September 20, 2011

Libya & NATO: The biggest murder mystery of all

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:58 pm

Here I am, off in St. Louis, Missouri, attending the 41st annual BoucherCon convention, a hugely entertaining and highly informative gathering of over 1,800 murder-mystery writers and their fans. It’s pretty much crime-novel heaven here. I bet you would love it.

The first thing I did after arriving in St Louis was to take the MetroLink in from the airport and chase chickens around my friend Patrick’s back yard. Then I went off to attend a BoucherCon panel discussion on why murder mysteries are important.

“Crime novels give us the freedom to explore characters’ deepest dimensions,” stated one author — was it Colin Cotterill, Sara Paretsky, Laurie R. King, Joseph Finder, Ridley Pearson, Robert Crais, Val McDermid, Charlaine Harris or Kelli Stanley? I forget. “They also give us a chance to express values, uncover the truth about past occurrences and to pursue social justice. Mystery stories are the voices of social justice today.” Hey, that’s deep.

Then another author stated that, “Writing about killing off bad guys or getting revenge on them is cheaper than therapy….” And probably better than Prozac.

So after listening to all these authors go on and on about how wonderful their craft was, I decided to try my hand at writing a murder mystery myself. Here it is:

“As winter approached, all of Europe lay under a chilling black haze of economic free-fall. Greece was hovering close to the nightmarish throes of bankruptcy. Britons were rioting like soccer fans because they were upset by all the Victoria’s Secret ads they had watched on TV without having the money to buy enough push-up bras to keep themselves from sagging (economically speaking). And jobs in America were disappearing like popcorn at a B-movie.” So far, so good.

And now that I’ve luridly described the crime scene, all I have to do now is track down the bad guys who are causing all this misery and then put them in check. Means, motive and opportunity, right?

However, at this point my exciting new crime novel begins to go off the track and wanders into a tangled web of smoke screens thrown off by the bad guys — who are now committing another horrendous crime somewhere else in order to distract attention from their original crimes. Aha. The plot thickens.

“Before brave Inspector Stillwater can finish solving the crimes in Europe and America, the bad guys have gone off and bombed Libya!”

Hey you guys, no! I’m supposed to be bringing you to justice here, not letting you run hog-wild off in the Sahara, becoming serial killers yet again and cold-bloodily slaying even more people and even more seriously ruining the economies of Europe and America!

The cost of even a few of those deadly NATO bombing raids on Tripoli alone could have put Greece back on its feet for a year or employed every jobless guy in Florida and Ohio between Christmas and the 2012 election.

“Now D.I. Jane is really up against it. Now she has to find and apprehend these bad guys for committing even more heinous crimes. Will just a single street-level detective be able to stand between the Free World and crime sprees on an unimaginable scale?” And will I also be able to find a mainstream publisher for my book? More than likely not — even though there’s definitely a lot of mystery and murder in my story. And definitely a lot of bad guys.

But this book probably wouldn’t sell very well anyway. Why? Because what self-respecting murder-mystery fan would ever believe for an instant that so many Europeans and Americans would be so stupid as to be so complicit in all these crimes — turning a blind eye while these truly evil bad guys get away with the Crime of the Century.

What decent crime-fiction fan in their right mind would ever believe a plot that allows evil bad guys to steal hundreds and hundreds of billions of tax dollars and then waste them on murdering complete strangers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Libya — while our own economies are being murdered back home? That just wouldn’t make sense.

September 3, 2011

Upstairs Downstairs: Libya and the new British Empire

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:30 pm

Britain these days is more and more starting to resemble that famous old PBS series, “Upstairs Downstairs”. Shades of Queen Victoria! For example, Britain currently has all these posh folks in the drawing rooms of Knightsbridge and Mayfair drinking tea with their pinkies held out — while their used-and-abused servants downstairs in the slums of London and Manchester slave away for shite wages and no respect. And, in the background of all these modern strict divisions along class lines, Britain’s colonial empire still stretches from Afghanistan to Libya.

The only difference between 19th-century Britannia and today’s 21st-century Albion seems to be that the downstairs servants no longer know their places. The recent London riots proved that.

But the “Upstairs” contingency is still carrying on with a stiff upper lip, still imagining that scullery maids hang on their every word and that the London rioters were merely criminal thugs.

As for the new British Empire? Afghanistan in the 19th century and Afghanistan now? 200 years later and not much has changed. Colonialism. Shock-and-Awe.

And then there’s Libya. Sure we all hate Gaddafi — just like we all hated Saddam. Iraq folded and was plundered. And now Libya has become part of the White Man’s Burden too.

Have things changed at all from Queen Victoria’s day? Not so much.

PS: Who cares about Britain? Not me. I’m much more worried about the USA. With 5% of our population now owning 95% of our wealth, we’re obviously becoming all “Upstairs Downstairs” here too — only with a twist. Instead of lords and ladies only taking advantage of “the help” economically, American overlords are now taking total advantage of our working class — hearts and minds, body and soul. Over half of all freaking Americans these days seem to be almost begging to be exploited and abused.

Unlike what happened during Queen Victoria’s time over in Britain, what is starting to happen here in the United States today is entirely new. Our American working class isn’t just being economically used and abused, even though the easy availability of cheap labor does seem to be one of the goals of America’s new corporatist aristocracy. But from what I can tell, America’s corporatist leaders also have a dictatorship in mind as well as just a convenient new source of butlers and maids. Think banana republic. That’s never happened here before here — or even happened in Britain before either. Or at least not since the days of Prince John.

And the truly sad part of this new trend toward allowing corporatist Top Bananas to take over our federal and state governments is that no one seems to be willing to stop this from happening. And I see Libya as a pivotal turning point here. Now that a majority of countries in the Middle East are under the sway of U.S. corporatists, these new “Upstairs” lords have nailed down a strong position to suck more and more power and more and more wealth out of both America and the Middle East — and thus become stronger and stronger. And who is left to stop them now? Not the American “Downstairs”. They just sit back, go to tea parties and think that they also are holding their pinkies out — but are actually just bending over. We’re screwed.

American corporatists have traveled the world (on our taxpayers’ dime, BTW) and taken over all-too-many of its countries, adding one dictatorship at a time to their list of scullery maids. And Israel was the first to fall under their malevolent influence in the Middle East. No, it was Saudi Arabia. Or was it Iran, first given to the evil Shah with no strings attached?

Then the corporatists replaced do-able Iraqi leaders with Saddam, who started to exhibit a mind of his own and so then was replaced by various “provisional governments” who knew their place — downstairs. Afghanistan also became another American corporatist colony. And now Libya has just fallen to Exxon and BP via a dreary repeat of Iraq’s Shock-and-Awe.

And will America be the next country to go “Downstairs” — in every sense of the word? We have already entered our “Colonialism” phase. Will Shock and Awe be coming next — after having been touted as necessary in order to “protect civilians”?

The future of America is now at a crossroads. In another few years, the corporatists and oligarchs will have become too entrenched and too dangerous to ever overthrow at the ballot box. Think Hitler at the 1938 Olympics, gloating happily over how he had usurped power from all those gullible Germans. If we ever want to see a return to democracy, we must act now before the corporatist python’s hold on us gets too strong — and we wake up to find our kids out rotting away in “Downstairs” gulags in Ohio and Arizona and Chicago and New York. Shock-and-Awe. Colonialism. “Protect civilians”.

So. What to do to stop being swallowed alive by the oligarchy of “Upstairs”? Participating in the upcoming October march on Washington might be a start. If 20 million people show up, who knows? An American spring?

Eliminating electronic voting machines would be good. They have clearly been hacked. And let’s also either vote out or impeach every congressional representative or Supreme Court justice or president who supports war and/or Wall Street. Demand better healthcare, better schools, more jobs or else. Return manufacturing to the USA. Demand high tariffs. Bring our troops home and make them defend US, not corporatists profits. We’ll never see a dime of all the oligarchs’ spoils of war.

Next, let’s stop the so-called “privatization” of our resources, buildings, labor pool, national parks, education, prison work force, hospitals, banks, Social Security, etc. That’s all just one big corporatist scam to steal what is rightfully ours. Would you let a thief steal stuff from your home? No. But everyone seems to be all willing and even eager to bend over backwards so that corporatists can steal stuff from our government.

Also, there are currently many perfectly good laws on the books in our country that can and will defend our rights. Isn’t it time that these laws apply to the rich as well as the poor — to say nothing of the pure pleasure to be found in persecuting blatant war criminals. Did we or did we not have Big Fun at the Nuremberg trials?

Our very futures, our very lives and our children’s very lives are dependent upon what we are going to do in the next few years — while we still have a chance.

PPS: What do Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya all now have in common? Of course they have all suffered Shock-and-Awe. And colonialism. That goes without saying. But they have also become sources of incredible wealth for corporatists — and money pits where American taxpayers go to die.

According to economist Samer Araabi, “To continue to ignore the democratic aspirations of millions [in the Middle East], in the interests of misguided short-term strategies, is to doom U.S. efforts in the Middle East for decades to come.”

Guess what, Araabi. You are wrong. What will really happen here at home is that America and Britain will continue to become more and more like the dictatorships and anti-democratic figureheads that they support in the Middle East — until both America and Britain, as well as all the various world-wide satrapies that they have already painstakingly created, will completely come to resemble “Upstairs Downstairs” at its worst.

Colonialism. Shock-and-Awe. “Protect civilians.”

PPPS: Americans know from first hand experience what it it like to be colonized — and yet they (not me!) are still ready, willing and able to do it to others. What ever happened to the Golden Rule in this country? Long gone.

August 23, 2011

Gadaffy Duck: Another Deluded Dictator Deposed

Filed under: Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 5:53 pm


April 18, 2011

Forget about Libya: Let’s invade the Caymans!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 6:17 pm

If you were to look in the dictionary for a definition of the word “loot,” you would find the following: “Goods usually of considerable value taken in war”. But no matter how you get your hands on it, loot is still loot. According to Merriam-Webster, when nations seize loot, it is called war. However, when individuals seize loot, we call them pirates. But sometimes nations can act like pirates too.

Merriam-Webster also defines the word “loot” as “something appropriated illegally often by force or violence.” Even nations can do that! And if your nation is bound and determined to act like a pirate, then might I suggest that it follow Captain Jack Sparrow’s excellent example and go off to the Caribbean to do its plundering, right?

According to journalist Nicholas Shaxson, author of “Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens,” there are anywhere between ten and 20 trillion U.S. dollars sitting offshore at the moment. “Half of world trade is processed in one way or another through tax havens. It’s all around us, and it’s absolutely huge.” (an absolute Must-Read if you want to understand American politics and economics today). And many of these huge “offshore” holdings are located in the Caribbean. Good to know!

Of course plundering Libya does have its good points, I’ll be the first to admit. By sacking and pillaging its oil-producing cities for their loot, there is much swag to be had — especially if you are working for BP. However, dollar for dollar, the Cayman Islands have much more loot to offer than almost anywhere else in the world — and I’m not just talking about some eye-popping booty here either. Unlike Libya, the Cayman Islands are also offering a really first-class place to invade.

Just imagine all those billions and trillions of dollars stored in the bank vaults at Georgetown, just lying there waiting to be had. And them thar hearty treasures are easy pickings too — because the Caymans, unlike Libya, doesn’t even have an army to defend itself. No major guided missile systems, no nuclear weapons, not even very many tanks. Plus the hotels in the Caymans are much nicer than the ones in Libya, giving Anderson Cooper much more comfortable digs to report from than in the Middle East.

According to, you can get a suite at the Villa Bellagio in Georgetown for just $1,377 a night — including five bedrooms, four baths, easy golf course access, maid service and an in-suite jacuzzi. “Directly on the beach!” reads the brochure. Let’s see Gaddafi try to match that.

And, as the Caymans government itself brags on its website, “The Cayman Islands is one of the world’s leading providers of institutionally focused, specialized financial services and a preferred destination for the structuring and domiciling of sophisticated financial services products.” Yours for the picking! Why go to Libya for oil money when eventually all that oil money will end up coming to you anyway, here in the Caribbean.

Plus the Caymans have all kinds of cool beaches where you can bury your treasure once the plundering is over. X marks the spot.

If the United States is into the pirating game — and it surely appears to be, after having successfully looted Iraq’s oil, Afghanistan’s heroin trade, Vietnam’s central location and all that prime real estate in Palestine — then I would like to suggest that it’s time for America to GO BIG and loot the Cayman Islands too. Ah, the Caymans — where all America’s oligarchs’ vast pirate swag always ends up eventually anyway. So let’s eliminate the middleman here and go straight to the end of the booty rainbow itself.

“But America can’t invade the Caymans, Jane!” you might say. Why not? “Because that’s America’s money down there in those vaults.” Yep. My point exactly. Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. aren’t the only countries that have been looted by pirates. America has been looted too. And now it’s time to go and get it all back.

“Avast there, Mateys!” Hoist up the Jolly Roger. Set sail on the Black Pearl.

American taxpayers’ money is no longer stored in our treasury, at our mints, or in Fort Knox. Now it’s all down there in the Caymans in private senators’ and lobbyists’ and corporatists’ secret bank accounts. So let’s storm down there like Keira Knightly and get it all back. Or maybe we could spare ourselves all the bother of invading yet another sovereign country again — and just pass a few laws that will make it illegal for corporatist pirates to pillage America and send their loot off to the Caymans. Nah. Where would be all the “Talk like a Pirate Day” fun in that?

PS: I just checked with Expedia regarding the price of a trip to the Caymans and if you are willing to live on the cheap and forgo the whole oligarch experience, you can actually score a round-trip air fare from San Francisco and a minimalist hotel room for a week for less than $1,500. I should save up, go down there and pay a visit to what used to be America’s money sometime — since it is definitely not located up here any more, and it looks like us wimpy American taxpayers ain’t gonna invade the Caymans to get it back any time soon.

PPS: I’m still rather pissed off about all those sneaky illegal fees that Wells Fargo surreptitiously charges their customers — but happy to know that the San Francisco Chronicle apparently agrees with me as well. According to an editorial they just wrote on the subject, “A new national survey by the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups quantified what too many consumers have learned the hard way: banks are gouging them with hidden fees.”

Apparently U.S. banks are currently violating Congress’s 1991 “Truth in Savings Act” right and left these days, forcing bank customers to close their accounts in order to avoid even more hidden fees.

Now why would banks want to alienate their own customers like that — and go about killing the very geese that have been laying their golden eggs all these years? That’s an easy question to answer. Apparently banks simply don’t care what happens to their customers any more because banks apparently get most of their income from a whole new toxic soup consisting of hidden fees, illegal foreclosures, huge bailouts, overseas markets, international tax havens and…. You get the picture. American consumers don’t seem to matter any more to the corporatists who no longer rely on us peons for their daily bread and butter.

American consumers used to be the center of the financial world. Now we are just small potatoes, hovering around the edges, waiting for crumbs.

PPPS: Nicholas Shaxson also goes on to state that, “A lot of people focus on the tax element, but it’s much more than that. Tax havens do offer zero or low taxes to people elsewhere, but they also offer secrecy. They offer escape routes from financial regulation. They offer escape routes from criminal laws. The key theme here is escape. If you are constrained by democratic rules and curbs at home, you take your money offshore, you take it elsewhere, to a place where they’ll let you do what you’re not allowed to do at home.

“….We really need to start recognizing that this [use of offshore havens] — this is economic conflict. When one country tries to suck tax revenue or illicit flows or whatever out of another country, that is an aggressive act.” So America is even more justified in looting the Caymans right now — because they done looted us first!


April 6, 2011

Both Neocons and Progressives Like Gadaffy Duck

Filed under: Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 5:14 pm


April 4, 2011

The new definition of crazy: Our wars on Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq & drugs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:51 pm

Recently I’ve become a fan of ABC’s new television show “Off the Map,” and last week’s plot featured a schizophrenic woman who kept imagining things that didn’t really exist in the real world. Inside of her own mind, however, it was a different story — and, as far as she was concerned, the scary phantoms who peopled her own mental world really did exist. “What I see IS real,” she kept sobbing.

And, apparently, all the scary phantoms and bogeymen who seem to people the minds of diagnosed schizophrenics have also been living inside of the minds of America’s current leaders as well. Everywhere from the Pentagon to Wall Street, it appears that a whole bunch of crazy and false images are also running through our leaders’ brains. “All our wars are humanitarian wars,” they keep telling us. “All our wars are necessary and good. And we are also winning all of these wars.” Sounds crazy to me.

In the last several decades, Americans have been sold a whole laundry-list of military, financial and/or moral disasters, such as our wars on far-off God-forsaken places like Afghanistan, Vietnam, Libya, Serbia, Grenada, Somalia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, El Salvador, Africa, Latin America and Iraq; and we’ve also been sold a bunch of wars on various miscellaneous things such as Terror and Drugs. And don’t forget all those other miscellaneous undeclared wars that are also being sold to us daily — such as corporatists’ undeclared wars on unions, sick people, infrastructure, women, school children and what’s left of our American middle class.

Just look at this list. It’s basically loony-tunes. To a sane person, it would appear that our leaders have declared war on practically every single person in the world but themselves. That’s craziness. Just what the freak is going ON inside of these people’s minds?

And while all these horrendous and insane disasters keep on draining America’s treasury — approximately seven trillion dollars has gone down the drain so far, a nest egg that we’ll never see again — still our leaders keep on trying to sell us even more of these loser wars, telling us over and over again that they are not only moral, necessary and affordable, but that they are actually keeping us safe and that we are actually WINNING these wars. How schizophrenic is that?

“What we see IS real,” our leaders keep sobbing — just like that crazy woman on TV.

Is it really normal human behavior to spend trillions of dollars on bombing, torturing and murdering untold numbers of strangers? Women and children and babies who we don’t even know?

Is it really normal human behavior to elevate weapons of mass destruction to the position of becoming America’s top national product? Especially in these modern times of recession and need?

Sounds more like schizophrenia than sanity to me.

For instance, let’s take a look at that ever-popular War on Drugs. America is losing the War on Drugs. So far, we have spent untold billions on this craziness and yet the results are obviously certifiably abnormal — to say the least. Mexico and Columbia have become armed fortresses, while here at home Americans by the millions are losing their brain functions — and/or their lives — because of unregulated street drugs that are being cut with everything from corn starch to shoe polish.

We are twenty or more long years into this “war” and nothing has changed — except that the rich are getting richer. According to the Guardian newspaper, “[The illegal] drug industry has two products: money and suffering. On one hand, you have massive profits and enrichment. On the other, you have massive suffering, misery and death. You cannot separate one from the other.”

What kind of alternative reality do our leaders live in if they actually think that this kind of behavior is okay?

And let’s look at the war on Iraq next. In “Off the Map,” the schizophrenic woman runs into the village marketplace and starts trying to kill people. On the TV show, this sort of behavior is presumed to be clinically insane and the good guys rush in to stop her. Yet when this same behavior gets repeated again and again on a massive scale in Iraq, no one seems to be calling it crazy. Why not?

Next, let’s attempt to get inside the distorted minds of those American leaders who actually think that we are winning the war on Af-Pak. Yeah right. If you think that spending billions per month on a ten-year-old “war” that kills thousands of women and children living on the other side of the world and still keeps slogging on and on and on with no end-game in mind or in sight is called “winning,” then you are way out of touch with reality here as well.

If anyone were to start exhibiting this type of behavior on the streets of any small town in America, they would immediately have several large men in white coats running after them with straight jackets.

How crazy can it be to spend trillions of dollars on slaughtering human beings on the other side of the planet — while huge numbers of our own children here in America cry themselves to sleep at night because they are homeless and hungry due to the huge deficit caused by these “wars”? And we are calling Muammar Gaddafi crazy?

Isn’t Einstein’s definition of insanity, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”? Yet our leaders, both Democrat and Republican, keep plunging us into loser war after loser war even after every one of their wars so far have been unnecessary, avoidable and psychopathic disasters.

Perhaps it’s time to do something different for a change, something that actually works.

Perhaps it’s time for Americans to switch paradigms here and start looking at our leaders from this new “Off the Map” perspective — and to finally begin to realize that if America’s leaders are incapable of keeping us out of all these useless, inhuman and unnecessary loser wars, then they are the ones who are acting crazy. Nuts. Bonkers. Bananas. Looney-tunes. Fruitcakes. Certifiable. Off the map.

And also, I just gotta ask, why is the rest of America putting up with all this craziness from our leadership time after time — and continuing to keep electing these obvious lunatics to office. Am I the only one who can see the insanity of this? I’d hate to think that I was the only sane person left in America.

PS: Speaking of crazy murderers, I just filmed an audition tape to send off to an up-coming reality show called “Get a Clue”. The show will be similar to some popular murder-mystery board game — and I’m trying out for the part of the innocent-looking little old lady who nobody would ever suspect of being the killer. Here’s my audition tape:

PPS: Speaking of financial craziness and war, for the last three or four years I’ve been waging a losing battle against the Department of Labor in order to receive federal workers compensation benefits regarding injuries to my right foot and knees received while on the job. And why is my battle with the D.O.L. proving to be so hard to win? I suspect that it is because our leaders have been squandering far too much of America’s money on murdering women and children in Juarez, Kabul, Tripoli and Baghdad, and are now cutting corners here at home so they can still keep their war-profiteers friends happy. And that’s totally crazy too. Guys, it’s time to get your priorities straight. America first!

Anyway, here are the latest details with regard to my struggles with the D.O.L and workers’ comp:

After I went to see two excellent independent podiatry and orthopedic specialists who both agreed that my injuries were job-related, I then went off to see the U.S. Department of Labor’s own doctor and he also told me that I was injured on the job. All sides agreed. Clearly a cut-and-dried case, right? Not exactly.

A few months later, this very same D.O.L. doctor then submits another report telling me the exact opposite — that I was NOT injured on the job. Then this very same D.O.L. doctor gets his certificate to practice medicine in the State of California revoked, allegedly because he is a bad doctor. And then the D.O.L. itself has the chutzpah to turn down my case once again, apparently because this same crumby former D.O.L. doctor now suddenly knows what he was talking about — but my own two excellent independent specialists don’t. Huh?

And now I gotta go out and file yet another appeal with the D.O.L. Dudes! Wouldn’t it have been cheaper all around to just have given me my earned-the-hard-way workers comp benefits in the first place? We’re only talking about the price of some orthopedic shoes here, one arthroscopy and seven months of back pay. Geez Louise.

For the price of making the quality of my life 100% better, it would only cost the same as approximately one leather bucket-seat in just one of some war-profiteer’s fleet of BMWs, or perhaps just a case of French champagne for some corporatist CEO who recently got bailed out by Congress. Chump-change money to them, direly important to me.

PPPS: Here’s even another example of craziness. Corporatists are so much more of a danger to America and have done so much more damage to our country than terrorists have ever done — including the nightmare of 9-11 — and yet no one seems to be getting on their case about that damage or screening for them at airports or even torturing them to confess or sending them off to Guantanamo. In fact, America seems to be even in LOVE with these creeps.

In addition, more damage has been done to America by corporatists in terms of job losses than any illegal immigrants could ever possibly have done. Just think of all the tens of millions of jobs that corporatists have stolen and outsourced from America, including probably yours. And yet you never see any corporatists shunned or jailed or deported. Why not?

Not only that, but all-too-many corporatists don’t even pay any freaking taxes here at all because the corporations that they own — even though they have been happily granted all the same kinds of rights of personhood that real Americans have — aren’t even American citizens at all, having fled abroad in order to avoid paying taxes.

These corporations/persons are now officially living abroad and have chosen some foreign country over us? Well, fine. However. If these same corporations/persons ever try to sneak back across our borders to get work in America again, that will make them wetbacks! So let’s sic the Migra on them and send them all back to the Caymans where they belong.

PPPPS: Here’s a crazy-but-funny video from my son Joe:


March 28, 2011

Fear and Loathing in the Democratic Party

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 8:25 pm

In response to requests to explain why the USA has intervened in a civil war in Libya, the President asserted that the reason was to protect American interests. He followed that up with a smorgasbord of campaign style patriotic platitudes. He did not present any evidence to prove his contention that American interests “were at stake.”

His speech brought to mind Lord Byron’s snarky assessment of a Wordsworth poem: “I wish he would explain his explanation.”

The progressive radio station in the San Francisco Bay area cut away from the speech before the “God Bless America” ending.

In California, the speech was heard live at the end of the work day right before the start of the evening commute hour.

It seems to this columnist that the President’s “whole lotta nada” speech will not assuage his Republican critics nor will it satisfy the skeptics in his own party.

In the morning preceding the speech, this columnist wrote up some additional material in anticipation of the speech. Here are our expectations for the speech:

There is a very vulgar colloquialism which accurately describes the challenge facing the President in his speech delivered on the night of Monday, March 28, 2011, but we won’t quote it verbatim. Bush’s successor has “soiled the nest” and will attempt to use his (alleged) eloquence and charm to convince the Democrats who voted for him to forgive and forget his war crimes record, just as he has done with and for George W. Bush.

The best indicator of the most likely result of President Jackass’ attempt at a Myth of Sisyphus task was contained in an article for Esquire magazine written by Norman Mailer in response to an appearance by Madonna on a late night TV show. In it, Mailer made the assertion that Americans will forgive a celebrity any transgression so long as it doesn’t involve a “going against type” aspect regarding the celebrity’s public image.

Mailer pointed out that Andrew Dice Clay, who was known for making caustic remarks, fell from grace when he apologized for one of his quotes. Conversely, since Americans expected scandalous behavior from Madonna, Mailer (accurately) predicted she would quickly be forgiven the appearance on the Letterman show which was marked by repeated use of the “f-word.”

If Mailer’s theorem is correct, the President’s attempt to convince his supporters that he is still the same old hero worth of their love and campaign donations will fall on deaf ears. Rather than preaching to the choir, it will be as warmly received by the rank and file Democrats as would be accorded to a missionary’s attempt to proselytize to a gang of inebriated members of a famous motorcycle club. The challenge facing Scheherazade pales in comparison to the task that the Democratic Party’s choice has chosen for himself (and his legacy).

The President, very early in his term, suggested that he would be comfortable with being a one term entry in the history books. It’s a very good thing that he feels that way because his supporters might soon have to interpret his previous remark as a self fulfilling prophesy with a dash of the “be careful what you wish for” aspect to it.

George W. Bush often used America’s Free Press to help substantiate his newest “Black is White” lie. The press would dutifully relay an endorsement of the fallacy and the public would be left scratching their heads. Is the media doing a good job of spreading the “war for humanitarian reasons” oxymoron or are they being skeptical?

There is an old journalism tradition for writing two diametrically opposed stories in anticipation of a binary choice event. The most egregious example of the danger of such a practice came in the news photo image of a triumphant Harry S. Truman holding up a copy of the Chicago Tribune that featured a headline proclaiming: “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

With that in mind, this columnist wrote a preliminary draft of this version of this column on the morning of Monday, March 28, 2011. It is possible that, like the forgiving wife of an abusive husband, Democrats could respond to the Monday night speech with the political version of “make-up sex” and welcome the President back into their good graces with open arms. We won’t waste the time and energy needed to do the keystrokes for a column comparing the President’s speech to the first appearance of the Beatles on live TV in the USA.

The Democrats may be dumb, but this columnist’s pre-speech opinion is that the Democrats can’t be that stupid.

The Democrats who voted for the incumbent wanted a viable alternative to the Bush Dynasty and not a carbon copy of Dubya.

There was one popular speaker who could literally turn water into wine, but for a guy to expect to use one speech to sell a capricious and very expensive new war to supporters, who projected a “peace maker” image onto a fellow who subsequently gave his imprimatur to his predecessor’s war crimes and then decided to go him one better, isn’t just a difficult challenge it (IMHO is now officially, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a real word) is a stellar example of insanity in action.

The advantage of the situation is that it makes the task of being prepared to analyze speeches where the incumbent says whatever will rationalize the Bush-Obama War Crimes Agenda so much easier because all that’s needed is some old anti-Bush invective with the names changed to update the diatribe.

The current President once made a casual remark about expecting liberal bloggers to provide approval on demand because that was what they were paid to do. Since this columnist has no fiduciary relationship with the current occupant of the White House, we feel free to blurt out our opinions much as if it were part of a Rorschach test and not a opportunity to display unquestioning party loyalty. Has America become the land of: “One Country, one Party, one Dynasty!”?

[Wouldn’t it be überironic if both Uncle Rushbo and Mike Malloy peruse these columns looking for relevant insights and clever metaphors? Shall we test our theory? If he is reading this; here’s a bone for Uncle Rushbo: Have American troops ever before in their history been under the command of any leadership that was not that of the American President?]

To cynics, it might seem as if the current Commander-in-chief has not only taken over where George W. Bush left off, but he has also taken over a military effort that will begin almost exactly where General Erwin Rommel’s career reached the turning point in a military career that had, up to that point, been described as “brilliant.”

Most Americans are familiar with Abraham Lincoln’s words of wisdom about fooling the people. The current resident in the White House should refresh his memory and become aware of the sentence preceding the famous often quoted one. It says: “If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.” Lincoln did not elaborate about how that advice might apply to an effort to be reelected.

Now the disk jockey will play several of Madonna’s albums. We have to get up early and scramble out to a place with a wifi connection to post this column. Have a “What’s so civil about civil war?” type week.

Afterword: We were able to post this column on Monday night.

March 27, 2011

The penny wise pound foolish budget

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 3:43 pm

One of the guys who does volunteer work for the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association (MTA) asked this columnist if we could help him in his private cause of trying to restore the level of karate instructions his daughter was receiving at the Sun Valley Park Recreation Center in Los Angeles County. There had been three classes a week and it had been reduced down to two a week and he wanted to see if he could get it back to three. (Cue the “putting toothpaste back into the tube” analogy?)

The Marina Tenants Association has, since its inception in the Seventies, been battling the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors over rent rates because the history of the world famous boating marina has lead the local voters and several newspaper reporters to ask for various investigations over the years because the fact that the developers who build in the county run area make profits that are deemed “excessive” while being regular campaign donors to the very politicians who are assigned the task of overseeing the possibility that the people who provide their own financial political support are too enthusiastic in setting new rent rates in that area. To some, it would seem that the voters think that the politicians, who assure their constituents that they will be impartial, are being disingenuous.

The fact that many voters are confused by the elimination of many budget items at a time when the question of financing new military operations in support of a civil war in Libya is being glossed over in a perfunctory manner is causing them to question the disparity of a “penny wise and pound foolish” agenda.

The President is scheduled to address the nation on Monday evening and explain his reasoning.

To cynics, it seems like the President is assisting the Republicans in their new “Take-away” strategy. The Republicans take away citizens rights and benefits while simultaneously taking away the tax burden for the corporations and rich individuals.

To some, it looks like the Republican agenda in Michigan amounts to taking away (AKA disenfranchising) the voters right to representation via mayoral and city council elections by installing “viceroys.”

The challenge, for the President in Monday night’s speech, will be to explain the apparent fiscal policy contradictions in terms that the average voter can understand. If President Obama can do that without sounding like a parody of the standard Bush war speech full of assurances that the task is hard work and that progress is being made; then he will (in effect) have kicked off his re-election campaign with another example of his famous speech-giving style (as St. Ronald Reagan often went to the people to use his charm to win the voters’ hearts). If, however, he fumbles and comes off sounding like a college professor explaining calculus to a grade school mathematics class, he could face a more formidable reelection challenge than most of his cheerleader-pundits currently expect.

The degree of difficulty for the President’s task has been further increased by a recent New York Time article that asserted that the new American military activities directed against Libya was based on some resentment for what American business men perceived as “extortion” on the part of the Libyan leader in return for commercial opportunities inside that country on the African continent. That would leave the war open to some snide commentary using the old mafia concept of “this is nothing personal, just business” regarding the new hostilities. Even just the idea of such a possibility contradicts the President’s assertion that the new “war” is being waged for strictly humanitarian reasons.
(Doesn’t the concept of “war for humanitarian reasons” sound rather Bush-esque?) [Note: efforts to find the article online were unsuccessful. Readers are invited to do their own fact checking on this possible news story explantation.]

If this new “conspiracy theory,” from the New York Times, is ever proven to be a valid explanation, that could further complicate the President’s attempt to win the hearts and minds of American voters for a second time.

Unfortunately for voters, each and every cause (such as the level of karate class instructions in Sunland Park) needs an individual restoration effort, while the Republican program can be as cold and unemotional as the stroke of a pen crossing the item off a local budget.

Somewhere in Berkeley, we noticed a bumper sticker that drolly noted that you will never see an Air Force Base holding a bake sale so that they can buy a new fighter jet.

Conspiracy theory nuts will have their usual song and dance ready if the Republican Supreme Court Justice in Wisconsin wins reelection on Tuesday. The Democrats have been trained to respond to any new allegations that the Republicans have stolen (i.e. take it away from the Democrats) an election by saying in unison: “We just didn’t get enough voter turn out. We’ll have to try harder next time.”

It is not clear if the President will use the Monday night speech to assuage the voters fears about some tangential subjects such as assurances that there is no need for concern on America’s West Coast over malfunctions at some electrical generating plants thousands and thousands of miles away in Japan. Only disloyal subjects – make that word “citizens” – would be suspicious enough of such reassurances to go to the Internets site that reports radiation levels in the USA to fact check their own President.

Do Republicans want to take away from the country’s support of the Commander-in-chief?

Another part of the Republican “Take-away” agenda is to reduce the excessive amount of disposable income in the voters’ pockets (via lowering wages) so that the rich can have their fears about lower profits during hard times taken away from their list of worries.

One intrepid conservative has incurred the wrath of her lackeys by pioneering the “you should donate your labor to my business” trend and is ignoring the workers’ “strike.” Why strive to get them to work for “less” if you can get them to work for free?

In the old days, rich business moguls used to hire thugs to come in and use baseball bats to knock some sense into the hard hearts of the financially motivated “firebrands,” who often were outside agitators and not actual workers. Actually, the instigators usually did the “observe and report” routine from the sidelines while the workers themselves took the actual physical punishment.

Voluntary work opportunities abound for liberals. Hired gun writers, by definition, tend to only join the causes (such as lowering the tax burden of the rich) that will provide them with a paycheck.

When the tax rate for corporations and rich individuals is reduced to absolute zero, will they stop their lobbying efforts or will they then proceed onward to an effort to provide “tax reparations” for (what they perceive as) past taxation injustices? Would people actually think that capitalists could be that greedy?

The fact that the (so-called) Liberal Media has become more and more subdued in their attempts to foster the various causes embraced by Democrats tends to indicate that the Republican efforts to dismantle FDR’s “New Deal,” can now proceed unhindered, especially since most of the issues will be sent to conservative dominated appeals courts.

If Conservative Christian Republicans gain control of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of American government, what will Rush Limbaugh have to use as the basis for a (rather one-sided) debate on the public air waves? We may soon find out.

Quote wranglers debate about the legitimacy of a quote often attributed to Collis Huntington: “Whatever is not nailed down is mine. What I can pry loose is not nailed down.”

Now the disk jockey will play the song “Money (That’s what I want)” done by both the Beatles and the Stones (the only song recorded by both groups), the Flying Lizzards, and ? We have to go find a copy of the Jefferson Airplane song “Volunteers.” Have a “just say ‘Thank you, masked man’” type week.

March 20, 2011

American Journalism MIA

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 3:33 pm

Americans who read their daily papers very assiduously during the week of March 13 – 19, 2011, were informed that something bad happened in Japan and that a “no fly zone” had been authorized to be implemented over Libya, but there were some aspects of the news that were (like the rest of the Cheshire cat in back of the smile) missing.

This week, a Democrat President did what George W. Bush tried and failed miserably to accomplish; Obama got America into a new military venture without a word of dissent from any Democrat politician.

There was (ironically) a series of demonstrations marking the anniversary of the shock and awe TV special that marked the beginning of America’s continuing invasion of Iraq. Since the paucity (paw city = cat pun?) of news coverage of the war’s various birthday parties left news junkies to wonder did those “protests” really happen?

The writers’ strike against the Huffington Post was mentioned by Romenesko’s Media News, the Columbia Journalism Review’s website, and in a column by the World’s Laziest Journalist, but since Rupert Murdock has nothing but distain for the journalist’s mission, he used “interline courtesy” rules and his band of clowns will stay mum and not embarrass fellow mogul Arianna Huffington.

Other than feature stories about some radiation in food which is at “no cause for alarm” level (why bother mentioning it then?), has anyone reported any other facts about the nuclear disaster in Japan? There was an erroneous report that the frantic workers had been given the “abandon ship” order, but that was later denied. They are trying to cool the reactors down.

If the workers were trying to exacerbate the situation, that would be news, but spending all that money to send reporters into the danger zone just to come up with “trying to cool the reactors down” stories seems a bit too obvious to warrant network evening news round-up time.

Has any major media reporter done a sidebar story about the possibility that the surrounding area might (like happened in the Chernobyl region?) become a radio active leper colony?

The academics who teach atomic science at the University of California at Berkeley have been reported to be measuring the fallout in that city of the radiation coming from Japan. There are no specific details about the readings, only the “second the motion” platitudes about Obama’s announcement that there is nothing happening that merits alarm. They can’t or won’t say what the readings are, but no worries, mate, don’t sweat that bit of unnecessary news.

A judge in Wisconsin ordered a stay on that state’s law to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Uncle Rushbo was urging the governor of Wisconsin to choose to ignore the stay, just as (he asserted) President Obama had ignored a ruling on the Health Care Package that was passed last year. Why upset union workers with breaking details on that story when it was clearly important to run stories telling them that there were no worries about the situation in Japan?

It’s not like the news media failed completely during the week of March 13 – 19; on page E-1 of the San Francisco Chronicle, for Friday, March 18, 2011, David Wiegand reported that Charlie Sheen’s “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option” tour will feature an appearance in San Francisco (on April 30). Perhaps Charlie will reveal details about the cooling efforts in Japan?

Adolph Hitler used the threat of physical torture to keep journalists in line during the Third Reich era. He had an official state run newspaper (just like Uncle Rushbo would like to see in the USA?) and journalists who wished to stray outside the prescribed boundaries did so at their own peril. His torture specialists had a high “complete recant and sincere apology” level rating.

In the USA, Freedom of the Press is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, but the journalists seem to be very willing to accept an unwritten “ya gotta go along to get along” codicil to that scrap of paper.

Perhaps, if America’s journalists offered to voluntarily subscribe to the Volkischer Beobachter standards of reporting, a nasty round of lay-offs could be avoided? If the reporters want a Dan Rather-Keith Olbermann ticket to oblivion, that can be arranged. Is any news story worth the loss of facetime on the networks?

Apparently there will be no effort on the part of the news media to relay to the public assurances from a reputable politician that: “It isn’t about oil.”

Speaking of scraps of paper, have you read about the 29th Annual Napkin Art Contest being held by Mama’s Royal Café, in Oakland CA?

On page 539 of “Murrow: His Life and Times,” (Freundlich Books hardback ©1986) A. M. Sperber quotes Edward R. Murrow: “Surely we shall pay for using the most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which are to be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word ‘survive’ literally . . . .” Has anyone thought that Murrow might have been a very early example of the conspiracy theory nut?

[Can anyone explain why the annual list of the names of the individuals being inducted, this year, into the Conspiracy Nuts’ Hall of Fame are being kept secret?]

Now the disk jockey will play “Zippidy Do Dah,” “I’m the Pied Pipper,” and “The Warsaw Concerto.” We have to go check and see how the Fremantle **ckers (An American pants company won’t let us use their team name) are doing. Have a “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” type week.

[Afterword] After writing this column, we bought the New York Times Sunday edition for March 20, 2011, and learned, in the lead story on the front page, that in order to protect the citizens of Libya from their leader, a series of air strikes had begun. How many citizens of Libya will be inadvertently killed in the effort to protect them was undetermined.

We learned on page 12 of the front news section that questions were being asked about the possibility that the Tokyoy Electric Power Company executives may have wasted time in their response to the emergency.

On page 23, in a photo caption, the Sunday Times informed readers that “protesters were arrested in Washington on Saturday.”

March 18, 2011

Yay for the new war?

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

A friend in Concordia Kansas sent an e-mail to this columnist that we interpreted to mean that she was training her Chihuahua dog to participate in a Kansas based Iditarod style race for the breed of dog that we thought would be considered “illegal alien” status in her area. Do dogs need green cards?

It might seem irresponsible and frivolous for a columnist to consider writing a column on the dig topic at a time when the tree huggers are concerned about “an atomic plume” arriving on America’s West Coast and a new “It’s not about the oil” war being added to the gripes of the unpatriots who are celebrating the start of the Afghanistan phase of the perpetual war on terrorism.

We noted a story on the Romensko Media News page at the Poynter website that stated that the Wire Service Guild has asked writers to withhold content and honor the strike against the Huffington Post website. Obviously, the Huffing and Puffing Aggregator website isn’t going to cross post that story and so if we mention it in this column, there is a slight chance that some of our readers (the ones who don’t check Romenesko daily) might not be aware of that development in the strike. [This just in: On Friday, March 18, 2011, Uncle Rushbo reported that the use of by-lines on AP stories is now a labor issue.]

The ego boost allure of crossing the picket line and giving Arianna permission to cross post something isn’t the only dilemma facing bloggers today. Many bloggers will have to wrestle with their conscience and decide if they will recycle an old “It isn’t about the oil” conservative augment from the Bush era and update it to sound relevant to the “no fly” zone military adventure in Libya or will they merely declare President Obama to be the black sheep of the Bush family and consider any effort to protect British Petroleum’s interests in Libya to be a new item for the list of Bush family outrages? If Britain helped the US invade Iraq, doesn’t the USA owe reciprocal military support for BP? Aren’t they a major part of the petroleum industry in Libya?

The prudent thing to do would probably be to hold off on this column and listen to some liberal talk radio shows and take a measure of the depth of their commitment to everything President Obama does or says. Then, if they concur with the effort to send more troops to install democracy in Libya, add our voice to the choir of admiring sheep or should we just dummy up and join in the silence of the lambs?

If Randy Rhodes and the Daily Kos are very adamant in their support of a new Obama military venture, shouldn’t this column disregard the old question about “if all your friends were jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge” and bang out a “one state, one people, one leader” column offering unquestioning commitment to a new war? If they balk at the opportunity to rubber stamp approval of all things Obama, won’t they appear to be subscribing to some weird conspiracy theory cult belief if they don’t “go along to get along”?

It certainly seems that a stance, that would condemn aggression and torture by Hitler and George W. Bush, but not if Obama does it, is a bit of a stellar example of using convoluted logic to rationalize your political views.

For those who are partisan critics of the George W. Bush wars of aggression, it would seem that they are now (metaphorically speaking) caught taking a long lead off first and will fall victim to a pick off throw. If you condemn Hitler and Bush, but make allowances for Obama to do the same thing, you are inconsistent and sound like a conspiracy theory nut.

If, however, you subscribe to the Henry Louis Mencken philosophy that the only way for a columnist to look at a politician is downwards, then it will be perfectly acceptable to ridicule Obama just as enthusiastically as one did George W. Bush during his stint as commander-in-chief.

The squad of Obama cheerleaders will be a bit uncomfortable this weekend, equivocating about how the Libya situation differs greatly from the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. If they look to Bush fans for a show of sympathy, they might get a bit of the old “you’re on your own, pal” cold shoulder from the likes of Uncle Rushbo et al because no matter how much Obama tries to imitate George W. Bush, they will always hate Obama and never give him any credit or praise for his efforts to retroactively get the Democratic voters to approve of and support the Bush agenda.

Before this columnist plunges brashly ahead with a sarcastic column that asks what social services programs will have to be scrapped to pay for a new bit of jingoistic colonial empire deployment in the dark continent, we might postpone our efforts and go see the new movie, “Paul,” and see if there might be a few laughs and a way to mix a movie review with some political commentary on it.

Maybe we should send an e-mail to our friend in Kansas and ask for more details about this intriguing but Google search illusive topic of an Iditarod style competition for Chihuahuas?

Maybe we should go buy a Geiger counter and walk around Berkeley CA and see just how accurate the “nothing to worry about” assessments really are? Nah! That makes us sound like a conspiracy theory nut.

If some Americans are going to stage anti-war rallies on Saturday, perhaps we could make an appeal for funds to hold a pro-Obama rally? Aren’t their several really good automobile museums rather close to Nuremburg? If we could get some patriotic well funded organization to subsidize it, we could go over there and (perhaps) do the work necessary to have a picturesque pro-Obama rally of expats?

Hunter S. Thompson coined the folk advice: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Over there,” “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,” and “Just before the battle, mother.” We have to go check out the rumor that the teachers unions, which want smaller classes, are funding the drive to give children the freedom to choose factory work (and $ $ $) over school. Have a “Cathedral of Light” type week.

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