May 29, 2015

Climate change & car commercials: Our planetary ship of fools

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 7:10 pm

So I’m down here in Van Nuys right now — at an Islamic trance-dancing convention of all things. So this morning I go into a Sufi-like trance and what is the first thing that crosses my mind? How much I hate all those hundreds and hundreds of new-car commercials we always see on TV. What a waste of a good trance dance!

And what a waste of good TV air-time too.

Here we all are, living on a planet that is about to extinguish all human life here by choking us to death with all the rings and layers of air pollution that currently circle the earth — and the only thing mankind can come up to hopefully solve or stop this desperate and scary crisis is to bombard Americans with hundreds and hundreds of commercials to go out and buy yet even more new cars? Cars that are causing this desperate and scary crisis in the first place?

That is not thinking outside the box. That is a death wish.

And now I’m about to go off to have dinner at a famous Jewish delicatessen in Encino, about six miles away. And I’m gonna walk there!

PS: Are you aware that some sleazy Israeli neo-colonialists have just sold some sleazy Saudi Arabian neo-colonialists a bunch of bunker-buster bombs — which the House of Saud immediately went out and dropped on helpless civilians in Yemen? Apparently Yemen has become the House of Saud’s equivalent of Gaza.

And are you also aware that the Saudis, in order to stop relief ships loaded with medicine, food and toys from landing in Yemen, have totally bombed and destroyed the port where the ships were supposed to land? This war crime would be the equivalent of that if the House of Saud didn’t want relief ships to dock in California (perhaps after watching the movie “San Andreas”), they then blew up the entire Port of Oakland.

Talk about your air pollution!

I guess that I should just be grateful that there aren’t any ads for bunker-buster bombs or bomb-dropping airplanes on prime-time TV.

So far.


FIFA soccer: 1972 Munich Olympic tragedy redux?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 7:06 pm

How many young Israeli athletes were mercilessly gunned down and slaughtered by Palestinians at the 1972 Munich Olympics? Shot down in their prime simply because they were Israeli athletes? Eleven were killed.

The entire world reacted in grief to this terrible tragedy and to the senseless slaughter of these heroic youth — pouring out its sympathy and grief for these eleven innocent victims of a violence they had never created.

And now this same tragedy of young athletes being mercilessly gunned down and slaughtered in their prime is also being played out on the world stage all over again.

Except that this time nobody in the world seems to notice — or care.

Eleven athletes were gunned down in cold blood in Munich in 1972.

And, according to Independent Jewish Voices of Canada, four Palestinian soccer players have also been mercilessly slaughtered by Israeli neo-colonialist occupation gunmen, two Palestinian soccer players have been deliberately knee-capped by Israeli neo-colonial terrorists’ bullets, numerous Palestinian soccer players have been deliberately jailed or detained simply because they were Palestinian soccer players, and every time a Palestinian or Arab-Israeli soccer player takes the field in Jerusalem today, Beitar’s fans chant “Death to Arabs”.

Apparently the lives of Palestinian and Arab-Israeli athletes don’t even matter.

Right now, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is being asked to sanction Israel for its blatant apartheid attitude toward Palestinian soccer players — to say nothing of their blatant displays of terrorism toward these innocent young athletes who do not deserve to be dead simply because of their country of origin and their love of the game.

Let us hope that FIFA makes the right call and “red cards” this slaughter.

No athlete, anywhere, ever, should have to put their lives in danger because of their love of sports.

IJV joins with Israelis and Palestinians demanding FIFA show Israel the red card

This Friday, the World Congress of FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, will be making a crucial decision – whether to suspend Israel’s football association from the sports body. The complaint was brought by the Palestinian Football Federation after years of harassment, intimidation, racist incitement, and even physical attacks by Israelis on Palestinian players.

Independent Jewish Voices – Canada (IJV) joins Israeli peace groups and Palestinians in urging FIFA to “show Israel the red card” (like referees do in soccer, suspending a player when their conduct is unacceptable.) Jeff Halper, a Jewish Israeli peace activist (who spoke across Canada last winter) met with FIFA head Sepp Blatter in Ramallah and told him of the many slights and injuries that Palestinian players have suffered over the years:

The Israeli government has regularly detained members of the Palestinian team from traveling to international bouts. Last week, not hours after Israeli leaders promised Blatter to facilitate travel, they detained a leading player, Sameh Maraabah.
The Israeli Football Association has refused to take even the smallest steps to curb racism in Israeli football. The most egregious behaviour is by the team Beitar Jerusalem, which has an open policy of not hiring Arab or Muslim players, even from abroad. Its fans are sadistic and insulting to Palestinian players on other teams and regularly chant “Death to Arabs” after Beitar goals.
The Israeli government regularly prevents players from Gaza from joining team-mates on the West Bank, and has deliberately jailed others, holding one player incommunicado and without charges or trial for three years.
Two teenaged Palestinian players were shot in the legs and feet by the Israeli Defence Forces, a particularly targeted punishment for soccer players. Needless to say, they will never play serious soccer again.
Three team members were killed in the 2012 Operation Cast Lead and the team’s soccer stadium in Rafah, Gaza and the federation’s headquarters were bombed during that incursion.
A teenaged Palestinian soccer star, Mohammed al-Qatari received an IDF bullet straight to the chest while protesting Israel’s last war in Gaza.

Bring on: “The Senator Al Franken and Bill O’Reilly show!”?

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

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The summer of 2015 is notable for the game of musical chairs being played by the late night talks show hosts and since the lowest common denominator standards of excellence have precipitated an avalanche of pabulum flavored entertainment, perhaps it is time to beg Huge Hefner to bankroll a return to intelligent, thought-provoking, and civilized debate to counteract the tsunami of crap that is comprised of an infinite number of cloned talk shows that deliver results that remind some critics of an unattended kindergarten class on speed.

The first objection would be that appealing to a limited number of intellectuals might not attract the proper audience numbers to sanction the effort. Bullshit! If America is ready to endorse the idea that quality no longer trumps quantity, then why not let the screaming matches interrupted by crepitating and belching get some high-brow competition just for the S&G (Snide and Galling?) factor?

If cable TV networks can subsidize fictional TV series, why can’t they get their own talk shows? If “Mad Men” can exist without a home on the big networks, why can’t a talk show do the same? Wouldn’t most cable channels be willing to discuss the possibilities with Mr. Hefner?

Episodes of Edward R. Murrow’s “Person to Person,” such as the interview with Marlon Brando which started with a racist joke, are still drawing fresh viewers on youtube. Intrinsic quality can refute the short shelf life or grown stale argument.

Where the hell, in the talk show jungle, does a person go to see and evaluate new talent attempting to make a dent in the pop culture? [An internet acquaintance from Australia introduced us to the term/concept “Cultural Imperialism.”]

The trend to use talk show appearances to promote items such as a new album, book, or film has reduced the content to the level of a huckster’s sales pitch. The content of these sales pitches can accurately be called “promobabble.”

According to some experts the Tonight Show in the Jack Paar era fostered quality story telling. The need to go to a commercial break causes the (new word alert?) bumperstickerization of all topics. (For an example of a non-traditional talk show guest readers are encouraged to watch the film “American Splendor.”)

If, for example, some of Hugh Hefner’s picks for future stardom are given the chance to exhibit their inherent charm, then perhaps fame and fortune will arrive at their doorstep earlier than expected.

If some of Hugh Hefner’s long time friends are on a new season of “Playboy after Dark,” it would be interesting to see and hear them get the chance to tell some stories and anecdotes that last longer than can be successfully told in a three minute segment.

So what, if a review of “King Matt the First,” by Janusz Korczak (translated from the Polish by Richard Lourie) sounds a bit too arcane and esoteric? What parent doesn’t want to learn of he existence of a marvelous children’s book from 1920 that still appeals to adults? Even better if it raises unique topics such as “must children submit to kisses from adults approved by the parents (such as aunts and uncles) or should kids have the right to pick and choose who kisses them?”

Thanks to the internet, some laggards had the opportunity to watch the final episode of “Mad Men” during the week following its broadcast. This should refute any allegations that a talk show has to be seen live to work.

Yes the concept of having an episode where someone asks George Lucas if the C. L. Moore stories about Northwest Smith had any influence on him and his Star Wars films is a very esoteric topic, but, like seeing Brando tell a racist joke, it might have some appeal to film school student fifty years (or more?) in the future.

Don’t many folks who are not in the industry love to hear show biz rumors and gossip? Is it true that the next installment of the “Saw” movie series will be a musical comedy?

The modern day installments of pundits making a critical appraisal of the week’s events in Washington D. C. is supposed to be a chance to (metaphorically speaking) listen in on a WWII bull session featuring Morrow’s Boys, but the reality is that it is actually a melee of authors with competing egos who want to deliver either a scathing example of wit in action or a brilliant “Eureka!” sound byte that lays bare the crux of the debate.

Are the talking heads in the USA going to ask: “What gives America the right to arrest the officials in charge of Soccer and the World Cup competition?” Does Lichtenstein have a right to arrest George W. Bush for war crimes?

Will the talk shows discuss the idea that the Broward Savings & Loan scandal should be just as important as the finances of the Clinton Foundation will be during the Presidential Election?

Is it mere coincidence that in an era when it is being asserted that a conscious effort to “dumb down” the USA is being conducted, wit is disappearing? A clever and caustic comment has to be understood to produce a laugh as a response.

If news for voters in the USA is being carefully monitored, that might explain why the Sunday morning gabfests don’t draw attention to the fact the internet is buzzing with two related rumors. One is that a neutron bomb was dropped on Iran recently or that one was sold or given to Saudi Arabia to use in Yemen.

If Americans were being given quality talk show debates, the question “Will Baghdad fall?” would present advocates of both a “yes” and “no” answer. Have you heard anyone giving the hypothetical point of view that it will fall?

Did the USA ever figure out who mailed the anthrax shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center?

Do talk shows ask about the lingering questions about who profited from selling airline stocks short at the time the World Trade attack occurred?

Speaking of the broadcasting concept of a “hard break,” the World’s Laziest Journalist tries to maintain a self-imposed three e-takes limit for the column and that means that we can only scratch the surface of this topic and then recommend that readers who want more should make the effort to obtain and (at least) skim through a copy of the book “Entertaining Ourselves to Death,” by Neil Postman.

The World’s Laziest Journalist does see the pragmatic benefit of the trend towards using social media to get publicity which translates into bigger audience numbers. For example, if we casually mention that San Francisco Bay Area political activist Mike Zint iis expanding his reach by managing the Listen up Mayors page on Facebook and if he (coincidence alert?) shares the links to our column, then the number of hits will quadruple. What’s not to like about that?

Do the viewers of Bill O know what obstreperous and impudent mean let alone require those qualities from an interesting and entertaining talk show?

[Note from the Photo editor: Since talk shows seem to have skipped interviews with Occupy Activists, we thought an old file photo of one of those anonymous political advocates who were MIA from the (biased?) late night talk shows might be an appropriate illustration for this week’s column. How can a talk show claim to have a balanced approach if all members of the one debating team are snubbed?]

Closing quote? Did Andy Warhol say “In the future, everyone will be a world famous talk show host for 15 minutes?” Or did he say: “In the future everyone will be the host for a world famous 15 minute talk show?”?

Now the disk jockey will play “Talk to me,” by Sunny & the Sunliners,Doris Day’s “Pillow Talk,” and the song “talk talk” by a group called “Talk Talk.” We have to go watch (thanks to DVD’s) some TV episodes from 1968. Have a “Dahhh Da Dohnt Dahhh – ‘This is the city . . .’” type week.


May 22, 2015

Philip K Dick, Jack Kerouac, and Pauline Kael

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

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Scribes for the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory are going all out with no restrictions on overtime over the confluence of the biker fracas in Waco, the potential for retaliation against the local gendarmes, and the fuss over the potential for Jude Helms to provide an opportunity to install martial law in the USA, they have been feverishly pumping out polysyllabic diatribes alerting the unsuspecting populace to the conclusion this ain’t just another conspiracy theory but is a genuine heads-up for a real approaching catastrophe for the inhabitants of the land of the free. As far as consternation is concerned when the Supreme Court of the United States announces its decision concerning gay marriage, the supporters for the losing contingent to overact and start the long hot summer early.

Writing and Berkeley go together like printing and “roll change!” so it is with great anticipation that we prepare for next weekend’s “Bay Area Book Festival” (to be held in Berkeley [Goodgle hint: BayBookFest dot org]) in partnership with the San Francisco Chronicle” to be held on June 6 and 7, and since, in the past, we have greatly enjoyed the Los Angeles Times’ Book Fair when it was held on the campus of UCLA, we expect to get some good photos and to gather material for a great column from the similar Nor Cal event.

The pioneering underground newspaper the Berkeley Barb started publication in August of 1965, and so we will try to cover any anniversary events commemorating that milestone in the pop culture milieu. For more on the subject of underground newspapers read “Smoking Typewriters” by John McMillian.

A comprehensive history of Berkeley’s literary heritage would take a massive amount of fact-checking to compile. Suffice it to say that some of the most prominent entries would be those for Philip K. Dick, Jack Kerouac, and Pauline Kael.

Due to some clever machinations Philip K. Dick used to feed his family, the Lucky Dog Pet store (formerly on San Pablo) provided the inspiration for starving artist type awards.

According to a story we saw in the Berkeley Daily Planet, some time ago, Jack Kerouac was living in Berkeley when he had his first bookstore encounter seeing “On the Road” for sale.

We have not yet fact-checked the assertion that the Berkeley home for film critic Pauline Kael may be declared a historic site.

Promoting book sales is getting increasingly difficult in the digital era, and that has led to a rather interesting development that illustrates the premise that having a sense of humor is becoming an extinct trait in the realm of pop culture in the USA. The world’s laziest journalist has approached several book stores (and one museum) with the idea that our effort would be aimed at promoting the autobiography we intend to write some day.

The response was near apoplectic because the book store managers want a speaker with a product to promote. Apparently the fact that we could promote various books which have influenced our attempt to travel the world, meet interesting personalities, and cross various experiences off out Bucket List, didn’t occur to them.

Craig, at Vagabond Books of Los Angeles, was asked to authenticate a signed hard cover edition of “On the Road,” and after he learned that on the night Jack Kerouac was on the Tonight Show to promote his new book, and since one of the other guests was Marilyn Monroe, reputed to be an avid reader, Craig authenticated the autographed book with an exotic history.

The World’s Laziest Journalist was very influenced by that book and was trying to emulate Kerouac when we walked out to the western edge of Chambersburg Pa. and stuck out a thumb and said: “San Francisco, here I come!”

To adequately promote our hypothetical autobiography, we would have to give credit to a vast array of books, but alas and alack, this elaborate ego-boost is not meant to be.

Our unsuccessful attempts to land a speaking gig has provided anecdotal evidence that the beatnik trait of pulling off elaborate pranks is now extinct.

In a similar vein (as the vampires say), when we heard the Getty and Armstrong radio show expressing their bafflement over the fact that John Hinckley may become the first person to be paroled after attempting to assassinate one of America’s Presidents.

We wanted to fwd the information that we have heard reports that Hinckley’s father was employed by Haliburton and was a close associate of Dick Cheney and that might explain the lenient treatment for the man who murdered Jim Brady. Our efforts to contact the radio show hosts was inconclusive and so (unless they stumble across this column) they will remain blissfully unaware of the need to fact check that possible explanation of the “kid glove treatment” that most Presidential assassins are denied.

“The Establishment” has various methods of filtering out information which might foster resentment or animosity towards the one percent, and so the World’s Laziest Journalist is forced to rely on intuition, hunches, and a massive amount of “show prep” to find material to use in our columns.

Occasionally we luck out and can relate personal experiences as a way of explaining our line of reasoning that has led to our hunches and expectations. For example, it may sound preposterous for an online political pundit in Berkeley to apply for press credentials to cover the next installment of the Oscar Awards Ceremony, but how many of the press corps who will have access to that event will be able to compare and contrast it to what happened backstage when “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” collected numerous gold statuettes? We hope that the unique qualification of being able assess how much the event has changed in the last forty years will be a trump card and get us the opportunity to take another look at the famous news event.

If we had not yet celebrated our 28th birthday, we would be lean and hungry as afar as achieving career boost scoops is concerned, but since we have no such long-term goals on our “to-do list,” we have no compelling need to even try to contact our grade school classmate, Joe Biden (first and second grade at St. Paul’s in Scranton) and ask him a “gottcha” question.

Recently the Isis forces held a victory parade and the precision of the drone strikes has been repeatedly reported in American media, but (to the best of our effort to ascertain it) no TV talking head has mused about why no drone strikes were used to decimate the victory parade.

If (subjunctive mood alert!) our claim that the World’s Laziest Journalist election desk’s decision to make the call that JEB has won the 2016 Presidential Election is prescient, we might be perceived as being clairvoyant, but no mainstream media writer has the leeway to make such a claim.

If JEB wins; and if the mainstream media will be required to report that it was (in retrospect) a referendum on Dubya’s war policies (just as Dubya said after it was completed, that the 2004 election also was), then Americans will be presented that conclusion on a “take it or leave it” basis. There would be no alternative assessment of the win available.

If that is a unique insight, we are entitled to say “Taaah-dah!” If not, we can just shrug it off. We don’t get much chance to see TV commentators, so we can shrug it off and say: “S’en loi, G. I.!”

When Berkeley resident/author Michael Parenti was told about the topic for this column, he responded that by saying that it would be a propitious opportunity for us to plug his newest book, “Profit Pathology and other indecencies.” We concurred.

[Note from the Photo Editor: we used art done by the Berkeley artist known as Broke as an illustration for this week’s column.]

The most famous quote to come out of Berkeley was: “Never trust anyone over thirty.”

Disk jockey will play Vera Lynn’s “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” and Alice Cooper’s School’s out!” We have to go and fact check the assertion that Jack London was (briefly) a student at UCB.   Have a sesquipedalian type week.

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May 19, 2015

American Regime: 10 reasons why America is now a “Regime”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 10:44 am

We are constantly seeing and hearing our American media use the word “Regime” these days. So exactly what is a “Regime”? Apparently it is whatever you want it to be.

Whenever Wall Street and/or War Street want to vilify a country that disagrees with their policies of occupation and exploitation, they always begin their vilification program by calling that country’s form of government a “Regime”.

Here are some examples: Syria is a “Regime” — even though it has a constitution, holds elections and almost all Syrians support its president, Bashar Assad. Gaddafi in Libya also operated a “Regime” — even though his government offered the kind of free education and healthcare benefits to its citizens that most Americans can only dream about. Cuba was (and still is) considered a “Regime” in the eyes of Wall Street and War Street. Putin also runs a “Regime” — even though most Russians today support him totally.

In reverse, Saudi Arabia is not a “Regime” — even though the House of Saud uses torture, suppresses decent, beheads people, treats women badly, brutally invades other countries and supports Al Qaeda and ISIS.

The House of Saud has spent over a trillion $$$$ of its enormous petro-dollar wealth over the last half-century on killing people and being despotic. Just imagine what the Middle East would look like right now if the Saudis had chosen butter instead of guns. What a waste. And yet Saudi Arabia is still not considered to be a “Regime” by American media.

Israel never gets called a “Regime” either — even though it supplied Iran with weapons back when Khomeini was holding Americans hostage and it kills Palestinian children with impunity, foments wars whenever possible, runs secret torture prisons, is a neo-colonialist in the worst sort of way, appears to even be anti-Jewish, uses 9-11 to its advantage and has notoriously corrupt leaders.

And now America seems to have become a “Regime” as well — even though nobody ever dares to call it by that name. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….

Here are at least ten reasons that cause me to suspect that Wall Street and War Street are running a “Regime” here in America too:

Reason No. 1: Torture. Black sites. Rendition. Indefinite detention of Americans. Stuff like that. Our tax dollars at work.

Reason No. 2: No one is ever allowed to examine (let alone question) election results or voting machines here in the USA. Remember GWB, for instance? Never legally won an election in his life! Or take those new voter restrictions that have suddenly become so popular in the Ol’ South. You would expect something like that in the old Soviet Union or in the bad old days of Jim Crow — but not here, not now. And yet here it is.

Reason No. 3: Spying on its citizens. NSA. The Patriot Act. Snowden and Manning are being persecuted for spying — while FaceBook, Google and NSA get a free pass.

Reason No. 4: Ferguson. Baltimore. Zuccotti Park. Oakland. Military tactics used to violently suppress the American underclass if they dare to complain that their jobs are all disappearing, their children’s education sucks eggs and their tax dollars are being spent on military adventurism in foreign lands instead of on infrastructure here at home.

Reason No. 5: Congress! Government for sale. Widespread corruption. The Koch brothers’ and K Street’s yard sale of our politicians — all bought on the cheap. A solder in Afghanistan once told me that, “The only difference between corrupt politicians in Afghanistan and corrupt politicians in America is that corrupt politicians in America pass laws to make their corruption legal and Afghan politicians do not.” (Also see Reason No. 9)

Reason No. 6: No daycare! I just threw that in because I’m now babysitting my wonderful three-month-old granddaughter so that my daughter can go back to work. Even Iraq under Saddam Hussein had free daycare! Even Cuba under Castro.

And when Sofia goes off to kindergarten in five years, then I’ll finally be able to go back to being a war correspondent again — knowing for certain that the American “Regime” will still be subsidizing despots and Endless War in the Middle East even five years from now. What a waste.

Reason No. 7: Media suppression. You think that you might have some good ideas about telling truth to power around here? Then don’t expect to get a job with the New York Times or the Washington Post any time soon. Shades of the old Pravda.

Reason No. 8: Cops and the military (again). Peaceful protests are suppressed here just like they are in Occupied Palestine. Rubber bullets and tear gas R Us! Our cops recently used tear gas on protesters even here in my own hometown. And then there are all those poor countries abroad that have been Blitzkriegged by our very own Luftwaffe and then invaded by our very own Storm Troopers. I could drone on and on about that!

Reason No. 9: Our Supreme Court. Scalia would feel right at home in Nigeria or Haiti. There’s not a single corrupt corporate take-over that he doesn’t like.

Reason No 10: Corporatism itself. Nazi Germany ran on “Corporatism”. Hitler just loved handing out corporate welfare. And so do our so-called leaders. Nazi Germany was a “Regime”. Perhaps America is too.

I rest my case.


May 15, 2015

Going around the bend at 106 mph

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:30 pm

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In World War I, members of the military were given a vague promise of a cash bonus that would be distributed in the future. When the Depression came along, many of the cash strapped vets thought that would be a good time to collect their money. They flocked to Washington D. C. to present their idea that the time had arrived to collect the I.O.U. They set up camp but were soon run off at gunpoint by troops led by a distinguished West Point graduate who was slated for greatness. Douglas McArthur, who was known by the nickname “dugout Dug,” seemed to show more valor when facing unarmed Americans than he did in France during WWI or later in his bunker in Australia during WWII.

According to local lore, soldiers from the North camped out in San Francisco after the Civil War. These days tourists flock to shop in the neighborhood and most remain blissfully unaware of how Union Square got its name.

In the late seventies, American Vets injured in Vietnam, congregated at the Westwood Military Hospital in Los Angeles and occupied the lobby for some time. Early one morning, they were hustled out by the police. There were numerous TV crews on hand, but only two still photographers. They were both working for the Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers and their story might be the subject for a future column, but for now this event provided a career boost for one college photojournalism student and a confirmation of a cynical point of view for the other.

Except for a small number of curmudgeonly skeptics, most Americans will believe the promises American politicians repeatedly make to the members of the military and remain unquestioning when the politicians explain their shoddy performances regarding their delivery on those solemn promises.

How many times would your disreputable brother-in-law sell you a decrepit automobile before you start to doubt his sales pitches?

America trusted George W. Bush and only a few ultra Liberal pundits question his judgment in retrospect.

Why haven’t American troops been sent to Libya, Yemen, and/or Syria?

American politicians seem to be having a difficult time selling the voters on the idea that social and medical services for America’s veterans are being forced to be reduced because of austerity budgets while simultaneously building them up for new military adventures in faraway countries.

Buying a shot and a beer at the local tavern for a young Marine who will soon be aboard an LCP approaching Tarawa is one thing, but cheating him out of the medical care he requires when he comes home without his legs, is something very different.

Recently when San Francisco mayor Ed Lee announced that he planned to have all local homeless military veterans in housing by the end of the year, local political activist Mike Zint, who posts political information on the “first they came for the homeless” page on Facebook, responded by saying that it was probably a gambit to provide cover for a program that would sweep the homeless out of sight before the tourists arrive in the Bay Area for Superbowl Fifty.

In an age when the numbers for wounded and homeless women warriors are becoming a major factor in the continuing effort to live up to the promises made to the members of the military, we have noticed one (potential) flaw in the political logic being expressed.

It seems that every effort to provide mass housing for young men are based on the concept of providing each and every one of the cases with a living space that includes space for a TV set, a refrigerator, and room to do some cooking.

If the World’s Laziest Journalist can offer up an opinion that might offend some puritsts: most young men don’t need or want that much space.

Since many young men are used to a military dorm, a ccllege dorm, and in some cases a hostel bunk, perhaps Mayor Ed Lee should consider the idea that one very large facility with a bunk and communal cooking and entertainment facilities would be an austerity budget era way to approach the problem.

What percentage of male homeless veterans require more than a bunk? What percent could exist on the basis of a hostel environment with a dormitory bunk and communal entertainment, bathroom, and cooking facilities?

Isn’t it obvious that a fellow who is sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag in a hobo jungle environment and scrounging meals on the run would have a great improvement in his comfort level rating if he had access to a bunk and locker each night?

What percentage of homeless veterans are men and what percent are women?

Isn’t a small percent of the homeless claustrophobic people who prefer to sleep “under the stars”? If you provided them with a palatial mansion, they would remain uncomfortable.

During the week that this column was being written, the Huffington Post carried a story indicating that the politicians in Washington D. C., are hesitating on taking action which would protect members of the military from predatory conduct by financial institutions.

What percentage of the politician who vote for such ridiculous nonsense are veterans and how many are fat cats who have never served in the military?

Medical care for vets is a perpetual topic for politicians.

Are veterans being treated poorly?

This Saturday is Armed Forces Day but the weekend editions of the nation’s newspapers and the Sunday gabfests will be rife with calls for railroad safety, tributes to B. B. King, and snide remarks about JEB Bush’s family loyalty. It seems quite likely that there will be damn few pundits using the occasion of Armed Forces Day to call for improving the treatment of homeless veterans.

What’s not to love about corporate shills tricking young men with some all American bait and switch salesmanship chicanery to lure them into a lifetime of misery and pain?

What percentage of “our boys” who were killed in action during WWII, died before they were old enough to cast a vote to re-elect the politicians who had sent them off to the war?

There was a popular axiom during the Vietnam era that said; “Old soldiers never die . . . young ones do.”

The disk jockey will play the Pogues song “The band played ‘Waltzing Matida,” Johnny Cash’s version of “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” and the song “Smile for me, my Dianne.” We have to go and re-watch “Coming Home.” Have a “Seventh Heaven” type week.


Vaccines: Why I no longer shoot up

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 11:48 am

Dontcha just hate it when some huge burly adult starts lecturing you about how wonderful and necessary it is to spank kids? “Yeah, well,” I always reply, “how about if you just wait to beat on them until they are adults your size too — and big enough to fight back.”

And this is the exact same reasoning that I apply to vaccines as well.

“Why don’t you just wait until your kids are adults and let them take the shots then — after they are old enough to study all the pros and cons and then decide for themselves.” And how do I have the chutzpah to say something like this? Because as an adult, I myself was forced to take a whole bunch of shots. And I hated them because they hurt. And I also hated them because they caused permanent damage as well.

When I was in the Peace Corps in South Africa back in 2009, I was told that in order to remain in the Peace Corps, I would have to take a whole bunch of shots. So in order to remain in the Peace Corps, I lined up. “Sir, yes, sir!” Hey, I liked my job. And was given no choice. And so I got a whole bunch of shots. And had all kinds of reactions, including permanent diminishment of actual physical strength and energy and an inability to think clearly for approximately six months after getting the shots — not quite the same as having mini-autism. But close.

Peace Corps or not, I would never do that again. Trust me, I will never never ever voluntarily shoot up again!

And yet here in America, even as we speak, almost every two-month-old baby in our entire nation is routinely forced to get eight (8) vaccines at one time — and then another two more rounds of these shots before they even reach their first birthday — before they are anywhere near being able to “Just say no”.

Tetanus, whooping cough, diphtheria, flu, hepatitis, rotavirus, polio and pneumonia vaccines. That’s eight batches times three rounds of each. That’s a hecka lot of vaccines — especially since at least some of them could easily wait (or not be given at all). And having actually suffered through this horrendous Needle Park myself as an adult, I can truly feel these poor sweet babies’ pain!

Plus the Peace Corps tells me that I am now immune to rabies, yellow fever, meningitis, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis, polio and typhoid fever — but I still wouldn’t want to test that theory out.

And according to a recent article in GreenMedInfo, “A remarkable study reveals that a vaccinated individual not only can become infected with measles, but can spread it to others who are also vaccinated against it — doubly disproving two doses of MMR vaccine is ’99% effective,’ as widely claimed. One of the fundamental errors in thinking about measles vaccine effectiveness is that receipt of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine equates to bona fide immunity against these pathogens.”

So apparently measles vaccines only make you immune for a while (if at all) — and then what happens if we end up like the American Indians did, with no immunity at all? And dead?

And then I got a really helpful e-mail from my friend Richard, giving me a whole bunch of 411 on vaccines, their effectiveness, their cumulative effects on children and even whether or not they can exacerbate the already-known environmental causes of such diseases as autism. Richard recently did an excellent analysis of the literature now available regarding the dangers (or lack of them) in vaccines — and was also willing to share his results with me.

“Your research is pretty comprehensive,” I e-mailed him back, “but do you have a URL to it?” No, he did not. So I decided to include his analysis here — because I believe that every parent should have this information, whether you finally chose to vaccinate your bambino or not. Here’s the URL for it:

PS: Here is one thing that Richard left out — the effects that vaccines and other Big Pharma drugs have on our mitochondria. “On our what?”

Mitochondria is that stuff in our cells that is actually responsible for 90% of the energy that we need to sustain life. “Got mitochondria?” No? Then you just might be dead. Or else, according to a recent article by Dr. Gary Kohls, you just might have a bad case of schizophrenia, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, stroke, migraine, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (whatever that is).

Oh crap. This is what I may have to look forward to just for joining the Peace Corps? Sucks to be me.

PPS: I really am totally in favor of administering vaccines that help prevent life-threatening diseases. But. There should be a choice of which vaccines to give to babies, how actually necessary they are to save lives and how often they are given — as well as having a pool of funds set aside for the percentage of children who have really bad (quality-of-life-altering) reactions instead of just a blanket denial by Big Pharma that administering so many vaccines never, ever have any serious side effects at all.

Mma Peter

May 10, 2015

The Middle East: Best soap-opera wannabe ev-ah!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 11:31 am

Several people have asked me recently why I always seem to be writing about the Middle East. “Why don’t you ever write about anything else?”

Of course I write about other stuff — but the Middle East is so much more interesting and entertaining than anything else! The Middle East is definitely more interesting, entertaining and even weirder than any soap opera, reality show or action flick that Hollywood could ever produce. Fascinating stuff.

I’m always amazed that so few other Americans aren’t just totally fascinated by the Middle East too. Or even that there isn’t at least one daytime soap opera devoted solely to the subject — if for no other reason than that the Middle East has some of the greatest villains of all time!

Take America, for instance. Our very own Wall Street and War Street are currently starring as top-billing major actors in the Middle East, playing in prime-time roles — as the biggest villains in the script so far too. America practically invented ISIS, for goodness sakes! You can’t get more villainous than that.

Or can you?

According to journalist Daniel Lazare, “After years of hemming and hawing, the Obama administration has finally come clean about its goals in Syria. In the battle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, it is siding with Al Qaeda.” War Street, you’ve been busted as the Bad Guy — and on national television too!

Or take Saudi Arabia — another shining example of epic villain-a-lishious-ness at its best. That country has been playing the villain since way back in 1930 — when it invaded the Republic of Yemen for the first time after Yemen actually dared to become a democracy. Then the Saudi regime went on to help America create Osama bin Ladin, finance the Taliban and dirty their hands with 9-11. And now the Saudi regime is financing and training ISIS. Doesn’t get more juicy than that.

No, wait, yes it does. The Saudi regime is now using American-supplied cluster bombs on Yemen. Juicy soap opera at its best, better even than TMZ — unless of course you are living in Yemen.

And then there is Syria. What is going on there right now is even better than “One Life to Live”. How many Americans even know who Bashar Assad is? The poor guy has a couple of corrupt, sleazy relatives that the Saudi, American, Turkish and Israeli regimes have spent the last four years trying to put into power. Why? Because power corrupts — so Assad’s relatives are already trained to be as corrupt as their sponsors. How “Dallas” can you get?

And of course Turkey is now in the mix too — just can’t keep its hands off of ISIS, the designated “fem fatale” in this reality show. But Turkey had better watch out. ISIS is a psychopath and Turkish citizens do not like President Erdoğan cheating on them and messing around with her instead.

Or take Iraq — the ultimate reality show. Outwit, outlast and outplay. Plus all the principle soap opera characters are there in Iraq too. You got the lying bitch (mostly America), the BFF (mostly Britain and France), the scheming scoundrel who will stop at nothing to get rich (mostly Bibi Netanyahu) and the struggling anti-hero (mostly Syrians trying to chase ISIS out of Syria) trying to thwart the Bad Guys (mostly ISIS, but with ISIS’s secret suppliers Saudi Arabia, Israel, America and Turkey thrown in).

You just gotta love all that plotting, counter-plotting and backstabbing now taking place in the Middle East — such as when General Sisi in Egypt overthrew a democratically-elected government in order to be America’s date to the prom. Or when the Saudi Arabian regime, source of 9-11 and Osama bin Ladin, comes out smelling like a rose and being America’s BFF. Or not.

You want action and drama? No problem there either. The Middle East has it all! America, NATO, Britain and France get together and bomb the crap out of Libya (for her own good), put Al Qaeda in charge of Libya for even more raping and pillaging fun (she asked for it) — but then deserts fair Libya in her darkest hour of need. And even though Libya is not technically actually in the Middle East, you can still just sit back and watch the fun.

And ditto for Afghanistan. Lots of action, drama, lies and skullduggery there too — even though it also is not technically located in the Middle East.

And now apparently ISIS (that tramp!) is also off having a hot illicit affair with the American-sponsored neo-Nazi Ukraine regime, also not in the Middle East — but this new daytime drama may soon to be playing on European TV instead — as ISIS slips off to gay Paree after dumping her thug boyfriend in Kiev.

Plus who wouldn’t want to hear the exciting story about brave and heroic Palestinians fighting for their freedom — only to be called angry sluts by the American media. Or how the brave and heroic Yemenis, fighting for their freedom, get bombed back to the Stone Age by the despotic Saudis who still somehow manage to come out as the Good Guys — even after training and financing ISIS. How do they do that? How do they just keep getting away with that again and again? Will they ever get their comeuppance? Apparently not. But stay tuned.

And then there is the Israeli regime, staring as the “scheming patriarch” character, forcing America to do its dirty work so it can take over the Middle East. Bibi Netanyahu is like a Mafia don or the villain on “The Bold and the Beautiful” or “Dark Shadows” — always scheming behind the scenes. He’s like Angelique Bouchard or Sheila Carter. What’s not to love about him?

Why would anybody who loves soap operas and/or reality shows, action movies or even murder-mysteries and thrillers even think of ever not keeping up with events in the Middle East? Entertainment at its best!

Too bad, however, that more than a million lives have been lost so far in these productions — but, for Wall Street and War Street, that’s just one of the costs of being in show business.


May 8, 2015

Voice over moment in B-town

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:36 pm

tight crop of bell with megaphone

A life-long tendency to pay attention to people’s voices had spawned a long dormant project for expanding into radio features by taking a tape recorder around and talking to the owners of some very interesting voices, but that idea had been languishing in the bullpen for years and was not on the day’s agenda when we walked into Top Dog on Center Street in downtown Berkeley, earlier this week. When the young lady, Tiffany Case, at the counter took our order, we suddenly wished that we were carrying our micro-cassette recorder because her kewpie doll voice made us look around expecting to see an animated Canadian Mountie proclaiming: “Don’t worry, Nel, I’ll save you!”

We acknowledged our intention of getting a hot dog to slather with mustard and sauerkraut by responding: “If I were doing a radio commercial, I’d hire you to do the voice” and she enthusiastically replied: “I’m in the process of applying for a chance to do voice-overs for Pixar (an animation movie studio located in near-by Emeryville)!”

Her enthusiasm level reminded us of the old Clint Eastwood line: “Go ahead; make my day.”

When we were young we had compiled a list of our favorite voices and if someone ever assembles a Hall of Fame for voices, we would insist on nominating these voices from the past: John Carradine, Edward R. Murrow, Orson Welles, Bill Boyd (better known as Hopalong Cassidy), Winston Hibler, Jack Webb, Rod Serling, Senator Everett Durkson, Tony Marvin, and Mel Allen.

Some voices can cause pandemonium just by saying the name of the source. Such as? “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”

“They say” that a baby girl will pay more attention to the voice of a male stranger than to that of her own mother.

The women’s voices that caught our attention back when our voice (and attitude about girls) was changing were Julie London, Mercedes McCambridge (she provided the voice for the demon in “The Exorcist”), Rosemary Clooney, and Annette Funicello.

Back in the day, we had heard a bit on radio for Mothers’ Day that was a poem that started out “M is for the morphine that you gave me. . . .” We thought that the source of that bizarre bit of entertainment had been Lenny Bruce, but after a futile search of the Internets, we had asked the librarian at the Berkeley Public Library’s main branch and even then we still hadn’t located the source for those words.” So much for the theory that you can find the answers online to all questions.

We couldn’t pin the rap on Lenny Bruce but somehow we were obsessed with the idea that our column for the Mothers’ Day weekend had to include Lenny Bruce. He did say the word “mother” a lot, didn’t he?

In the past, we have suggested that reality TV do a voice-over competition.

We have personal knowledge of an event that took place many moons ago on the campus of a large University in Southern California made famous by Coach John Wooden. A young lady who was being paid to do interviews for a study called a phone number in New York City. The guy was so intrigued by the voice he asked the caller if she wanted to go out with him on the weekend. She demurred by noting that he was in New York City and she was in Los Angeles county. He then restated his offer. She declined again but he wouldn’t have been disappointed if had taken her out for dinner.

On Tuesday, May 5, 2015, we splurged and had a French breakfast at Le Petit Cochon in Berkeley and the experience of having a great meal was enhanced by the fact that while there we heard two song tracks by Johnny Cast that we had never heard previously.

When the Internet was in its formative stage, optimists were gushing about the fact that it would provide a way for people to hear new voices in various national debates. Pessimists responded that corporate America would use their clout to monopolize the new means of communication and shut down any chance for fresh blood in punditry game to gain a following.

We make a point of tuning in to the Armstrong and Getty radio show every Friday at 6:20 a.m. just to hear their sound clips of the week segment.

In the Los Angeles area, sportscaster Jim Healey used to play bleep filled rants from Tommy Lasorda, the manager of the Dodgers baseball team. It was fun to listen to them and attempt to fill in the bleeps (so to speak – as it were).

At one point, radio disk jockey, Wolfman Jack, bragged that his program was heard in 38 states because the signal (coming out of Mexico) was “coast to coast, border to border, wall to wall and tree top tall.” As the Sixties drew to a close, if you lived in the Lake Tahoe basin, there were only three reliable radio signals. Two were local and the third was the Wolfman’s show. It was an unforgettable listening experience.

On Wednesday, May 6, 2015, just after 9:30 a.m., we heard a story on KCBS news radio that started with a Berkeley Farms commercial that featured the legendary voice of San Francisco born Mel Blanc. They then transitioned into a story about how Clover of Petaluma is conducting an online search for a voice for their cow. (Google hint: Cloverpetaluma dot com and then click on the “Be Herd” link.)

In Los Angeles, our friend who called himself Chef Teddy B. Owen used to brag that the voices in his head had their own variation of the call waiting feature.

Berkeley area political activist Mike Zint reports that when he was working in the Santa Monica area as a retail clerk, he received several offers to do work as a voice over.

Our fact finding for this column indicated that June Foray, the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel is still alive. Her work is featured on a site called “behind the voice actors” dot com.

Whatever happened to the San Francisco radio station KFOG and their signature use of a sound clip of a foghorn?

According to Hollywood legend, Allen Ladd was working as union projectionist and when he asked a director if he wanted to see the dailies again, he suddenly was offered a chance to change careers and become an actor. The rest of the story (as they say) is history.

Maybe after we post this column, we should do some fact checking about how to submit pitches or material to NPR. If they like the idea, maybe it could be just like Rickey Blain says at the end of the movie “Casablanca:” “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!”

Tune in again next week to see what happens to the columnist who seeks to become a distinctive voice in an overcrowded market.

The end quote for this particular column, just has to be the most famous movie line of all time. In “Gone with the Wind,” Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) said: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

The disk jockey will now play Rosemany Clooney’s “Manniana” (which is banned on radio and not available on Youtube), the Guess Who’s “Clap for the Wolfman” and “You’re nothing but a nothing” (which allegedly included the lowest note ever produced by a human voice).   We have to go listen to KCBS to hear Kiffany report the evening traffic conditions for the SF Bay Area. Have a “Boop Oop A Doo” type week.


May 3, 2015

My Apologia for the American 2016 presidential election

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 10:55 pm

After I had just finished writing an ode to Bernie Sanders as my candidate of choice for President in 2016 (based on his excellent domestic policy). it was suddenly drawn to my attention that while Senator Sanders has a domestic policy to die for, he also has a foreign policy to die for too — literally.

Apparently our Bernie has a tenancy to vote for supporting War Street a lot — even though he refuses to kiss Wall Street’s bottom. Not good.

We’ve already gotten suckered into voting for a War President when we elected Barack Obama. And Hillary Clinton talks a good talk about her proposed domestic policy — but she too has that “War President” gleam in her eyes.

And then my friend Rita said, “Sanders always votes for war and military spending. Look it up.” Oh crap. Not Bernie too. Hell, even Elizabeth Warren doesn’t seem to be very much against Endless War these days.

“Very few Presidential candidates take principled positions against Israeli neo-colonialists,” someone else told me too. “And, unfortunately, while Bernie is great on so many other fronts, he does stand with the Israeli neo-colonialists, even during that horrific blitzkrieg on Gaza.”

If Americans are ever going to survive the Golden Age of Endless War (and the rest of the world is going to survive it too), then we need to elect a president in 2016 who will not bomb, kill, torture, blow up, blast, maim, blitzkrieg, drone-strike or otherwise do bad things to other human beings (or to us either).

America needs a new foreign policy — one that is not just a high-tech version of foreign policies currently deployed by ISIS and the Taliban.

And so I’m going to have to give up entirely on the RepubliDems and “Vote Green in Twenty-Sixteen”.

And in the meantime, I sorely do apologize to all the people of the world (and also to their corpses and ghosts) for all of the brutal, unconscionable and horrible things that our American political representatives (legally-elected or not) have done to the rest of the world in my name.


War & Babies: Why we gotta vote for Sanders in 2016 (or not)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 10:44 pm

Right now, it looks like the worst is going to happen in 2016 — that when we Americans go into the voting booths, we’re going to be forced to chose between the Bush Dynasty (which brought us all those disastrous and criminal wars on Afghanistan and Iraq plus various African wars including one that led to Blackhawk Down) and the Clinton Dynasty (which brought us all those disastrous and criminal wars on Haiti, Syria, Libya, Kosovo and Ukraine).

In 2016, we Americans are going to be forced to choose between “War” and “More War” — and when that happens, I’m just gonna barf.

Or perhaps we might be allowed to vote for those king-making Koch brothers and their Ken-doll evil twin Scott Walker. “Vote for me and you’ll get genetic mutation, fracking and poverty! I’ve yet to meet an oligarch, War Street lobbyist or bankster that I didn’t like!” proclaims Walker. Gag me with a spoon.

Yes, the main election slogan for the RepubliDem party in 2016 is apparently going to be, “Just hold down your vomit and vote” — along with, of course, their perennial favorite, “It doesn’t matter who you vote for anyway because we control the voting machines and the propaganda machines too,” as well as their ever-popular “We always (heart) ISIS, al Qaeda, the UN, Zionists and neo-Nazis because they always (heart) our gun sales.” I think I’m gonna throw up.

Moderate Democratic candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Dennis Kucinich don’t stand a chance of scoring their party’s nomination — and as for moderate Republican candidates? Bring in the clowns.

So this is why I am officially going to vote for Bernie Sanders in 2016 — and you should too. Senator Sanders is definitely on our side — or to paraphrase the Pussycat Dolls, “Don’t cha just wish your president was hot like him!”

But no matter which RepubliDem freak gets elected in 2016 — or even if by some amazing miracle an actual decent human being like Sanders does score America’s vote, my life is still going to change forever next week.

“Will you be going off to Yemen or Benghazi or Kiev?” you might ask. “Or even Washington DC, Ferguson, Baltimore, Juarez or Flora-duh?” Back to being a war correspondent? That would be so easy. I wish!

No, next week I’m going to become a full-time caregiver for my daughter’s new baby.

And Senator Sanders is the candidates most likely to provide our nation (and me!) with affordable daycare instead of just drowning us all out in totally unaffordable and unsustainable “war”. Have you ever even priced full-time infink daycare lately? It can cost more than half of your yearly salary, thank you very much. You might as well go out and buy a few RPGs or a tank.

So, starting next week, me and baby Sofia are going to be spending major quality-time together until she starts kindergarten — unless Senator Sanders get elected (or I win the lottery) first.

But perhaps baby Sofia might want to become a war-correspondent-in-training? Because if either the Repubs or the Dems win the 2016 presidential election, there will always be plenty of wars. No college or jobs or healthcare for Sofia when she grows up — but there will still be a hecka lot of wars. By the time our Sofia turns 18, the entire USA is gonna look like Iraq, Libya or Kiev — unless we vote for Bernie.

But if (when) the RepubliDems do get elected in 2016 and Endless War becomes our new best friend for life, at least I won’t be alone. We Americans are all gonna to end up tossing our cookies, losing our lunch, saying hello to our new BFF “Ralph” and/or bowing down to the porcelain throne.

And who in their right mind would ever chose that kind of fate for our baby Sofia — or for any other sweet, cute, cuddly, lovable FaceBook-friendly new baby like her now being born, both here in America and all over the rest of the world too?

PS: My friend Rita just e-mailed me, “Just a note to say that Sanders always votes for war and military spending. Look it up. Even Nader is not too happy about that.” Oh crap. Not Bernie too. Hell, even Elizabeth Warren doesn’t seem to be very much against endless war these days. Poor baby Sofia is gonna have a hard row to hoe.

Is it too late to register with the Green party?


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