May 31, 2011

Say “Goodbye!” to the Social Security Program?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:42 pm

People who have been fleeced by swindlers often had soaring moments of euphoria, based on expectations of “easy money,” right before they experienced the OMG “The Money’s gone!” revelation that “things aren’t what they seem.” The Sixties philosophy of “Don’t harsh my bliss” might be used to avoid any mention this week of the potential for future dangers of the results from the electronic voting machines because good manners would require most conspiracy theory lunatics to let the Democrats revel in their moment of ecstasy. [Wasn’t there a Roman politician who while he rode to his coronation, had a fellow reminding him that “this too shall pass!”?] That would be rude and we won’t touch that topic . . . the hell we won’t !

It might not be very polite to point out that if the results of the New York 26th Congressional District’s special election cause the Democrats to bet everything on that issue in the 2012 elections; it will be too late to object if the results, which can not be contested, produce what appears to be a massive nationwide repudiation of health care (and by extension the Social Security program itself).

Did acting rashly get Gen. Custer into trouble? Should the Democrats read up on the philosophy of an ambush before going “all in” on Medicare?

Brad Friedman has worked relentlessly to bring the issue of the reliability of the electronic voting machines to the attention of the voters who belong to the Democratic Party and if America gets hustled into a humiliating “winner take all” contest in 2012, the “I tried to warn you” bragging rights will be of little consolation to him and other sincere partisan political pundits if he gets the rights to express that sentiment.

The World’s Laziest Journalist will, if the Democrats get skinned alive by the 2012 election results, will have his reaction measured on the Nihilism Meter (which measures from one to ten shrugs of the shoulders) and turn his attention to other topics.

Has Banksy been active in the Berkeley CA area recently?

In his book “Profoundly Disturbing Shocking Movies that Changed History!,” Joe Bob Brigs reports that the film “Ilsa She Wolf of the SS” the lead character, Ilsa (Dyanne Thorne), was based on the real life historical figure of a woman named Ilsa Kohler Koch. Is she related to some Americans who have been dabbling in philanthropy and political causes recently?

John Wayne teamed up with actress Marlene Dietrich for three movies in the early Forties. One of them, “Seven Sinners,” was a tale of life in the South Pacific and we are desperately seeking a chance to see that movie. Is it on VHS? Would that be one of the films shown as part of the Forbidden Island Monthly Monday Night Cult Movies series in Alameda?

Speaking of John Wayne, we’ve watched a number of Western movies on Video tape recently, and have noted that they almost always feature a speech with a hero elaborating on America’s principals of honesty, fair play, and a code of conduct using the principle of chivalry for the treatment of captured enemy soldiers.

We are waiting for some politician to give a stirring speech in Congress reminding America that the country holds itself to a higher level of principles than those exemplified by the Inquisition, Genghis Kahn (of “Citizen Kahn” fame?), and the Gestapo. We have abandoned hope for such a Frank Capra moment to occur in Washington D. C.

The World’s Laziest Journalist isn’t being paid to shill for the Democratic Party and so we feel free to continue our criticism of the Bush war crimes even if they are being embraced by his Democratic Party successor.

Advocating human rights for people suspected of conducting terrorist activities is as outdated and antediluvian as it would be to suggest that the Hayes code be reinstated.

In the 1940 movie “Dark Command,” directed by Raoul Walsh starring John Wayne, the script writer just had to inject some political propaganda and have a character assert that the Civil War was about cheap labor and not over the South’s campaign to continue the efforts of America’s founding fathers to administer the Constitution’s establishment of state’s rights. Is it any wonder that soon after that Congress had to hold hearings to reveal to the voters how communists were infiltrating America’s pop culture to sway their thinking?

Partisan political commentators must always follow the party line but curmudgeonly columnist critics of contemporary culture don’t have to be so boringly predictable. They can, if they choose, vacillate between liberal and conservative from one paragraph to the next. If the net result is to make readers stop and think about what the columnist is trying to say; that may be a clever way to lure readers into starting to think for themselves and not letting Fucks News do it for them.

When George W. Bush first announced his intention of using combat soldiers to bring democracy to Iraq, did any of the critics on the Left think that by 2012 the Democratic Party would be adhering to most of the aspects of the Bush administration methodology such as an attack on Libya without any Congressional approval (or debate even) or torture or attempts to straighten out the Social Security “mess”? Are we there yet?

If the Democrats go “all in” with the Medicare Issue and the results are a Republican landslide, will FDR’s New Deal then be as much of a quaint anachronism as is Howard Hughes’ movie “The Outlaw”? Will the Democrats then still consider critics of the electronic voting machines as conspiracy theory lunatics . . . or prophets?

According to Steven Bach, in his book “Marlene Dietrich Life and Legend,” (page 292) the actress during a radio broadcast to boost troop morale for the Allies, suddenly adlibbed this line: “Jungs! Opfert euch nicht! Der krieg ist doch Scheisse, Hitler ist ein Idiot!” It took Americans a short time to realize that reducing the German’s morale level was as desirable a goal as was boosting the spirits of the American soldiers.

Now the disk jockey will play “See What the Boys in the Backroom Are Having,” “Please, Mr. Custer,” and John Wayne’s version (from “The Quiet Man”) of “Wild Colonial Boy.” We have to go see if we can locate a VHS copy of “Destry Rides Again.” Have a “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (Didn’t he get fired at the 1940 Oscar™ Awards?) type week.

May 28, 2011

The GOP: They Came From Outer Space!


May 3, 2011

We’re All “Good Bushies” now! ? ! ?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 7:31 pm

President Obama has just given America’s complete and unconditional endorsement to the Middle East tradition of using a perpetual cycle of violence to conduct a philosophical debate. Thomas E. (AKA T. E.) Lawrence, in his book “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” informed readers that revenge is an integral part of the Muslim culture. When American political pundits say that the death of Osama bin Laden gives closure to the attack on the World Trade Center, that is about as astute as hearing a rookie sportscaster saying that a three run rally in the top of the first inning erases the necessity for playing the next eight and a half innings.

When the images of the attack on the World Trade Center were shown, crowds in the Middle East were reported to be holding spontaneous joyous celebrations in the streets of various cities in their countries. Americans were outraged and considered such a reaction inappropriate.

Sunday, after Americans were told that Osama bin Laden had been killed by Navy Seals, Americans responded with jubilant crowds expressing approval at various diverse locations mostly the sites of sporting events.

Presidential candidate Obama promised that he would deliver change. Apparently he has delivered on that promise. America has embraced the methods and conduct they once considered barbaric and unacceptable.

The fact that Americans at sporting events participated in spontaneous displays of euphoria when they received the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed, will only goad Al Qaeda into a much firmer resolve to deal out a brutal payback attack. Does a bull attack the matador’s cape? The lower echelon of al Qaeda’s cadre has just been dealt an insulting challenge which they won’t ignore.

T. E. Lawrence informed his readers that the Muslim culture is also noted for its patience regarding a response so that if they don’t send a suicide bomber into action on Wednesday, that doesn’t mean that they won’t ever strike back; it just means they will pick the time and place and proceed at their leisure.

The irony for Democrats is that by fully and unreservedly endorsing the violent assassination of Osama bin Laden, President Obama has committed members of his political party to Bush’s Eternal War on Terrorism.

Initially some Democrats (and a few rogue online columnists) objected to Bush’s use of invasion, torture, and excessive collateral civilian damage but now with the Obama move to commit his Party to the Bush agenda, he has made any efforts to promote antiwar sentiment become a despicable example of disloyal cowardice.

Shifting the Democrats into the cycle of perpetual retaliatory events is an irreversible move of the “you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube” type. The Peacenik point of view will become as relevant to the contemporary political arena as are the beliefs of the flat earth society.

Al Qaeda is now compelled to retaliate and when they do, the average American (who was seen rejoicing in the news at Sunday night sporting events) will demand a bigger and more horrific response to the al Qaeda answer to Osama’s assassination. At that point history will take on the hall of mirrors look and there won’t be any turning back.

The fact that one of Col. Qaddafi’s sons was killed in a recent NATO airstrike will mean that as he has previously (when his step daughter was killed) the Libyan leader will unleash his own subsidized violent retaliation.

Any new terrorism activity that is unleashed inside the United States will have at least two potential sources in the Muslim world. If something happens, bloodthirsty Americans will demand a quick act of generic revenge and not a comprehensive investigation to determine the specific group that did the deed.

America’s security forces have been rather successful using entrapment gambits for ensnaring young gullible guys, but from here on, things are going to get progressively rougher and meaner.

Was the old movie comedy routine about two guys engaging in a slapping contest based on a real life macho contest? If so, that example of slowly increasing hostility could become a valid metaphor for a series of increasingly violent retaliation moves.

Any speculation about what could possibly have been done to avoid the now inevitable eternal cycle of increasingly bloody retaliator moves is totally irrelevant.

Alternate fiction history can be interesting and entertaining but it is an exorcise in futility. What would have happened if the Seal team had shot Osama with a paintball gun and then said: “We could have killed you just now, but we want to break the pattern of the eternal cycle of violent retribution killing.” But they didn’t. They shot him dead.

Whatever infinitesimally small chance that might have had to work is irrelevant. Osama was assassinated and the United States will be seen as accepting the ground rules for a never ending series of alternating retaliations.

Punditry about “closure” will only serve to increase the level righteous indignation in America when (not “if”) al Qaeda retaliates for the assassination of Osama or Col. Qaddafi seeks revenge for the killing of his son. That, in turn, will only compel America’s subsequent answer to be an absolute requirement for any President of either party.

At that point George W. Bush’s assertion that he had started an “Eternal” war and that it has been fully endorsed by the Democrats courtesy of President Obama will be irrefutable. Attempting political commentary that runs counter to both the Republican and Democratic Presidents’ agendas would be completely idiotic and an example of wasted effort. Consequently subsequent columns written by the World’s Laziest Journalist may be about irrelevant, inconsequential, and perhaps even innocuous topics.

A segment of the lyrics to one of Waylon Jennings’ songs seems to be appropriate for the closing quote: “ . . . waiting for something to happen – hope it doesn’t happen to me . . .”

Now the disk jockey will play the Zombies song “How We Were Before,” CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising,” and Dick Dale and the Deltones 1963 release “We’ll Never Hear the End of It.”

We have to go attend a “More war; Less social services” rally. Have a “Revenge is sweet” type week.

March 31, 2011

The Dying of the Right: Republicans WILL Believe Anything

If it’s about Obama, Clinton or poor old born-again Jimmy Carter, nothing is too absurd for the gullible right-wingers, as long as it’s defamatory. Some of these dizzy neocons, in a massive exercise in psychological projection, seriously believe liberals and progressives are fascists who want to see them in camps or dead, even though no evidence of this exists outside of the empty spinning flywheels of right-wing propaganda. (And these are the same bubbleheads who enthusiastically thumbs-up such Republican reptiles as WI Gov. Scott Walker, OH Gov. John Kasich, NJ Gov. Chris Christie, and MI Gov. Rick Snyder, the latter actually trying to secure the power to nullify local elections and run towns from the governor’s office. If that’s not fascism, I don’t know what is.) They didn’t learn the lesson of the Junior Bush years: There is a steep price to pay for those who create their own reality, and disinformation and delusion inevitably lead to ruin. The current incarnation of the GOP as a minority Christopublican-Tea Party is already sliding down the slippery chute; in ten years, both of these addled factions will have been shunted to the sidelines where they belong and a true conservative secular Goldwater Republican Party will reemerge to own the brand.

“Stupid or ‘lop-eared’ marks are often played; they are too dull to see their own advantage, and must be worked up to the point again and again before a ray of light filters through their thick heads. . . . Always they merit the scorn and contempt of the con men. Elderly men are easy to play because age has slowed down their reactions.”
– Excerpt from “The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man” by David W. Maurer, published in 1940, (pgs.103-4). The film “The Sting” was based on Maurer’s book.

“Put together any ten Americans at random and get their honest opinions — odds are at least two of them are going to be scary dumb.”
– Mac Carroll

Will Republican Voters Believe Anything? The Right’s Hyperbolic, Dysfunctional World

To have credibility within the Republican Party is to have none outside it. They act as if all their Kool-Aid has been spiked.

By Gary Younge
Comment is Free
The Guardian (UK)
Via AlterNet
March 28, 2011

Polls suggest there are between one in three and one in four Americans who would believe anything. More than a third thought President George Bush did a good job during Hurricane Katrina; half of those thought he was excellent.

Throughout most of 2008, as the economy careered into depression, just over one in four believed Bush was handling the economy well.

As Bush prepared to leave office in January 2009, bequeathing bank bailouts, rampant unemployment, and Iraq and Afghanistan in tatters, a quarter of the country approved of his presidency.

These are national polls that span the political spectrum. So you can imagine how concentrated the distortions become when filtered through the tainted lens of the right. A poll earlier this month revealed that a quarter of Republicans believe a community rights organisation called Acorn will try to steal the election for Barack Obama next year, while 31% aren’t sure whether it will or not. It won’t. Because Acorn does not exist. It was defunded and disbanded after a successful sting operation by conservatives a couple of years ago.

Meanwhile, a poll last month showed that a majority of Republicans likely to vote in the primaries still believe Obama was not born in the United States. He was. But no number of verified birth certificates will convince them.

Read the rest here.

The Democrats’ Dilemma

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:38 pm

worlds-fair-building“Swing,” Rupert Holmes mystery novel about the adventures of a musician in a swing band who is also an amateur detective investigating a death at the 1940 Worlds Fair held on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay, left the World’s Laziest Journalist with an extreme case of regret about missing out on visiting that year’s West Coast alternative World’s Fair, which had to strive mightily to be noticed in the media shadow of the other one in the New York area. The chance to rectify that gap in the columnist’s cultural resume had been relegated to a place in the “things to do when time travel becomes a reality” file, but then we recalled reading somewhere that the final vestiges of the Fair was available in the form of the Treasure Island Museum which was supposed to still be operating on the site.

On the morning of Wednesday, March 30, 2011, there was a plethora of column topics demanding immediate attention. Listening to the Stephanie Miller radio show, it seemed like using the day to write a column in support of the Mooks’ right to castigate the President for giving his approval to the continuation of the Bush Crime Family agenda was a top priority.

A column making comparisons between the new adventures of the Legion of Libya Liberators and the Bay of Pigs fiasco would need some fact finding. There would be an ironical difference: the Bay of Pigs was lost because the United States failed to provide the rebels with air cover and the setbacks being suffered by the rebels in Libya, are happening despite the fact that the new rebels are being provided with their own Air Force, courtesy of the current Regan Democrat in the White House. Such a column could be produced if a fact finding trip to the Berkeley Public Library’s Main Branch was conducted followed by an afternoon of intense keystroking.

If the columnist spent the sunny spring morning (March had produced 21 rainy days in the Berkeley area) rereading and jotting down pertinent information from Ian Patterson’s book, “Guernica and Total War,” the afternoon could be devoted to producing a brilliant and perceptive column comparing the Spanish Civil War with the efforts of the American led Libyan Liberation Falangists. Can Gaddafi be compared to Franco? Do civilians in Libya refer to the American air cover as something involving “the Condor Legion”? Would that sobriquet sting the German contingent participating in the war for humanitarian reasons?

Should we write a column noting that Australia, which has provided troops every time they were asked to do so by America, was given a pass this time because they were not invited to participate in this new American military adventure?

Should the day be spent pounding out a column urging popular support for Monday’s Day of Action in support of the unions in Wisconsin?

Would it be spurious to inject a plug for the efforts of a fellow Berkeley based photo blogger at the What I saw in Berkeley today website, into a three dot journalism style column?

Our desire to explore the last traces of the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939 – 1940 overwhelmed our dedication to duty and so we yielded to temptation and called in sick for the day so that we could travel there and gather information for a column on that non-political topic.

Treasure Island was built by the Army Corps of Engineers specifically to serve as the site for the Exposition and was expected to serve as the location where Pan Am Airline’s China Clipper would be housed after the Fair closed. When the United States was pulled into World War II, the island provided a convenient location for a large new navy base.

Some conspiracy theory nuts are very skeptical of the fact that Treasure Island just happened to become available at the very same time when America needed to build a big naval base on the West Coast to conduct the Pacific faze of WWII. Apparently they just don’t appreciate the fact that some coincidences come along at a very appropriate time.

The fairgrounds, on Wednesday, March 30, 2011, were deserted and void of tourists and walking down the empty streets was reminiscent of the opening sequence in the movie “Twelve O’clock High.”

Late fair visitors can find a coffee shop and a pizza (was that invented by 1939?) place called the Oasis Café and two small convenience stores.

We did wind up in the Naval base brig, which now is the site for The Fat Grape Winery, where the congenial staff (owner Patrick Bowen) welcomed this Fair visitor and gave us a brief tour of the facility even though the writer hasn’t had an alcoholic drink for a good number of years.

We were disappointed to learn that Sally Rand’s Dude/Nude Ranch didn’t deliver and hedged by featuring a cast of ladies who were “almost” naked.

The Fair headquarters building is the location of a leasing office, today, and the surrounding area features a variety of sports fields which have had the same effect on real estate developers as a waving a red flag has on high strung bulls. We were told that next month residents will learn what the next step toward in a redevelopment movement, with promises of high rise apartments with spectacular views of either San Francisco or the East Bay, will be.

Like most tourists, we took a good number of snapshots with our trusty Coolpix before hopping on the two busses which would return us to the World’s Laziest Journalist’s home office.

When we got back there we began to have some feelings of guilt about (figuratively speaking) calling in sick for the day and felt inclined to bang out a column on a topic that would be more appropriate for use as content that would be posted on sites that feature political punditry.

However, President Obama has effectively put professional liberals (such as Stephanie Miller and Randy Rhodes) into a bind or what chess players would call a fork dilemma because they can no longer criticize George W. Bush and ignore Obama’s duplication of Bush’s war and torture policies. Does that mean that Democrats can accurately say that they are being forked by Obama? Liberals must either condemn both Presidents or drop the topics of torture and wars initiated by a President without Congressional approval.

Republicans see no contradiction if they condemn Obama for doing the exact same things that their hero, George W. Bush, did. Liberals are hesitant about praising the one and condemning the other for identical conduct. If they do, they will appear to be hypocrites susceptible to the charge of being racists unfairly disparaging the President from Texas while condoning the conduct of another President from Illinois.

Drat! War and torture would have made such nifty campaign issues in 2012, but, thanks to Obama’s precious stunt regarding the Libyan Civil War, the topic is now moot. Will the El Segundo Blue Butterfly become the hot debate topic in 2012?

We will have to stick with our decision to go with a column about a rather tardy visit to the 1940 event.

Dang! If we actually had been able to do a real time travel visit to that event, we would very much have also wanted to stop at a Ford Dealer on the way home to buy a 1940 DeLuxe Ford convertible coupe.

We did the best we could under the circumstances and enjoyed our “sick day” anemic attempt at time travel immensely. The man made island was named “Treasure Island” because the author of that adventure classic, Robert Louis Stevenson, had been an area resident in the past for a portion of his life. Perhaps, some other day, we will write a column about the long list of authors who have spent some time in or around the San Francisco area.

Pierre Jean Francois Joseph Bosquet, who died in 1861, may have made the best prediction of President Obama’s philosophy regarding the humanitarian effort involving helping the Libyan Rebels, when he said (he was referring to the Charge of the Light Brigade): “It is magnificent, but it is not war.”

Now the disk jockey will play “In the mood,” “A nightingale sang on Berkeley Square,” and “Age of Aquarius” (Just to see if you are paying attention). We have to go send a “Mook Power!” e-mail to Jim Ward. Have a “strange days, indeed, mama” type week.

March 25, 2011

The GOP Master Plan


March 14, 2011

Celebrity Gossip Pulitzer Prize?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:33 pm

In all the times that this columnist traded words with Andy Warhol, the celebrity artist never managed to work his prediction that everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes into the conversation. After reading the New York Times Sunday edition for March, 13, 2011, we were appalled to realize that an irrelevant tidbit of information about conversations with Warhol might be a better way to start a column than mentioning the work done by the support group which helps the parents of murdered children cope, which we learned about while chatting with a fellow passenger on the Amtrak taking us back to Berkeley from Los Angeles.

In that day’s edition of the paper, the magazine section contained an article by Bill Keller that attempted to answer the question: “How much more of itself can the media consume?” He reports a relevant encounter with Arianna Huffinton and then succinctly encapsulates the challenge facing news aggregator sites: “They seem to have realized that if everybody is an aggregator nobody will be left to make real stuff to aggregate.” Do you think that the fact that writers are on strike against Huffington might be a “checkmate” bit of relevant evidence for his contention?

No use stepping on her toes if their paths will (inevitably) cross again at another future of journalism seminar.

That epitomizes the Catch-22 limitations of Celebrity Gossip Journalism. If you piss-off the celebrities you will be ostracized and be cut off from all possible content without access to the views, quips, and insider information that comes with belonging to the In crowd. If you go along to get along, your supply of material will be unlimited.

The In Crowd isolates itself from the real world and hence looses touch with the reality of the working class world.

While on the aforementioned train ride we chatted with a student at Fresno who was going home for a weekend of mom’s good home cooking. Since it was a chance to get a random sample of what the college students are thinking these days, we asked him if he thought George W. Bush was a war criminal. He couldn’t say one way or the other. He wanted a career in criminology and he had no opinion on the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan or the use of torture. We know we have the raw material starting point for a good trend-spotting column, which we may have to talk to some more college students to get a better basis regarding the trend or statistical aberration aspect of the conversation with the Fresno student. (Name dropping tidbit. This columnist saw the Jefferson Airplane perform in Fresno . . . a while ago.)

In the New York Times’ Op Ed area for March 13, 2011, we enjoyed Frank Rich’s piece titled “Confessions of a Recovering Op-Ed Columnist.” His anecdote about how, as a teenager, he had his first encounter with Walter Lippmann might be a useful tidbit to have ready to use when we do our annual National Columnist Day installment, honoring the memory of Ernie Pyle, when April xx approaches.

The folks at the NSNC organization might want to use the Book Section’s essay by Anthony Gottlieb, essentially inferring that Michel de Montaigne should be considered the patron saint of bloggers as a basis for voting Montaingne as the inspiration for nominating him to be the patron saint of columnists.

In the Gottlieb piece, he explained that Montaigne used an early version of the stream of consciousness style writing to great advantage. Perhaps we should relay the link for that to the editors at a web site where some of our attempts to contribute cross posting efforts are rejected for not having one dominant connecting theme. Then again, when older Americans have to explain who the Jefferson Airplane was, maybe an effort to imitate Montaigne is asking for too much digital leeway.

Columnists (such as Ernie Pyle during the Thirties) used to go out into the hinterland to ascertain what the Average American was thinking. Now the Fox College of Cable Knowledge is readily available to tell Americans what they should (if they want to be “hip”) be thinking and it saves Rupert Murdock a bunch of silly irrelevant expense checks and it saves the audience brain cells they would need to use up to think. In America, it has become easier to tell folks what to think and not ask them what they are thinking.

When we spent a recent evening chatting at the Cow’s End Café in Venice CA, we spoke with a hypnotist and amateur magician, who had worked in the psy-ops section of the military, and were surprised to learn that his pick for the next fellow to be dealt the “stolen election” card will be JEB Bush.

If the Celebrity Gossip In Crowd gets a tip that JEB is trending “hot” on the political radar, then all the bloggers will (as they sometimes do in Congress) confirm that bit of news by a voice vote (that is as accurate a measure as is the throwing of spaghetti against a wall) and tossing in the word “acclamation.” Until then, rogue columnists have to do the salmon going upstream imitation act and have faith that the old “nose for news” style of intuition is still a valid (albeit nostalgia laden) method for journalistic trend spotting.

Here’s a question for those who think that the assertion that today’s celebrity journalists are trapped inside a bubble: “What are the chances that this columnist can send the link to this column to Bill Keller or Arianna Huffington and get either one of them to read it?”
Not bloody well likely?

In a true capitalist country it is easier to manufacture propaganda than to encourage intellectual curiosity, which hold the danger that it could wind up biting a mogul on the ass. (Solidarity means everyone shouts “yes, sir!” in unison. [Remember the old axiom: “When I say ‘jump,’ you jump and ask ‘How high?’ on the way up!”]

Who is America’s leading “counter culture” journalist these days? Is there no market for a modern “underground” voice of dissent? When Hunter S. Thompson was leading the charge against the establishment press, he got his efforts mentioned in Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. When was the last time any of those publications made reference to a blog that was not written by a member of their own staff or by a celebrity?

BTW the three times that this columnist spoke with Andy Warhol, it was rather brief encounter but the one time we did ask if Warhol’s visit to L. A. and a recent Truman Capote sighting in the Venice CA area, was sufficient evidence to do a trend-spotting article. Warhol quizzed us about the Capote sighting and left the trending possibilities un assessed.

Bill Keller has written (The New York Times Magazine Sunday, March 13, 2011, page 11): “The other, more insidious reason that I have been deemed more important than the founder of Amazon or Hosni Mubarak is that our fascination with capital-M Media is so disengaged from what really matters.” To which, we can only add: “Amen, brother!”

Now the disk jockey will mark the 35th anniversary of the release of the movie “Taxi Driver” by playing the soundtrack album and Frank Ocean’s “Bitches Talkin’” and Sky Ferreira’s “Haters Anonymous.” We have to go do some preliminary fact finding about the Yosemite Conservancy and their fund raising efforts. Have an “all the news that’s fit to print” type week.

February 25, 2011

Walker – Lexus Ranger


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.

January 27, 2011

1816 Flashback?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:43 pm

A volcanic eruption of Biblical proportions is often cited as the cause of the unusual weather experienced around the northern hemisphere in 1816, which is often called “the year there was no summer.” If, as some of the cutting edge conspiracy theory advocates are alleging, the summer of 2011 does a repeat of its 1816’ disappearing act, because of the Gulf oil spill, pundits will eventually get around to haggling over the topic: “Did global warming start with the volcanic eruption in 1815?” This columnist would like to ask that question now, and move on (dot org?) to something else for this summer.

While doing some fact checking about the wagering on various candidates who might be the successful candidate for the Presidency of the USA in 2012, we came across the curious bit of information that one of the overseas bookies is giving a thousand to one odds for bets that Laura Bush will be the winner.

Is it true that only the best journalistic hot dogs cover the Frankfurt Book Faire?

Has any columnist laid claim to the boast “the pundit other pundits read first”? Did Freddie Francisco use that line? If so, would he be gracious enough to let us “borrow” it in the Internets era? Didn’t Ambrose Bierce write a San Francisco based column before he went AWOL? Isn’t there a conspiracy theory that suggests that Bierce sneaked quietly back into “Baghdad by the Bay,” and did ghost writing using Freddie Francisco as his nom de plume?

One of the items included in the wrangling over the city budget in Berkeley CA is some quibbling about the use of medical coverage for city employees who want sex change operations. Maybe if Rush Limbaugh mentions that in a future broadcast, he’ll attribute the tip to Freddie Francisco?

Will the efforts to orchestrate a boycott of Rush’s sponsors work or will it come off looking like a Chinese fire drill? Wasn’t the very first boycott over an Irish matter?

Speaking of Oprah, we wonder: Will Qantas now move on our suggestion that they use bargain fares to lure Netroots Nation into holding one of their conventions in Sydney? Heck, bloggers could go to Sydney in January of 2013 and then come back and hold a second one somewhere in the USA in July and, then it would be the year with two summers, for those who attended both events.

We’ve lost our copy of “Naked is the best disguise,” by Samuel Rosenberg. As soon as we find a replacement copy (there are beau coup good used book stores in Berkeley) we will start to write a column on his conspiracy theory that philosopher Fred C. Nietzsche was the real life identity of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty.

Why do polar bears (Ursus Maritimus) get all the publicity? If global warming is more than a figment of the collective mind of the scientific community, then why don’t penguins get some attention? If the ice cap in the northern hemisphere is in danger of melting away, then won’t the other one melt too and leave the penguins (Aptenodytes patagonica) homeless too? If the Southern ice cap isn’t going to melt, why not just send the polar bears down there?
Do the luxury hotels in Antarctica tout surfing on their fine beaches or do they stress the skiing experiences available nearby?

Speaking of San Francisco, that’s where the True Oldies Channel (TOC) has their home office. One of the top features of the TOC is their daily selection of a sentimental song as the cheesy listening song of the day. You want schmaltz? You wanna do a Boener blubber scene because of a song on the radio? We urge our faithful readers (all dozen of you) to e-mail in this suggestion: Elvis’ “Old Shep.” Tell Scott Shannon (the TOC’s answer to Emperor Norton?) that you got the idea from Freddie Francisco.

Did you know that San Francisco has two official songs and that (the last time we checked with the city clerk) Berkeley doesn’t have even one? We’ll have to see what the official city song is in Concordia Kansas. Do they have two like Frisco? Or have they been as lax in that department as has Berkeley?

Did you just ask for some political punditry before we fade to commercial? Our latest bit of fact checking indicates that the current odds regarding JEB as the winner of the 2012 Presidential Elections are forty to one.

In “Don’t Call It ‘Frisco” (Double Day & Co 1953 hardback page 195), Herb Caen wrote: “Books that are banned in Boston are best sellers in San Francisco, and their merits are argued hotley in the finest salons.” Did he really mean to use just one “o”?

Now the disk jockey will play Fred Astair’s “Mr. Top Hat” album, Paul Evans song “Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the back seat with Fred),” and Freddie and the Dreamers album “Fun Lovin’ Freddie.” Now, we gotta go get tickets for the Porchlight showing of the film “Brushes with Fame.” Have the kind of week that only Munro Leaf could chronicle.

January 24, 2011

The Noir City Report

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 3:50 pm

During an intense effort to convince a Conservative friend that he should listen to some of Mike Malloy’s radio shows, we suddenly realized that we had earned the right to take a short break, so we hopped on a bus and headed out for the Ninth Annual Noir City Film Festival in San Francisco. A nostalgic trip back in time to an earlier era when all Hollywood movies reinforced the American principle that the bad guys always get caught would be therapeutic. All the classic examples of the film noir genre were made before some nefarious subversive intellectuals (AKA dirty commies?) were able to get the Hayes code repealed and start making movies hinting that bankers had hearts of stone and that only crooks and liars, not true red-blooded altruistic American patriots, run for public office.

The theme for this year’s event is: “Who’s crazy now?” and all 24 examples of the noir genre being shown tell the story of a protagonist who is either insane or suspected of being insane. Republicans would perceive the movie event as a preview of the next Democratic Party convention to select a Presidential nominee.

The first installment of the film festival presented the double feature of “High Wall,” and “Stranger on the Third Floor.” The second film is credited with the distinction of being the first appearance of a movie that would be labeled as “film noir.” It featured some genius examples of black and white cinematography that included images of shadows to tell the story. It included a surrealistic dream sequence as did many subsequent examples of quality noir. The leading man is falsely arrested for murder and his frail does the detective work necessary to find a suspicious stranger and thus clear her man.

The Saturday matinee was up next. “Strangers in the Night” tells the story of a crazy old lady and her efforts to control the life of a wounded war veteran.

Then they showed “Gaslight,” the 1944 film featuring an Academy Award Winning (AKA the Oscar™) performance by Ingrid Bergman. Spoiler warning: If you haven’t seen this stunning mystery, there will be some plot surprises revealed below. In it a young singer, Paula Alquist (Ingrid Berman) falls under the control of a man who exudes charm and savoir faire. They get married and she begins to manifest examples of memory loss. Her husband gives her a family heirloom broach and she immediately loses it. It reminded this columnist of how the liberals have lost their memory about the news stories that described how the airplane that had hit the Pentagon was painstakingly reassembled in a hanger in Langley Virginia, and how that provided valuable clues linking the perps to Saddam Hussein.

The wife continues to have distressing examples of losing touch with reality despite her husband’s constant efforts to remind her of the truth. The husband, Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), reminded this reviewer of Donald Rumsfeld. When they clash over a chance to go to a party, he reluctantly relents and is mortified when she breaks down in tears at the event. (I’m sure that, in these more compassionate times, some effeminate guys would assert that she was merely showcasing her softer side and not manifesting emotional instability as her husband maintained.)

Just as the husband is about to take steps to have his wife committed to an insane asylum, a Scotland Yard fellow steps in and proves that a crime has taken place and that the husband is a bigamist, a murderer, and was after some valuable jewelry.
At that point, we became obsessed with the idea that we should rush back to our pad in Berkeley and do the necessary key strokes to produce a column that compares what the husband did to what the Bush Administration did to the conspiracy theory nuts who thought they understood reality and that the highly paid government staff workers did not.

By early Sunday morning, we realized that it was senseless to worry about things such as:
How did the US Army lose Osama in the Torra Borra mountains?
Did Building 7 just fall down?
Aren’t the electronic voting machines unhackible?
Isn’t it best for a conservative majority Supreme Court to decide close elections?
If there is more than one film noir film festivals in the USA, why isn’t there a vampire film festival?
Years and years from now, if someone does start a vampire film festival, and if Dick Cheney is selected as guest of honor, what will the curmudgeonly Democrats say that means?

Sunday the twin bill was “A Double Life” which won the lead actor, Ronald Colman another one of those gold statue awards for acting, and “Among the Living” which was an obscure gem notable for several different reasons. The second film featured Francis Farmer and Rita Hayward. In it, Americans were depicted as having a lynch mob mentality, which we now know happens only when justice involves national security factors such as the WikiLeaks case.

We chatted briefly with the Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller, who is an author and the event host. Was one of the fans who spoke to him, Freddy Francisco the former columnist known as “Mr. San Francisco”? Unless that fellow has the life expectancy statistics of a vampire it would be impossible for it to have been the guy Mr. Hearst fired personally two different times.

Noir fans who can’t wait until the Los Angeles event from March 31 to April 17, later this year, might enjoy the Film Preservation Blogathon (For the Love of Film [Noir]) starting on February 14 being hosted by Ferdy on Films and The self –Styled Siren.

The Film Noir Foundation has been working with the UCLA Film and Television Archive to preserve noir movies which are in danger of disappearing from contemporary culture (like a tiger in the smoke?).

We realized that the World’s Laziest Journalist may have become overworked in his efforts to win the debate with the conservative friend and, perhaps, the columnist needs a bigger and better bit of divertissement than the Noir City event. We have noticed that a new film playing in Berkeley is titled “Nuremburg.” Maybe it’s a travelogue? Doesn’t Germany have the highest excellent Quality Automobile Museum rating of any country in the entire world?

Maybe a trip there to see those tourist attractions would take our mind off Bush and our misperception that he has done a bad thing by approving waterboarding? Yes! We’ll get our mind right, boss! We’ll start with a trip to downtown Berkeley to see that travelogue.

What about a travelogue and a fine meal? What is chef Lecter serving at his world famous restaurant tonight?

Speaking of conflicting points of view, we are anxiously awaiting the return of Roger Ebert to the TV screens of America, even though the only movie critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize did fail to grasp reality in his review of Van Wilder.

Which quote doesn’t belong?
“Tell, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up!”
“Let’s see, three times 35 – is a hundred and five. I’ll bet you 105,000 dollars that you go to sleep before I do.”
“There was another key . . .”
“How many shots did he fire . . .”
“We have proof that there are WMD’s in Iraq.”

Now, if our disk jockey can find the records he seems to have lost, he will play the theme song from “Laura,” the Vertigo soundtrack album, and “The Ballad of Lucy Jordon.” We have to go and Buy War Bonds today. Have a “if it looks suspicious; report it” type week.

January 8, 2011

Boehner & House GOP: Backassward to the Future Again


November 29, 2010

Hang ‘em High?: Tariq Aziz & other war criminals I have known

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 3:28 pm

Is this really a good time to be sentencing former Iraqi diplomat Tariq Aziz to death — especially when WikiLeaks has just exposed a whole bunch of the dirty laundry stuffed into America’s and Britain’s diplomatic pouches regarding their “Coalition of the Willing” and its underhanded role in initiating and sustaining a brutal and unnecessary war on Iraq?

“But everyone knows that Aziz worked for Saddam Hussein and Hussein gassed the Kurds,” you might argue, “and Aziz was also found guilty of condoning torture.” Like I said, be careful about pointing your finger on that one. It could very easily boomerang back to hit certain American and British leaders in the arse. How many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been “gassed,” tortured and killed due to American and British failed diplomacy? According to Information Clearing House, the current number is 1,421,933.

And speaking of executing former leaders such as Aziz, do we really want to hang former Congolese vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba because he didn’t stop his troops from killing all those women and children in the Central African Republic? If we do that, don’t we also have to take a look at all the women and children who have been killed in Afghanistan by American and British troops too?

“Jane, just exactly where are you going with this?” I don’t know. But it just seems unfair to me that Tariq Aziz and Jean-Pierre Bemba both face hanging while George W. Bush gets to go on talk shows and actually brag about how he approved torture.

PS: Speaking of war criminals, according to professor Paul Larudee in an article recently published in “Redress,”, whole bunches of Israeli security guys are currently madly scurrying around all across the internet, frantically trying to block the publication of a document that names 200 alleged Israeli war criminals.

“When unknown elements in Israel leaked the name, rank, identification number and other information about two hundred Israeli military personnel who reportedly participated in the 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza, the effect was sudden and profound, according to sources in Israel. Although the first site on which it appeared was taken down by the host, it has continued to circulate via email, and has appeared on at least one other site, The Israeli military and other Israeli agencies are reportedly doing all they can to shut down every site on which it appears, and to prevent it from ‘going viral.’ At least one popular blog that links to the site has received a record number of death threats.”

Why has this list of only “alleged” war criminals seem to have gotten so many of Israel’s muckety-mucks’ knickers in a twist? Let’s find out. According to Larudee, “The publication of the list of two hundred changes everything. The list contains the names of a few high-ranking officers, but many of those named are in the lower ranks, all the way down to sergeant. The effect is to make ordinary Israelis concerned that they, too, may be subject to arrest abroad, and without the protection that well-connected higher officials might enjoy. They know what they have done, or been ordered to do, or have ordered others to do, and they suspect that they may be held accountable by foreign laws, over which their government has little control.”

And there are other ramifications here too. If Israeli soldiers as a whole can be held accountable by the international community for their actions in Gaza and the West Bank and for agreeing to serve in a trumped-up “war” that is against Geneva Conventions, then perhaps American troops can also be held accountable by the international community for agreeing to serve in those chaotic shambles that Bush, Cheney and Obama so cheerfully call the Afghan and Iraq “wars”.

PPS: World opinion is sometimes like a snake on a cold day. It moves slowly — but it does move. And while most western media has been working its butt off for the past one hundred-odd years to try to make war seem sexy — ever since Kaiser Wilhelm was first portrayed as a Hun back in 1914 — way down below all their continual bombardment by war hype over the past one hundred years, ordinary people everywhere are finally and at last getting truly sick of all this war, war and more war — no matter what the alleged justification for it may be.


November 11, 2010

Alternative Titles for Bush’s Book – Part Two

Filed under: Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , — RS Janes @ 3:23 am


November 10, 2010

Alternative Titles for Bush’s Book – Part One

Filed under: Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , — RS Janes @ 4:30 am


October 9, 2010

The Tattlesnake – New Entries for the (Politically) Askewed Dictionary

Almightyosis: The bizarre egomaniacal conviction that the creator of hundreds of billions of galaxies in a universe of vast unknown dimensions personally wants you to run for office and takes time out to tell you so. (See ‘O’Donnell, Christine.’)

Anglephile: A strange, pathetic creature, usually elderly, who, although dependent on Social Security and Medicare for their well-being, will nevertheless vote for those who would gladly take it away. (See ‘Lemmings.’)

Diptheoria: Maintaining a comically contradictory opinion on a subject with a straight face, such as bringing peace by starting wars, believing in Republican morality, or balancing the budget by incurring $700 billion more in debt to give tax cuts to yourself and your wealthy friends. (See ‘Bush, George W.’)

Fecktrescent: Describing an idea so outstandingly stupid it glows like moonlight on a fresh turd. (See ‘Palin/Beck 2012.’)

Foggle: A combination of Fox News, fearmongering, fog and mind-boggling. To foggle is to use egregious disinformation and unconscionable exaggeration to appeal to the basal ganglia or ‘reptilian brain’ in lower orders of ‘non’-homo sapiens with the goal of swaying by sheer panic and bigotry an individual or group into voting against their own best interests. Usage ex.: “We need more foggle to convince those tea partiers into rallying against health care reform!” (See ‘White Citizens Council.’)

Journabalism: Reprinting press releases from a corporation, lobbying firm or political party and calling it news. (See ‘The Washington Times.’)

Kochcrapola (pronounced ‘Cokecrapola’): The desire of spineless billionaires to fund far-right Astroturf causes for their own benefit while hiding that information from the public so as not to offend customers of their consumer products, such as Brawny paper towels or Northern bathroom tissue, and thereby lose business. Named after the Koch brothers. (See ‘US Chamber of Commerce.’)

Murdochism: A mental trick wherein you pretend you aren’t aware of what pestilent self-serving propaganda appears in your media outlets on a daily basis while still insisting they are actual news organizations nonetheless. Named after Rupert Murdoch. (See ‘Bozell, Brent.’)

Odontestry: The appearance of ugly gaping truth as a candidate’s false Tweets fall out, reduced as she is to campaigning solely on Twitter since she’s terrified of facing any reporter who might dare to ask her a tough question. (See ‘Grizzly, Mama.’)

Palmystery: Stage magic wherein the performer makes $100K disappear in return for a tepid speech based on hoary, imbecilic talking points written on her hand. The mystery is why anyone would pay for this bum fodder. (See ‘Pledge to America.’)

© 2010 RS Janes.

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