran in the district being served by Jerry Voorhis, who had received a high liberal rating. Nixon ran on a campaign that charged that the incumbent’s support of labor groups was a subtle circumstantial indication that the incumbent was pro Communist.

U. S. Senator Max Cleland was a triple amputee because of wounds received in combat in Vietnam and was awarded a Silver Star and a Bronze Star. When Saxby Chambliss decided to run for that seat in the Senate, he attacked Cleland charging that some of his votes in the era immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center indicated a lack of patriotism on Cleland’s part. Chambliss, who graduated from college during the Vietnam conflict, was exempt from military duty because of bad knees due to a football injury. Chambliss beat Cleland.

In his book “The Strange Case of Richard Milhous Nixon,” former Congressman Voorhis states that Nixon’s political advisor Murray Chotner’s strategy playbook included: “Third – attack, attack, attack, never defend.”

When John Kerry suddenly was anointed the “front runner” after the leading candidate, Howard Dean, suffered what all the best known pundits diagnosed as a complete emotional meltdown, the Republicans just happened to have (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) done the paperwork for a group of veterans who had military records similar to Kerry’s and who were relentless in attacking Kerry’s combat record, which was supposed to be the centerpiece of his campaign.

With these past campaigns in mind, it seems quite likely that if Hilary Clinton wins the Democratic Party’s nomination and becomes a Candidate for President (technically she won’t be “the first”), then the Republicans will foil her quest to become the first woman President of the USA by saying that is precisely the reason citizens shouldn’t vote for her. The cultural atmosphere will be saturated with misogyny until Election Day.

The Democrats will be left to defend the idea that it is time for the USA to have its first woman President and the Republicans will feel like the good old days are back as they attack, attack, attack.

They will spice things up and avoid a Johnny one note aspect for the proceedings by manufacturing skirmishes that revive the Vince Foster, Monica Lewinski, and Benghazi issues.

Jon Stewart ran a segment titled “the Broads Must Be Crazy,” which seems to be an attempt to defuse the expected tsunami of misogyny that the Republicans will unleash. The Republicans are very adept at shrugging off any logical responses to their headline grabbing antics.

Any pundit, who dares to suggest that the Democrats should make a preemptive strike and start now attacking the Republican front runner, would be subjected to a smear campaign that would be a career ending grand finale no matter who that victim might be.   If you don’t believe that just ask Dan Rather.

The news media seems completely oblivious to the implications for democracy of the fact that JEB Bush went from political pariah to front runner without participating in a single primary election campaign. That doesn’t affect the fact that bringing democracy to foreign soil is always considered a valid reason for waging war in a remote location.

Richard Nixon became a U. S. Senator in a political battle with Helen Gahagan Douglas, who, as an actress had played the role of Hash-a-Motep of Kor in the 1935 movie “She,” was the Congressional representative from California’s 14th District. As an actress, Ms. Douglas is credited as being the first to deliver the line: “She who must be obeyed!” Nixon hinted that her voting record in the House of Representatives was similar to that of another well known pro Communist Congressional representative and that the implication was obvious.

Online, there are differing accounts as to who was the first woman police officer in the USA. Whoever it was is reported to have drawn men from all over the country to be arrested by the law enforcement pioneer.

The Sioux exemplified the Native American variation of the Republican philosophy of “keep ’em pregnant in summer and barefoot in winter” while another tribe (the Cheyenne?) had women warriors.

Uncle Rushbo has always nurtured a good old boy in the locker room condescending attitude towards women. Didn’t Frank Sinatra use the terms “frail, skirt, and mouse” to designate a woman? Weren’t his most ardent fans of the female persuasion?

Liberals tend to project their values on their opponents and so the Democrats will not want to hear any predictions along those lines regarding what the Republican strategy will be to win the election. We have read some books that advise trial lawyers to neutralize the other side’s case before it is presented but the Democratic Party seems reluctant to use that methodology in National politics.

Journalists who are always anxious to project an “I’m just as cool as Frank Sinatra” image will probably go along with a Sexist campaign against Hillary because what’s not to like about a metaphorical chance to be a member of the rat pack? Also the conservative owners of the media that employs them will give them certain “do you like your job” hints that they should go along to get along.

If the Republicans go the complete ring-a-ding-ding route and attack Hillary for being a woman, what effective response can the liberal citizen journalist use? The fact that she is a woman can’t be denied and if the Democratic response starts on a defensive note, well then Jerry Voorhis would say that they are off to a bad start.

Conservative talk show hostess Laura Ingraham has said that a woman politician should not emphasize a point by shouting it because if she does, invariably she will sound shrill.

We have (many moons ago) heard a news story that asserts that an infant girl will pay more attention to a the voice of an unknown man than she will to the voice of her own mother.

Feminists have pointed out that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astair was doing and she did it backwards while wearing high heeled shoes. The Republican response will be: “Yeah, backwards . . . that sounds like how a woman would do it!”

Republicans might go as far as having Uncle Rushbo revive the old Laurel and Hardy shtick that included the line “You can never hit a woman, Oliver . . . you have to kick them!”?

L. A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s girlfriend, V. (Vivian) Stiviano announced this week that she expects to be a successful Presidential nominee sometime in the future.

In a speech to the League of Women voters, on April 16, 1969, President Richard M. Nixon said: “Certainly in the next fifty years we shall see a woman president, perhaps sooner than you think. A woman can and should be able to do any political job that a man can do.” There is only one more election left which can render this prediction as accurate.

Now the disk jockey will play Nancy Sinatra’s “These boots are made for walking,” the Jefferson Airplane’s “Plastic fantastic lover,” and Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” We have to get back to reading Amanda Vaill’s new book “Hotel Florida (Truth, Love and Death in the Spanish Civil War).” Have an “For no good reason” type week. Enjoy National Free Comic Book day and the Kentucky Derby on Saturday and Cinco de Mayo on Monday.

May 1, 2014

“Engineering Chaos”: Mother Agnes-Miriam lectures neo-cons on their bad behavior

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 1:41 pm

I just went to hear Mother Agnes-Miriam, a Syrian nun dressed in a serious nun outfit, give a talk on the horrible situation that her country finds itself in today — and I ended up with ten pages of notes on the shocking details of what she said. However, the main gist of her talk can be summed up in just a few words. “[Western neo-colonial] powers have been engineering chaos in Syria — and they need to stop this disruptive behavior right now so that peace and reconciliation can safely proceed.”

According to Mother Agnes-Mariam, these Western powers-that-be have been “engineering chaos” in Syria quite successfully over the last three years. But I would also like to add that Western neo-cons haven’t just been engineering chaos in Syria — oh no. They’ve also been doing it everywhere that they can, all across the Middle East. And then it also suddenly dawned on me that said neo-cons have been following a similar step-by-step pattern all over the world, not just in the Middle East:

Step 1: Find yourself a resource-rich country where a percentage of the population is unhappy — for whatever reason (and if you can’t find any unhappy people there, then just make some up).

Step 2: Begin to foment revolution in the name of “Freedom and Democracy”. Make F&D sound really really good!

Step 3: Start the killing — or “Shock and Awe” or whatever you want to call it. Use terms like “freedom fighters” and “rebels” and “no-fly zones” and “humanitarian relief”. And also be sure to throw in scare-words like “WMDs” and “Chemical Weapons” and “Nuclear Proliferation” whenever humanly possible. But it doesn’t really matter what you call anything as long as chaos results. Or another Benghazi. Or another Maiden Square.

Step 4: The most imperative goal in Step 4 is to make sure that an impressive number of civilians are killed (See Step 3)

Step 5: Disassemble the mechanisms of state. Bomb the hospitals. Bump off the water supply. Destroy the infrastructure. Blow up city hall. Replace the strong-arm guy who is holding the country together with a thousand factional groups who all hate each other and everyone else — and are willing to kill to prove it too. Think Iraq. Think Libya. Think Yugoslavia.

Step 6: Move into the void that’s created and steal land and resources to your heart’s content. “Good job, Brownie!”

But enough of this. Let’s get back to Mother Agnes-Miriam’s talk. She spoke for over an hour on peace and reconciliation in Syria — by and for Syrians. It was a hopeful speech; sadly informative but also rational and inspiring.

And then suddenly five or six people popped up from the audience as if on cue and started shouting at Mother Agnes. “What about the use of chemical weapons! What about that dictator Assad!”

I at first thought that the ushers at the venue had over-reacted a bit by telling those guys to either be quiet or leave. But later I learned that these same guys have been following Mother Agnes-Miriam all around America and trying to disrupt all of her talks.

And at another one of her talks, I later found out, Mother Agnes had welcomed their participation and attempted to answer their questions — only to discover that they had no valid evidence, no real POV and nothing really to say.

These guys were simply trying to “engineer chaos” too!

And afterwards, outside on the front steps, one of these guys (wearing a really expensive-looking suit) handed me his card. He was from Washington DC, of course. That figures.

PS: And who else can you think of who’s now happily busy trying to “engineer chaos” right here in our very own United States? Rush Limbaugh come to mind immediately. And Cliven Bundy and Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. And of course Fox News.

PPS: For those of you who still want to soldier on and read more about what Mother Agnes-Miriam had to say, here are some of the quotes that I wrote down. I think I copied most of them correctly, but I was writing pretty fast:

“In Syria today, the horrendous reality is of thousands and thousands of mercenaries who enter historic city complexes to turn them into battlefields. They are terrorists and bandits who spread agony among the residents.

“Sponsored by foreign powers, these ‘Tafiri’ [self-appointed inquisitionists] ‘liberate’ towns by forcing the residents out of them. The majority of Islamic clerics throughout the world denounce the Tafiri, however.

“Syria is a cauldron of chaos — designed to dismantle a country. It is engineered by neo-colonials to divide and reign — and to dismantle and gain.

“All of Syria used to be middle-class. No homeless people in Syria. And now they are obliged to beg; living in slums where the violence has followed them. Mosques, churches and synagogues are also being systematically destroyed. Factories, hospitals, residences. Homs now looks like Stalingrad. Apocalyptic. The economic and production heart of Syria has also been destroyed. The engineers of chaos destroyed it.

“A young woman wakes up with no legs. And her friend is now blind. In some places, only 3% of the population remain — and the Takfiri ‘rebels’ still shell them. We are living among vampires — where beheading is getting very normal. We are seeing heads everywhere. They play football with them. One Takfiri leader is said to have beheaded 350 people.

“What happened to the Arab Spring? That striving for freedom and democracy has been hijacked by the engineers of chaos. The Free Syrian Army lacks money, its members are starving. But the Takfiri faction is receiving all kinds of money and weapons. The Takfiri are in direct opposition to reconciliation. They come from 80 countries — and Syrians are their victims.

“There are seven million refugees inside of Syria and two more million outside of the country. They are starving. Out of a population of just 22 million, each day 9,500 more civilians are forced to leave their homes. Soon all 22 million will be displaced. We are back to the barbarian era.

“When you see something like this in your city — thousands beheaded, children pushed off roofs, people roasted in ovens — there will be more and more violence. But there is a third way. We have to build bridges. That is the challenge of reconciliation among Syrians. We have to develop trust. We have a lot of martyrs [to the non-violent cause], but we will not stop because the bloodshed must stop!

“Saddam was killed. Gaddafi was killed. Has it gotten any better? If Assad is gone, who will take his place? The 2000 factions? No. How can I reconcile with a group who wants to behead me? We are now talking to former [FSA] fighters who go back to protect their neighborhoods from the Takfiris. The FSA is willing to talk. Even Syria’s Al Qaeda is upset that ISIS Takfiri are killing everyone and burning factories.

“We are accused continuously, especially by people in the US, of being political. This is preposterous. We are talking only out of a position to stop the bloodshed. Alternative media can now go deeper and not just repeat mainstream media [brainwashing] ad nauseam. Go and hear everyone. I am not an oracle — but do not put me to death if I disagree. This is not the way to truth.

“If a solution to Syria’s problems is imposed from outside, we will be worse off than before. We must be free from foreign intervention. Change will not come from violence. Violence has just strengthened [Assad's] regime. All the Takfiris have done is to get rid of the infrastructure of the state instead. The state itself is the sole hope for Syria. That, and a dialogue of symbiosis and reconciliation among Syrians themselves.”


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