January 16, 2015

Gendarmes, terrorists and tourists in Paris

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

Cartoon Museum shot




















In November of 1986, when America’s evening news featured scenes of gendarmes with submachine guns at the major intersections in Paris was like viewing a scene ripped from the pages of “1984,” that had come to life. A series of terrorist incidents had prompted coworkers to suggest that it might be a good idea to cancel the trip. Our reply was: “Yeah, but if I get killed by a terrorist’s bomb in Paris that will mean that my demise will be reported on the front page of the New York Times.” November in Paris in even numbered years means that the Month of the Photo will be celebrated and since we had waited all our life to check out the moveable feast in action, we scoffed at the idea of canceling the trip. A paucity of tourists meant that the traditional comedy shtick about Parisian waiters being rude to American Tourists had also been put on “Pause.”

An American in Paris, in November of 1986 didn’t get the royal treatment that American soldiers received in August of 1944, but any Gringo tourist who was there for the 1986 Month of the Photo was accorded semi-hero status. We hope that this year’s American tourists who want to make “April in Paris” one of the highlights of their life and not just a song title, won’t be intimidated by fear and trepidation.

On Monday, January 14, 2015, there was a report on KCBS news radio that a controversial ad juxtaposing Hitler and a Muslim had appeared that day on busses in San Francisco. It was reported that the ads would remain on display. We went to Fog City on Tuesday to get a photo of the newsworthy bus ad.

We spent some time trying to find and photograph the elusive ad. We changed plans and headed towards the San Francisco Museum of Cartoon Art. As we walked through the financial district, we noticed flyers, taped to various light poles, that depicted the prophet Muhammad as a cartoon stick figure.

The Museum, we learned, was trying to formulate their response to the attack on cartoonists in Paris.

Wasn’t Charles Chaplin known in France as “Charlot”? Didn’t he inspire the names for two brands of cigarettes? Tramps and Charlie?

Cliff Robertson won a lead actor Oscar for playing the title role in the 1968 film “Charlie.”

A source close to the Conspiracy Theory Manufacturers Association, speaking anonymously, told us that the move to portray the Hebdo Massacre as the French 9-11 as a way to start vaporizing French citizens rights is underway. It is time (as they used to say in the Sixties) to run that theory up the flagpole and see who salutes it.

As with all events these days, some people are suggesting that it was a false flag tactic.

Is it time to print T-shirts depicting Charlie Chaplin, General de Gaul, and Che and have the same dialogue balloon on each one that read: “Je suis Charlie!”?

On Wednesday, January 14, 2015, when the new issue of Charlie Hebdo magazine was in the news, the topic became which media were showing the cover and which were only describing it. We began to think that perhaps we should not post even the image of the right side of the flyer we saw Tuesday in San Francisco.

If American media can print the Pentagon Papers but not the cover of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo magazine, you shouldn’t have to wonder if the terrorist attacks are being considered a success and will be continued.

We spend the better part of a day roaming around San Francisco trying to get a photo to illustrate this week’s column and we come up empty-handed. We’ll have to settle for an innocuous and non controversial image that is (hopefully) at least eye-catching.  What can a columnist do about a week’s search that delivered a Sisyphus’ type final score?

Then we had the brilliant idea that maybe it’s time to market an article titled “Being the World’s Laziest Journalist is hard work,” but then we asked ourselves: “Who’d want such an item?” and immediately we replied: “What about ‘the Idler’ magazine in Great Britain?”

Surely the Brits would grok to the concept of “editor errant,” wouldn’t they? We’ll have to pitch them on some story/column ideas we think they would dig and see what their reaction is.

Maybe we could become their editor at large in the San Francisco Bay Area and finally realize our goal of sitting around in a posh gin mill and have fawning fans besiege us with potential column items just like our heroes Herb Caen and Walter Winchell used to do?

That should be a hella easier than covering riots, such as we did in December, and encountering a phalanx of police officers in riot gear as we have done repeatedly in the last half dozen years.

The reassurance of a large police presence was contrasted by what happened in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdicts were announced. LAPD Chief Darryl Gates announced that the LAPD wouldn’t respond to the calls for help generated by rioting and looting that occurred the night the verdicts were announced. All f*****g hell broke loose in “Shakeytown” that night.

The slowdown by police in New York City recently would seem to be a limited example of the sit-down strike philosophy.

When workers at Ford, in the Thirties, called a strike action, a few were shot and killed and the strike was of short duration. Later workers at General Motors went to their work stations and remained idle, it was called a sit-down strike. It was a tipping point for unions and the Auto Workers Union became a viable entity in the history of Detroit.

The concept that police officers have the right to self defense while performing their dangerous job should be obvious. The fact that such a right can lead to egregious abuses of that right should also be obvious. Since discourse in America has disintegrated into a binary choice, compromise is rendered impossible to achieve.

(Can’t you just imagine the voice of Lenny Bruce suggesting that a study commission come up with an acceptable number of yearly police shooting totals? )

The goal of zero accidental fatal police involved shootings is impossible to achieve. It should be obvious that castrating the concept of policing is a bad idea, too.

This year will have a massive amount of feature story potential. It is very unlikely that this column will be the first and only mention of the fact that the Battle of Britain will be marking its 75th anniversary this summer.

It also seems quite likely that for political pundits, 2015 will be a bumpy ride with the use of seatbelts being mandatory.

If Obama is impeached, and if the Vice President is sworn in as President, what will Hilary’s chances be for landing the 2016 Democratic Party’s Presidential Nomination? Don’t incumbent Presidents, who aren’t restricted by term limitations, have a lock on the nomination?

Wouldn’t it be more pleasant to be churning columns out describing delightful assignments such as (hypothetically speaking) a lunch/interview with an author in his hometown of San Francisco?

The closing quote this week is a famous line of dialogue from the film “Apocalypse Now:” “Charlie don’t surf!”

Now the disk jockey will play a the song with the title “Charlie don’t surf!,” the Kingston trio’s “MTA,” and Waylon Jenning’s song “Don’t you think this outlaw bit’s done got out of hand?” We have to go cover the 13th annual Noir City Film Festival (noircity dot com) which starts in San Francisco this weekend. Have a “no politically incorrect images” type week.

December 6, 2013

Big Brother and the end of Liberal talk radio

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:21 pm

A two pound dog provides an image symbolizing Liberal Talk radio.

LIFE magazine would be the logical source for some classic photos of the attack on Pearl Harbor which occurred 73 years ago Saturday, but for a writer starting out to accomplish that chore on the day before that column is scheduled to be posted is an impossible assignment.  Time magazine and the New York Times newspaper both have staff members who are employed full time to handle such editorial needs but if an online pundit notices on Thursday, December 05, 2013, that the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor is a timely topic, it is too late to try to get permission to use a historic photo of that event.  Devoting an entire column to the “inside baseball” aspect of the task would run a high risk of boring readers and that provides an example of how and why the concept of “citizen journalist” is a red herring for those who want to reassure the general public that an alternative source for news is being formed in the realm of pop culture.

Ideally, glitzy photos accompanying a thoroughly fact checked article that has been quickly produced is possible on a one time basis but logistically doing that consistently  is like saying that a football quarterback can play an entire game with two minute drill intensity.

Initially when the Internet was in the formative stage, expectations were expressed that the new form of communication would spawn strong unique voices that would help provide citizens with the information they need to make competent choices when the elections are held.  The ideal of a rugged individual who can turn in a championship performance makes for the basic material of a wide variety of examples of urban legends such as the movie “Rocky,” and others of that ilk.

The fact that a lone wolf journalist isn’t going to consistently land interviews with the news making politicians is something that average reader won’t consider.  Then when a TV network shows a President’s wife answering a question put to the President, most folks won’t stop to think that there is some heavy duty game playing going on off camera.

An online pundit who points out that the sound byte provides an example of subconscious image building (or destroying?) that indicates the President is an example of the “hen pecked” syndrome will go as unnoticed as the sounds of a tree falling in the remote wilderness.  So why bother?

At 0600 hours on a Sunday morning, there isn’t much happening in Berkeley and running off to San Francisco isn’t usually going to provide a much greater smorgasbord of interesting diversions, so why bother?  It is, however, a good time to write a rough draft of the next scheduled column, if the writer has scoured the media and, on the preceding day, visited San Francisco looking for tidbits of information.

Why spend the time and money to go to looking for items in a column?

Do readers in London, Kalgoorlie (in Western Australia), and Concordia Kansas really care about a trend spotting item about the pizza at the Golden Boy bar in San Francisco?  Didn’t someone from Oakland land in Bartlett’s for saying “A trend, is a trend, is a trend!” or something quite similar?

The décor in the Golden Boy is heavy with slap art and it would take a considerable amount of work to expand that topic into column length but if we use it as an item, perhaps the assignment desk at the New York Times features desk will be inspired to assign that topic to one of the available writers and then we’ll just need to find and read the article to learn all about slap art.

Cold winter’s nights in Berkeley are an excellent time to read the classic novels that were assigned reading in high school and college many moons ago.  We might get a good column if we complete our reading of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.”  We fully intend on writing a column as a review of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” when we finish reading it.

On Thursday December 5, 2013, another aspect of the pathetic plight of the citizen journalist became apparent when it was announced that the supply of Liberal voices on the radio was being considerably diminished.

Is an online pundit criticizing Compassionate Conservative Christian propaganda on hundreds of radio stations a fair fight?  Did anybody bet on the rebels holding off the Mexican army in the Alamo or was that situation so lopsided that the bookies declined any attempt to make such a long shot wager?

Many moons ago the World’s Laziest Journalist facetiously suggested that eventually the effort to present the Liberal point of view on radio for Americans would eventually lead to a modern pundit doing a Wolfman Jack style of “voice in the wilderness” program on a very powerful signal being broadcast from outside the USA.  Our reasoning was that it did happen in Germany in the Thirties and it would happen again in the USA eventually.

If a fellow happens to be a digital hermit living in a pad without Internet access how will he be able to monitor Liberal radio?  It ain’t gonna happen.

We could still write about news that intrigues us such as the possibility that Tom Cruise will play Carroll Shelby in film to be title “Drive like Hell.”

We could write a column that features a “Twilight Zone” fan reading some forbidden Liberal Punditry about the Republican long range game plan and mutters:  “It’s a cookbook!”

We could (maybe) find a two pound dog and use an image of that beast to symbolize Progressive Talk in the dog eat dog world of the contemporary scene on the radio dial.

There was a comedian back in the day who did a routine speculating about what would happen if the only rule parents gave to their kids was:  “Don’t put beans in your ear.”  Maybe Liberal talk show hosts should hawk T-shirts advising:  “Don’t put clandestine radio ear candy in your brain!” and watch their ratings soar.

When will the Republicans learn the lesson Rev. Gene Scott taught the audience in L. A.  Shouldn’t some forward thinking radio station be using the old “Best of” trick to broadcast Rush Limbaugh 24/7 every day of the year?

Watching Progressive Talk radio do the Cheshire Cat disappearing act, we are reminded of the last two sentences in “1984:”  “He had won the victory over himself.  He loved Big Brother.”

Now the disk jockey will play Dave Van Ronk’s “Romping through the Swamp,” Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane,” and Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “The Cruel War.”  We have to go to a hootenanny.  Have a “Kumbaya” type week.

July 5, 2010

Fact-finding in a 1984 World

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , — Bob Patterson @ 11:13 am

Before writing this column, it seemed prudent to do some fact checking.

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We intended to start with a reference to a Republican talking point about the statute of limitations for war crimes imposing a shrinking window of opportunity for any war crimes trial for George W. Bush. Repeated Google searches confirmed that he had been President and some Nazis had been tried for war crimes. Our recollection of talking points about a statute of limitations for war crimes continued to elude our Google searches. That, in turn, reminded us of Orwell’s 1984; “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth.”

We had intended to use a specific quote about Bush racing against the statute of limitations as the basis for this column, but since we don’t have access to Lexis/Nexis; we couldn’t find any such quote and so it becomes an exercise in futility.

We had intended to ridicule the concept that there is a statue of limitations for war crimes. If such a concept had been cited as the Bush term in office drew to a close, then America’s free press would have pointed out the absurdity of the idea, wouldn’t they . . . or is the concept of a free press a false memory?

When both CBS TV and the New York Times ran items about Jeb Bush recently, it was immediately followed by a Chris Wallace reference to the possibility of a third member of the Bush White House dynasty. That, in turn, reminded this columnist that there is an unrelenting avalanche of pro-Bush propaganda that is cheerfully dumped on a (mostly) unsuspecting audience of gullible rubes by the alleged “free press.”

If Jeb is going to be the next President, why bother to write a column about the possibility of war crimes committed by a member of the Bush family?

“This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs – to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance.” After 9-11, there were some unsubstantiated reports that movies containing shots with the World Trade Center twin tower buildings were altered and the buildings eliminated from the images.

Could Jeb be elected President while the New York Time refrained from once mentioning the Broward Savings and Loan facet of the Bush Family History? Didn’t they recently admit that they didn’t call waterboarding torture because of a Bush Family edict? Isn’t it reasonable to assume if they voluntarily submitted once to the Bush Editorial Guidelines, they’d do it again? (and again . . . and again . . . and again . . .?)

We had a recnet chat with a fellow, Gentle Waters, who covered some of Berkeley’s most famous protests for the now defunct Berkeley Barb weekly newspaper. He agreed that using the electronic voting machines would facilitate the return of the Bush dynasty to the White House.

Did the soldiers in WWII fight to establish such a mockery of democracy in action? At the same time we met the former member of the Barb staff, we came across a 1945 copy of “The Best From YANK The Army Weekly” and were astonished to find that at least one solider specifically said he was against that future phenomenon. In a poem titled “A Plea to the Post-War Planners, T/Sgt. Philip Reisman USMC wrote (E. P. Dutton & Co hardback p-97): “ . . . I’ve little use for synthesized soup, or operas (soapy) televised, or trips to Mars in Roman candles, or caskets trimmed with Lucite handles, or wireless ballots for brainless voters, or Buicks with transparent motors . . .”

Here’s a difficult question for a conservative. Ask: “Will George W. Bush use the statute of limitations to avoid a War Crimes Trial?” It assumes that Bush was a war criminal and just narrows the focus down to a binary choice: will he or won’t he skate? Wouldn’t the concept of a statute of limitations for war crimes give Adolph Eichmann a good laugh?

When George W. Bush stepped down from the Presidency, some references were made about time running out for any War Crime Trials. The collaborators in the “free press” kept a straight face and refused to ask the antagonistic question about “Where did you get the absurd notion that war crimes have a statute of limitations?” Instead they just pass along the phony Republican talking point and essentially become accessories after the fact for the war crimes.

Chris Wallace will be remembered for being the first to speculate about a Jeb presidency, but the big opportunity for a “journalist” to shamelessly suck up to the Bush family and win brownie points will come this fall after the electronic voting machines are used to prime the pump for a Jeb win in 2012 by giving a Republican majority to both the House and the Senate. Who will be the first “journalist” to anoint Jeb as the frontrunner?

Won’t the fellow, who sets the precedence for the rest of the media to meekly follow, get “mega-dittos” praise for his valiant effort to do the John the Baptist routine for the Jebster?

Would it be good marketing to call the younger Bush Dubya’s Big Brother as a way of reinforcing the dynasty meme?

Since Jeb was the governator of Florida, isn’t there ample opportunity now for him to step up to the network microphones and criticize President Obama for the oil spills that are arriving at the various Florida beaches this summer? Couldn’t the sycophant “free press” skip over the process of the coronation of Jeb as front runner and cut right to crafting Jeb’s image as the leading spokesman for the Republican Party?

A journalist might point out that it would be odd to have Jeb blaming Obama for a policy of dispensing with oversight and regulation that was instituted by George W. Bush, but there is precious little danger of a bonafide journalist saying anything about a member of the Bush family that isn’t pure unadulterated admiration. Only the lunatics known as extreme left bloggers can say anything that smacks of disrespect for the Bush dynasty and they are merely tolerated as if they are America’s official crazy uncle.

For cynical columnists the summer of 2010 may be remembered as being similar to the minutes at a Rolling Stone concert when the audience’s collective nerves are stretched to the breaking point as they wait for Bill Graham to come on stage and say the magic incantation: “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s all about to happen . . . .” Just like a concert featuring the greatest Rock and Roll band, America will, this summer, work themselves into a frenzy of anticipation as “America’s next President” sits in the green room and waits for the paperless trail electronic voting machines to do their job. A Republican majority in the House and Senate will be installed this fall. Jeb will be anointed “frontrunner.” He’ll be elected in 2012 and the restoration of the Bush dynasty will be complete.

The compliant “free press” can do their part by beseeching Jeb for a statement about the arrival of the oil spill on Florida’s beeches and not blink an eye when his unbiased assessment is: “It’s all Obama’s fault.”

Orwell predicted: “The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that a past or future agreement with him was impossible.” Hence an endless war is not just inevitable; it is the ultimate goal. Isn’t it obvious that Jeb will do a better job than Obama when he takes the helm as commander-in-chief? The inauguration of a member of a dynasty will convey the proper image for thinking of the fighting for the pipeline in Afghanistan as an endless process that will be passed from generation to generation and not a passing fade.

Marty McFly said: “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” He forgot to add that if a member of the Bush family puts his mind to it and if that is augmented by the paper trail-less electronic voting machines; it’s a “gimme.”

For those who think that electronic voting machines shouldn’t be a daily cause for concern, maybe they should call the Mike Malloy radio program this week and ask guest host Brad Friedman, if such concern is a bit of “Duckly Lucky” alarmism in action or not.

Perhaps it was Barbara Bush who expressed the Bush family political philosophy when she said: “This is working out quite well for them; isn’t it?”

Now the disk jockey will play the 1984 hits: “Ghostbusters,” “Karma Chameleon” and “Church of the Poison Mind.” We have to go road test the new Flux Capacitor. Have a “thought crime” free type week.

January 23, 2010

Onward Neocon Soldiers, Fighting As to Orwell!


December 19, 2009

The Tattlesnake – The Political Good, Bad and Ugly Edition

Good: Your husband has decided to get more involved in
local politics.
Bad: He’s running for congress as a conservative Republican.
Ugly: He’s Karl Rove.

Good: Your wife just got a great-paying job.
Bad: She’s on Fox News.
Ugly: After fifteen years of marriage, you never knew she was a wingnut.

Good: Your 22-year-old daughter just announced she’s marrying the man of her dreams.
Bad: He’s old enough to be her grandfather.
Ugly: He’s Mitch McConnell.

Good: Your 21-year-old son’s new book is about to be published.
Bad: It’s a biography of George W. Bush.
Ugly: He’s started talking like him.

Good: Your wife buys a new hat for her birthday.
Bad: It has teabags hanging off the brim.
Ugly: They’ve all been used.

Good: The recently discovered Bush emails prove conclusively that Bush, Cheney, Rove, et al, committed high crimes while in office.
Bad: Holder’s Justice Department refuses to prosecute them.
Ugly: Obama excuses them by saying, “Anyone could make a mistake.”

Good: You laugh at an Andy Borowitz satire about Glenn Beck ‘editing’ and releasing an ‘abridged’ version of “1984″ wherein Big Brother’s name is replaced by Obama’s.
Bad: Turns out it’s not an Andy Borowitz satire.
Ugly: The MSM quote from the book as if it were George Orwell’s original version.

Good: Your daughter just got a new job.
Bad: She’s working for Bill O’Reilly.
Ugly: She just bought a case of loofahs.

Good: Your son just got a new job.
Bad: He’s working for FreedomWorks.
Ugly: He’s Dick Armey’s ‘butt boy.’

Good: You just got a tenured job at a university.
Bad: You’re teaching ‘Creation Science.’
Ugly: At Messiah College.

Good: The ideas of Tom Paine are being discussed on TV.
Bad: By Glenn Beck on Fox News.
Ugly: Beck has made liberal agnostic Paine into a far-right Christian fanatic just like himself.

Good: Your son has been signed to star in a major motion picture.
Bad: It’s “The Life of Rush Limbaugh.”
Ugly: He was hired due to his strong resemblance to the subject.

Good: You’ve accepted a $50,000 speaking gig.
Bad: At the next CPAC convention.
Ugly: Your topic is “The Incredible Genius of Sarah Palin.”

Good: You’re not feeling well and your friend says he will find you a good doctor.
Bad: You’re flat broke.
Ugly: Your friend is Joe Lieberman.

© 2009 RS Janes.

August 3, 2008

McCain Doublethinks His Position On Taxes – Again

George Orwell, Meet John McCain – He’s Somewhere Over There in That Pile of Horse Pucky – Oh, Wait, I Mean Over There…

“They call him Flipper, Flipper, he flops faster than lightning, no one you see, changes quicker than he…”
– Paraphrased from the lyrics to the “Flipper” TV show theme.

Weren’t taxes the only issue McCain hasn’t flipped like a steelhead out of water on – I mean for a year or so anyway. Then, within a week, the old codpiece flips to “nothing’s off the table” regarding taxes and then flops back to “I won’t” raise taxes. Sweet Cheesus on a Ritz cracker, I need a neck-brace.

Hasn’t Cap’n McNasty set some kind of land-speed record for political flip-flops by now?

As George Zornick clarifies at Altercation August 1st:


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