November 27, 2013

Remember Quality Journalism?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:23 pm

Watching the ABC TV news program on Tuesday November 26, 2013, it seemed like it was time to do yet another column about how Journalism is doing the Cheshire Cat disappearing act in the USA.  Their lead story was about the fact that a new snowstorm was snarling Thanksgiving Day traffic on the East Coast.  We just couldn’t picture Edward R. Murrow picking that weather item as being the lead story of the day.

Recently we have heard ads on KCBS, the all news all the time AM radio station in San Francisco, featuring the voices of some of their reporters.  We couldn’t imagine Murrow endorsing the idea of a journalist doing a commercial.  Isn’t that called “crossing the craft”?

ABC followed with a brief item about using birth control pills as a basis for yet another way to give the United States Supreme Court a second chance to veto the Obamacare legislation.

Where were the compassionate Christian conservatives when some Native Americans wanted a legal basis for declaring their use of peyote was a religious right?  Did any news organization do a sidebar story about the peyote dispute?

Some time ago, in Los Angeles, a man and a woman tried to establish a church that held that sex was a religious experience.  The police and the politicians teamed up to put a quick end to that issue using the laws against prostitution as a way of keeping society under strict control of the one percent.

Next, ABC ran a story saying that the Black Friday bargains might not be a real true bargain!  Stop the press!  There was a common saying (folk wisdom?) in Los Angeles that maintained there would be T-day weekend sales in Beverly Hills.  The punch line was:  “Yeah, everything will be marked down to retail price!”

Also on Tuesday, we encountered an axiom that advised that birds born in a cage thin k flying is an illness.  Do people who have read Ayn Rand and watch Fox News know who Murrow’s Boys were and what they did?

When Sunday night rolls around and folks head back home will the inevitable stories about the weekend box office take for the movie industry put the figures in context?  If a bargain matinee ticket in San Francisco cost about $8 and a film grosses $16,000,000 this weekend, does that mean that more people saw it than went to see “Gone With the Wind” on its first weekend of release?  If the price of admission soared to a half a buck and if (just for the sake of comparison) it did the same dollar amount of business its first weekend or release, wouldn’t that mean that 32 million people went and saw Rhett and Scarlet do their emoting?

A white Christmas in Australia would be a headline event because, since the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, the traditional way of celebrating Christmas down under is in your bathing suit on the beach (nice movie title?).

As we recall, on Thanksgiving Day in 1971, Scranton Pa. received 24 inches of snow.

Wasn’t that the same time that a guy, called D. B. Cooper, with a parachute and a bundle of money made headlines?

Are the reporters in the USA, who work on trend-spotting stories, just about to discover Parkour?  Can you do a story on that without mentioning some of the amazing stunts that Jackie Chan has done in his movies?  What?  You want a full explanation about what it is and how it works?  Can’t you look it up on the Internets?  Why do you think we are known affectionately as “the World’s Laziest Journalist”?

Maybe we should do a column that asks the question:  Who is getting shoddier treatment football players with concussions or wounded veterans?

Can a dedicated consumer buy his/her way to prosperity?

Recent news stories indicate that a majority of people don’t believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.  Most of the stories about the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy quickly glossed over conspiracy theories related to the shooting and people think we’re a lazy journalist.

Carefully examining the reasons why the World’s Laziest Journalist considers being critical of American Journalism,  in a column for people who are busy contending with the best meal of the year, to be as futile as formulating a magic bullet explanation for pesky laws of physics and it just doesn’t seem like a reasonable use of time as the buying season approaches.

Aren’t Republicans very enthusiastic about sending troops into Syria and/or Iran?

Can it be that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the War in Afghanistan?  Will the last American soldier to leave Afghanistan, please turn out the lights?

The Republicans in Congress should officially adopt as their motto, a famous line from “Gone with the Wind:”  “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

Now, the disk jockey will play Jimmy Clanton’s “My Own True Love,” the Revels’ “Church Key,” and Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat?”  We have to go buy some Christmas presents.  Have a “Only a few shopping days left” 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.

January 28, 2013

Who was Jafsie?

[Fox has legally established the right to present lies as news and therefore one of the unintended consequences of that judicial ruling is that individual consumers of political punditry (such as this column) are solely responsible for any concomitant fact checking deemed appropriate.]

“Cemetery John,” written by Robert Zorn (The Overlook Press, New York N.Y. ©2012) slowly and methodically dismantles the case against Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was tried and executed for participating in the theft of some children’s clothes from the home of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh.  Any reader of this column who assumes that Hauptmann was fried in New Jersey’s electrical chair because he was found guilty of the murder of the kidnapped baby has probably relied on other less comprehensive reports about the notorious crime.  In “Don’t Know Much about History,” author Kenneth C. Davis blithely informs his readers “ . . . but the evidence in the case was always strong against him (Hauptmann).”  (“What we have here is . . . failure to communicate!”)

Zorn’s book not only contradicts the conventional wisdom about Richard Bruno Hauptmann, he names a specific person as the mastermind of the famous heinous crime and builds an extensive case to bolster his assertion.

According to Zorn, academics have formulated a computer program that achieves a much higher accuracy rating for handwriting analysis than the human experts have scored in the past.  This innovative example of computer superiority confirms that his suspect actually wrote (at last parts of) the ransom notes delivered to Col. Lindbergh.

Dr. John F. Condon, whose initials JFC were used to derive his handle as Jafsie, served as the go-between for negotiations with a suspect (or suspects?) demanding money from the Lindberghs for the safe return of the baby.

Dr. Condon spoke directly to a suspect and later was reluctant to swear that Hauptmann was the person with whom he spoke.  Initial descriptions of the suspect given to police after his first encounter with an alleged kidnapper contradict the physical appearance of the man who was executed in the electric chair for being the one and only perpetrator of the vile deed.  Dr. Condon, AKA Jafsie, was, according to Zorn, coerced into upgrading his level of certainty and eliminating all his previously expressed doubts about Hauptmann being the man to whom Dr. Condon, at a second meeting, handed the ransom money.

Zorn raises a question about the possibility that the “Trial of the Century” actually took place in a location that did not legally have jurisdiction over the matter.

The conviction and execution of Hauptmann provided a foundation for a wide variety of careers for lawyers, politicians and police officials.  In the Thirties, any assertions about gaps in logic concerning the case quickly earned the sensational publicity seeking source a major amount of ridicule and (subsequently) a chance for inclusion in the Conspiracy Theory Hall of Fame.

Zorn alleges that some of the seats in the court room were sold by a local police official.  Coverage of the sensational trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann provided a springboard to fame for some of the journalists who reported on the proceedings.  Columnist Walter Winchell was one of those lucky individuals.

The antediluvian (has using big words gone out of fashion?) columnists’ technique, called three dot journalism, of using an ellipse to separate unrelated items has been superseded by the trend to streamline the demands on a reader’s attention span by adhering to the policy of one topic per column, but in the era of channel surfing via the remote control, perhaps the eclipse of the ellipse style will end?

Could separate and distinct topics, such as gun control, filibustering and storm damage legislation, which were separated by the use of three dot journalism, actually have a narrative thread which connects them all together?

With the new rules for filibustering, could a Senator introduce a ban on assault rifles with a dramatic public announcement which delights advocates of gun control and then later use the recently amended filibuster rules to anonymously kill the possibility of having a vote on that item and thus win the continuing supply of campaign donations from various gun supporting groups?  Aren’t all things possible through prayer?

Voters in California, who are “news junkies,” may have heard some (one or two?) disturbing rumors, last week, that both of their Democratic Senators allegedly gave stealth support to the piss poor filibuster reform measure that was approved by the Senate.  According to one radio report, a Senator who disapproved of the anemic reform actually told reporters the names of Quisling Democratic Senators who had quietly betrayed their constituents but he was quickly silenced (by senior Democratic Party officials?).

As the World’s Laziest Journalist understands it, the new filibuster rules present very ominous possibilities that only a vigilant free press can prevent.  At the end of December, the Congressional vote on Sandy Storm relief was postponed until after the New Year’s holiday.  The first day of the New Year, it was given immediate Congressional approval amid much loud hosannas in the news media.  Most folks didn’t notice the small footnote attached to the story:  Since a new congress was being sworn in, the approval of the measure by Congress meant that to be enacted into law it had to re-win approval in the Senate.

Those good ole boys in the Senate were, as the new session got started, mighty busy with filibuster reform, gun control, the annual State of the Union name calling competition, and (tah dah dah dutt dutt daaaahhh!) immigration reform and so it is possible that in all that excitement they have forgotten how many bills, such as the Storm relief bill, needed to be passed.  Now, they have to ask themselves another question:  “How many of the voters will notice/care?”  To which we can only add the traditional San Francisco question:  “Well, do ya, punk?”

In a country that is known for its dedication to a free press and truth, fretting about this slight oversight going unnoticed is probably a fool’s errand.  Since the World’s Laziest Journalist’s headquarters operates with limited access to commentary in the free press (the access costs money) we might have missed ample examples of instances where this possible sin of omission has been mentioned.  If it has not, then just as soon as the posse known as the New York Times national desk reads this column, they will (we must assume) pen a lead editorial calling the Senate to task for the glaring political fumble.

In all the excitement over the Judicial ruling that President Obama exceeded his authority with some recess appointments, the Journalists commenting on the sensational development seem to have missed a partisan implication question.  Will the Republicans use that decision as the grounds for starting impeachment proceedings against the President they love to hate?

Speaking of gun control, Zorn reports that Col Lindbergh was armed when he accompanied Dr. Condon when the doctor went to pay the ransom money and that the famous flyer noticed a fellow (who most likely knew that the Lindbergh baby was dead and that the ransom transaction was a fraud) walking away from the rendezvous location.  If (subjunctive mood) Col. Lindbergh had shot that person in the back, would he have been exonerated for an act of vigilante justice or would he have been convicted of murder by a jury of gun control advocates?  Just asking.

It will soon be the fiftieth anniversary of the time when Lee Harvey Oswald said to journalists:  “I’m a patsy.”

Now the disk jockey will play Johnny Cash’s “The Long Black Veil,” Merle Haggard’s “I’m the only Hell my mama ever raised,” and the Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley.”  We have to go buy a “Go Niners!” T-shirt.  Have a Lombardi Trophy winning type week.

Powered by WordPress