May 31, 2013

Got Reality Gaps?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:24 pm

Dueling perceptions often compete for supremacy in the realm of conspiracy theories.   Is this a photo of a turtle’s shell or a manhole cover?

“Conspiracy Theory in America” (University of Texas Press, Austin TX, © 2013) by Lance de Haven-Smith came to the attention of this columnist when it was spotted in the window of the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco and seemed worth the trouble of being granted an exception to the rule:  “We don’t buy books to review them” because we have been worried by the idea that if we don’t soon find a comprehensive encyclopedia of conspiracy theories, we will have to fill the gap in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory reference library by writing such a book and that would be a lot of work to undertake.

It turned out that the book wasn’t aimed at readers hoping to reap new and sensational disclosures for the “round up the usual suspects” list of conspiracy theories.  The “Conspiracy Theory” (AKA CT) label has become the equivalent of a chess game that involves the “Fool’s Pawn” strategy, in which a beginner plays a game that involves only three move.  The victim makes one unwise move and the game is over.

Lance deHaven-Smith bolsters his claim that the CIA used the “conspiracy theory” label to attack critics of the Warren Commission Report by providing a transcript of dispatch #1035-960.

For debaters, the “Conspiracy Theory” label is the verbal equivalent of a come from behind walk-off grand slam in baseball.  Can’t you just imagine the voice of Mel Allen doing a play-by-play account of the debate?  “The Theorist asserts that one bullet can not possibly deliver that amount of damage to two victims and remain in (virtually) pristine condition. . . . the opposing debater steps to the plate.  Three on two out and the score is six to three against the ‘Official Version of the Truth’ team.  The pitch.  It’s a long drive to right.  The ‘Conspiracy Theory Lunatic’ charge is invoked! It’s outta here.  Home run!  End of debate!  The crowd goes wild as the batter (debater) trots around the bases.”

The defendants at Nuremberg were tried not for specific murders or incidents of torture, but (page 71) for “‘participating in the formulation or execution of a Common Plan or Conspiracy’ to wage aggressive war.”

The book discusses the “conspiracy theory of the Fourteenth Amendment” which was promoted by Charles Beard and his wife Mary in 1927.  The “Corporations are people” move started long before the current members of the United States Supreme Court were sworn-in.

On page 107, readers are informed:  MWAVE is the name of the CIA station in Miami.  Wasn’t it actually JMWAVE (J M as in Jose Martine?).

In the back of the book, in Table 5.1, we learn on an unnumbered page that in 1968 “With RFK out of the way . . . Nixon is reelected.”  WTF?

On page 106 a sentence that spills over to the next page states that the Warren Commission findings are unchallenged.  Apparently the author is unaware of the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations ( or chose to completely ignore that Inquiry.

Recently we found a used copy of “True Enough:  Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society” (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken N. J. © 2008) by Farhad Majoo and it asserts that the Swift Boater attack on 2004 Democratic Party Presidential Candidate John Kerry’s record in Vietnam was a “conspiracy theory” that aimed to turn the record of an undisputed war hero into the belief in a story of a dishonorable soldier who didn’t deserve the medals awarded to him.

Could these two books taken together convince an unbiased reader that in an era when no official explanation of baffling events can stand up to scholastic investigation that the government misleads voters with lies or are there valid gaps in reality that are due to occasional anomalies such as things not conforming to the scientific (them again!) laws of physics that get a temporary suspension during intensive moments of history that carry a tremendous emotional impact (“Back and to the left!”)?

The two books present an odd paradox.  In one instance in the deHaven-Smith book, the concept of “conspiracy theory” is used to dispel the effect facts might have on a debate, while Manjoo examines the fact that the Swift Boat vets didn’t supply any valid facts to change voters’ opinions about Kerry’s conduct in combat.  (“But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. . . . He loved Big Brother.”)

“True Enough” is an entertaining and informative book length elaboration that concurs with the psychological investigation done by Simon and Garfunkel that was summed up thusly:  “ . . . a man hears what he wants to hear and all the rest is lies and jest . . . .”

We have also acquired a bargain used copy of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.”  Disciples of St. Ayn Rand believe that capitalists were and continue to be benevolent philanthropists whose generous attitudes towards employees make the need for unions and strikes irrelevant, immaterial, and obsolete. Unfortunately the (Leftist?) folks who read about the Ludlow massacre, the Pullman strike, the Republic Steel strike (“Autopsies showed that the bullets had hit the workers in the back as they were running away; . . . .”  Op cit, page 392), and the Ford Motor Company strike, seem vulnerable to a more cynical attitude regarding duplicity and deception from captains of industry than the loyal fans of Ayn Rand do.

Zinn’s book makes a reader wonder:  If what you learn in history class was subjected to exaggeration, spin control, and rewriting, is it reasonable to expect the government to flat out lie about some events?

A copy of “It’s a Conspiracy!” written by “The National Insecurity Council” published by Earth Works Books of Berkeley CA in 1992 was acquired used for a bargain basement price.  It is a well done book but since there have been one or two more instances since 1992 where skeptics charge that the United States Government deliberately committed prevarications, a revised and update version of this work might be a good idea.  Whew!  Looks like we don’t have to write an encyclopedic overview of the topic of conspiracy theories after all!

Will the questions being asked about the details surrounding the recent death of a suspect in Florida spawn a new conspiracy theory about a cover-up?

Recent news reports indicate that top secret American Military plans and designs have been acquired by hackers.  That news makes us wonder why the military didn’t use the services of the companies that designed and provided the unhackable electronic voting machines.  Was there a conspiracy to exclude them and use the inept people who let this scandalous electronic invasion occur?

Some skeptics who think that the “low ball the bid and be caught off guard by cost overruns that will provide the missing margin of profit” trend may, in the future, be invoked by the a low bid winner of a facet of California’s coveted “bullet train” project (that voters don’t want to subsidize) out in the dessert.  Cost overruns can always be explained away by the old “blindsided by reality” (i.e. “no one could possibly have foreseen . . .”) ploy.

Can allegations of unexpected “cost overruns” be classified as a subcategory of “conspiracy theory” and thereby be exempted from embarrassing witch hunt style investigations?

There is supposed to be a march from Oakland to Stockton, to publicize allegations of “police brutality” in the bankrupt city, starting at noon on Friday May 31, 2013.  The march is scheduled to start shortly after this column is posted.  Will critics contend that police brutality in that city is being covered up?  We’ll have to include an update on that topic in our column next Friday.

If we score a press pass, we’ll go to the Conspiracy Convention ( ) this weekend in Milpitas and write up our perception of it for next week’s column.

[Note from the Photo Editor:  Dueling perceptions is the crucial element for conspiracy theories, so it seems that a photo that shows what some people may see as a turtle and others may just call a manhole cover with chalk graffiti markings qualifies for being the photo to run with this column.  Is it an image of a turtle or does it show a manhole cover?]

Legend has it that Aimee Semple McPherson’s response to reporters who were skeptical of her explanation of her kidnapping was the famous line:  “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

Now, the disk jockey will play (from the Twenties) “I Know that you know,” Peter and Gordon’s “Wrong from the start,” and Conway Twitty’s “It’s only make believe.”  We have to go put on our Gonzo Journalist disguise.  Have a “Just keep walkin’” type week.

April 26, 2013

Bombs, Bullets, and Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:35 pm

CA stands tall with Boston

“The Third Bullet” (Simon & Schuster New York © 2013) by Stephen Hunter is a fictional account of an investigation by a former U. S. Marine Corps sniper named Bob Lee Swagger into the murder of President John F. Kennedy.  Since this is the year of all gun chat all the time on talk radio and since this year will be the fiftieth anniversary of the tragedy in Dallas Texas on November 22, we were pleasantly surprised to learn of the existence of this new installment in a series of mystery-adventure novels about a fellow who is loosely based on the legendary Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock because it seemed that none of the trolls who dominate the national discussion on guns has mentioned this new book.  We have read several of the preceding installments in the series and were aware that the book would contain some very detailed technical information about guns and bullets.  Suffice it to say that this new book blends accurate details of known American history with some speculation in a manor that is both entertaining and thought provoking.

Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Agent,” which describes the anarchy caused by bomb throwing Bolsheviks and was published in 1907, is based on a true life incident that occurred in London in 1894 but it still has that “ripped from today’s headlines” aura of relevancy to it.  We wonder if teachers will urge their students to read this example of American Literature.  Conrad’s novel “Under Western Eyes,” is an almost century old look at the world of political fanatics in Russia.  What’s old is new and these two old books may start selling again.

“Twilight at the World of Tomorrow,” (Ballantine Books New York © 2010) by James Mauro tells the story of the use of a bomb by terrorists at the Great Britain Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair on July 4, 1940.  There had been other bomb incidents at that time in the New York City which were caused by a union dispute.   This bit of New York City terrorism remains an unsolved mystery.

“Live Fast, Die Young (The Wild Ride of Making ‘Rebel without a Cause’)” by Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel (Touchstone © 2005) just happened to be the next book on our recreational “in” pile as pundits around the world faced the task of doing a weekend wrap-up for the week that included the Boston Marathon Bombing.  In that book, we learned (on page 79) that on the G. E. Theater episode titled “The Dark, Dark Hour,” James Dean worked with Ronald Reagan.

In a world where folks can see hundreds of cops standing around (on OT?) doing nothing, while the air traffic controllers are taught the pragmatic reasoning behind the move that destroyed their union, some cynics think that it may just be the latest installment in the long history of the anarchy caused by bomb throwers.

Did the folks on all Gun Chat radio all the time notice that while the police searched for the bombers, Sen. Harry Reid was saying “gun control legislation is dead for this year.”

Will the capitalist business owners in Boston charge employees who missed work on the day of the lockdown with a vacation day or will they cry “sequester cuts!” and declare that it was a one day sequester event and they need not pay for it?  How many will be magnanimous and pay regular salary for the missed work day?

Boston dominated the news but KPFA reported that something bad may have happened at Guantanamo the Saturday before Patriots’ Day.  Naturally the mainstream media ignored that and other important stories.

A fellow who was arrested for sending poison to politicians was released and can resume his career as the most famous Elvis impersonator alive.

If the Butthead and Bevis duo used cell phone technology to detonate the backpacks, did they also learn how to do that from material they found on the Internets?  If not who mentored them?  If the two brothers were enrolled in Terrorism 101, will President Obama pull a Dubya and invade the campus and destroy the school?  If the American military is spread too thin, then does it not follow that the investigation must conclude that the older brother, Lee Harvey Tsarnaev duped his younger brother into being part of the gang of two and that they acted alone?

Now that the story is out that Syria has used poison gas after President Obama warned them not to do that, he seems to be caught in a classic binary choice familiar to barroom brawlers:  “Throw a punch or shut up and go away.”  Will President Obama and the Syrian leader now do a political version of the “chickie run” sequence in “Rebel without a Cause”?

If Obama sends American troops to get involved in that country’s Civil War, will Kim Jung Un get bolder thinking that Obama has run out of troops to send abroad?

Will Obama back up former President Bush’s threat to deal severely with any country that provided a training ground for any terrorists who would subsequently attack the USA or will he find out that the military is stretch too thin to back up that old warning with the promised action?

After seeing the spectacle of Boston being brought to a complete halt for a day by two young bomb throwers, cynics are asking:  “Will their quick apprehension serve as an effective deterrent or will it act as a catalyst inspiring copycats to make many more well publicized political statements with bombs?”  Will historians say that the boys from Chechnya opened the flood gates for a hoard of Mongol copy cats?

Has one other news item, the slipped past most of the mainstream media?  According to the Los Angeles Times, more charges have been filed against the County Assessor.

Since Dubya was notorious for not putting anything on paper we have always wondered what will be displayed at the Bush Presidential Library.  Apparently all the e-mails from fans will be one of the major attractions.

In the recently published book, “Ayn Rand Explained,” (Open Court Chicago © 3013) readers are informed (on page 17):  “Ideas, values, and behavior which we would reasonably think were wrong because they lead to the destruction of life are considered as acceptable as any others.”  What will conservatives do if it turns out that Tamerlin Tsarnaev was an avid Ayn Rand fan?  Could it be that he wore a WWJGD (What Would John Gault Do?) bracelet?

The guy, A. J. Clemente, who dropped the “F-bomb” on his debut as a news anchor in Bismarck, North Dakota, got invited onto the Letterman and Today TV shows, but our attempts to just find the name of his co-host, who remained composed and continued doing her job, were inconclusive.  Did A. J. read “Atlas Shrugged”?  Have American kids learned yet that “Incompetence Rules!” and that the old philosophy “Nothing is true, everything is permitted” would make a better motto for use on the money use by the USA.

Did the debate over “Miranda Rights” precipitate a situation where the prosecution’s case in the trial of the Boston Bomber is compromised before the opening statements are made?

Is an online pundit, who lives in Berkeley CA, being facetious and critical of the Democrat in the White House when he sports a 1940 Wendell Wilkie political button that proclaims:  “No Third Term”?

[Note from the photo editor:  While covering Occupy Oakland, we noticed an odd bit of graphics, from something called, which combined the outline of the state of California with the logo for Boston’s major league baseball team but we didn’t think it was relevant back then, but now that all the USA is expressing a desire to stand tall with Boston, we thought this photo might be an appropriate visual way to say that CA stands with Boston.]

Speaking of the New Deal, we are working on getting more details about an effort to establish a New Deal Museum.  With our luck the assignment editor for the features desk at the New York Times will read this column, scoop us, and save us a bunch of work.

According to “Live Fast, Die Young,” in early 1955, after being inured in a car wreck, actress Natalie Wood summoned movie director Nicolas Ray to her hospital room.  A Hollywood legend was born (page 40) when she (allegedly) whispered in his ear:  “They called me a goddamn juvenile delinquent.  Now do I get the part?”

Now the disk jockey will play the new Boston anthem, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” a memorial playing of Ritchie Havens’ “Freedom,” and a memorial playing of George Jones’ “He stopped loving her today.”  We have to go find a good Walpurgis Night Party to crash.  Have a “Why do we do this, Buzz” type week.

August 23, 2012

“If you are going to San Francisco . . .”

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

While tourists chase beatnik ghosts, they often ignore aspects of the current pop culture scene, such as graffiti artist Elvis Christ. Wouldn’t it be ironic if future tourists envied the folks in 2012 because of their opportunity to see contemporary San Francisco art history as it was being made?
Elvis was hard at work in San Francisco, earlier this week.

Finding a story on the Hispanic Business website about a trust fund that the Republican Party’s presumptive Vice Presidential nominee had “forgotten” seemed like a good topic for a column but since the Republican Party’s “presumptive” nominee has based his campaign on his business record and has refused to release his tax records which would clarify questions about his qualifications for the Presidency, and since that clever bit of coyness seems sufficiently alluring to earn the fellow a virtual tie in polls; we deem the prospect of doing the work to produce a column that offers intelligent analysis of the implications of an overlooked trust fund an example of absurdity for inclusion in the Dadaism Hall of Fame.

The fact that this week’s polls show that the Presidential race is a toss-up, means that the only people who will question the final results that are produced by the electronic voting machines in November will be conspiracy theory lunatics. It also means that it is too late to present facts which might help informed citizens change their mind about which candidate will get their votes. As the croupier would say when the roulette ball hits the wheel: “No more bets!” The die is cast. It’s time to write columns about sailing ships (the America’s Cup competition has started in San Francisco Bay), sealing wax, cabbages, and kings.

Would people who doubt the existence of global warming because it is based on the opinions of scientists be likely to consider the validity of an effort to use Schrödinger’s cat as a metaphor that explains the three card Monty game Mitt Romney is playing with his tax returns? “Ah, hah, Mr. Romney. you have the Maltese cat? You are a card, sir.”

We sent a link to the forgotten trust fund story off to radio talk show host Mike Malloy because he has more media clout and a bigger audience.

People seem to find the fact that TMZ found and published a photo of Paul Ryan without a shirt more interesting than the forgotten trust fund (or the completely ignored story about Paul Ryan’s girlfriend while he was in college. [Google News Search hint: “Paul Ryan girlfriend college”] Keli Goff at The Root seems the reporter who got the scoop)

We have been intending to shift the focus of our columns to feature topics such as the effect the death of singer Scott McKenzie might have on tourism in San Francisco because that, at least, might lure some new readers from across the big pond, to this website.

Tourists from all over the world arrive in San Francisco and, equipped with maps, and then go walking around the various neighborhoods trying to imagine what it was like being there in the past during the Beatnik era.

Back in the Sixties, one had to dig deep to learn that the area around the Bus Stop bar had been called “Cow Hollow.” That was the past. The Beatniks had come (the location of the legendary Six Gallery was about three or four blocks away) and gone but who cared about the writers from the past when everyone was hip to Flip Wilson’s comedy routine about “The Church of What’s Happening Now!”

Learning to drive a stick shift V-dub on the streets of San Francisco at the time when folks were still chuckling because of Bill Cosby’s comedy routine on that very topic wasn’t funny because you could very easily get into a car crash whilst learning to make the deft maneuvers with the clutch pedal and the brakes. Yeah, forty years later it may seem amusing, but not when it was actually “going down.” There were laws governing how the front wheels of a car had to be positioned when parking on one of the famed hills.

Who cared about Beatniks when the cast recording of “Hair” was ubiquitous? Beats were from a different decade. Jack Kerouac was an old man in his forties reportedly living in Florida. The Mamas and the Papas, the Doors, and the Jefferson Airplane were young and most likely would be playing a gig at the Filmore West very soon.

Back in the Fifties, when the Beat Generation in San Francisco was a popular media topic, the beats would have been talking about topics such as: the Bay area disk jockey Don Sherwood, Herb Caen’s columns, and the arrival of the New York Giants at their new west coast home.

The beatniks had had their day and when the hippie era arrived it was time to enjoy KFOG and KABL radio, read Herb Caen’s columns, talk about Benny Bafano’s sculptures, see the Fantasticks, and voice an opinion about the War in Vietnam.

Young folks who stay this summer at the San Francisco Civic Center hostel will see a poster listing the lineup at the Filmore, for a concert on the 1969 Labor Day weekend. They can look at the poster and just try to imagine what it would have been like to be able to go see that show. About three and a half years ago, we were in that hostel, looking at that poster and thinking that very thing: “Wow! What would it have been like to be in San Francisco that weekend and have the option of seeing that show?” Then we remembered, we had been seriously considered buying a ticket to that particular show until we got the chance to spend that weekend going for a job interview at the newspaper published in South Lake Tahoe.

On Tuesday, August 21, 2012, while doing some fact checking in the Beatnik North Beach neighborhood, we noticed a local artist using masking tape to make some political statements.

The map wielding tourists were searching for Beatnik ghosts and ignoring a fellow who was doing some street art. We wondered if, forty years from now, tourists would be wandering around the same neighborhood wondering what it would have been like to stop and chat with Elvis Christ. Since we can’t rationally expect to have that opportunity in 2052, we decided to take some photos and asked about him and his work now whilst we had the chance.

When we started back to the Transbay Bus Terminal, we encountered a photographer named “Grant” who had been shooting an assignment at the City Lights Bookstore for Interview magazine. He had been taking photos of the store owner, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who was also a poet, a book publisher, and a genuine member of the group of pioneers who started the Beat Era back in the Fifties.

It would have been a great photo-op if we could have gotten the chance to take some pictures of Grant and his subject, but it has always been a tenant of the World’s Laziest Journalist’s philosophy that (as they used to say in the Sixties) you have to stop and smell the (pop culture) flowers along the way. “Be here, now!”

Writing about the pop culture is similar to writing about horse racing. In the future, historians will look back on the summer of 2012 and focus on specific stories which will have become significant factors for inclusion in books about the election of the President in that year, but for a columnist trying to writing about the summer of 2012 as it is happening; an encounter with Elvis Christ will provide a desperation chance to solve the weekly dilemma “What will this week’s column be about?”

Ayn Rand has said: “Whoever tells you to exist for the state is, or wants to be, the state.”

Now, the disk jockey will play a Pussy Riot album, a Jefferson Airplane album, and Scott McKenzie’s “(If you’re going to San Francisco) Wear a flower in your hair.” We have to go check out the column potential of the Blackhawk Auto Museum. Have a “California Dreaming” type week.

August 11, 2012

Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand: Cognitive Dissonance Gone Wild


June 1, 2012

What They Were Thinking


April 19, 2012

Paul Ryan’s Cognitive Dissonance on Christianity and Ayn Rand

“House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says his Catholic faith helped shape the Republican budget plan by stressing local control and concern for the poor, according to an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network released Tuesday [April 10, 2012].”
– Deacon Greg Kandra, “Paul Ryan: My Catholic Faith Helped Shape Budget Plan,” The Deacon’s Bench, April 11, 2012.

“Rep. Paul Ryan – the Republican choice to address the nation following the State of the Union and author of the Republican budget – credits Ayn Rand as the reason he got in to politics, and he requires all his staff and interns to read her books.”
– American Values Network, “Ayn Rand & GOP Budget vs. Judeo-Christian Morality

“[Faith] is a sign of a psychological weakness … I regard it as evil to place your emotions, your desire, above the evidence of what your mind knows. That’s what you’re doing with the idea of God.”
– Ayn Rand, from an interview with Phil Donahue in the 1970s.

“Through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities — through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community — that’s how we advance the common good.”
– Rep. Paul Ryan, quoted in “Christian Debate: Was Jesus For Small Government?”, April 16, 2012.

“What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.”
– Ayn Rand, from an interview in Playboy magazine, March 1964.

“Ayn Rand more than anyone else did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism…it is the morality of what is going on right now and how it offends the morality of individuals working toward their own free will that is under attack and it is that that I think Ayn Rand would be commenting on that we need more than ever.”
– Rep. Paul Ryan

Mike Wallace: “You say you don’t like the kind of altruism by which we live. You like a certain kind of Ayn Randist selfishness.”
Ayn Rand: “ ‘Don’t like’ is too weak a word, I consider it evil.”
– From “The Mike Wallace Interview” CBS News, 1959.

“The whole damned history of the world is a story of the struggle between the selfish and the unselfish! … All the bad around us is bred by selfishness. Sometimes selfishness even gets to be a cause, an organized force, even a government. Then it’s called Fascism.”
– Garson Kanin, “Born Yesterday.”

“[Under Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy]: No government except the police, courts of law, and the armed services. No regulation of anything by any government. No Medicare or Medicaid. No Social Security. No public schools. No public hospitals. No public anything, in fact. Just individuals, each looking out for himself, not asking for help or giving help to anyone.”
– Gary Weiss, “The Horrors of an Ayn Rand World: Why We Must Fight for America’s Soul,”, March 26, 2012.

“I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it.”
– Rep. Paul Ryan. [He gives out “Atlas Shrugged” as Christmas presents? Whew, talk about cognitive dissonance.]

“Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
– Matthew 10:21 (KJV)

“It is immoral if it is placed above love of oneself.”
– Ayn Rand, from “The Mike Wallace Interview,” CBS News, 1959.

2012 RS Janes.

January 3, 2012

Politics as Religion, the Ayn Rand Way

aynandfrankensteinAnd vice-versa. The primary thing in politics is to maintain your skepticism and pragmatism. The current version of the Republican Party have abandoned both, when they are being fed what they want to hear, and cling to ideas both woefully archaic and provably tattered with failure. Presently, they seem to believe that if they build a high enough pile of manure, a pony will magically appear. That kind of thinking inevitably leads to defeat and extinction. Ironically, many Republicans who call hemselves Christians eagerly embrace the philosophy of Ayn Rand, an avowed atheist. Of course, the GOP Elite are not Christians, they are well-heeled grifters picking the pockets of the sheep and hewing to Randian ‘principled selfishness’ as a self-serving convenience to make themselves wealthier.

“Still, the mystery of Atlas Shrugged isn’t why is it so bad? Many books are this bad and some are even worse. No, the mystery is, why does anyone who made it out of eighth grade take it seriously?

“Yet, obviously, people do. Individuals capable of dressing themselves apparently love this, one of the most turgid, contrived, pompous, and comically over-written books ever published in English. Why?

“Because they believe. For Randroids, ‘glibertarians,’ ‘conservatives’ (whatever that means at this point) and Republicans in general, politics has become a matter of faith.” […]

“Faith not only requires you to ignore what happens in the world, it praises you for it. The more unsubstantiated, untenable, or preposterous the belief, the more virtuous the believer. So [The Wall Street Journal’s] Stephen Moore’s solution to global recession is to wave around one of the most unreadable books ever written as though it were holy writ. For him, and for the right, politics is now religion.

“And, as with any mythology, believers want to emulate their heroes. Cable traffic on the wing-nut sites after the last election featured many writers and commenters musing about ‘going John Galt,’ withdrawing their genius and talents from the rest of us and leaving us to our own moocherly devices. To which all one can reply is, Please do. Knock yourselves out. And take this hideous book with you.”
– Ellis Weiner, “On ‘Atlas Shrugged’ as a Guide to our Times,” Huffington Post, Jan. 12, 2009

December 1, 2011

Cap’n 1 Percent in ‘Protecting the Secrets of the Elite’


November 30, 2011

Cap’n 1 Percent in ‘Trickle Down Tricks’


June 6, 2011

Should Dems let an impeachable offense slide?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:13 pm

President Obama’s propensity for inept bungling has delivered a no-win choice of profound importance to the Democratic Party’s doorstep. After delivering a rebuke to Obama on Friday for his aggressive policy towards Libya, the Democrats can either take it to the next logical level by impeaching Obama or they can ignore the President’s failure to abide by the War Powers Act and thereby affirm the Bush Administration policy that the Constitution had become obsolete and irrelevant to America.

Has President Obama become the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to be subject to arrest in The Hague for war crimes? We dare him to go there and prove us wrong.

President Obama’s rash decision to oust Col. Qaddafi may have provided the Republicans with an opportunity to make their dream scenario of Impeaching America’s first President of Pan-african heritage come true.

If President Bush’s invasion of Iraq was an impeachable offense, the Democrats can now either move to impeach Obama for ignoring the War Powers Act or they can, by letting a second blatant violation of the law slide past, scrap that inconvenient part of the Constitution.

If Obama failed to get the Congressional approval necessary for the attempt to intervene in Libya’s internal affairs, then it would seem logical that he must be impeached for such a flagrant violation of his oath of office. If the Bush program of using Presidential authority to violate the Constitution and order troops into battle has replaced the method specifically established in the Constitution, then the question of immediate concern becomes: When will the Republicans make the determination of what other parts of the Constitution have also become outdated?

The Republicans, to participate in a move to impeach Obama, would have to completely ignore the fact that George W. Bush set the precedence with the invasion of Iraq and, like a woman with an “A” brand on her forehead giving a speech urging chastity, blithely make the case for the immediate impeachment of the President who has ignored the Constitution and the law of the land.

Such a brazen move would seem to be a bit hypocritical, but, in the past, the Republicans have never let a trivial matter such as blatant hypocrisy inhibit their efforts, so why should they suddenly let scruples hinder their program now?

Lefties and Progressives have always asserted that the Republicans were sanctimonious hypocrites so why should the party of “don’t do as I do; do as I say” stop inches short of the goal line just because of the threat of a bit of name-calling? Didn’t their mothers teach them the axiom about sticks and stones?

The World’s Laziest Journalist has speculated during the George W. Bush “lame duck” period about how long it would take the Republicans to find a basis for moving to impeach the (then) President-elect. Expecting Republicans to let a chance to make their dreams come true pass as a show of good sportsmanship may be a tad overly optimistic.

If the Republicans moved at a slow deliberate pace, they could spend all summer besmirching the President, and then make their move in the Fall.

If they were successful, my former classmate (in first and second grade), Joe Biden, would be sworn in and immediately have to contend with rebuilding the Democratic Party brand while (presumably) running his own reelection campaign and competing in the various primary elections in early 2012, while simultaneously conducting the business of day to day politics as usual.

If they failed to get Obama impeached, he would then have to fight to improve his image of being a Bush family clone, while raising funds for his own reelection, and contending with the various primary elections, which usually are not a high priority activity for a sitting President.

His critics on the Fox Network would be relentless in their unfair and biased condemnation of him for doing what George W. Bush had previously done. Obviously such heavy-handed punditry would generate some “sympathy backlash,” which would benefit Obama, but since most folks are reluctant (especially if they are not of Irish heritage) to assert an unpopular opinion, the majority of the country would be in a mood to treat the President very harshly.

The word temerity (which has the ironical meaning of being “ballsy”) would be bandied about recklessly if the Republicans did try to impeach Obama for doing that which George W. Bush had previously done, but that would be countered by the folk axiom that “Nature favors the brave.” Foreigner Rupert Murdock would make damn sure that Americans were continually assaulted by “pro-impeachment” partisan punditry.

Democrats who feared being tainted by an association with a President facing both reelection and immanent impeachment, would get very tired of hearing Fox talking heads tell the joke in which the Lone Ranger says to Tonto: “Look at all those Indians, Tonto, we’re in a very untenable strategic position!” (or words to that effect.)

Will Uncle Rushbo (will both he and Mike Malloy read this column?) be reluctant to gush about the vulnerability of Obama for impeachment proceedings or will he perceive it as an opportunity to be a leader of the de facto lynch mob?

Progressive bloggers will be reluctant to mention Obama’s vulnerability because they will not want to take the chance that they have inadvertently opened Republican eyes to a gambit they had not already noted. (Karl Rove enthusiastically encourages all underestimations of his cunning and shrewdness. [You don’t believe that? Just ask him if the World’s Laziest Journalist has him pegged with complete accuracy. Go ahead. We dare you to ask him. {He will probably deny knowing me.}])

Cynical columnists, who delight in venturing into taboo territory, might write a spoiler column about this opening for a possible Republican strategy. Any such renegade pundit would probably get more Democratic appreciation if they just inject obscure and esoteric cultural minutiae into their efforts. Such as?

Up until Thursday, June 2, 2011, this columnist had never heard of the writer from Dublin named Charles Lever. On that day we betook ourselves to the location in Berkeley CA which is our secret source of pop cultural delights and bought four books:
Bernard Shaw’s “Major Barbara,” H. G. Wells’ “Tono-Bungay,” Hesketh Pearson’s “Oscar Wilde His Life and Wit,” and Robert L. Heilbroner’s “ The Worldly Philosophers.” We purchase all four for less than a quarter of a dollar.

Two of the books, Pearson’s and Shaw’s, mentioned the Irish writer named Charles Lever. We consulted “The Penguin Companion to English Literature,” edited by David Daiches, and learned about the existence of a 34 volume collection of his work or a 37 volume collection edited by Lever’s daughter.

The four books contained enough raw materials for about a thousand columns in the Life-Arts field.

However, on Friday June 3, 2011, a friend lent us a copy of Douglas Brinkley’s “The Majic Bus,” and since we are very enthusiastic about road books we will have to read that one.

Then we went for a walk and stumbled across a bargain bin copy of Donald L. Miller’s “Masters of the Air,” and since we have a mystical connection to B-17 bombers from WWII, we will have to read every word of that book before writing a review.

That night we finished watching a VHS tape of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and realized there was enough new material in that old film for several columns. The year 1939 is considered by some critics to have been Hollywood’s Halcyon Year and Mr. Smith was nominated for 11 Oscars™. The theme of an honest man fighting a political machine backed by media ownership, might have some relevance for non Fox-addicted political thinkers. The idea that patriotic idealism is preferable to greed and bribery might be worth a column.

Form follows function as any fan of architecture knows so it’s obvious why today’s bloggers are flocking to the “thee dot journalism” style of column writing.

In Atlas shrugged, Ayn S. Rand wrote: “You who prattle that morality is social and that man would need no morality on a desert island – it is on a desert island that he would need it most. Let him try to claim . . . that a rock is a home . . . reality will wipe him out . . . .” Slyly injecting a problem in semantics into a discussion about morality might fool some Democrats (in an Irish pub?) but teabaggers won’t let such a blatant verbal equivalent of thee card Monty chicanery slid by unchallenged.

Perhaps we should do a column about Ms. Rand’s use of poor logic to confuse the audience? Maybe we could slip some references to James Norman Hall’s novel, “Lost Island,” into the discussion of morality on remote Pacific atolls? Maybe we could couch this debate in a column about the Tiki sub-culture in America? Then again applying the rules of logic to the words of Ayn S. Rand would, as far as her fanatical supporters are concerned, be as futile as trying to pick the fly’s excrement out of the salad. Why didn’t she use “Triumph of the Will” as the title for her book about John Gault?

Didn’t Ms. Rand use her middle name of Sally while performing a bawdy Vaudeville act before her first book was published?

We have just exceeded our self imposed “three e-takes” limit and so we will call the disk jockey in from the bullpen and he will play Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire,” “It’s All the Same” (from “Man of La Mancha”), and Lynn Anderson’s “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.” (Making promises in the Rose Garden isn’t the same thing?)

We have to go buy some more bargain used books. Have an “I, Don Quixote” type week.

April 22, 2011

The Truth About Ayn Rand


February 7, 2011

What can we do to help?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:22 pm

The world’s laziest journalist approached Super Bowl XLV with great trepidation not just because the Super Bowls haven’t been as good since the days when Broadway Joe pulled a magnificent upset, but also because of a great sense of shame because the American Journalism community, which would flock to cover an earthquake in Indonesia and would send as many reporters to New Orleans as there were soldiers on the Normandy Beaches, doesn’t seem capable of running a blurb about the recent monsoon disaster in Australia.

Suppose the Australians have a Spartan’s pride and need help but can’t bring themselves to ask for a helping hand? Shouldn’t American Journalism be covering the devastation story as well as they are attempting to cover the crisis in Egypt?

The United States should be asking “What can we do to help?” Let’s not wait to be asked. America’s strongest ally shouldn’t have to ask for help. It should be being offered right now.

Australia loved Oprah. Isn’t she retired or retiring? Couldn’t she make an attempt to be the catalyst for an instant benefit concert and thereby show some love in return?

Do you think that if Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, and Mel “Mr. Road Warrior” Gibson (Maybe we should put Hugh Jackman’s or Cate Blanchett’s name in here, rather than reference the bad boy out in the ‘bu?) asked some musicians to perform one song, they’d get some positive responses? Isn’t Australia a farm club for Hollywood? (Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know that Crowe was born in kiwi land. His apartment is in the Wilamaloo section of Sydney [rather close to Harry’s on Wheels hot dog stand] and his production company office is [?] in Santa Monica.)

Do you know what the official name of Australia’s Border Patrol is? It’s called The Coast Guard and they use boats not horses and SUV’s. Dude, is there any country in the world with more beaches? If he were alive wouldn’t Patrick Swayze, who played Bodie – the ultimate surfer – in the movie “Point Break,” (Where is Bell’s Beach?) lend his name to an Aussie Aid Benefit Concert?

After British Prime Minister Winston Churchill offended Australians, during WWII, by insisting that they send Australian troops to defend the Suez Canal (the British Navy needed the oil that traveled through that strategic bit of geography), Americans won a considerable amount of gratitude when they won the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway and saved Australia from a planned Japanese Invasion.

The threat was so real that the Australian government officials worked on the details of a potential surrender negotiations. They were ready to sign a peace treaty that would have let the Japanese occupy most of the Northern half of the island continent.

During 1943, the Thomas Y. Crowell Company published a book by Corporal Thomas R. St. George, titled “c/o Postmaster,” which was a humorous look at the story of a Yank who was shipped off to Australia and sat there at a remote post in Australia laughing about the SNAFU. Reading that book after learning the importance of the early battles in the Pacific during WWII, while visiting the War Museum in Canberra, it is obvious that for generals expecting a Japanese Invasion, it was a wise strategic deployment of allies’ troops and not a paperwork blunder. Expectations of an impending Japanese invasion were best kept secret from America’s civilians.

Writers are always striving to convey a sense of place and so perhaps we can inject a few words here that illustrate how Australia today is comparable to the United States in the “Wild West” phase of its history. On a bright December morning, in 2008, after nighttime noise in the hallway of a hostel in Kalgoorlie indicated that an altercation had occurred, two of the fellows, who were good friends, were suspected of being the ones who had the scuffle. They looked “pretty beat-up” but both the Falcon and the Bishop would only respond to inquiries about the noisy encounter by saying: “I don’t know what you are talking about!” What made folks think it was those two good friends who had the fight?

If you go to Google News and scroll down to the links for other news pages, the one for Australia will deliver a much clearer indication of the recent disaster than you can find in/on American news media. Whatsamatta Rupert Murdrock? Is he also using the stoical “I don’t know what you are talking about” Aussie macho pose? Or is he more interested in helping a certain potential Republican Presidential Candidate by keeping America’s attention focused on the Egyptian Crisis rather than Obama’s domestic agenda?

The great Greek humorist Plato once predicted that someday every man would be sitting in his hovel looking at his computer screen thinking that he (OK- or she) was accurately perceiving the world outside the 99th floor of his block. So it is that most Americans spent Sunday, February 06, 2011, worrying about the entertainment value of a Super Bowl without Joe Namath rather than checking up on the news from America’s closest Ally.

Australia has sent troops to Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. What the hell does the tribal bickering in two far away countries (one is completely landlocked and the other almost is) have to do with the welfare of the island nation that is famous for koala bears and kangaroos? The reason they are there is because the US said they need them and friends don’t balk when they are asked to help. Shouldn’t that be a “two way street”?

Speaking of conspiracy theories from insane bloggers, this might be a good time to slip in the question: “Where was Felix Rodriguez on the day Australian PM Harold Holt went for his last swim?” (We don’t think that certain files in Langley will ever be released by a Freedom of Information request.)

Here’s another almost incomprehensible full of bits of arcane, obtuse, and esoteric material that baffles teabagging trolls. This columnist is a big fan of the guy who does the Brad Blog and fills in for Mike Malloy on his radio program when he is sick or on vacation, but (there’s always a “but” in these columns, eh?) we would love to see/hear what would happen if one of Malloy’s most popular callers, an Australian called “Blue,” would be ever get the call to come in and substitute for Malloy. It seems to this listener that Blue would provoke Rush, O’Reilly, Hannity and a few regular liberal listeners more than Ann Coulter ever upset the liberals.

When the Internets opened and the pioneer bloggers wanted to “go beyond the black stump,” the most optimistic declared that perhaps the fad would generate some “unique voices.” Others feared it would limp along and eventually devolve into a homecoming/prom king popularity contest that would mirror the ratings races of the major media.

Gentle reader, please, if you agree with this columnist’s suggestion that an effort to send monsoon cleanup money and aid to Australia should be made, please send the link for this page to all your posse and suggest that they do what they can to increase a grass roots effort to hold an Aussie Aid Benefit Concert. They have also had a drought and a previous big fire, so maybe they deserve a good will gesture?

It’s obvious that it would be better to “go along to get along” and echo the daily cause and join the chorus in an internet version of the chase sequence in “Lady from Shanghai” rather than persisting in an attempt to follow Longfellow’s “I shot a column into the ether world . . .” example, but it kindda looks like the Crisis in Egypt is now so last week, why waste the time and energy doing a column that’s “a day late and a dollar short”?

Didn’t the lady who just sold her news aggregator site for $315 million, once say that bloggers don’t need to be paid? Were Murrrow’s boys in the union and getting union scale? Was Ernie Pyle in the guild? Will any bloggers see one penny of the proceeds from that sale? Isn’t the Ayn Rand philosophy of life so profitable? We digress.

The other day while walking among ghosts on Spoul Plaza, this columnist was approached by a young lady who asked: “Do you like vaginas?” It turns out that she was promoting a production of “The Vagina Monologues,” which will be held February 10, 11, and 12 at UC Berkeley. Can you just imagine her doing that in Australia?

In the book mentioned above, Corporal St. George, as he prepared to leave Australia and finally go to a combat zone, described it thus: “I amused myself with some morbid guesses on who, of these men in our truck, would be the first to “go.” Some online searches indicate he lived through the war, married an American nurse he met while stationed in Australia, and became a newspaper man in the Mid-West.

Now the disk jockey will play “Waltzing Matilda,” “A pub with no beer,” and “Dirty deeds done dirt cheap” (did you catch that bit about obscure and esoteric references?). We have to go find a news story about the fires near Perth. Have “Mad Max” type week.

January 21, 2011

Republicans: “My way or the highway!”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:39 pm

After writing a column speculating about a way to get some Conservative friends to listen to Mike Malloy’s radio program, one replied and said that he would offer me a wager about my effort to read Ayn Rand because he knew I hadn’t read any of her novels and he also offered the opinion that I should listen to Glenn Beck because his philosophy is remarkably similar to Gandhi’s. It was at that point that I became aware of the fact that I should accept the lesson that President Obama refuses to learn: the conservative version of open-mindedness is a binary choice between “my way or the highway.”

Will the subtle message conveyed by the fact that Gandhi’s autobiography was “The Story of My Experiments with Truth” escape my notice? Is that the basis for the comparison to Beck? Does Beck do with facts what Houdini did with elephants?

Dialogue with Conservatives is impossible. This columnist would be better served by applying his energy to the task of getting press credentials for the next 24 hour race at Le Mans or finding a copy of “Atlas Shrugged.”

Why did we specifically pick Mike Malloy rather than some other less acerbic liberal talk show host? The answer would be because we were including results from a test suggested by Bill O’Reilly. Back when he had a radio program, the Billster suggested a method to use for selecting reliable sources of information. O’Reilly, at that time, was crusading against Kitty Kelly’s book about the Bush family and he urged readers to select three items and fact check them. He pontificated that she would fail such a test and that her book was an unreliable smear job.

We had to go to the research Library at UCLA to find such esoteric resources as a way to check the accuracy of what Kitty Kelly said about one particular story published by a New York newspaper on July 30, 1941. We not only learned that she was correct, but also we picked up additional facts about Fritz Thyssen, Knight Wooley, and the Union Banking Corporation which came in handy later when Conservatives were discussing arcane items from the Bush family history.

Doing fact checking about New York newspapers printed in 1941 was possible in Los Angeles and can also be done in Berkeley, but we have some strong doubts about the access to that kind of fact checking resources for residents in Concordia Kansas.

We checked out the source for the Kelly claim that George W. Bush had, as a child, tormented frogs. (Kelly blatantly ignored the possibility that the frogs presented a credible security threat.) [In the past, we have read John Douglas’s book “Mind Hunter.” He helped pioneer the FBI profiler program. He said that kids who tortured animals were more likely to become serial killers.] Her source corroborated Kelly’s contention. (What does Glenn Beck’s philosophy have to say about the word “corroboration”?)

A third example of fact checking (about the time when Poppy Bush bailed out of his bomber during World War II) was successful and thus by O’Reilly’s own standards, readers could continue relying on “The Bush Family” for accurate information. Ironically, that simultaneously proved that O’Reilly’s insistence that any such test would discredit the Kelly book was itself wrong and thus O’Reilly was discredited by his own criteria about reliable sources performing at the “no hitter” level of quality.

At times, when we have fact checked Mike Malloy, he has passed the O’Reilly test and so we believe that if Malloy passes random fact checks that means (by O’Reilly’s own standards) that Malloy can be trusted. Furthermore, if Malloy’s facts are valid then the Republican track record veers toward war crimes, favoritism (for the rich), and union busting which indicates that the average working man may not get a fair deal.

Therefore we jumped to the conclusion that since Malloy passed the O’Reilly test, he would be the best basis for a recommendation that conservatives should give him a test listen to get a reliable different point of view.

All the foregoing is predicated on the idea that Conservatives might be interested in knowing accurate specifics about opposing points of view. Wrong! Weren’t Germans who listened, during World War II, to news not disseminated by the official government news source, automatically considered to be disloyal citizens? In the conservative mind, isn’t listening to Malloy comparable to urging Germans during World War II to listen to unapproved news? Reading resistance newspapers in Paris during the occupation meant that the reader would risk his (or her) life to get the information provided. Would you take that risk just to get an opposing point of view that’s wrong?

Speaking of Combat newspaper, Camus, and Sartre; how far is Le Mans from Paris? Are their any good hostels close to the race course?

After JEB is inaugurated (in January of 2013) will he reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine and use that to knock Malloy off the airwaves? (Would any conservative dare assert that Malloy is fair?) If so, why waste time and energy now getting conservative friends to listen to Malloy?

The very same liberals who do not see the philosophy of Gandhi in the words of Glenn Beck are the very same people who would assert that Malloy would not be adversely affected by a Republican sponsored measure to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine and eliminate unfair biased political punditry of the kind that Mike Malloy delivers to his audience.

Speaking of JEB and his inauguration, we have to do some more fact checking. The casinos in Las Vegas apparently don’t take bets on political races. British bookies are reported to accept bets on items outside the realm of sports. Can good patriotic red blooded Americans legally make an online wager with a British bookie from California? If not, can Americans send a bet to a bookie in London via snail mail? If not; perhaps it’s time to start searching for a short duration crash pad in Great Britain before going to Harry’s New York Bar (cinq rue Daunou) and the Le Mans race?

Cynics are implying that things are bad and that the USA has become a nation of sheep. Conservatives will respond with a trivia question about what fictional character coined the phrase “Silence of the Lambs” and how much was that imaginary guy to be trusted?

Are the same standards applied to what Don Imus says and what Rush Limbaugh says while imitating the comic genius of Sid Caesar?

If the liberals are going to misconstrue the pacifist teaching of St. Glenn into an example of inciting a riot, communication between the opposing factions of the American political scene is impossible and a columnist would be better off researching and writing columns about less factious topics such as the growing popularity of snapshot collecting.

Ayn Rand, in “Atlas Shrugged,” wrote: “Man has the power to act as his own destroyer – and that is the way he has acted through most of his history.” OMG! Doesn’t that sound to you like something a Global Warming theory nut, might say?

Now the disk jockey will be sure to please Conservatives by playing the Elvis version of these songs: “I Really Don’t Want to Know,” “Known Only to Him,” and “Edge of Reality.” [Note: we asked the disk jockey to play Elvis’ “Old Shep,” but he claimed that his rare and valuable copy of that particular song was out on loan to Rev. Dan in L. A. thinking that we couldn’t fact check that, but the Music for Nimrods program is now available for download so we can do some fact checking.] We have to go to the Zoo and take some snapshots of the polar bears (Ursus Maritimus) because those photos might be collectors’ items someday soon. Have a “Satori” type week.

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