May 10, 2013

Syria, Benghazi, and Impeachment

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:24 pm

Republicans, who hate President Obama with a white heat level of intensity, impeached President Bill Clinton for a lie under oath about getting a blow-job and have been searching for a reason to impeach Obama since he was “President elect,” have managed to get the mainstream media to misunderestimate the political potential of the deaths of Americans in Benghazi and may be in position for an ambush attack regarding impeaching Obama. 

America’s mainstream media’s tendency to practice wolf pack journalism (led by Fox?) was operating at warp speed this week as all hands became obsessed with a Cleveland crime story, while the Republicans performed the chess moves needed to put the pieces on the playing board in place for achieving the ultimate goal of the political maneuvering regarding the investigation of the Benghazi debacle.

Would the Republicans be so disloyal as to move towards impeachment while the President was distracted by American involvement in a new war in theMiddle East?  Doesn’t folk wisdom advise that everything is fair in love, war, and politics? 

Realization of the ultimate political advantage of discovering deliberate lies regarding the events inBenghazimight explain the level of enthusiasm at Fox regarding the need for a full investigation into the back story about the handling of the events inLibya.  When sharks smell blood, it’s a good idea not to get caught between them and the source because the concept of “feeding frenzy” is something you don’t want to experience first hand. 

If reporters and politicians still trade information in the “off the record” mode of communication, then all parties might realize the political potential to be found in revelations about Obama’s whereabouts the night of the Benghazi events and thereby know that a headline grabbing search for the truth might be worth the effort, then a long replay similar to the Monica Lewinski circus may soon push the national discussion about guns off the top of the political agenda list. 

Where were the drones when the attack inBenghaziwas happening?  Aren’t drone strikes as readily available inLibyaas the delivery of a certain brand of pizza is in theUSA? 

The fact that the President’s whereabouts for the night of September 11, 2012 isn’t being reported, may mean that the Benghazi investigation may be a stealth way to introduce some embarrassing information into the news cycle without looking like it is just another political smear campaign.  If President Obama has to lie under oath about the particulars of his schedule for that night, the Republicans would, once again, be able to loudly proclaim their brand identity with family values while evoking echoes of theClintonproceedings.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Congressman Mark Sanford, who was a leading critic of President Clinton’s inability to manifest the family values embraced by the Republicans, regains his status as a leading guardian of public morality by speculating where President Obama was (and what he was possibly doing) on the night of September 11, 2012?

In an era of a kaleidoscopic aspect to news coverage, a return to the constant drum beat of a slow procession to impeachment proceedings might have some additional nostalgic appeal for the Republicans.  (We noticed a small item online this week informing readers that the North Korean missile units had quietly implemented a stand down order.) 

Mike Huckabee, according to a Google News search earlier in the week, was the only Republican breaking the informal “news embargo” on the word “impeachment.”  

If the lame duck President wants to drag out the process, that will only be to the advantage of the Republicans who would love to have impeachment proceedings coincide with the mid term elections in 2014. 

If, on the other hand, the Democrats don’t want a long and nasty series of news events, while they contend with the riggers of reelection, then they might have to explain to the President that expediency trumps loyalty quite often in Washington D. C.

The mainstream media, for the most part, are owned by wealthy conservatives who would (presumably) be very cooperative with any efforts to act as accessories (like the chorus in a Greek tragedy?) for the effort to bang the drums slowly and gradually build the volume to a the level of a howling (lynch?) mob demanding “justice.”

Meanwhile, the Republican pundits seem to be missing a chance to ask why the terrorist’s widow isn’t being questioned by the interrogation specialists atGuantanamo. 

The conservative pundits don’t want to exploit the impeachment implications of theBenghaziattack because they don’t want to tip their hand too soon.

The leftist pundits don’t want to bring the subject up because they don’t want to give the Republicans the idea of going that route. 

“Bert Stern Original Mad Man” a film about the career of photographer Bert Stern provided us with a one night opportunity to experience time travel back toNew York Cityin the Sixties.  We considered doing a review of the film as the only topic for this week’s column, but, even though we enjoyed the movie thoroughly, the historic nature of the first full week of May 2013 overwhelmed the value of focusing exclusively on the pop culture diversion.

We had also considered doing a column about gun songs, but our effort to solicit suggestions on Facebook, produced only one title:  the Beatles’ “Happiness is a warm gun.”  We did some fact checking and found that Lorne “Bonanza” Greene had recorded a song titled “Gunslinger’s Prayer” and Weird Al’s song “Trigger Happy,” was on Youtube.  Doing all the fact checking for an entire column about gun songs wasn’t feasible due to the time available and so perhaps, since guns seems to be the key issue for the 2014 mid term elections, we will ration out mentions of popular gun songs over the next year and a half. 

The California Supreme Court disappointed pot smokers, who had approved a 1996 measure to sanction medical marijuana, by saying that cities had a legal right to quash dispensaries within their municipal borders. 

On Tuesday of this week, the Armstrong & Getty featured a guy from the save the plastic bag dot com web site, who alleged that the idea that wildlife dies because of plastic bags is a myth and that since he has never seen pictures of the garbage island in the Pacific Ocean (apparently his Google image searches were unsuccessful) it doesn’t exist. 

Isn’t it remarkable that all the things that treehuggers say always turn out to be myths but that any attempts to question facts from conservatives are automatically classified as lunatic conspiracy theories?

How long will it take conservatives to note that the case of the missing women in Cleveland, the terrorist discovered last week, and the recent flawless inspection of millions of homes in the Boston area might, if taken together, be enough to prove a need for a police inspection of all homes in America? 

Speaking of the homeless, we heard a story on KCBS news radio that indicated that the (compassionate Conservative Christian?) citizens in the San Jose area wanted several million dollars to be appropriated to hire park rangers to keep encampments of homeless people out of some parks in the area.  What happened to the “austerity cuts” meme? 

Randi Rhodes, on Thursday, told her radio audience that if the police fumble on a call about a woman being held prisoner in a house, perhaps the Good Samaritan caller should just say they suspect that marijuana is being grown on the premises.  That should, she asserted, get the SWAT team to investigate the tip and search the home.

Norman Goldman, (who is a lawyer) also on Thursday, gave his listeners a heads-up about theClevelandcase.  The DA there has filed murder charges stemming from the alleged amateur abortion efforts of the suspect.  If the abortions provide the basis for a murder conviction, the case could become a landmark game changer for the pro life abortion foes.

Charles Ramsey became an Internet celebrity this week when he provided the quote of the week:  “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl runs into a black man’s arms, I said, ‘Something is wrong here’.”

The disk jockey (for his suggestions for best gun songs) will play the Victory at Sea theme music, the 1812 Overture, and the theme song from the TV show “Have Gun Will Travel.”  We have to go see “Gatsby” and see if it is as bad as the reviews lead us to believe.  Have a “Kapooyah, kapooyah!” type week.

February 16, 2011

Did GWB predict the Middle East uprisings?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:32 pm

Photographers who always have a small digital camera in there pocket might fully appreciate more fully the convenience of the digital camera if they had used a 4X5 Speed Graphic camera in college to get “grab shots.” These days the term “grab shot” will probably conjure up a hypothetical image of some boisterous conduct that gets posted on Facebook, but back in the day it symbolized a concept that was part of the Advertising vs. Photojournalism debate.

Henri Cartier-Bresson was famous for taking “candid” shots that were as dramatically different from the ones in the ads as were the stogy Hollywood films that used rear screen projection shots for car ride sequences and the same chintzy sets over and over again versus the “Johnny on the spot” newsreels that capture history in the making.

Photographer Bert Stern revolutionized photography by taking one photo of a Martini. He went to Egypt to take a photo of a Martini with one of the iconic pyramids in the background, for Smirnoff.

Back then, boys and girls, there were only a small number of darkroom wizards who could manipulate an image well enough to make it look completely natural. Today, through the magic of Photoshop, a college level student can whip together a photographic image that is both realistic and notable because it defies logic. The thought of paying a name photographer to take an all expenses paid trip to the Cairo area just to come back with an image of a glass full of booze and one of those “how did they do that” upside down stone cone buildings in one frame would be über-laughable. (Will the Internets make umlauts obsolete?)

About a year ago this columnist bought a Nikon Coolpix and has carried it everywhere. The fact that it is getting pretty beat-up brings to mind an opportunity to inject this bit of arcane and esoteric photographic nostalgia: Among photojournalists who had the black finish Nikon F cameras there was a bit of macho competition to see which photographer had worn through the black and was showing the most brass.

In the intervening year, we have taken approximately 7,000 pictures. In the old day, a roll of color slide film (We mourn the passing of Kodachrome) and developing would run a fellow about $10. Using the old rounding off dodge, that would mean (at three rolls per 100 images) 3 X 70 X $10 = $2,100. Whew! Did we save some major bread or what?

We could get a chance to maybe get a newsphoto in San Francisco on the night of Wednesday, February 16, 2011, but why bother?

In a perverse bit of logic, we would rather spend the funds necessary to get some images at this year’s installment of the 24 hour race for sports cars at Le Mans. At first glance that don’t make sense, but since the Internets is changing things (and messing with proper English?) it may hold up under closer scrutiny.

If a fellow was a newspaper photographer and his roommate was the sports editor, maybe he could go take photos of the Saturday night high school basketball game (the editor didn’t have to go because he could “call the coach Sunday night” for a story in Monday’s paper) in return for doing less of the household chores. It doesn’t mean earning any overtime but it does make sense, n’est-ce pas?

If a news photo isn’t salable and if the only criterion is personal satisfaction, Le Mans, here we come!

Here’s an added bit of rationalization: A photo of the local sports scene doesn’t have much appeal for use on a website specializing in national and international issues, but pictures of (hypothetical example) newspapers featuring a picture of an American politician on the front page of newspapers being sold in a Paris news kiosk, might.

(We did take some shots of a particularly promising pitcher at Santa Monica High, some time ago. Where did we file those old negatives of the Baseball’s Hall of Fame guy named Tim Leary?)

In the old days a “stringer” might spend the entire day trying to get a good B&W (Does Kodak still make Panotomic X?) photo and getting it to a wireservice and selling it outright for $25. These days if a photographer gets a photo of local interest [say a shot of the Mog truck from Oregon] he apparently can’t offer the same picture to two local competing Internets web sites. It seems that you can let one or the other use it for free, but not both.

Speaking of “things have changed,” does any young blogger know how to do a “hed count”? Why do newspaper headline writers prefer words with “l’s” and “i’s” over words with “w’s” and “m’s”?

According to a reliable source, the major league pitcher “Dizzy” Dean used to pause, while he was at work, and watch planes fly over the stadium. Idiosyncratic personalities with “a unique voice” were thought to be the promise of Internets democracy. As the corporatization of the web continues, the homogenization of the voices becomes more prevalent.

If a rogue blogger asks: “Did the turmoil in Egypt validate George W. Bush’s claim that invading Iraq would create a demand for democracy in the Middle East” will it call to mind the tree falling in a forest with no humans around? Even Conservative pundits may want to ignore that idea and hold it as a trump card to be played later in the game. Such as when it may be a part of the JEB strategy to promote the idea that Obama fumbled the ball and that the George W. Bush strategy for the Middle East was “spot-on.”

Heck, if the Egyptian military seizes power and props up a new dictator, JEB might assert that all that was Obama’s fault. That will come later, not now. It’s too early to bring that up.

Whoops! This is supposed to be a column about photography in the digital age. Pardonez moi, eh?

We did get a picture of a very intense conversation for the college yearbook using the aforementioned 4 X 5 Speed Graphic and we thought: “Who needs a Leica? (Isn’t it curious that the 35mm brand name is challenged by Word spell-check?) Henri Cartier-Bresson, eat your heart out!”

After college folks used to comment that the Nikon FTn was too heavy. Not after using a camera that used film holders, it wasn’t. However, it is rather convenient to have what amounts to a portable Sixties photo studio fit comfortably into the pocket of your jeans.

Someday, we may learn the html mumbo jumbo incantation necessary to make a photo appear in a column, but for now the best we can do is link to our photo blog.

Now, the disk jockey will play the song “Kodachrome,” the “Grand Canyon Suite” and “the Stripper.” (Will anyone realize that offset printing required stripping negatives?) Now, we have to take the Coolpix and go wander around aimlessly looking for some digital photo ops. Have a “regional split” type day.

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