June 28, 2014

Ye Olde Scribe Presents: FOX “News” Through History

Filed under: Commentary — Ye Olde Scribe @ 6:48 am
Announcer for Queen and the Empire: Lush Dimbulb

Announcer for Queen and the Empire: Lush Dimbulb

What if FOX had been around since the revolution?

“Welcome to Colonial Edition of the one hour The Perpetually Piss Ewe off News Service: the official service for sheep. At PPN we put a LOT of effort behind pissing sheeple off about anything that won’t help the 1%. Or isn’t supportive off extremely hateful fundamentalist, militia member, Christians. Dare to disagree with us? PISS OFF! All for the glory of the Empire which supports job creators like The East India Tea Company.”

“More tea sailed into Boston Harbor to help make the job creators richer, however flea bitten, need to get a job, socialist, Occupy group members,led by the likes of hippies like George Washington, dumped the job creator’s tea into the harbor. They will be hanged, if found. If pepper spray had been invented yet true Patriots would plan to use that too.”

“Meanwhile Colonialist turned true patriot, Benedict Arnold, is currently informing the leaders of the Empire’s pro-corporate troops of the movements of these lazy ass no traitors.”


June 27, 2014

No Buffer Zones?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 8:48 pm


Are Hemingway and Obama beatnik writers?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:37 pm

Crop of LInda King

“Loving and Hating Charles Bukowski,” by Linda King, has been revised and the author was featured in a reading at the Beat Museum in San Francisco on the evening of Friday June 20, 2014. That, in turn, caused one member of the audience, who had been a North Beach resident in the late Fifties, to question the validity of the choice. Purists say that a writer had to have belonged to the coterie of novelists who drank with Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg to merit the right to be described as a beatnik writer (scriba beatnikus).

Defining who exactly can accurately be described as a “beat” writer and who can not has provided the academic community with many lively discussions concerning the correct application of the “beatnik” label. The word was coined by legendary San Francisco columnist Herb Caen.

A excerpt of Charles Bukowski’s “Notes of a Dirty Old Man” is included in “The Portable Beat Reader,” edited by Ann Charters.

Hunter S. Thompson, who for a time worked with and hung out with the crew at Ken Kesey’s home near La Honda, specifically identified himself with the Sixties journalists who insisted on having their own identifying label (scriba gonzo).

According to “Memory Babe,” by Gerald Nicosia, (based on an interview with one of Kerouac’s ex-wives) Ernest Hemingway (scriba nobeli) and Kerouac met and chatted at a party in Greenwich Village in the late forties. Is that sufficient evidence for calling Hemingway a beatnik writer?

Since knowing Kerouac and Ginsberg is such a limiting qualification, perhaps someone who has all the other necessary hallmarks, such as a love of peace, brotherhood and a disdainful attitude regarding the government (such as the Republican dominated do-nothing Congress) means that the Beat Museum could extend an invitation to speak and promote a (hypothetically speaking) new book to President Obama after he terms out.

As we were writing this column, when we got to this point a lighthearted attempt to write a whimsical report on a group of writers who were pop culture icons fifty years ago seemed absurdly inappropriate during a week when it was obvious that the threat of total anarchy was being used for a high stakes game of chicken involving Maliki and Obama and the countries they lead.

The mainstream media in the USA seemed to agree that Maliki had reneged on a promise to have an inclusive government and Obama indicated that a broken promise by Maliki was the basis for withholding the crucial military support that would be needed to keep Maliki in power.

Expecting Maliki to become cordial to Sunni Iraqi citizens is about as realistic as expecting the Republicans to give President Obama an award for outstanding achievement in the realm of conciliatory bipartisan negotiations.

If the Republicans can win a majority in both the House and the Senate in the November 2014 mid term elections, how long will they wait to start an effort to impeach Obama?

What we had not seen or heard in all the superfluous coverage of the diplomatic confrontation between Maliki and Obama was any speculation about how the events might have reached irreversible trend level that means the fall of Baghdad will soon be inevitable. All the coverage we encountered hinted that a siege might occur and that volunteer Shiite warriors were being rushed to meet the Sunni rebel troops. No mention was made about “the point of no return.”

All the high paid retired officers who offer “expert” commentary skipped over any comparisons with past wars. Was the current situation analogous to the Spanish Civil War? Would the Sunnis take Baghdad as effortlessly as the Germans took Paris in 1940? Would current events in Iraq be a replay of the fall of Saigon?

News broadcasts on TV and radio told the audience of the latest cities to be captured by Isis forces, but listing towns that have been captured when Iraqi troops ran away from any potential battle is just a bit like hearing the final score of last night’s baseball game.  (It has been more than a hundred years since a Giants pitcher has thrown two no hitters.)  Was it a pitchers’ dual? Was it a slug fest. What about the time the pitcher threw a perfect game for nine innings and then lost the game in extra innings?

If the World’s Laziest Journalist offered some wild speculation about what could possibly happen and guessed correctly, he might find himself explaining the lucky guess to some very skeptical folks rather than being in Too Fat City examining job offers from various world famous news media. It would be a noir version of Evelyn Waugh’s war novel “Scoop.”

During the week, we acquired a copy of Max Hastings’ book “All Hell Let Loose (the World at War 1939 – 1945)” and learned that early in the conflict Poland was left in the lurch. France expected more help and was disappointed in the British strategy. Norway and Finland expected more help from the Allies than they received. Has Maliki read this book? Did you know that after British troops were evacuated from Dunkirk, some were sent back to France and were subsequently evacuated a second time? Speaking of broken promises how is the investigation into the care of wounded veterans going?

Did you know that after the fall of France, (for about five weeks) British troops fought Vichy French troops in Syria?

Reluctantly we turned our attention back to the beatnik philosophy and the potential for column topics that could be found on the road. We noticed that Blazing Kat Productions is doing some fundraising to sustain their effort to document the lesser known efforts of activists all around the USA. Their itinerary, which is posted on their web site and promoted on their Facebook page, includes Mendocino and Oakland and perhaps we can do an interview and full length column about their efforts later this summer.

When will the mainstream media notice that the tsunami of adolescent aliens along the southern border might become a landlocked version of the Mariel boat lift debacle? Do the Democrats want that? Are the Republicans encouraging a potential humanitarian crisis just for political gain?

Is the Beat Hotel still open in Paris? Is the Hotel Scribe still in existence? Should we subsidize the necessary expenses that would be needed to provide some gonzo punditry about the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris? (If so, we’ll need a copy of “Europe on $5 a day.”) Can Hemingway be considered a Beatnik prototype? We are continuing our debate with Beat Museum proprietor Jerry Cimini on this topic and may devote an entire column to this question later in the summer.

We promised a young lady, newly arrived in Berkeley from Ireland, that we would plug the Human Rights Campaign in this column. (Google hint: HRC dot org)

[Note from the photo editor: A symbolic image of the North Beach area being reflected in the lens of a pair of sunglasses augments photos take at the Beat Museum on Friday, June 20, 2014 for this week’s column.]

Due to a National Holiday, next week’s end of the week column will be posted a day early, in the usual places.

The Beatniks who endorse the legalization of marijuana will have a difficult time refuting the implications of the article that appeared in the New York Times this week under the headline: “Cool at 13; Adrift at 23.”

For doing everything that infuriated the members of the Democratic party when George W. Bush was President, President Obama is causing the Republicans to discuss impeachment proceedings and all that the network news programs can say is that America is mesmerized by the World Cup Games in Brazil. WTF? The weirdness has only just begun.

Some soccer fans think that one word of dialogue should be added to the “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”sound track: “Go-o-o-o-o-o-ld!”

Now the disk jockey will play Johnny and the Hurricanes’ “Beatnik Fly,” and the song of the summer for 2014 Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” and Willie Nelson’s new album, “Band of Brothers.” We have to go see if we can catch a ride to this year’s installment of the Hemingway Days festival in Key West, Fla. Have a “Bite me!” type week.

Beat Museum photo intern at work

Intern at work

June 26, 2014

Whose Garden Was This?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 11:48 am

Russell Brand 1 bomb


Not another article on Syria? Well, yeah

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 10:02 am

“Just exactly how many articles on Syria and Iraq can you actually churn out?” a friend of mine asked me recently. “You were only over in Damascus for five freaking days. And you haven’t been to Iraq since 2008. So what makes YOU such an expert on these two countries?”

Even after less than a week spent in Damascus and after only having been to Iraq four-and-a-half times, I apparently already know more about Syria and Baghdad and Al Ambar than all those dingbats in the U.S. State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA combined. Unfortunately.

Washington neo-cons and their neo-con counterparts in Tel Aviv have really gotten the Arab world totally wrong.

So, even though I would really rather be writing about almost anything else right now, it is still my civic duty to set these fools straight. Sorry about that.

What I really want to be writing about this week is the exciting new Freedom Summer 50th-anniversary conference in Jackson, Mississippi, where a bunch of folks are getting together to celebrate having survived the heroic summer of 1964 when so many civil rights workers poured their hearts out in an attempt to finally bring justice to the Ol’ South — and some of them lost their lives while doing it too

But apparently justice in the Ol’ South will have to wait a bit longer. Right now we need to talk about justice in the Middle East first.

After the fall of the U.S.S.R., Washington neo-cons needed a new boogeyman to scare Americans into handing over our hard-earned tax dollars to the military-industrial complex. And so the military-industrial complex came up with the idea of making Islam the bad guy. But then apparently Washington neo-cons actually began to believe their own hype — and even went so far as to actually start creating “Islamic Militants” where none had existed so far.

According to journalist Finian Cunningham, “The biggest recruitment office for such groups [as ISIS] is the British government and its criminal militaristic foreign policy, which has been destroying countries for years, overtly and covertly. That same destructive British state-sponsored terrorism, alongside that of its American and other NATO allies, is also why millions of Syrians and Iraqis are living in tents, unable to feed their families.”

The thumbscrews were not only put onto various Islamic countries until “militants” actually did start to emerge, but then Wall Street and War Street — bound and determined to sell as many weapons as possible — actually started creating and financing “Islamic Militants” themselves (and of course all the while praying for another “Pearl Harbor”)

According to a recent article in Information Clearinghouse, “Key members of ISIS it now emerges were trained by US CIA and Special Forces command at a secret camp in Jordan in 2012, according to informed Jordanian officials…Former US State Department official Andrew Doran wrote in the conservative National Review magazine that some ISIS warriors also hold US passports.”

Neo-cons began manufacturing these Frankenstein monsters left and right. Actually paying thousands of poor unfortunate souls in the Middle East to go on “jihad”.

Even way back in the 1970s I could have warned the military-industrial complex that these acts of folly would eventually start leading to blow-back — not to mention the sky-rocketing cost of gasoline as a result of all this footsie-playing in the Middle East.

According to journalist Juan Cole, “During the past ten years, American drivers have seen their gasoline bill go up tremendously – though not as much as it by all rights should have – and stay there.”

Apparently, The M-IC’s money-making scheme in the Middle East was that various U.S. and Israeli neo-cons would be constantly stirring up the pot there, turning Arab against Arab until they all freaking started to butcher each other like so many crabs in a barrel. And then the U.S. and Israeli neo-cons would steal everything that wasn’t nailed down while no one over there was looking. It sounded like a good plan. Until the rest of us Americans and Israelis finally began to realize that there was nothing in this witches’ brew for the rest of us except danger to ourselves.

According to me, ISIS is nothing but a bunch of pirates, the Taliban are murdering wife-beaters, the idiots in charge of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iraq are dictators and Libya is overrun by barbarians. And who created all these proto-zombies? Neo-cons in Israel and the U.S. Of course.

According to Franklin Lamb, who seems to be legendary in Damascus for fabricating stories and mooching off of the Syrian government, ISIS, Syria’s arch enemy, is practically a freaking benevolent organization who succors the poor, has nukes of its own and whose goal is to unite all the downtrodden Arabs in the Middle East into one coherent version of the freaking Red Cross and then liberate Palestine and wash Israel into the sea.

However, Palestinians in Syria did not support ISIS’s brutality and refused to be drawn in — so ISIS bombed the crap out of them instead. And the Palestinians in Israel already have neo-cons killing their kids — and don’t need any more neo-con-backed pirates adding even more “creative chaos” to the mix.

Huh? No. Forget about the sparkling clean Red Cross wannabe image. These ISIS guys are down and dirty pirates. And that’s “all she wrote” about that. And apparently we American taxpayers are paying for all of ISIS’s new Toyotas, rocket-launchers and Nikes as well.

“You talk as though the military-industrial complex may finally be starting to get its comeuppance for generating such a devious plot — but, frankly, it is not,” you might comment at this point.

No, it is not. Not yet. But if Wall Street and War Street continue to play their cutesy little “Divide and Conquer” games in the Middle East, keep on messing with its political eco-system, breaking down its civil society in this bad way, and creating and financing even more Al Qaedas, Talibans and ISISs and driving world gas prices sky-high, then eventually it will suck to be you!

Even against all odds and proof, I still have faith that the rest of us Americans, us average decent salt-of-the-earth types, will finally put a stop to all these nefarious neo-con schemes and finally start bringing our money and our troops home from the Middle East instead — and stop picking on all these poor Arabs before they end up going completely freaking nuts as they see their parents, wives and children constantly being blown to bits before their very eyes by these neo-con monsters.

Not sure why I keep holding out hope that this will happen. But do I really have any other choice?

PS: Another thing that has made me hopeful is to just observing what 50 years of fighting for justice and civil rights has done in the American South.

“But, Jane,” you might say, “50 years of fighting for justice and civil rights has done nothing.” No, there really have been some big changes there — even despite so many neo-con efforts to stop that change. But just imagine how much better the South would be now if the neo-cons had just kept their mouths shut. Schools, factories, integration, far less hatred and division, a better quality of life for all.

And this same thing could have happened in the Middle East too.

PPS: I just heard that Pope Francis has excommunicated the Mafia. Good for him. “But the Mafia has changed,” you might say. “They are legitimate businessmen now.” Not even close. They are just getting better and better at laundering money.

And speaking of laundering money, I finally figured out how those all those ISIS pirates and barbarians in the Middle East can afford to pay for all their new Toyotas, rocket-launchers and sneakers. Saudi Arabia pays for them!

“But where do the Saudis get all that money,” you might ask. “Brand new Nikes are expensive.” No problem. The U.S. military-industrial complex gives the money to the Saudis. The Saudis buy the Nikes. That’s called “money-laundering” too.

Perhaps Pope Francis will excommunicate Wall Street and War Street as well!

We can only hope.


June 23, 2014

Syria, Iraq, Captain Phillips & the ISIS pirates

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 2:09 pm


On my recent really-long plane ride back from Syria where I had served as an election observer, I must have watched at least six different inflight movies — and one of them was “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks It was all about being attacked by brutal pirates brandishing deadly weapons — and about looting and fear.

And then it suddenly occurred to me that the ISIS invasion of Syria (and now Iraq) was also all about being attacked by brutal pirates brandishing deadly weapons — and about looting and fear.

The only difference seemed to be that Captain Phillips’ Hollywood pirates were basically just poor schmucks with no other available job opportunities — whereas the Al Qaeda-backed and American-financed ISIS pirates are killers to the bone

I just learned that 15 of the ISIS pirates killed while plundering in Syria were from Malaysia. Huh? They came all the way from Malaysia to loot and burn and kill Syrian women and children and also desecrate Syrian churches and mosques while they were at it? I wonder who paid their airfare to Syria — and if their inflight movie was “Captain Phillips” too?

American taxpayers paid for their airfare.

I also just learned that, “The Malaysians who go to Syria and Iraq to fight will be arrested when they return home.” Of course they will be. They are pirates! Pirates belong in jail.

And America, the country that pays these ISIS pirates’ salary and writes up their job description, is not about to let any of these monsters come over here after they’ve been thrown out of Iraq and Syria either. These guys are not ever gonna be allowed to get jobs chauffeuring tourists through the “Pirates of the Caribbean” at Disneyland. Why? Because you definitely do not want to let these marauders and butchers anywhere near your kids!

In America, criminals like these would be jailed for life in an instant — or even made to walk the plank.

But apparently it’s okay with our State Department if they butcher Syrian and Iraqi kids.

One other thing I learned the other day is that Saudi Arabia is paying a $300-a-head bounty for every Alawite Syrian these pirates kill. One ISIS pirate bragged that he has chopped off 350 Syrian heads. So far. And played soccer with them. (Please don’t let this guy play in the World Cup!) And apparently there’s even a video of this guy eating one of his victim’s hearts out on live TV. Who the freak in their right mind would ever do that? Pirates.

And another thing I would like to make perfectly clear. You can’t blame all this blood-lust on Islam either. These ISIS butchers and boogeymen are not Muslims. Muslims venerate compassion and justice. ISIS venerates booty and loot.

PS: When I spoke at a press conference at the United Nations last week, I first planned to make a simple speech about how the elections that I observed there were honestly conducted. See the text of that speech here:

PPS: But as jet lag set in and the horrible news of all the looting in Iraq came pouring in and I got tired and cranky, here’s the speech that I actually gave, outing the ISIS pirates for what they really are. Here’s the text of that speech:

PPPS: Then later that evening I gave another speech — and being even tireder and more cranky than ever after a very long day, I said to myself, “Enough already about pirates. I want to talk instead about all those covert bad-guy Bluebeards and Barbarossas who are funding and encouraging all this looting and pillaging.” And that would be us.

Back in the 1660s, French pirate captain Francois I’Olonnais used to cut off his victims’ heads and eat their hearts out. Sound familiar? Perhaps that’s the kind of thing that America is now teaching ISIS in pirate school? Yeah. But I digress.

My third speech of the day dealt with the American military-industrial complex’s last 100 years of failed foreign policy — and how weaponizing and training pirates to invade Syria and Iraq seems to be the dumbest foreign policy of all!

Here’s the text of that speech:

“I have read somewhere that there are four things that human beings need in order to survive: Air, food, water and to feel good about themselves. Yet despite this excellent information, I’m afraid that, in the name of truth, I’m going to have to ignore it and make a whole lot of people on Wall Street and War Street feel very bad about themselves. Sorry about that.

“Lately, everyone on the news has been talking constantly about the 70th anniversary of D-Day – but I have yet to hear even one talking head mention the recent 100th anniversary of World War I, probably the most unnecessary and, well, er, just plain stupid war ever fought.

“But, sadly, America’s foreign policy has just gotten dumb and dumber ever since.

“Next up, the badly-designed Treaty of Versailles led to a very preventable World War II. And then we lost China. And Korea. And just what dummy dreamed up the Cold War? Then came Vietnam, a really stupid war. A ten-year-old could have designed a better foreign policy than that. Trillions of dollars wasted and millions of lives destroyed.

“Then came the loss of South America’s hearts and minds, the shambles that is Africa today and disaster after disaster in the Middle East – as our State Department just keeps on riding their express train to Stupid Town.”

With regard to America’s brutal (and dumb) foreign policy of creating chaos in the Middle East wherever it can, it’s been a humongous success — costing millions of lives. Libya is now in total chaos (just think Benghazi), Afghanistan will take a century to recover, Pakistan is a hot mess, Egypt sucks eggs, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are fascist dictatorships, Yemen is in a constant state of civil war, Palestine is a gulag, Israel is a joke balanced on top of a weapons factory the likes of which have never been seen since the USSR went bust, and Maliki in Iraq is as mean as a snake, far worse than Saddam Husein ever was Have I left anything out?

“But this new war on Syria has just got to be America’s foreign policy’s all-time low (unless of course you count their support of the neo-Nazis in Ukraine).

“Isn’t it about time for America’s foreign-policy makers to stop being so stupid?” Nice ending to a nice speech, if I do say so myself.

Everything — EVERYTHING — that the U.S. has done in the Middle East since most of us were even born has been wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. And apparently the powers-that-be in Washington have done it all deliberately, in order to sow chaos.

From Paul Bremmer to what’s-his-name Maliki, Iraq has been a disaster.

And apparently Israeli neo-cons have been the major recipients of this huge gift of chaos in the Middle East Or have they? If I were living in Israel right now or even in America (which I am), then I would be afraid, be very afraid (which I am) with all these incompetents, sadists and dummies at the helm.

But has any of this long-term stupidity — of setting so many blood-thirsty pirates loose on the world — made you and me feel any safer? To quote Bluebeard, “Har har har har”.

So. What can we do about stopping all this bloody nonsense? For starters, let’s cut America’s military budget by SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT. Why give these misbehaving miscreants such a big reward all the time when what they actually need is a time-out and a dunce cap?

True American patriots need to look Wall Street and War Street in the eye and say, “Look at me. Look at me. I’m the captain now.”


June 22, 2014

Ye Olde Scribe Presents: Short Blatherings from the Bunker

Filed under: Commentary — Ye Olde Scribe @ 6:54 pm

Poor Liddle Idems

The baby cried: translated the cry means, “Wah, I pooped my diaper! It’s Obama’s fault! Clean it up!”
Or, “Wah, I sucked another tit dry, another ‘mommy’ is dead, shriveled up. I want ANOTHER war NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“Gay marriage! That’s why I keep puking all over you! Stop it or I’ll puke more! You’re violating MY religious rights by even considering it.
On and on it goes, with “Baby” who is supposedly an adult. And the worst thing to do is to give baby what he wants because it will simply encourage Baby to have more tantrums. Continue to have tantrums.

leadership stinks diaper


June 20, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: UN blocks Syrian Ambassador’s UN press conference

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 12:35 pm
    On June 18, 2014, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, H.E. Bashar Jaafari, held an official press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, with regard to the recent Syrian elections and how they were conducted in an above-board and transparent manner.
     Also present and speaking at the press conference were five neutral election observers from the United States, telling what they had seen in various polling locations throughout Syria on June 3, 2014.  election observers present were Dr. Paul Larudee, Joseph Iosbaker, Scott Williams, Jane Stillwater and Judy Bello.
    It is the universal practice of the United Nations to broadcast every press conference held on its premises on its website.  However, five minutes into this particular press conference, the UN’s live feed was cut off.  
     For your further information, here is a link to this important video that was blocked by the United Nations.  I think you will find the statements made here by the conference’s participants to be both fascinating and enlightening — as well as highly newsworthy in this crucial news cycle revolving around the recent attack on and invasion of Iraq by the same foreign-fighters and Al Qaeda-related pirates who had previously attacked and invaded Syria:
      Later that evening, Ambassador Jaafari joined the five election observers in a roundtable discussion regarding the elections and the origins and supporters of ISIS, a non-Muslim organization of terrorists and pirates related to Al Qaeda that is paid for and supported by American taxpayers.

      Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark also spoke at this roundtable.  

     Here are the links to that roundtable:  

     Part 1:  

    Part 2 (Q&A):


Summer, Soccer, and Military Advisors

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:32 pm

Jumbled SF

Jumbled Geometry

After being acquitted of murder charges, O. J. Simpson received a rather official looking letter from the Court. As a citizen who had never been convicted of a felony, he was being ordered to report for consideration for jury duty. According to reliable anecdotal evidence, O. J. walked into the courtroom and the judge took one look at the sport celebrity and immediately dismissed him. The judge was looking for a member of the jury not a new media circus.

There were rumors in the Los Angeles area that on O. J.’s last night in custody, a jailer approached the defendant with a larger than usual supply of items the turnkey wanted autographed. According to the rumor, he explained that O. J. wouldn’t be available for autographing sports memorabilia the next night (i.e. he was going to court the next day and then walking out the front door) and so the chance to have O. J. sign more stuff was on a “now or never” priority basis.

The Santa Monica Outlook ran a squib about the jury duty dismissal and offered it to the Associated Press (which is run on a co-op basis) and the AP editor turned it down. The reasoning was that at that point the public had reached saturation level with all facts connected to the life of O. J. Simpson.

The autograph anecdote never got traction because it was just a rumor.

Twice recently we came across books that reported that Adolph Hitler was a very funny guy in cocktail party settings. We have read that der Fuhrer could mimic Goring to perfection. Admitting some humanizing aspects in the personality of a fellow who was going to be portrayed as a raving maniac just didn’t help matters, so it has always been best if journalists omitted related facts and anecdotes from their books which substantiated the view of that dictator as an affable amateur comedian.

Recently the news coverage of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day (“jour j” for those of you who speak French) Invasion used the number of members of the military who lost their lives during the longest day. Very little mention is ever made of the dress rehearsal which claimed more lives than the actual invasion did. (Google “Operation Tiger.”)

Recently, we picked up a used book titled “the Tuskegee Airmen Mutiny at Freeman Field,” by Lt. Col James C. Warren (USAF ret.). We had never heard about that incident but since it happened just about the same time as VE Day it doesn’t seem like a “cover-up.” It’s more like a news value imbalance that was due to timing. (Google hint: Freeman Field Mutany)

Has a book been written about the explosion and deaths at Port Chicago?

When does a fact turn from irrelevant extraneous information to game changer status?

The challenge that faces citizen journalist is similar to giving a jigsaw puzzle to a blind person. When the high price journalists get stonewalled, how can a citizen journalist realistically expect to report on what is going on inside top secret strategy meetings for politicians or corporations?

Recently, we heard the term “fact pattern” for the first time and realized that the concept was crucial to the nature of product development at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory (located somewhere in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Berkeley CA). If information that doesn’t fit the fact patter must be ignored and/or disregarded by the mainstream media, it becomes the primary ingredient for the next trendy conspiracy theory.

According to one obscure news report we monitored, the latest internal poling available to Rep. Eric Cantor showed him leading by thirty points. He got blind-sided and lost the primary election. Only conspiracy theory nuts would follow the Cantor item with a reference to the fact that the results from the electronic voting machines are not verifiable.

If you love New York City, then Donald L. Miller’s new book, “Supreme City (How Jazz Age Manhattan gave birth to modern America),” will make you swoon.

Isn’t the number of troops who are being sent back to Iraq just about equal to the size of an extraction team? Did you see “Argo” before it won the Best Picture Oscar or after?

Are the peacniks in Berkeley, who didn’t approve of sending the military advisors to South Vietnam, going to let the redeployment back to Iraq slide because the President has a good voice and a nice smile?

Is it true that Iraq will be divided up? The Kurds will get a one third portion, the Isis rebels will get a second third, and BP will get the oil fields.

Our contention that Journalism in the USA is approaching flat-line status got some back-up Sunday in the New York Time’s Week in Review Section via an opinion piece written by Chelsea Manning asserting that Americans often get news that doesn’t correlate with military intelligence reports.

Remarkable but extraneous information from the pop culture beat may be “water cooler” topics of great importance, but in a democracy where the founding fathers envisioned a free press keeping voters fully informed about important issues the concept of “broccoli journalism” become relevant. According to the man that coined the term, broccoli journalism is like the vegetable it is named after, meaning that it is an important but unpopular ingredient for a well balance diet (of information).

Kids who are destined to become contrarians will love broccoli, spinach, and sauerkraut the minute they are told other kids hate those items but if you are playing the law of averages, most children will balk when served those items. Haven’t evening network newscasts started to include cute cat videos? If network executives want a hip young demographic for their network evening news broadcasts, why don’t they have attractive and young rookies manning the anchor desks? (How old was Edward R. Murrow when he made the reports from London during the Battle of Britain?)

MTV introduced the concept of V-jays to television and had a good deal of success with the innovation. Suppose the networks tried to lure young viewers with young anchors. (Could they be called N-jays [short for news jockeys]?) Isn’t the average age of the Fox viewer that of someone who collects Social Security checks? Could addiction to Fox be considered binge viewing for Conservatives?

Didn’t a mug shot of an attractive young man just go viral on the Internets? (Google hint: (Jeremy) Meeks mug shot)

Could Lincoln Pilcher be considered a journalist?

The generation that came of age during the Sixties demanded a greater voice in running the world they were inheriting; hence the success of Rolling Stone magazine. Now that hippies are old enough to be in senior management positions, their attitude seems to be “What do kids know?”

[Note from the Photo Editor: Since we don’t have access to photo ops with famous politicians, fugitives, or movie stars, we have to settle for a photo of an urban scene with a jumbled geometric pattern in San Francisco which could be a visual metaphor for the convoluted situation in Iraq.]

Who was it said: “If you keep doing what you were doing and expect to get different results, you’re crazy!”?

Now as the limited role of the advisors in Iraq is about to begin, the disk jockey will play Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction,” Sgt. Barry Sadler’s “Ballad of the Green Beret,” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “You went back on your word.” We have to go buy some suntan lotion because summer starts tomorrow. Have a “Cowabunga, dude!” type week.


June 14, 2014

Eye-witness Syria: (America’s) barbarians at the gate

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 1:49 pm

Now that I’m back here in America after personally observing Syria’s recent presidential elections, I’ve been totally amazed at some of the fabrications, gross exaggerations and out-right lies that my country’s mainstream media has come up with regarding these vote results.

“Election fraud in Syria!” the newspapers cry over and over again. “Assad forces Syrians to vote for him! The elections were coerced!” plus many many other words to that effect. And even President Obama jumped on the band wagon — after even he himself has committed election fraud of a sort, having run on a ticket of peace and more jobs and then giving us war and no jobs instead. To say nothing of when G.W. Bush stole the Florida and Ohio elections. Twice!

Well. I am here to tell you that what they are saying about the Syrian elections is just so much bull dookie. And how do I know? I was there. In Syria. They weren’t. Eye-witness accounts always trump outsourced fabrications. Hopefully.

And so in the name of setting the record straight, I’ve decided to type up all of my various 50 pages of notes that I took over there in order to show you, step by step, minute by minute, what actually happened over in Syria — to me personally.

This eye-witness account is going to be a long read — but an accurate one. Some good stuff happened. And some bad stuff. And some fun stuff too (fun stuff in a war zone? Huh?) But I dare you to read it. And if you do, I’m sure you will find that it will be just like you came along to Syria with me.

Here is the link:

PS: How much do you know about America’s new “Army of One”? It’s just not your father’s Army any more. Or even your son’s (or your daughter’s). The new U.S. Army appears to have gone totally mercenary — and its new source of recruits goes way far beyond just hiring some Blackwater guys sporting AK-47s or a Bangladeshi kitchen crew.

Under America’s new rules of war, recruiters don’t have offices on Main Street USA any more. Instead they have offices in poverty-stricken countries like Chechnya, Afghanistan, Somalia and South Sudan — any godforsaken hell-hole where there is over 50% employment. “Wanna interesting job with good pay,” American recruiters whisper into future soldiers’ ears. But the good pay these recruiters are offering is this: When these new soldiers come home in a box, their families might possibly be given burial expenses.

And, trust me, these new recruits are a whole different breed from your traditional G.I. Joe. They are angry. They are far from home. They have had a grueling hand-to-mouth childhood. Many of them are wingnut religious fanatics who think that the Bible and the Koran are all about slaughter and vengeance, not compassion and justice. And they truly do not care who they kill.

And did I already mention that these new recruits work for cheap? No need for pensions plans or VA hospitals or none of that other slacker stuff for them. These guys are the ultimate outsourcing/cheap labor Republican wet dream.

Too bad that the neo-Nazi blood-thirsty recruits that Wall Street and War Street have hired in Ukraine are refusing to work as cheaply as the ones that they send to Syria.

However, thanks to this new recruiting policy, no one back home in America whines and bellyaches any more because their sons and daughters have been killed while defending America’s military-industrial complex’s oil either. This is a win-win situation for American war mongers. The Bush dynasty and Mr. Cheney must be ecstatic right now. But Eisenhower must be rolling over in his grave.

In addition, these new fanatical terrorist jihadi wingnut recruits are actually really really good at doing what they have come to love best: Killing and looting. They just took over Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq, no small feat. And they have been driving Syria bananas over the last three years, like so many psychotic bedbugs. Forget the Marines! These new recruits are always Semper Fi — to whoever pays them peanuts to behead civilians and rape women. And Americans like you and me are paying billions to keep these wannabe butchers in the field.

Welcome to the new “Army of One”.

PPS: Perhaps I may be wrong about all those crazy-eyed jihadis and wingnut foreign fighters earning almost nothing in their American paychecks. I just read an article about how ISIS (the main jihadi gang of thugs operating in Syria) has pretty much sacked a lot of Syria’s wealth.

Basically ISIS has just swooped in and looted Syria like so many pirates — and now, with American and Saudi help, it is also looting Iraq too. Let me make one thing clear: These barbarians do not want to start an Islamic civil society in the Middle East. They just want to plunder. “Argh.”

According to Alakbar English, “ISIS currently controls many [oil] fields and is battling for control for more fields still. According to al-Nusra sources, one oil well south of Raqqa brings in up to $1.3 million per day, while other fields in and around Raqqa like Zamla, al-Tabaqa, and Kuniko bring in $500,000 per day, in addition to unknown revenues from the Jazal and Shaer oil fields, and al-Jafra (oil and gas).

“ISIS also profits from thousands of kidnappings and ransoms involving locals and foreigners, including journalists, as well as robbery and looting, including of archaeological sites and factories. For example, ISIS seized control of large factories in Aleppo, including the government-owned railway and cables factory, a batteries factory, and a tractor factory. In some cases, ISIS dismantled and sold their equipment and machinery. Al-Nusra sources put the resulting revenues at $1 million per month.

“In addition, ISIS has taken control of grains and cotton production in the eastern regions. For instance, al-Nusra accuses Amer al-Rafdan, one of the most prominent figures in ISIS, of stealing $5 million worth of cotton in Deir al-Zour alone. Meanwhile, al-Nusra sources say that ISIS has earned more than $25 million from al-Alia grain silos in Al-Hasakah.

“The conflict in Syria has also allowed ISIS to put its hands on a large arsenal of weaponry, consisting of both weapons seized in combat and weapons purchased directly from arms dealers, who are always willing to sell weapons to just about everyone.”

This is just plain scary. This is just like when the barbarians sacked and burned ancient Rome. And now the same Middle Eastern jihadi wingnuts who tried to sack and burn Syria have gone on to sack and burn Mosul and Tikrit too (not to mention Benghazi et al.) And Baghdad is next.

And one election observer I met in Damascus also brought up another good point. “Something about this advance does not add up. How could 1,500 fighters hold a town or a province? How come American satellites did not see this coming? Major advances like that are not easily done.” Not unless America and Saudi Arabia are offering up the technology and footing the bill. Duh.

Wall Street and War Street should be ashamed for supporting these kinds of hoodlums. And what if they come over here to sack and burn us next? “Sorry, I plan to be out of town that weekend,” just isn’t gonna wash. But, oops, too late now. The FBI has already claimed that Saudi and Chechen barbarians have already been active in Boston and New York.

These pirating wingnuts in ISIS are psychotic. The American military-industrial complex may think that their pirate crews in the Middle East are controllable — but, guys, this is not Halloween. You are playing with fire.


June 13, 2014

Hemingway, Cadillacs, and college reunions

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

Tight cu crop best

Back in the days when Marina del Rey was famous for being the center of the “swinging singles” phenomenon, we knocked on a neighbor’s door searching for a temporary cure for a sever bout of ennui. We asked “What up?” and learned it was Sandy’s 21st birthday. Voila! (Do bartenders still ask to see your draft card to prove that you are old enough to buy drinks?) “Put on your hat, grab your purse; let’s go!” We were off to a dive bar in Santa Monica for the auspicious occasion known as the “first legal drink” ceremony.

The years flew by and now, approximately forty years later, she is getting married and knowing that the World’s Laziest Journalist is functioning in Golden Age of Austerity Budget mode she has made a rather unique wedding gift request. Her wedding will put her into the forefront of the esoteric subject of restoring Cadillac cars and so she asked us to write a column about this new phase of her life.

She suggested we spice up the column with a list of all the great movies that have featured a Cadillac car. In addition, she wants the columnist to find a movie theater that used to be a Cadillac new car showroom.

We immediately contacted our e-buddy, British film critic Mike McCahill (Google hint: Mike McCahill’s blog) to get his suggestions, and then we set about making up our own list of the best movies featuring a Cadillac in a supporting role.

“The Solid Gold Cadillac” from 1955 has to start off the list. “Cadillac Man” and “Cadillac Ranch” were quickly added to the list. We Googled “Cadillacs in movies” and got a very long list of contenders.

Since film festivals are becoming ubiquitous, we had a light bulb moment when we started to think about the list and the need to find a movie theater that used to be a car dealer’s showroom for that particular brand of GM product.

Introducing a girl who has been a good friend for a long time to your girlfriend sounds like something that would be the basis for a question in the Playboy Advisor column. (Do they still use that feature?) Eventually all three of us saw the “No Nukes Concert” together, but we’ll save that story for another time in another column. (Can you believe that at the end of this summer, Bruce Springsteen will be old enough to cash his first Social Security check?)

Since our friend is marrying Frank Nicodemus, who is considered to be the leading expert on Cadillac car restorations and since we have been getting some calls picking our brain about how to write press releases, we began to put two and two together (getting 22?). Cadillac restorations, movie featuring Cadillacs, and a movie theater that used to be a Cadillac showroom?

We have a very strong premonition that as soon as we tell her that the AMC Van Ness 14 movie complex in San Francisco was originally built to serve as a Cadillac dealership, we are going to hear the question: “When you were a kid, did you ever dream of becoming an ‘impresario’?”

Didn’t many of Clint Eastwood’s films feature a Cadillac? Wasn’t he born in Frisco? Doesn’t he live in the Big Sur area?

If we write a column extolling the idea of something that would be “the Cadillac of Film Festivals” and if some young and energetic entrepreneur steals the idea, that might save the World’s Laziest Journalist a great deal of work.

Didn’t Sandy recently ask questions about how one would go about finding a film school student with video equipment and an interest in cars who might be susceptible to the idea of a cable TV show about running around the USA looking for barn finds? It would be a Barnfind Searching Safari, so to speak.

Hmmm. Recently there has been some excitement in the automotive world over the fact that the Chrysler once owned by writer Ernst Hemingway has been found in Cuba and is being restored. Wasn’t Hemingway a famous Cadillac owner also?

Would car aficionados like it if a cable TV show about finding barn finds drove a 1959 Cadillac convertible to Key West for Hemingway Days as a way to stir up interest in the whereabouts of Hemingway’s Cadillac?

Since a 1955 Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz convertible that her husband-to-be owns has been used by the Rolling Stones for a publicity event, we suggested that she and Frank Nicodemus get married in that same car as it rolls along on an open highway. Couldn’t the minister drive and recite the wedding ceremony words at the same time? Wouldn’t he and the bride and groom, and the two witnesses all fit into the car? Wouldn’t local news teams go wild to get footage of that event? Heck if TV can provide coverage of a freeway car chase twenty years ago, they sure as heck could cover a freeway wedding, this weekend.

While fact checking around to try to locate where Hemingway’s Cadillac might be hiding, we came across an online challenge for writers to measure the “Hemingway-ness” of their words. The New Yorker magazine is offering wannabes a Hemingway meter reading. (Google hint: “New Yorker Magazine Hemingway Test”)

Didn’t Native American leader Geronimo drive a Cadillac? What happened to that vehicle? How difficult would it be to buy up cars once owned by Elvis, Hemingway, Geronimo, and Al Capone and build a “Cadillac Hall of Fame” tourist attraction?

Is this 28 year old columnist getting too old to put together a pilot episode for a cable TV reality show titled: “On the Road, in a Cadillac, looking for barnfinds”? If so, does that mean that we are too old to do some gonzo punditry about attending our college class’ fiftieth reunion?

George Clayton Johnson, who wrote episodes for the first season of the Twilight Zone TV series (and currently is looking to expand his list of Facebook friends), could probably get a modern episode if he chronicled the trials and exacerbations of a fellow who shows up at his college class’s fiftieth reunion and he doesn’t look like he is a day over 28. What if he is accompanied by a 28 year old female companion? Didn’t Bram Stoker leave a chapter on that challenge out of his best book? Or did that happen to Dorian Gray?

Could a scribe with a great imagination write an entire column speculating about what was in “The Mexican Suitcase”?

We had been planning on banging out a quick column for this week predicting that something reminiscent of The Fall of Saigon would soon happen but we can pencile that in for next week’s column.

The Le Mans race, the start of the World Cup competition, Father’s Day, and assessing blame for the fall of Baghdad will be dominant topics on American TV this weekend so a column about a friend’s wedding will offer us a chance to stress the “Fresh Start” symbolism of a June wedding and a chance to wish our friend well in her new life.

Who knows? If we do a really great job on this column, maybe we will get a job offer and a chance to become the Castle Cadillac publicity agent.

Car buffs like the humor that says “Rolls Royce is the Cadillac of automobiles.”

Information found online indicates that there are thousands of songs with the word Cadillac in the title and ten times as many with that word in the lyrics and so the disk jockey will play Huey Lewis’ “Still the Same,” Elton John’s album “Yellow Brick Road,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” We have to go share the link to this column with all of our posse on Facebook (and ask them to please do the same). Have a “Fall of Saigon 2.0” type week.



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June 9, 2014

My Syria report # 2: How to outsource a war

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 7:26 pm

While staying here in Damascus, I have heard the same thing said again and again from a whole array of sources, including foreign journalists, Syrian citizens and even Christian nuns. “This war on Syria is being fought by Al Qaeda operatives, fanatic Islamist jihadis, foreign fighters, terrorists and mercenaries for hire. And they are being financed by American money and given American weapons.” Yikes!

What this means to me personally is that my very own head (which I have actually become quite attached to) could possibly be blown off at any minute by fanatics and/or weapons bought and paid for by my very own tax dollars. Now that is a really confusing thought.

“War by proxy” is becoming a more and more frequently-used phrase here in Syria. The American military-industrial complex is now out-sourcing their war.

But, hey, that’s better than having American soldiers over here fighting and dying for Wall Street and War Street like they did in Iraq. Our soldiers’ jobs are being shipped overseas? That’s one example of outsourcing that is just fine by me.

Except, in the words of one local college professor I interviewed the other day, “We Syrians are fighting dirty enemies. This is a dirty war. The jihadists attack hospitals, power plants and schools. But the Syrian people are fighting back.” The professor also mentioned the discovery of vast new oil fields off the Syrian coast. And he found it ironic that the very first place that the jihadis, inquisionists, Taliban wannabes and Al Qaeda death squads attacked was in this oil-rich region. The original peaceful protests by Syrians themselves — before the Taliban wannabes arrived in force from overseas and turned Syria into a slaughterhouse — took place in Daraa, not in the oil fields. Hmmm.

“I also find it ironic that Americans are citing democracy as their primary reason for attacking Syria — while their biggest ally in this region is Saudi Arabia, a known dictatorship.” Not to mention the doubts that everyone has about American elections. Take Diebold for instance. And Florida and Ohio and that weird Supreme Court ruling that forced GWB down our throats. And voter ID cards and 92-year-old women turned away from the polls. But, hey, America is famous for exporting hypocrisy. Get over it, prof.

In Sweida, I talked with a young woman who spoke English and she said, “Living in Syria is like living in one of those Hollywood horror movies.” Slasher flicks. “These terrorists come here and they bomb our hospitals and schools, kill and rape women and children and even eat our flesh like cannibals. We Syrians just want this horror movie to stop.” And she was proud of Bashar Assad for standing up to these wannabe Freddy Kruegers. And most of the Syrians I have talked with feel the same way. “And you would too — if it happened to you.”

And it did happen to me too — sort of. I can hear the shelling outside Damascus going on night and day. Nerve-racking. I almost felt like a heroic citizen of London during the Blitz.

Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, has been playing the Great Game of political chess in this region like he is a grand master — and perhaps that’s why the American military-industrial complex hates him so much. But Syrians love him. They just do. It’s a Syrian thing. Remember what Maya Angelou said in “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings”? How she was being raped as a child and prayed for the Green Lantern to save her? Well President Assad, like it or not, is Syria’s Green Lantern.

Assad might have been a bit to enthusiastic in the past about suppressing dissidence. But please be aware that the inquisionist crazies and Al Qaeda freaks that have tried to invade Syria are so very much worse. Syrians weren’t totally behind Assad before the invasion — but they certainly are now, thanks to America’s military-industrial complex. Eisenhower warned us about the complex. He shoulda warned the Syrians too.

The only thing that I can truly fault Assad on presently are all those all-pervasive giant posters of him that you see everywhere — on buildings, in shops, on cars and buses, on T-shirts and even in elevators. Everywhere. He should stop doing that. He’s not just some Ken doll or even the next Brad Pitt. He’s a political genius who is trying save Syria from the bad guys. He should have understood by now that he has found a place in the hearts of the Syrians and just leave it at that.

PS: Observing the elections was fun. It was like attending a country-wide block party. Or, as Mother Agnes-Mariam said to me in an interview at the Dama Rose Hotel, “It would be impossible to coerce that many Syrians to vote out of fear. People actually went out from rebel-held territory to vote. Even the rebels voted.” So. Who are you going to believe about the authenticity of the Syrian elections? Mother Agnes-Mariam who said that they were valid — or Wall Street and War Street, who claim they were a fraud?

Are you going to believe the same people who lied to us about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction – or a mother-superior Christian nun?

PPS: In Homs, those nasty American-sponsored jihadists blew up a historic old Christian church — only to find an even older church lay buried under the newer church’s foundations. Built in 59 AD, this older church might actually been visited by the Apostles and Saint Paul himself. And these Taliban wannabes were happily trying to blow this older church up too. But apparently they got distracted by trying to break up the bones of some nearby Christian saints’ relics — and the old church was saved!

PPPS: I never did get to meet President Assad. “Apparently he has to keep his eye out for being assassinated by drones,” one journalist explained to me as to why Assad hadn’t come to the Dama Rose hotel. But still…I could have worn my cool “Berkeley High Water Polo Team” T-shirt that I had swiped from my daughter Ashley. I’m sure Assad would have been quite impressed.


June 6, 2014

Reading about the Italian-American experience

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:37 pm

crop of MP  Best

“Waiting for Yesterday (Pages from a Street Kid’s Life),” by Michael Parenti, tells his perspective of growing up as an Italian American in New York City in the post WWII era and it came to our attention right after we purchased a copy of “Were You Always an Italian (Ancestors and Other Icons of Italian America)?” by Maria Laurino at the San Francisco Public Library’s summer used book sale that is held on the front steps of the main branch every Wednesday during the summer months (May to last week in September).

Meanwhile we were finishing up reading “Why Sinatra Matters,” by Pete Hamill, which uses the Italian-American experience as the background for the biographical details of Frank Sinatra’s life.

Why would a fellow, whose genealogy was termed “North Sea mongrel,” be interested in accumulating books that extol the heritage of the Italian-American community? Good question!

The World’s Laziest Journalist grew up in a neighborhood that had a large Italian-American presence and our experience with quality Italian cooking was gathered first hand at the homes of various schoolmates. We have always maintained that our close association with several different Italian American families gave us the right to include the phrase “honorary Italian” on our resume.

We lived for some years in a duplex where the landlord was of Italian-American heritage and he operated a small convenience store adjacent to our home. Back in the days of “Blue Laws,” chain owned markets could not open for business on Sundays and only a “mom and pop” store could, if the mom or pop was the clerk, be opened on Sundays. The one operated by Vince Zummo was a legend in the Scranton Pa. area. (It has morphed into Zummo’s Café and has a Facebook page.) On quiet summer evenings, we occasionally sat with “Uncle Vince” on the store’s front steps. He would tell us various and sundry stories about “the old country” and growing up in the USA.

He hipped us to the fact that in Northern Italy close to the border with Switzerland there were some very beautiful Italian blue-eyed blond women with very fair skin. We had a stereotyped vision of only Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren dark-haired beauties in our mind.

Uncle Vince’s facts and stories were part of the process whereby we learned that there was a big, intriguing world that lay beyond the boundary line of the Scranton-Dunmore area and that it might be rewarding to find a way to select a vocation in life that would deliver a chance to travel to faraway places, meet interesting celebrities and get paid to write and take photos as a way of subsidizing further adventures.

“Waiting for Yesterday,” isn’t Parenti’s first excursion into the world of book publishing; he has written approximately 20 books on a wide variety of topics. His biographical details are available on his website (Googlel hint: michaelparenti dot org) as well as a comprehensive list of his books.

We have been burnishing our evidence proving the validity of our claim to be an “honorary Italian American,” as part of our strategy to continue our feud with former co-worker, amateur chef, journalist, award winning columnist, and now managing editor of the Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Washington, Lou Brancaccio. That newspaper sells coffee cups that offer people a bit of advice: “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff.”

Many moons ago, when we had much less experience at being a wild and exuberant 28 years old columnist (we have accumulated decades of “go into extra innings” additional days to our effort to achieve maturity) we acquired a book by one of Popular Photography magazine’s editors about growing creativity and one of the exorcises suggested was to take an ordinary object (such as a coffee cup) and force yourself to come up with 50 different images. We envisioned that our last image would be one of those high-speed photos that would show the cup shattering.

We thought that we could finally get around to taking on that project (gratis) if Lou would send us a free example of his beloved product.

How cool would it be to show one of those cups sitting on the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco in the background as if the anthropomorphic cup were contemplating doing something stupid such as jumping off the bridge?   We could do a series of photos showing the cup in “the Perils of Pauline” type dangerous situations such as walking on a railroad track.

Since Lou Brancaccio has already made a United States Senator pay for her cup, he made it concomitant upon us to pay for our cup.

We, being in the midst of an era of austerity budgets and being an “honorary Italian-American” with a fierce Irish temper, balked. We’d rather spend a hundred dollars to get a free one than spend a dime to start a voluntary publicity campaign.

As we chatted with Parenti recently in Berkeley, we wondered it we got a free autographed review copy of his newest book, “Waiting for Yesterday (Pages from a Street Kid’s Life);” could we then use it and the other two books as bargaining chips in our quest for the free “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” cup?

Unforturnately, Michael Parenti has run out of complementary copies of “Waiting for Yesterday (Pages from a Street Kid’s Life)” and that gambit has been foiled.

Parenti asked us how could a political pundit plug “Waiting for Yesterday (Pages from a Street Kid’s Life)” and we explained that the final results of the Presidential Election contest between Hillary and JEB are more than a hundred weeks away and that we can’t possibly use just that one topic every week from now until Election Day in 2016.

Republicans and any Democrats who would support an effort to impeach Obama because of the prisoner exchange fiasco should think long and hard about the long term effect such that historic move would cause. The 2016 Presidential Election would not be the epic battle of a chance for a woman to make American history vs. a restoration drama for the Bush Dynasty; it would become a rather mundane effort for the new President (Joseph Biden) to seek re-election. Would the use of the word “re-election” be valid?

If the Republicans decide to impeach the President, perhaps we can convince the Columbian to go big and give out a free cup each week to the politician who makes either the dumbest statement or does the stupidest thing. Perhaps the awarding weekly of a “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” cup could become the modern equivalent of the old “Fickle Finger of Fate” award that was a regular feature on the TV show “Laugh-In”?

Full disclosure note: While in grade school, one teacher proclaimed that anyone in the room could grow up to become President of the United States and if that happened during our first grade or second grade year, and if our classmate Joe Biden wasn’t home sick that patriotic bit of enthusiasm for the potential for people living in the land of opportunity, could very well turn into a noteworthy bit of political forecasting.

On page 109 of “History as Mystery,” Michael Parenti wrote: “Much of political life involves the rational manipulation of irrational sentiments by ruling elites.”

The disk jockey wanted to play the biggest hit done by a long (real long) list of Italian American singers, but we succeeded in using the Republican verbal cudgel for obstreperous employees (“Do you like getting your weekly paycheck?”) and he settled for playing all16 tracks on the Capital Records “Best of Dean Martin” CD. We have to go find some quality spumoni (probably over in Frisco). Have a “Volare” type week.

June 4, 2014

My report from Syria: And another country bites the dust…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 5:52 am

I’m here in Syria right now, and one of the big questions that journalists are asking both here and in America seems to be, “Is President Bashar Assad a good guy or a bad guy?”
Hard to tell.
Some people love him and some people hate him. As for me? I have mixed feelings about Assad.
I’m over in Damascus this week to serve as an observer for Syria’s presidential election. And I have discovered a few things so far:
First, under Assad’s government, anyone can get free medical care, free cancer medicine and a free eduction up through college — and with no usurious student loans attached either. To paraphrase the famous Pussycat Dolls, “Dontcha wish America’s government was hot like that!”
Second, after American and NATO militarists spent billions of dollars on sponsoring Al Qaeda and various other Islamic inquisitionalist/terrorist groups and those responsible for 9-11, and then encouraging these creepy guys to terrorize, brutalize and butcher Syrian civilians, bomb 300 Syrian schools and seize Syrian oil fields, then guess what the logical result might be? “Now Syrians really really really do not like the American powers that be.” Got it in one.
And so yet another country that used to be friendly to the USA now bites the dust. Yet another country now joins a really really really long list of other countries all over the world who already hate hate hate the American military-industrial complex. Wall Street and War Street.
Assad used to go along to get along with Wall Street and War Street. But those days are now long gone.
Now Assad and the Syrian people are fighting for their lives against a well-armed and well-trained group of brutal and fanatical butchers who are (literally in some cases) cannibalizing Syria.
If you were a Syrian citizen, who would you vote for in this election? What would you do if it was your home, your family and your city being attacked? I think that the answer is obvious.
So. Here I am in Damascus, being an official election observer — as compared to those other unofficial foreign-fighter/terrorist/fanatic election observers from 87 countries who are here as guests of the U.S., Britain, Turkey, France and Saudi Arabia. And these brutal unofficial election observers’ instructions are simple. “Off with their heads!”
But hopefully mine will still remain attached.
PS: I am so honored to be here now in this joyful time of the Syrian elections — but I don’t really have the time or technology to write about all the amazing things that I have seen and heard here. But after I have digested all the intake I’ve absorbed recently in this amazing country, I do plan to write about it in more depth — and after I can get access to a larger keyboard of course.

June 1, 2014

On the road to Damascus: Leonardo, Kate & me

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 2:34 am

I wish that I had enough money to afford being a full-time war correspondent. There’s something about jumping on a plane, flying to the other side of the world to a war zone and writing back home about Truth and Justice that makes one feel truly alive.

Last Wednesday someone called me up and said, “How would you like to fly to Syria, to be an election observer there? Oh, and can you leave by Friday?” Heck yeah!

24 hours in the air later, I found myself in Beirut, Lebanon, waiting to be transported over the Syrian border into Damascus.

I also found myself to have become an overnight film critic. During all those hours-long flights, I had watched — or at least tried to watch — approximately eleven movies. Want my movie reviews? Here they are. Writing about the dogs of war that have been unleashed on Syria will just have to wait.

(But here’s a quick summary if your really need it right now: The mean guys who own all those American dogs of war based in Washington have apparently been unleashing a whole bunch of insanely wild-eyed foreign-fighter jihadists and Al Qaeda sleeper-cell mongrels on the unwitting people of Syria — and America’s War Street has been cheering on and paying for all these blood-thirsty curs to go for the jugular too.)

But I digress. Let’s get back to movie reviews.

“Monuments Men” was the first flick up at bat. Loved it. What’s not to like about George Clooney? Plus the film was particularly poignant because I was sitting next to a 91-year-old man who was flying over to Normandy to celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. “Out of a whole division, there are only nine of us left,” he said.

Wish I could have been a war correspondent back then too. Ernie Pyle. Martha Gellhorn. And me.

Next up was “Blue Jasmine”. Great acting by Kate Blanchette, sure, but I just couldn’t get into the plot. It just didn’t pass the “Airplane Test” for keeping my attention.

“Mandela” was okay — but having spent time in Jo-burg myself, it didn’t seem too authentic. More like a Hollywood version of life in the Apartheid slums. At least the first 20 minutes didn’t. It was another Airplane Test fail.

“Wolf of Wall Street,” with Leonardo DiCaprio, turned out to be almost three hours of non-stop porno. I was offended. Did I really want my children watching that? But I guess that was the point of the movie — that what goes on in Wall Street these days really is pornographic.

“American Hustle”. 20 minutes into it, I voted with my remote. Yawn. Same with “August, Osage County”.

By the time I flew into Frankfurt, I was almost relieved that the plane on the final four-hour leg of my journey to Beirut didn’t have any films playing and I could lose myself in a good book.

Ah if only voters all over the world could also vote with their remotes. Don’t like a politician? Change the channel.

PS: I leave for Syria today. On the road to Damascus! And by some freaky coincidence, the guy I’ll be traveling with is also named Paul. “But I hear that we may actually be going to Homs,” he said.


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