April 27, 2016

The IRS: Why it’s screwing America’s bottom 15%

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 1:28 pm

The Berkeley-Albany Bar Association has done it again! BABA just scored yet another resounding triumph at its latest luncheon meeting at the Berkeley City Club, where it featured a speaker who told us lots of important stuff that we didn’t already know.

The Berkeley City Club is an architectural work of art, both inside and out. Designed by Julia Morgan in 1927, it features Moorish/Gothic architecture, carved wooden banisters, exotic chandeliers and fabulous Persian rugs. Gotta love the place — even though its culinary specialty appears to be rubber chicken. I always take my granddaughter, baby Sofia, with me to BABA luncheons so that she can learn to appreciate true beauty at a young age, be instructed in the correct use of silverware and hear top-notch speakers as well (and also because I can’t afford a baby sitter).

Anyway, last month’s luncheon speaker talked about the latest changes taking place at the IRS. Apparently the IRS’s budget was cut by 15% last year. “That explains why I couldn’t get anyone on the phone there to answer my tax questions,” I commented to the attorney sitting next to me. “The phone would ring and ring, but nobody would answer.” Nobody was home at the IRS!

And the attorney sitting next to me replied, “Yes, and this fact also explains why the IRS is spending so much time auditing the bottom 15% of American taxpayers right now — because they know that the bottom 15% can’t afford to hire high-priced tax attorneys to fight their cases for them like the wealthy corporations can, and the IRS no longer has extra money to spend on hiring a bunch of tax attorneys to defend its actions. And so the bottom 15% of American taxpayers are now sitting ducks.” Oh. Good to know.

PS: I sincerely hope that the IRS doesn’t audit me! Have you ever tried to represent your own self in court, in propria persona, without an attorney? It is totally not fun! Plus the chances are really, really good that you will get completely steam-rollered over in court, even if you are right and the opposing party is wrong — to say nothing about not being able to afford court fees.

Sometimes what goes on in American courtrooms is less about justice and more about who can afford to hire the best judicial procedure.

But on the other hand, sometimes you actually do get assigned to a good judge who is fair in his role as “Trier of Fact” — and that makes your faith in the American judicial system bloom like a rose.

PPS: Speaking of injustice, I’ll be going to Chicago on May 11, home of the most outrageously unjust probate system in the entire United States. In Chicago, screwing widows and orphans has been elevated to a fine art!

And also while in Chicago, I plan to attend the annual BookExpo America, always big fun. Perhaps I will see you there.

Street Sofia Oct 2 2015

April 17, 2016

Columnist Touts Columnists

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bob Patterson @ 1:15 pm



Bob Patterson as told to the intern.

Interesting lives are the raw product sought by writers. Living well is not only the best revenge, it is a great way to gather material.

Every year The World’s Laziest Journalist has made an effort to note and celebrate National Columnists Day.  This year the summer intern has made the annual event an opportunity for soul searching and self-realization because the intern has led a remarkably interesting life and is disappointed that the chances to tell the intern’s story are evaporating rapidly.

Since a great many books have been published about the literary heritage and history of San Francisco it would seem that someone who was an early anti-war protester, involved with the Diggers and the Family Dog and whose story is from the adolescent coming of age viewpoint  rather than the adults who led the younger generation into the beat subculture through works such as “On the Road”.

Hippies were beatnik wannabes and too young to have participated in the beat scene. They went wild and formed the basis of the Hippie fad much to the delight of the reporters and writers of the mainstream media.

Sitting back now, on the back porch of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory employee recreational facility, dictating memoirs, may seem mundane but until the mainstream media labels today’s college generation the trendsetters will just have to bide their time until the new literary movement is properly initiated.

This year the columnists who are supposed to be in the vanguard of trend spotting should hang their heads in shame. Where are the influential pundits who will put a brand name on the new generation?

San Francisco has become the focus point for the internet savvy techies who are elevating gender confusing and dangerous sexual freedoms as the next cultural trend.

San Francisco has become Fantasy Island with franchises in all major urban centers.

Columnists seem to have abdicated their duty to alerting the country of the latest cultural trends instead adopting a politically neutral stances which is politically correct.

Isn’t that what they are supposed to be doing? Pushing the boundaries and making people think about what is happening and where that will lead them?

Have the pundits consciously refused to consider the long term effects of Fukushima?

Pundits are hysterical about Donald Trump not being entitled to the Republican Party nomination. Will any columnist ask if the young disgruntled Republicans are as upset as the young Democrats were when it became obvious Hubert Humphrey could not be denied the Democrat’s nomination?

Will any pundit define vicarious trauma for their readers?

Has any pundit reported the conspiracy theory fans are taking a new and closer look at the death of Sonny Bono?

The intern would like to promote the concept of a San Francisco Bay Area Commission to study the homeless problem, available resources and inter county cooperation. Perhaps even addressing the shrinking rental market and the skyrocketing rental prices.

Can anyone other than a columnist ask if the readers have heard the rumor that Hillary may have suffered a recent stroke?

Many famous writers have offered their opinions to the world in the guise of writing columns.

The intern and the World’s Laziest Journalist strongly endorse this maneuver and urge young writers to express their ideas and opinions on the internet.

Stay tuned.  Meanwhile have a mind-blowing 420, pay your taxes (the intern debates whether you have to witness against yourself or just file a blank signed form, if you can find the form) and read as many different columnists as possible.

Now the disk jockey will play… ditt ditt ditt Dah…Beethoven’s fifth for you drogues.

Two important American history books: “1776″ and “Overthrow”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 1:14 pm

Purely by coincidence I have started reading two different books about American history — but they both have the same theme.

One book, “1776,” tells the emotional story of how heroic yeomen-farmers and shop-keepers in America put together an amazing rag-tag army and heroically risked defeat and death in order to fight for justice, liberty and the very soil of their own country, in order to defend it against tyrannical despots from across the sea.

The other book, “Overthrow,” also tells emotional stories of how heroic yeomen-farmers and shop-keepers across the globe have put together their amazing rag-tag armies and heroically risked defeat and death in order to fight for justice, liberty and the very soil of their own countries, in order to defend them against tyrannical despots from across the sea.

The only difference between the two books is that one book is about defending America against a tyrannical despot — and the other book is about countries around the world defending themselves against a tyrannical despot. The tyrannical despot in “1776″ was Britain. The tyrannical despot in “Overthrow” is America.

Reading about the overthrow of Britain by brave American rebels in 1776, and then reading both here and elsewhere about the overt or covert overthrow of the legitimate governments of Hawaii, Cuba, the Philippines, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Panama, Nicaragua, Iran, Mexico, Palestine, Vietnam, Chile, Taiwan, Guatemala, Argentina, Grenada, Congo, Angola, Lebanon, Haiti (twice), Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. by tyrannical American invaders is all just too deja vu for me.

“Since independence in 1776, the U.S. has been engaged in over 53 military invasions and expeditions…. America is using ISIS in three ways: to attack its enemies in the Middle East, to serve as a pretext for U.S. military intervention abroad, and at home to foment a manufactured domestic threat, used to justify the unprecedented expansion of invasive domestic surveillance.”

In addition, America has also continually missed its many chances to follow the example of our heroic 1776 ancestors and help overthrow a lot of tyrannical despots across the globe too — such as Saudi Arabia, where the 9-11 plot was actually hatched, or Israel, where the 9-11 plot was cheered on. Instead, America has made these tyrants and despots some of their closest allies. What’s with that?

And America should also stop supporting ISIS in Syria and Iraq as well. Syria under President Assad just held a parliamentary election. Can American-supported “moderate rebels” aka ISIS make that claim too? No, no and no. In fact, the Syrian election results aren’t even in yet because several ISIS-held sections of Aleppo aren’t being allowed to vote. Just one more example of America backing tyrannical despots — in this case ISIS. George Washington must be rolling over in his grave.

How far have American ideals and values fallen since 1776? About as far as humanly possible. “We have met the enemy and they are us,” to quote Pogo.

PS: Speaking of books, the annual BookExpo America will be held in Chicago this year, starting on May 11 — and I’m going to be there. Try to be there too, okay?


April 12, 2016

Selling Hoover Dam: To whom & for how much?

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

Privatization in America has gone way too far.

America is not supposed to be like the old Soviet Union, breaking up and selling off pieces of itself to the highest private bidder in order to avoid bankruptcy due to the high costs of war. Or perhaps it’s already too late to close the barn door to privatization in America and we already have become just like that. Actually, with over half of our government’s money now being spent on weapons and so-called “war”, it sort of looks like we already are following the Soviet Union’s lead — especially when you consider how rapidly we too are selling stuff off.

And if this escalating process of selling our stuff off is as true as it appears to be, then I would like to put in a bid on Mt. Rushmore!

Let’s just imagine for a moment how that auction will go. The auctioneer clears his throat. “What am I bid on this lovely set of hand-carved sculptures?” I bid five dollars! “Sold to the little lady in the back row.”

Then Hoover Dam goes up on the block next. Who the freak would ever want to buy Hoover Dam? Apparently somebody does. It just got sold for less than one cent on the dollar — way less.

And now they are trying to sell off the Berkeley Post office. “Magnificent old building, prime real estate location. What am I bid?” Again, it is going for less than pennies on the dollar. Someone is going to walk away from this auction a happy man. And it ain’t gonna be the U.S. taxpayer either.

And speaking of Berkeley, our mayor and his developer friends here are trying to auction off our downtown business district and various residential areas near the Cal campus for pennies on the dollar too. “We need more condos!” cry our real estate developers. “They are really wonderful stuff!” And our mayor and a lot of our City Council members agree with the developers too.

But I have a question. If all these new condos (there are already thousands of them in the works) as indeed so fabulous, then how come the mayor, members of our City Council and even the developers themselves don’t live in any of them — and prefer to live in the very type of traditional brown-shingle Berkeley cottages and homes that developers are now so anxious to tear down?

And why are none of these developers and their supporters living in the Library Gardens condos, where six people fell to their deaths last year due to faulty construction? And 20 years from now, all these creepy high-rise “condo” buildings will be falling apart. “Welcome to the new Berkeley inner-city slums.” However, the upside of all this is that by then all these high-rises will have become “affordable” housing — broken sewage lines, dangerous conditions, rats and all. But I digress. Let’s get back to the auctions.

Anyone out there want to purchase the Brooklyn Bridge?

PS: Much to my horror, something even more crucial to the American way of life has also been privatized: Christianity. Jesus himself was a revolutionary, a man of the people, a proud member of the 99% and even a socialist. But the privatization of Christianity in America has reduced Jesus to being merely a shill for corporations, a ham actor in endless commercials for war-mongering, and/or just another emogi on FaceBook — and an evil emogi at that. *>:) devil

PPS:  Here’s the latest April report from my friend from Aleppo — where Americans and their neo-colonialist cohorts, henchmen and partners in crime are happily violating the Syrian ceasefire every chance that they get!

     Talk about “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders”.  Gary Sinise would just drool to get his hands on this script.


April 7, 2016

The life-changing magic of tidying up…the Middle East

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 11:21 am

My apartment was completely disorganized and so I went to the library and checked out a book entitled, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. The author, Marie Kondo, talks about how to avoid the “vicious circle of tidying”. Holy cow! That must be avoided at all costs!

And we also clearly need to put some life-changing magic to work in tidying up the Middle East as well.

President Endogen of Turkey definitely needs to get folded, sorted and put back into whatever sock drawer he came from. The guy is a mess and he’s been out cluttering up Syria with his ISIS buddies for far too long.

Hillary Clinton also needs to be shoved back into the closet ASAP — before we trip and fall over her messy weapons stashes, Libya disasters and AIPAC suck-ups (again) and American taxpayers (again) get seriously hurt.

Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have a clue about what is going on in the Middle East. The “vicious circle of tidying” has obviously sucked him right in. Enough said about that.

And what about Obama and his greedy pals on Wall Street and War Street? Let’s get out our garbage bags and kick all them to the curb. What is the opposite of “tidy”? Chaos. And these guys have left the Middle East in total chaos — and Europe, Latin America and Africa in chaos as well. Plus, due to these guys’ sloppy housekeeping, the American economy also needs some life-changing tidy-up magic right now. And too many of our sons and daughters have misplaced limbs due to them.

According to Stephen Kinzer of the Boston Globe, “Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of ‘rebels’ or ‘moderates,’ not that it is the [the very un-tidy] local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a ‘rat line’ for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria.” All theses media lies need to be immediately tidied up.

And according to W.V. Cole, the media could also use some tidying-up magic with regard to reporting religious affiliations. “Christians have been committing war crimes all across the world for centuries now. But does the press always identify the butchers as Christians? Hardly.” Take Hitler, for example. Do you ever see him always identified as a Christian even though he gave many speeches claiming to be one? And are America’s favorite perpetrators of war crimes (the Bush family, the Clintons, Reagan, Obama, etc.) always identified by the media as Christians too? No, the MSM only identifies breaking-bad “Muslims” by their religion. It’s time for them to clean up their act.

Kondo recommends that we tidy up one category at a time, starting with our clothes. That works for me. Let’s start by getting rid of all those wolves in sheep’s clothing in Washington who are responsible for making the Middle East the unlivable mess that it is today.

“Japanese organizational consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly declutter your home once, you’ll never have to do it again.” America is our home and it desperately needs some emergency decluttering right now! Perhaps Bernie Sanders can do it. Perhaps not. But Trump and Clinton definitely can’t. Neither one seems to know how to organize their own drawers let alone America’s.

And then after our country has finally gotten tidied up once and for all and we’ve carefully put all those giant corporations, lobbyists, election manipulators and weapons manufacturers out on the sidewalk in garbage bags where they belong, then hopefully America can go back to being a tidy democracy again. But only after that happens can we start the life-changing magic of tidying up the Middle East too.

First things we need to do to get the Middle East tidied up? Put all the Pentagon’s war toys away. Put the Israeli neo-colonialists’ brutal occupation and “settlements” out with the trash. Get rid of General Sisi in Egypt. Call the Salvation Army to come pick up the House of Saud. And take all those trillion-dollar American airbases, contractors, spies, fleets, missiles, drones, tanks, etc. back home and throw them in the trash too. Job well done!

And after we have tidied up and decluttered all that humongous Wall Street and War Street litter both here and abroad, our lives here in America too will be magically changed — for the better.

If I can declutter and tidy up my own messy apartment, then there is definitely hope for the rest of the world.

IMG_6296 (3)

April 1, 2016

Losing weight, losing sanity, losing control

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 9:07 am

So last summer I went on a gluten-free/sugar-free/sugar-substitute-free diet and started losing weight — whether I needed to or not. But it actually (sort of) worked out well. My sugar cravings have gone way down — and I can easily make do when they try to sneak back in again. There is a lot to be said about breaking a piece of Ghirardelli’s 100% cocoa unsweetened chocolate into a cup of hot steamed milk at 3:00 am in the morning when one can’t sleep because the whole world is going to hell in a hand-basket and one cannot afford to move to Tahiti.

But it has been really hard to give up croissants. Pie. Birthday cake. Pancakes! But I can still eat all the whipped cream I want as long as there’s no sugar in it.

And when I stepped on the scale at the YMCA yesterday, I weighed 102 pounds. But does all this weight loss make me happy? No, hardly. It only makes me want to sneak into Libya or Yemen or Gaza and report on the type of news that even FaceBook isn’t telling us because there are no eye-witnesses to the genocides going on in those places who have easy access to computers. Or sugar. Or gluten either for that matter.

But going without sugar and gluten also makes me crazy — but in a good way. It magnifies my discontent. I am suddenly very unhappy that my apartment is filled with junk. I am now even more unhappy that my very own government is running guns to ISIS and al Qaeda abroad, and is being kidnapped by corporatists and banksters here at home.

Maybe discontent is a good thing. It keeps me from resting on my laurels. What laurels?

And as for losing control of my life, did I ever really have control of it in the first place? Even during those staid and normal years when I was getting my Masters degree at U.C. Berkeley? Or those wild and exotic years when I was hanging out with country-and-western musicians? Or all those years as a mother when I was basically surviving on chocolate chip cookie dough (as full of sugar and gluten as you can get)?

Do any of us ever really have our lives under control?


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