March 21, 2014

March Madness eclipses real news

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:23 pm

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee 

CBS Evening News, on Sunday March 18, 2014, spent almost as much time covering the voting for the fate of the Crimea area in the Ukraine as it did in assessing the prospects presented by the basketball schedule for March Madness and that brought up the question of news value.  Back in 1939, were newspaper readers anxious for facts about the first NCAA basketball tournament or were the front pages filled with details elaborating the esoteric aspects of America’s foreign policy?

Most news broadcasts lately mention that a Soviet Naval base with great strategic importance is located in the province that includes the city of Sevastopol.  We did not hear much background information and had to look it up.  The Germans captured Sevastopol in WWII.  It was retaken by the Soviet Army.  The city was leveled during the fighting.  A half a million Russians died in the struggle to control the region including the nearby city of Stalingrad.

To understand just how offensive Russians find Obama’s medaling think how upset Americans would be if Putin told the American President that the battle field at Gettysburg could be improved starting with an urban development plan.

Putin’s heavy handed manipulation of the region is inappropriate but it sure won’t help matters if President Obama talks tough and gets into a “pissing match” with Russia.  President Obama’s greatest gift to the Republicans may be a revival of the Cold war but they will still hate him.

Since CBS will be broadcasting some of the games to determine the NCAA basketball champions and since Americans don’t care much about what the ultimate consequences of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (which was signed in 1939) will be; the coverage of the relative entertainment value of this year’s sporting event might, in retrospect, seem like a good news judgment call.

Unfortunately, in 1939, the management at CBS assigned their star reporter, Edward R. Murrow, to cover international developments in Europe and not the history making first installment of the NCAA basketball championship which was won by Coach Howard Hobson’s team from Oregon, when they beat Ohio State.

It doesn’t seem likely that 75 years from now, extensive coverage of this year’s March Madness will seem like a better news judgment call than some in-depth reporting about the history of Russia would provide but almost no one alive today will be able to live to see what is considered important old news in 2089.

Since all the speculation about what might have happened to the missing airliner seems amateurish and inept, we asked for and where granted an interview with a fellow who is on the board of directors at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory.

When we asked him what really happened, he noted that the plane was presumed to have gone west into the Indian Ocean.  “Is there a terrorist friendly destination in that direction?”  We answered “Somalia.”  “If the radio and transponder were turned off, would the airplane crew have missed something if they strayed into restricted air space and were challenged?”  We asked:  “How could there be restricted air space in the middle of the Indian Ocean?”  He smiled, shrugged, and said:  “Just suppose that there was for the sake of this conversation.”  The columnist pantomimed shooting at something in the sky.  Our expert witness paused for a moment or two and then asked:  “If it was in restricted air space, would they let searchers and the press into the area under the restricted air space where the debris would fall?”  We frowned and growled “Not bloody well likely.” After another shrug and smile, he said:  “Maybe they made it to Somalia and were given a safe haven for hijackers.”  Neither scenario would get much more than scant news coverage in the USA.

While most of the United States continued to suffer from a long hard winter, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in San Francisco was held while the Bay Area experienced balmy shirtsleeve weather.  Would conservative TV networks want to run a feature story that implies global warming is a fête accompli or would they rather focus their audience’s attention on the apparent contradiction a harsh winter presents?

The contrast aspect of the warm weather in San Francisco while cities back east struggled with snow removal problems was virtually stonewalled by the news media.

Isn’t it curious that in the land that venerates a Free Press, criticism of journalism has virtually disappeared?  Would A. J. Liebling find that amusing?

American news media seems perfectly content to ignore the Fukushima clean up and any concomitant impact that disaster has had on the environment.

The third week in March of 2014 may be used by future historians to designate when the America’s Free Press went flat line and marked the end of an era.

Substituting amusing and interesting information in place of fact filled political analysis might draw bigger ratings and consequently please network executives and it will take years before historians and media critics can produce any definitive conclusions about the results such a development might produce.

The best that the World’s Laziest Journalist can try to achieve is to spend time gathering innocuous information that proves the old maxim:  If you are having fun doing it; it isn’t work.

George Clayton Johnson who wrote several scripts for the Twilight Zone also wrote the first episode of Star Trek (not to be confused with the pilot episode) on a typewriter.  He has a page on Facebook and that makes us wonder if George will send a friend request to George Takei or will it be vice versa?  Will they have a friendly competition to see who gets the most Facebook friends?

Early this week, we read an online report that says that authorities in Cuba are starting efforts to refurbish Ernest Hemingway’s home Finca Vega in hopes of increasing the tourist attraction value of the location.  The World’s Laziest Journalist has a visit to that very place on his bucket list and the prospects for getting there are slim and none, but isn’t there a song from Man of La Mancha that can serve as a musical inspiration for such an attempt?

Just this week, we snagged a bargain copy of Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again” and were surprised to find that it contained a section that rhapsodized about finding love while soaking up the invigorating atmosphere at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Did you know that those games were televised?  They were filmed and the processing of the film caused a slight delay (about a minute) so that it could not be called “live” coverage.

[Note from the photo editor:  While many mayors in the USA were worried about snow removal, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was participating in a St. Patrick’s Day parade that was blessed with sunshine and temperatures in the mid Sixties and hence provided an image that graphically demonstrated the contrast aspect of the big country’s weather for that particular day.]

Near the end of chapter 16, of the aforementioned novel, Thomas Wolfe wrote:  “Was not this world of fashion and of privilege the deadliest enemy of art and truth?”

Now the disk jockey will play Marty Robbins’ “Beyond the Reef,” Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza’s duet “Bali Hai,” and the Andrew Sisters’ “(How’d ya like to spend) Christmas on Christmas Island?”  Since the New York Times probably won’t cover it, we figure we best go cover the 19th annual Anarchist Book Fair at the Crucible in Oakland on Saturday.  Have an “enemy of art and truth” type week.

February 13, 2013

How I learned to stop worrying and love Hypocrisy

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:51 pm

George Clayton Johnson, the fictioneer who wrote episodes for the Twilight Zone during its first season, urges writers to give their minds permission to contemplate impossible potential scenarios and so it is that the World’s Laziest Journalist decided that the Presidents Day weekend of 2013 would be a good time to post a column that posits the premise that the Republican Party is working towards the goal of destroying Democracy in the USA.

Is it too weird to ask if the Republicans started this campaign when some Wall Street executives approached American War hero Smedly Butler and proposed a coup d’etat as a way to save the USA from letting FDR take America down the road to Socialism?

Butler went public with the offer and that resulted in a Congressional Hearing that redacted some of the names of those involved when the transcript was published.  Publishing the names would have precipitated some wild irresponsible conspiracy theory talk and that was the last thing the country needed during the Great Depression.

After President Obama gave the State of the Union Speech on Tuesday February 12, 2013, it may seem to be a tad late to write a review of “The Peril of Fascism (The Crisis of American democracy)” by A. B. Magil and Henry Stevens International Publishers Co., Inc. New York, N. Y. ©1938, but in the Golden Age of Deception it might actually be too soon to plug it.

A column which contends that the Republicans might try to sabotage Democracy in America should be considered a “pitch” for a new Twilight Zone episode and not a serious attempt to write a political pundit’s version of a think piece.  However any attempt to disguise such a column as a subtle bid to get a writing assignment from Rod Serling, would immediately be greeted by fans with allegations that such a hypothetical task would be plagiarizing the “It’s a cook book!” ending for one of the most famous installments of that classic Sixties series.

To hear the pundits on the left tell it, you would think that culling a few voters from each precinct in the USA was some kind of massive effort to do what sports fans call “shave points.”

The use of electronic voting machines for manipulating the final voting results was questioned by “scientists” even before the technology had been refined and put into production.  Aren’t “scientists” the same bunch of weirdoes who (somehow) have managed to sell the Twilight Zone-ish concept of “Global Warming”?  (Isn’t it sooo easy to imagine just what Rod Serling would have said if he ever did a “Global Warming” episode during the first season?)

Fox, which wasn’t in existence when George H. W. Bush used a parolled felon to win his election, was the first network to call Florida for George W. Bush and some loons in the Conspiracy Theory world questioned the folks who concocted the fair and balanced concept for journalists saying that the fact that the man at Fox who made the call was related to George W. Bush.  So?  They never answer that question.

George Clayton Johnson urges rookie writers to imagine the impossible but wouldn’t he admit that the conspiracy theory crazies who suggest that “they knew” (and facilitated?) that some Arabs were going to crash planes into various buildings have abused the concept of imagining that he impossible might happen?

In the aforementioned “The Peril of Fascism,” the authors writing (page 174) about Huey Long say:  “So adept did Huey Long prove in playing on the hopes and prejudices of the poor and in covering up his secret deals with big business that he won widespread support, not only in Louisiana but in other Southern states and in sections of the North.”

Do the critics of the Republican game plan think that Ross Thomas’ novel “The Fools in Town Are on our Side” was some kind of prediction of the concept of a political booby-trap?

If politicians were really that shallow and cynical wouldn’t President Obama play the “treason” card and question the patriotism of the Republicans who (seemingly) stand read to withhold paychecks from the military as part of a partisan political strategy?

The Republicans have successfully questioned the patriotism of a Senator who lost three limbs while fighting in Vietnam (Max Cleland) and gotten a non veteran elected as his replacement.  Attacking a political opponent’s patriotism is a strategy that has proven very effective so why doesn’t Obama call them out for hypocrisy and suggest that any Republican complicity in the Sequester controversy is hypocritical and means committing a treasonous act which betrays the military?

Wouldn’t undercutting the military make the Republicans seem prone to hypocrisy?  So why not call them out on this?  Do the Republicans have some kind of intellectual property rights claim on hypocrisy?  Is there some kind of copyright infringement factor that means that the Democrats would have to pay royalty fees if they use hypocrisy to fight hypocrisy?

What would happen if, instead of ridiculing the Republican examples of (alleged) hypocrisy every day on his radio program, Norm (No Lables) Goldman suddenly had a

St. Paul’s moment and adopted the “your game, your rules; I’ll win” belligerent attitude and then started to use irony to lavish praise on the Republican forked tongue devil strategy?

If (hypothetically speaking) Norm Goldman were suddenly to start enumerating and analyzing the Republican strategy of saying one thing and doing the opposite from an adoring stance, which he didn’t actually hold, how would the Republican trolls respond to that?

Imagine for a moment that people tuned into his program today and heard him say that he endorsed the Republican strategy of promoting right to work laws as a stealth way to reduce wages and increase profits for the people known as corporations?

Yes, the conservative trolls would continue to call in and say “I agree with most of what you say, but what if there had been a guard with a gun at the Connecticut school?”

The lefties who listen to him would be baffled and have to stop and think about it.  If Lefties are in favor of unions and against wage reductions how could someone of that ilk say he endorsed the right to work movement?

In the Fifties IBM used the word “Think” to challenge Americans to do just that.  In the Sixties the phrase “Question Authority” was ubiquitous.  In the Ted Nugent era Americans find that the obstreperous attitude has been replaced by another corporate tsunami of promotional items that say “Obey!”

Norm Goldman often asserts that he will give the fascists a taste of their own medicine.  Well then, isn’t it time to form the Hypocrisy Appreciation & Promotion Society (HAPS)?

If Republicans are content to let computers count the voting results, why then are they so opposed to letting computers draw voter precinct boundaries?

If Republicans are in favor of letting teachers have guns, why not go for the fair and balanced approach and urge schools to let students be strapped (i.e. pack heat)?  Isn’t it hypocritical to say yes to teachers with guns and no to young men laden with raging hormones who are just aching to prove their potency?

Is it hypocritical for a pundit who advocates freedom of speech to avoid printing the transcript of an avalanche of unprintable expletives as this column’s closing words of wisdom and merely provide a NSFW warning and a link to one of Tommy Lasorda’s quotes about being happy and supporting his players, which can only be played on radio shows (such as the one by Los Angeles area sports reporter Jim Healy?) as a non-stop festival of bleeps?

Now the disk jockey will play the Rolling Stones song from the Seventies titled “Star Fucker,” the Rolling Stones contractual obligation album “********** (hint a ten letter word meaning felatio [Word spellcheck challenges that word too]) Blues” and “Let me squeeze your lemon.”  We have to go to the used book store and see if we can replace our MIA copy of Lenny Bruce’s autobiography.  Have an (what is the word for a word that has another word inserted into the middle of it?) Un*******believable week and a happy Presidents’ Day Weekend.

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