June 26, 2015

Zen and the Art of Microaggressions

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




crop of close up red tag

[Trigger Warning: The following column may contain words, phrases, and/or topics that readers may find unsettling and upsetting. If not; then the columnist isn’t doing his job correctly and must apologize.]

If the latest example of Berkeley Liberal thinking, which is called “micro aggression” is retroactively applied to Lenny Bruce’s most famous quotes, he wouldn’t be considered just a criminal but he would be regarded as an equal of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial defendants. When the President of the United States recently used the n-bomb, he did not issue a trigger warning and consequently the Republicans became incensed. Their righteous indignation over the use of that word came perilously close to apoplexy.

It seems as if some political commentators do not want a lively discussion about various contentious topics but would rather have a verbal equivalent of the de facto Christmas truce that occurred at Christmas in 1914. Is neutralizing debate a liberal or conservative tactic? Is it an example of microaggression to even ask that question? If so who would approve such behavior other than Lenny Bruce and others from the Golden Age of Sick humor?

If Lenny Bruce were still alive today could he get away with asking this question: “Are the members of the United State Supreme Court acting like drama queens with their coy moves to postpone the announcement of their decisions for the most contentious cases from this year?”

If the conservatively owned mainstream media is satisfied with the Justices shenanigans, who outside the Berkeley city limits will object?

The mainstream media was spared the trouble of taking an in-depth look at the Berkeley Balcony tragedy that occurred early on June 16 because on June 17 a mass shooting occurred and the new media immediately switch the country’s focus of attention to the mass murder story.

The gun manufacturing industry was spared another round of the gun control debate when the news commentators immediately directed the nation’s attention to the Confederate flag issue. The power of political activism was underlined by the fact that several national merchandise chains quickly announced they were suspending the sale of Confederate flags.

Meanwhile, in Berkeley, while the elite of the journalism industry were in town to cover the aftermath of the balcony tragedy, a report by the Berkeley Police Review Commission was released. It immediately was criticized by local citizens for not accurately describing the police conduct on the evening of December 6, 2014 which had sparked the investigation.

It was asserted by some zealous observers to be a “cover-up” or what the kids would call “a white wash job.” Is that a subtle way of saying that only honkies try to lie their way out of a nasty predicament?

KCBS news radio reported on Tuesday of this week that in the aftermath of the six student deaths in the balcony tragedy, no police investigation regarding possible criminal conduct was being conducted. The lawyers and the inevitable lawsuits would be the method for providing justice for the deaths.

On Thursday, the Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy O’Malley, announced that her office would be conducting a criminal investigation, which might produce manslaughter indictments.

Meanwhile, teachers were realizing that they had to provide students with “Trigger warnings,” if their lectures contained any words, phrases, or topic which might cause emotional distress to the students in the audience.

If these criteria for conduct by teachers were retroactively applied to some of the “teach-ins” spawned by the Vietnam War, wouldn’t many of the teachers have lost their jobs?

The item at the center of the microagressions storm was a Washington Post article written by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. It should be available via a quick Google News search.

The mainstream media seems to prefer focusing on soap opera news that prominently features sexual hanky-panky.   The saga of the prison employee whose sex life caused extensive speculation on the cable news networks was getting more media attention in the USA than was any detailed analysis of the events in the Middle East. It even spilled over onto the network morning show interview of her husband. By Wednesday of this week Getty & Armstrong were asserting that the prison guard had been unfaithful to her husband with a number in triple digits needed for accuracy.

The fans of the Oakland Warriors had to wait forty years for their team to win the championship. The team owners can’t wait for a chance to get a better deal from a different city to move and thereby increase the value of their team.

The new Bay Bridge seems to be a textbook example of the old political wisdom: Build in haste, repent at leisure.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has predicted that the Justices would rule that it was unconstitutional and realize that our batting average number will be seriously affected by the inaccurate prediction.

This weekend the response of the paid commentators who work for mass media owned by wealthy conservative moguls should provide a very high level of entertainment because they might provide opinions that should require a strong trigger warning.

Will the media issue calls for patriots to calmly accept the ruling or will they try to stir up rancor and discontent? The weekend TV shows called “gab fests” may be highly charged and contentious and should be very entertaining this weekend.

Note: Next week’s column will be posted on Thursday due to the long holiday weekend.

In his autobiography, “How to talk dirty and influence people,” Lenny Bruce provided (on page 21) the essence of the cable news addict’s philosophy: “I loved this because I wasn’t as afraid of being killed in battle as I was of being bored.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Did you ever have to make up your mind?,” Waylon Jennings theme from the Dukes of Hazzard,” and AC/DC’s “Jailbreak.” We have to go do a Google map search to find out where Thunder Road is. Have a “good ole boy never meanin’ no harm” type week.


April 17, 2015

Shut up and Obey!

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:30 pm

crop of hate man

Regimentation, conformity, and obedience have become not just commendable traits, but in the era of the Republican Reich can be considered as virtues for every citizen to cultivate. Hence the voices of anyone who dares to disagree is labeled as emanating from “a conspiracy theory lunatic” and considered anathema. A nation born out of rebellion has morphed into a stogy old country where innovation and creativity are considered worthy of (metaphorical alert) an abortion procedure.

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists have selected April 18 as “National Columnists’ Day,” because it was on that day, in the year 1945, when Ernie Pyle died in combat during WWII. Since America’s much vaunted “Free Press” isn’t reporting that the situation in the Middle East is alarmingly grim and the pundits are not heralding the fact that for the first time in American political History, there is Presidential Candidate who can (opinions are covered by the First Amendment) be described as “frumpy,” this year’s column noting the arrival of National Columnists’ Day will not be on a columnist per se, but will celebrate the nearly extinct species of “unique voice in America.”

Sometimes, even a fascist dictatorship can be tolerant of voices of dissent.

Ernst Junger won an Iron Cross from Germany during WWI and wrote a very jingoistic book about combat (Storm of Steel) and became a popular author in his home country. As WWII approached he produced a new novel that some alarmists thought was critical of the Third Reich. The would-be advocates of extreme censorship brought it to the attention of the Chancellor for life. Hitler reportedly shrugged it off and said to let the writer alone because he was, after all, the Iron Cross winner. Junger, whose biography was (the last time we checked) available in only a German language version, became the only German to win an Iron Cross in both World Wars and was named the cultural ambassador to Occupied Paris.

In America, it seems, Conservatives have become über-enthusiastic about censoring all political opinion that is not enthusiastically very patriotic and since they control the media, the Congress, and have a majority in the United States Supreme Court, mouthing-off in a critical mode is not very healthy for any aspiring political pundits.

It wasn’t always like that, boys and girls. When the non-Christian heathen Warren era Supreme Court opened the flood gate for pornographers (in the early Seventies) Al Goldstein started a newspaper with reviews and news about the burgeoning Industry and became a star in the Pop Culture area of the American media.

Lenny Bruce said naughty words (that everyone used in private conversations) on stage in his comedy routines, became very famous, and died.

Recently we heard (or at least thought we heard) a woman CBS radio news reporter described a harsh boss with the colorful descriptive term “prick.”

What could Lenny Bruce, if he were still alive and grossing and grumbling in the media today that could possibly get him into hot water? How about: “Those f*****g electronic voting machines that have no means for verifying the results are rendering elections to the category of irrelevant!”? He’d be labeled a conspiracy theory lunatic and banished from the spotlight just like he was in the Sixties.

The conservative owners of media would banish him from any and all publicity and ignore his attempts to point out that in an era when no computer seems to be invulnerable to hacking, it is silly (insane perhaps?) to think that a security system that features a des key that is readily available on the Internets can do what the state of the art programs can not.

In Berkeley, a homeless fellow (according to a local legend) used to use the free speech explanation to deliver rants on Sproul Plaza which sanctioned hatred. He became a local legend that merits the term “Berkeley’s beloved hateman.” Go figure.

Hypothetically speaking, there maybe a voice out there on the Internets that is an extreme example of free speech in action, but without a publicity agent to make him (or her) a media fad, the position of “America’s best known voice of dissention” must remain vacant.

There are (as of today) 570 days left until the USA votes for the 45th President. It seems to be a strong likelihood that the contest will be a dual between two candidates who want to revitalize the concept of American Dynasty.

Yes, the Jon Stewart Show will feature some witty one-liners about JEB and Hillary and Saturday Night Live will do some acerbic skits at their expense, but will it be anything more relevant that seeing Richard M. Nixon go on “Laugh In” and asking: “Sock it to me?”?

Ernie Pyle and his associates produced a string of anecdotes about the ordinary G. I.’s that portrayed an image of Boy Scouts with guns hunting down mad dogs from other countries. They didn’t cover such interesting anomalies as the medal winning soldier in France who went AWOL and shacked up with a French chick.

Apparently the only thing the MP’s did was to round-up inebriated combatants on leave and put them in the slammer for a night so that they could sleep it off.

It’s not like the stifling of voices of dissent doesn’t serve a useful purpose. In the book “the Late, Great State of California,” the author examines how a California governor successfully used the issue of student dissent as a stepping stone for his bid to become the President. Apparently the sentiment that colleges spread communism has always been popular with patriotic voters.

In the hectic high pressure world of deadline journalism at its nerve wracking best, why bother to present both side when any imbecile can tell you that only one is correct?

Ironically, the need for a voice of dissent may never have been greater. The situation in the Middle East is shrouded in secrecy. Insightful commentary on the cauldron is MIA in the American media. An opposing point of view might qualify to be classified as treason so anyone foolish enough to mouth off might want to think twice before actually expressing a controversial point of view.

The prospect of dueling dynasties is too pathetic to merit serious commentary.

If, however, the United States Supreme Court, with a majority of conservative, compassionate, Christian Republicans declares that gay marriage is unconstitutional, it might be a very good thing if there are no voices of dissent which could be misconstrued as urging rebellion or fomenting and or inciting a riot in response to an unpopular decision.

If the Supreme Court declares that gay marriage is unconstitutional, it will be a case of “Game over” for the liberal advocates of that cause. At that point the liberals should be expected to display the good sportsmanship mode of conduct and be ready to shake hands with the opposing team and saying: “Good game!”

Sidebar story: Pauline Kael’s home in Berkeley is (reportedly) up for sale and some locals want it preserved as a historic site.

What makes a better news story: the NBA playoffs or a civil war between rival religions in a country you can’t find on a world map?

Mark Twain (reportedly) said: “God invented War so that Americans could learn Geography.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Rolling Stones’ “contractual obligation” album, Jimmy Buffet’s song “Let’s get drunk and screw,” and Pussy Riot’s Osvobodi Bruschatku (Release the Cobblestones [it’s on youtube]). We have to go see if we can find copy of the Berkeley Barb for this week. (Did they ever make a student protester doll?) Have an “abomination against nature” type week.

May 30, 2014

Thoughtcrimes come of age

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:30 pm

Lenny Bruce censorship

America has elevated shooting rampages to the level of a sacred religious rite and the only proof that is needed to prove that contention is the article in the Wall Street Journal that asserts that the media is doing the exact opposite of what the psychologists say they should be doing when a new instance of shooting strangers to become a celebrity unfolds on the cable news networks and the big networks’ evening news shows. The Armstrong and Getty radio show invited listeners to go to their website to get a link to the story. It’s just a remarkable coincidence that their show in the San Francisco Bay Area is preceded on a Fox radio station by the Wall Street Journal radio show.

Is it ironic to note that in the last week of May of 2014, in the land famous for Freedom of Speech, the hot topic was arguing over what can and can not be said about a wide variety of topics?

Is there anything about the shooting that hasn’t been said? Reading “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People,” we couldn’t help but imagine that if he were still alive, Lenny Bruce would find a way to say something which would offend both Liberals and Conservatives. Such as? It isn’t too difficult to imagine that Bruce would attempt to elevate the debate to new levels of vitriol by saying: “If prostitution were legal in Cali, those victims would still be alive.”

It isn’t difficult to imagine Bruce noting that if a good looking young man driving a new Mercedes Benz can’t get laid, then America has become a very sick nation.

On Wednesday May 28, 2014, Getty and Armstrong continued their criticism of the news coverage of the shootings (and stabbings) but fell short of going balls to the wall with their point of view. Should they push things to the limit by urging (in an egregious example of irony) people to send in money to start a Shooters’ Hall of Fame to raise the glorification of the shooters to an excessively high level of adulation?

The Wednesday edition of the Getty and Armstrong Show included one of the sidekicks telling a personal anecdote about bypassing the waiting phase at a Sushi bar and when the fellow was asked to explain why he got preferential treatment responded: “Because I’m white.” On Thursday morning that radio show quickly mentioned that the guy who told that anecdote was no longer working for the show.

Since Rush Limbaugh loves to goad the Liberals by uttering ideas that come perilously close to taking the concept of edgy off the deep end. Hasn’t conservative radio come to resemble (metaphor alert!) the chickie run sequence in “Rebel without a Cause”?

How would Liberals react if Uncle Rushbo read some old Lenny Bruce routines on his radio show? Bruce did use the “n-word” and if Limbaugh read the transcript of a Lenny Bruce rant that included the use of the “n-word,” would Liberals condemn that as a reprehensible way to sneak that word on to his radio show or would they then resurrect the old “freedom of speech” arguments that were (was it fifty years ago?) offered in defense of Lenny Bruce?

The national debate over gun control has morphed into a state of stalemate. Neither side will even listen to the other team’s points and (much to the relief of politicians caught in the middle) as a result nothing will ever be done about it.

Mass shootings are a very effective wedge issue and on Wednesday a law maker in California was proposing that citizens who think that a neighbor is mentally unfit to own a gun should be given veto power over any legal attempts to purchase a firearm.

The concept of a wedge issue is to take a dispute and get a wild exuberant political diversion going, ultimately do nothing to change things, and then get on TV and explain how and why the opposition political party thwarted the will of the majority of voters.

Bill Mahr said something that was deemed unacceptable by the patriotic conservatives and he was marginalized for his attempt to think outside the box. Don Imus was discredited by a conservative news organization and then hired by them when the value of his services fell to a much more affordable price.

Do you have an extra coupla billion dollars sitting idle and want to buy a NBA team cheap?

We have been reading “Death of a Pirate,” by Adrian Johns, which is about the phenomenon known as Pirate Radio as practiced in Great Britain during the last century.

The Liberal point of view on the publicly owned radio airwaves is as extinct as the Wolfman Jack radio show.

Sometime ago, the World’s Laziest Journalist predicted that when Liberal philosophy on radio becomes extinct, it would be necessary to resurrect the concept of pirate radio and offer clandestine programming being broadcast from beyond the borders and which could be heard inside the USA. Some folks say that the Internets fills that need but can a person in a car listen to a show being streamed on the Internets?

Lenny Bruce got in deep trouble for talking about things like gays, blacks, and drugs. He was very adamant about being given his right to free speech and when Rush Limbaugh makes headlines with a new outrageous quote, we wonder if Lenny Bruce would be the first to come to Rush’s defense.

Is freedom of speech a one way street only for Liberals or is it a two way street that Bruce would endorse? Partisan punditry is just cheerleading in disguise. Seeing Lenny Bruce defend Donald Sterling’s freedom of speech would be a hella notable example of doing a guest shot on a talk show.

On Thursday, formerNew York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, caused a stir by asserting that Liberals were stifling conservative teachers at Harvard.

Are there more Liberals condemning Rush Limbaugh for what he says lately, than there were Conservatives demanding the arrest of Lenny Bruce for what he was saying fifty years ago?

Gridlock in the gun control debate could be a symptom that freedom of speech has become moribund and that the most appropriate illustration of the situation would be a photo of the WWI trench warfare where the battle line did not move while thousand died maintaining the status quo. Don’t expect to see Lenny Bruce or anyone else asserting that legalized prostitution would have prevented the shootings in Isle Vista.

The main event between Hillary and JEB is more than two years from now and the thought of two solid years of “Yay for JEB, boo for Hilary” on talk radio is stultifying. Doesn’t America need partisan punditry in print, on the air, and on the boob tube so that it doesn’t get to be so predictable and monotonous that folks loose interest in the election? Or is that Karl Rove’s stealth game plan for the next Presidential election?

On page 31 of “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People,” Bruce wrote: “There was also some nut from Rye, New Yor, whose act consisted of standing on a chair, jumping straight up into the air and then diving and landing square on his head.”

Now the disk jockey will play George Carlin’s “Seven Word,” the Rolling Stones C******r Blues, and G. G. Allin’s “Needle in My ****.” We have to go see who’s playing at the Hungry I” in Frisco. Have an “omphaloskepsis” type week.

January 3, 2014

Lenny Bruce, Alan Ginsberg, and Rush Limbaugh

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

Jann S. Wenner had a very seductive way of convincing writers to work on his new magazine; he would promise them life in the journalists’ Valhalla by saying:  “You can write about anything you want” and since prospects for liberal punditry at the beginning of a year that will consist mainly of covering the Republican Sitdown Strike in Congress at a time when leftists have been banished from the ranks of talk radio, the only way for management to generate enthusiasm from beleaguered columnists is to duplicate the vague mission statement that lured talent to the headquarters of Rolling Stone Magazine at 625 Third Street in San Francisco almost a half a century ago.

Who wouldn’t want to be assigned to escape Winter in the Northern Hemisphere and go to Canberra to write an article titled “SummerNats is Decadent and Depraved!”?  The defunct Scanlan’s Magazine started a journalistic tradition of writing an installment in the Decadent and Depraved series of sports exposes when they sent a rookie to cover the Kentucky Derby.  That pioneer of Gonzo Journalism is gone, but shouldn’t the tradition be preserved to spark enthusiasm in a new generation?

Since the 2014 SummerNats is being held this weekend in Canberrra, it’s too late to seek an assignment that would subsidize a trip there.  Wouldn’t the 2015 installment of an annual Australian event that uses the unofficial motto of “beer, boobs, and burnouts!,” seem like an excellent choice to qualify for being included in Scanlon’s magazines series of profiles of depraved sporting events?  We should probably send them a query letter rather quickly.  (Note:  we used a file photo from the 2009 SummerNats as the illustration for this column.)

If Dr. Hunter S. Thompson isn’t available to spoof political punditry in 2014 by writing a scathing piece to fill the space under a headline that reads:  “Is the USA ready for a chick President?;” then who in the Gonzo bullpen is a better choice than The World’s Laziest Journalist?  Wouldn’t a quote from Frank Sinatra about “frails” put it over the goal line?

Aren’t the Republican strategists beginning to assemble an arsenal of sexist sentiment in anticipation of the 2016 Presidential Election?

Since articles about the unverifiable results from the electronic voting machines must either be an enthusiastic endorsement of that questionable facet of democracy in action or be a nominee for the Conspiracy Theory Bunkum of the year award, it might be an example of discretion to aim, instead, for something more accessible.  Since the schedule has just been posted, it may be time to decide how (not “if”) we will cover Noir City 12, the film festival that starts in San Francisco later this month on January 24.

If Phil Robertson just got forgiveness for his recent controversial rant, could it be that conservatives are slowly building toward a denouement in 2014 that provides a crucial turning point whereby Uncle Rushbo either gets absolution for using the N-word on the air, or destroys his career and becomes a martyr for freedom of speech?  Would the Leftists’ holy trinity of freedom of speech then become Lenny Bruce, Alan Ginsberg, and Rush Limbaugh?

Fox got some publicity by airing the F-bomb word as part of their New Year’s Eve coverage.  Is this going to be the year of the on air F-bombs?

Since progressive radio talk show host Norman Goldman had a scoop about how the series of “fiscal cliff” crises had been broken, we would rather not write a sloppy seconds version of that obscure aspect of American Political History.

We have missed the deadline for applying for press credentials for covering the Oscar Awards Ceremonies which will be held at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood in just a few weeks.  Perhaps we can channel the spirit of Gonzo Journalism and talk our way into getting a special deadline dispensation, getting a press pass, and then doing some reports about this year’s mad scramble to give acceptant speeches.   (Garry Cooper gave the shortest acceptance speech.  It consisted of just one word:  “Thanks!”)

Speaking of eloquent sales pitches, perhaps we can convince Jerry Cimino to resurrect the Beatmobile (AKA the Beat Museum on Wheels) and take a contingent of writers on a round trip from the North Beach area of San Francisco to this year’s celebration of Hemingway Days in Key West, Fla.  If we could get a ride on such a hypothetical quest journey, we could do a series of Gonzo reports on our continuing effort to establish Hemingway as the prototype Beatnik.

The assignment desk at the World’s Laziest Journalist World Headquarters will tantalize the staff with the possibility that in 2014 somebody will be assigned to cover the 24 hour sports car race at Le Mans before being given the task of being the results wrangler for the Mid-Term Elections Desk later in the year.

Speaking of Demographics, recently a friend insinuated that crusading liberal journalists are “mouth breathers.”  If he thinks that Leftists are dummies, perhaps we should start doing some fact checking for a column that would provide statistics to back the contention that the average PBS News Hour audience member has a better education than the high school dropouts who are addicted to the quality level available at Fox propaganda?

Have some clever Republicans started using reverse psychology?  Aren’t some staunch Republicans starting to wear some Wendell Wilkie “No Third Term” buttons from the 1940 Presidential Election as a way of introducing a move to grant President Obama an exemption from the two terms limit?  Isn’t that a stealth a way to manipulate disgruntle Democrats into either endorsing a third term for Obama or expressing public disappointment in the lame duck’s track record?  If the Republicans do pass such a change, wouldn’t Barick Obama still be young enough for a third term in 2020 if the incumbent isn’t’ a fellow Democrat.

Berkeley blogger, war correspondent, and grandmother Jane Stillwater, tipped us to the fact that this year’s Boucher Con known as “Murder at the Beach” this year, for the fans of mystery novels will be held in Long Beach California and so we are penciling in coverage of that event which will be held November 11 to 16, this year.

The new film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is a Horatio Alger, rags to riches, saga that will motivate and inspire young Republicans for decades to come, and so we may soon write a full film review as a column.  The Ayn Randian premise of the film is simple:  If a fellow makes millions of dollars, it doesn’t matter who else gets hurt in the process.  The real question is “How many Oscars will it win?”

It brings to mind the old Hollywood wisdom:  “Be careful whom you step while climbing to the top, because you may have to step on them again, on your way back down.”

Speaking of wolfpack capitalism, will 2014 be the year that the Republican majority Congress starts to take measures to solve the looming prospect of a deficit for the Social Security program?

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson described the Myth of Sisyphus aspect of a late start when he wrote:  “The press handler was shocked at the idea that anyone would be stupid enough to apply for press credentials two days before the Derby.”

Now the disk jockey will get us in the SummerNats frame of mind by playing Jerry Lee Lewis’ “What made Milwaukee famous,”  Rusty Warren’s “Bounce your boobies,” and the Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coup.”  We have to start checking to see if a certain couch in Marina del Rey is available for crashing during the Oscar weekend festivities.  Have an “I want to thank the members of the Academy . . .” type week and a happy new year.

July 12, 2013

WWII version of “Spy vs. Spy”

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:26 pm

War protest sign in Berkeley CA

“The Irregulars:  Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in wartime Washington” by Jennet Conant (© 2008 by Jennet Conant Simon & Schuster New York N.Y.) is a handy book to have around if you just happen to be surrounded by peacniks in Berkeley who are outraged by the fact that the United States, the country that saved Great Britain with desperately needed supplies for use during the Battle of Britain, has been conducting monitoring of the Internets and phone calls to protect the world from terrorists.

Roald Dahl, who introduced the concept of tiny malicious creatures called Gremlins, was a wounded war hero who was reassigned to diplomatic duties in Washington to help the American President (FDR) decide to break his campaign pledge to not send American boys to fight in Europe’s war by waging an extensive public relations effort via planted stories in the American media to convince the citizens that duty and honor compelled a reversal of the popular (with Americans) policy of non intervention.

The pilot and war time casualty was also dashingly handsome and so seducing American Congressional representative Clare Booth Luce (AKA Mrs. Henry “Time magazine” Luce) was part of Dahl’s mission because issues such as cabotage in the post war world were at stake due to the small print in the Lend Lease agreement.

The Brits were also more than a little curious about what faction of the French government in exile would be favored by the Americans.  Would FDR be more partial to General de Gaulle or would he favor General Henri Giraud?  Could stories be planted in the American media to swing the choice in de Gaulle’s favor?

Fighting for freedom in the Battle of Britain was a highly touted motivation but when it came time to consider an end to colonialism after the war, enthusiasm waned.  If the French didn’t retain ownership of French Indo China after the war would that be a bad omen for the country that owned and operated India as a colony?

Having troops in Vietnam during WWII was a great tactical advantage for Japan.  Detailed explanations of how they gained the use of that bit of territory for use by their troops when they fought to take control of places like Burma is usually missing from books about the run up to the War in the Pacific.

Otto Friedrich’s 1989 book “the Grave of Alice B. Toklas” also came to our attention this summer and his 1959 article “How to be a war correspondent” was fascinating because it recounted how Friedrich “covered” the war in French Indo China from Paris.  The main challenge was to add phrases such as “wade through turbulent flood-swollen streams,” “knife through sweltering jungles,” and “fighter bombers zooming low” to statistic laden French government press releases handed out in Paris to inform American readers about the progress the fight against a Communist take over in Asia was progressing.

Friedrich revealed the secret of being a war correspondent in a far away nation:  “The outside world needs nothing more than a few announcements of enemy casualties and an occasional declaration that the ‘terrorists’ are on the run.”  Don’t the French have a saying about how things never change?

Sunday will be Bastille Day and so this week might be a good time to finish reading our bargain used copy of “Americans in Paris:  Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940 – 44,” by Charles Glass.

Edward Snowden is in the news this summer and is being accused of treason for revealing information that has been widely known for years.  Since Hans Fallada’s “Every man dies alone” is a cautionary tale about the futility of opposing a government committed to war, we wanted to flip though it again.  It is a fictional retelling of the story of a German couple who left postcards critical of Hitler all over Berlin in the early Forties.  Mostly all of their work was turned over to the Gestapo and proved to be useless.  The hapless war protesters were executed.  Will the real life source for this novel become the patron saints for the bloggers who have been critical of the foreign policy used by both the George W. Bush and Barrack H. Obama administrations?

Book reviewers for the mainstream media have a fiduciary motivation for reading an assigned book all the way through as quickly as possible, but a columnist who is just trying to find a new column topic and simultaneously do some reading for entertainment purposes tends to use a pile of books in the same cavalier way that a couch potato uses his remote clicker.

The World’s Laziest Journalist may read a chapter in Lenny Bruce’s “How to talk dirty and influence people,” then pick up Camus’ “The Rebel” and flip through it to see if any of the underlined passages will proved a closing quote for this week’s column, and then because Hunter S. Thompson’s 75th birthday will be July 18, it might be a good idea to go back over the highlighted passages that follow the classic line:  “We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to take hold.”

Perhaps we should reread Hemingway’s short story “the Killers” and then do a parody for a column that would compare the Social Security program to Ole Anderson?

Berkeley and San Francisco both offer  parsimonious book readers a wealth of bargain opportunities for used book buyers and since Berkeley is known for being liberal and also is home for a very respected school of Journalism, we have acquired (for a modest cost) a vast array of books that offer a very critical analysis of the Bush Administration written (mostly) by well known names from the realm of American Journalism.

When future historians look back on the wide assortment of voices warning Americans of impending disaster, they will have to wrestle with the question of why the citizens, in the face of overwhelming number of Cassandra voices, reelected George W. Bush.  Perhaps some future historian will propose a full length book that attempts to see it as an entire nation contending (subconsciously?) with a death wish?

Which brings us to the nagging question of the week:  “If Rupert Murdock can use hacking to get scoops, why can’t the NSA monitor e-mails and phone calls to keep the free world safe from terrorists?”

The topic of impending disaster brings us back to the large number of books dealing with the events just prior to America’s entry into WWII when Roald Dahl would have to do his spying on the USA.

Many of America’s future journalism movers and shakers toured Europe and were inspired to write dire warnings about the implications of the Spanish Civil War and the threat Hitler represented.

Low information voters were too occupied by the task of getting a job during the latter stages of the Great Depression to pay close attention to and try to critically analyze the implications of the war in Ethiopia and the Spanish Civil War.

The children from the low information households would provide the essential manpower for fighting the war that the vagabonding journalists saw on the horizon, so maybe the people who were flocking to see “Gone with the Wind” should have paid more attention to the efforts being produced by the multitude of foreign correspondents churning out content for America’s newspaper readers.

The folks in the San Francisco Bay area are being informed that the opening of the new Bay Bridge will have to be delayed while the authorities address the issue of some safety violations.  Will any writer tackle a book assignment sometime in the future for elaborating the real challenge?  The politicians know that the project has to be completed.  What can be done to make that happen in such a way that the only people vulnerable to legal proceedings will be the mid level managers if a disaster strikes in the future?  Aye, lad, there’s the rub.

The new issue of the East Bay Express contains an article by Darwin BondGraham, titled “BART’s lead negotiator has a history of illegal behavior.”  It only strengthens our hunch that the true goal in this local labor dispute is to continue the policy of union busting that began by St. Ronald Reagan.

[Note from the photo editor:  War protests in Berkeley go back a long way so a sign at a bus bench in the downtown that was critical of the War in Iraq wasn’t attracting many readers this week.  We thought that a photo of the sign would be relevant to a column on reading matter.  The sign shows a drawing of a hand holding a shoe and folks should know that throwing a shoe is an extreme demonstration of disapproval in Iraq.  The only English words on the sign say:  “Iraq is devastated.”  For critics of the Iraq War that tells readers what the sign maker had to say.]

Lenny Bruce wrote:  “My reading matter ran the gamut from a technical book on intercontinental ballistic missiles to Jean-Paul Sartre’s study of anti-Semitism but all I knew about (George Bernard) Shaw was that he wrote Pygmalion.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Summer time,” “Having a heat wave,” and “Summertime Blues.”  We have to go look for our next used book treasure find.  Have a “We’ll always have Paris” 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.

July 16, 2010

Keep Your Eye on Jeb

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:20 pm

While writing a rough draft for a mostly whimsical column that would assess the summer of 2010 from the hypothetical point of view of a future historian looking back at it, we came across a Huffingtonpost story
about Jeb Bush
and realized that the Huffington story augmented by a series of similar items might, in retrospect, be recognized as a very important harbinger of the United States’ political future.

To get Jeb Bush elected as the President of the United States (POTUS) in 2012, legitimately or not, one would have to prepare the country in advance for such a potentially (to some) distressing result. If it is predestined to happen, it would be very prudent to plant a series of “news” stories assuming that such an election result were possible. Otherwise if it just came to be that Jeb started winning primary contests in early 2012, some of America’s less gullible citizens might raise a hue and cry. If, however, the free press would show their sportsmanship and help set the stage, it could go a long way towards sidestepping a rancorous national debate about the need for a continuation of the Bush Dynasty.

In the realm of deceptive activity designed to fleece an unsuspecting victim of his/her money a common factor is often an assistant who seemingly is a stranger to both parties and who provides a “count me in” factor to the proceedings that is designed to alleviate any of the victim’s points of objection. People tend to be reluctant to be the first to make a move but they also tend to have a flock mentality when a trend gains traction.

Thus, if some political strategist (with a tendency to play his role in a Svengali/Merlin manner) is calling the shots, the press can play the role of the “count me in” accomplice by rehabilitating the rather tarnished image of the Bush family. A complicit press could help refurbish that image as one of an American tradition that has suffered a temporary setback rather than a total derailment via the low public opinion of the last President. With the press’ reputation for truthfulness and integrity (imagine it in terms of Edward R. Murrow doing a “Person to Person” interview with Jeb in his home [or is it “one of his homes”?] with lotsa “softball questions.”), they could do a great deal to help restore the tarnished Bush brand name back to its former eminence.

Obviously this sounds outlandishly implausible, but if someone told the reader back in the “Impeach Clinton now!” phase of the country’s history that the Republicans would win the next election in the conservative majority Supreme Court and then pull off an even more impossible upset in 2004, who would have believed it back then?

Quite often historians find the most fascinating items go mostly unnoticed while they are part of the contemporary news scene. Hence, we strongly assert that folks, coping with foreclosure or not, pay more attention to the stories about Jeb and ask themselves if such items are a legitimate examples of a “nose for news” journalistic value judgment or if they are part of a concerted effort to set the USA up for yet another con job.

It could be that the Summer of 2010 will, some day, be remembered in some obscure and esoteric example of historians scholarship as the time when the World’s Laziest Journalist posted the first claxon alarm about the next successful Republican presidential campaign.

For the time being, such a premise will, for the most part, be blithely dismissed as being inconsequential alarmism. So noted. We now return you to our regularly scheduled whimsical column about the Summer of 2010:
Mel Gibson made an audition tape for his efforts to be hired as Uncle Rushbo’s occasional fill-in replacement and when it fell into the wrong hands it got misrepresented in the media and that got him into an embarrassing position. On the tape did he say anything that would cost him his job if he were saying it on the air from the Excellence In Broadcasting studios?

If Lenny Bruce were still alive would he be fostering a comedy genre called “slick” humor?

Being alive in the summer of BP love is providing curmudgeons with a smorgasbord of news stories just bound to please the “you kids stay off my lawn” style grouches while sending the far lefties into the throes of agony.

The Republicans are castigating (careful with that word) President Obama for fighting a war in Afghanistan that is unwinnable (Word spell-check, like many Republicans, refuses to accept the existence of that word). Didn’t George W. Bush hand his war off to his successor and wasn’t that a bit like when that silly bird hands the coyote the lit stick of trinitrotoluene (AKA TNT)?

What grump wouldn’t like the Eddie Haskell-ish trick of wrecking the economy and then ridiculing the folks collecting unemployment during the succeeding administration’s effort to restore prosperity?

Is there a misanthrope alive this summer that doesn’t see that the way to explain Alvin Greene’s meteoric rise to fame and political prominence can be explained by the old concept of “charisma”?

Isn’t it a shame that cartoonist Charles Addams didn’t live until “death panels” became one of Uncle Rushbo’s recurring leitmotifs?

Back in the Sixties, liberal writers in the mainstream media (MSM) who couldn’t write about very liberal programs and ideas learned they could pull an end-run on the conservative publishers by doing trend spotting stories about people with liberal points of view. For instance the New York media heavy hitters who couldn’t be anti Vietnam War in their stories could write about folks who were such as Bob Dylan and Hunter S. Thompson and the Rolling Stone magazine. That brought bigger audiences to those cultural phenomenons which, in turn, helped them get their message out to a bigger audience. That way the frustrated writers on the nationally respected media plantations could claim that they had (indirectly) helped spread the liberal memes.

Does Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly ever mention online sites that pointed out the shortcomings of the Bush Junta? If there is a new online equivalent of the Berkeley Barb or the East Village Other will they ever become a cultural force thanks to trend spotting stories in the MSM? Is helping to stifle voices of dissention a stealth way to help conservatives?

Does Murdock’s media ever criticize BP? Was it a group of rogue miscreants who arranged for the Lockerby prisoner to go free in return for some off shore drilling rights from Libya?

Summer of 2010 was also when scientists made news by studying the DNA of Ozzy Osbourne. It was when the “cheesy easy song of the day” on the True Oldies Channel was in its first year of existence. It was also (personal note alert) when this columnist discovered Joe R. Lansdale, the man we proclaim to be the heir to wear the “best living” mantle at the next convention (known as Bouchercon) of hard-boiled detective story writers. BTW the convention will be held in San Francisco! ! !

Will the summer of 2010 be referred to by techies as: “when Apple made their Edsel”? ? ?

In the summer of 2010, the conservatives are having a ball laughing at dumpster diving for kids and folks running out of their unemployment checks. Those compassionate conservative Christians are such cut-ups, aren’t they? The web site Tea Party Jesus puts conservative quotes in the mouth of Christ. It’s meant as irony.

You can help the restoration of the Bush family dynasty by writing to the managing editors of all national mainstream media and demanding that they omit any mention of , Broward Savings and Loan from their suck-up “news” stories.

Senator Jim Bunning’s famous “Tough shit!” line may be a strong contender for the 2010 quote of the year.

Now the disk jockey will play “19th Nervous Breakdown,” the “Easy Rider” soundtrack album, and “Helter Skelter.” We have to go check out the topic of how to get a bet, on Jeb in 2012, with long odds, down now in Vegas. Have a “Great But Forgotten” type week.

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