October 5, 2012

Was Mitt a bit too frenzied?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:24 pm

In contemporary American Society fact checking has become passé and so this column has not been fact checked.

Attempting to write a column that adds new and perceptive insights to a discourse that has already disintegrated into BS gridlock is a fool’s errand, but at 0530 hrs on a Friday morning in Berkeley CA, there ain’t much else to do. You can make some coffee and start writing or you can go back to sleep, which sometimes is something you can’t do by sheer force of will.

Sometimes after a middle of the night trip to the bathroom, we turn on the radio to see what Mike Malloy is saying on XERB, where his show follows the Wolfman Jack show. On the broadcast for Thursday October 2, 2012, heard in the San Francisco Bay area between 1 and 3 a.m. PDT on Friday monring, Mike was offering the opinion that perhaps President Obama had to make a concerted effort to not look like an angry black man.

Norm Goldman reminded his listeners of a similar situation and noted that President Obama’s personality is one of being a quiet and thoughtful person who does not get drawn into any brawls verbal or physical. Norm pointed out that the President has earned his nickname “no drama Obama.” He suggested that perhaps the President should have done an imitation of St. Ronald Reagan and said something like: “there you go . . . fibbing again.”

News media reported that several different instant polls had given a decisive win to Mitt Romney. Last week polls that showed the President had an impressive lead in swing states were loudly denounced for being slipshod and unreliable, but the ones that made Mitt look good were apparently and suddenly impeccable examples of what the polling industry is capable of producing.

Norm criticized the fact that many people were closely analyzing the body language of the debaters and not paying close attention to the substance of the dialogue. All the body English criticisms seem to be directed against only one of the participants in the boring debacle. How, we wondered, did Mitt earn a pass?

Long ago a political pundit in Germany wrote: “All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be.”

President Obama seems to have assumed that the folks watching the TV show had a policy wonk level of comprehension of tax policy. Mitt seems to not want to bother his listeners with information that reaches the “pick the fly excrement out of the salad” level of preciseness.

The people who insisted on evaluating the speakers’ body English as a method of judging the debate itself, seem to have focused exclusively on the President. The World’s Laziest Journalist noted during the split screen segments that quite often Mitt seemed to be exhibiting the nervous frantic mode of operation. Would Mitt’s jittery behavior have aroused any suspicion if it was observed by a policeman during a traffic stop? It’s not that he appeared to have been inebriated. Quite the opposite. His extreme animation couldn’t possibly have been chemically induced . . . could it?

(Didn’t the aforementioned German political pundit use some performance enhancing substances?)

What was with the black spot on his American Flag lapel pin? We looked online and found some speculation but we did not find a plausible explanation of it. (Could it have been a tribute to the oil industry?)

Many years ago, a Military Police Officer casually mentioned that when he and his fellow officers were, during off hours, playing a friendly game of mind-fuck with each other, the most devastating criticism they could offer was: “you are acting like a hysterical old lady.”

We were reminded of that nostalgic bit of advice on Wednesday night as we watched Mitt’s lightening fast jerky movements and wondered if the old disconcerting assertion was relevant to the debater’s demeanor.

Many years ago novelist Norman Mailer made the assertion that the most damaging thing a celebrity (or politician?) can do is to go against type and that might explain why “no drama Obama” didn’t unload a verbal knockout punch but sometime an unexpected reaction can be very effective.

In a different galaxy many moons ago, we knew a young lady who we had never once heard use the word “fuck.” When we heard her say “Fuck off, Bob,” it was very effective oratory and it got its intended result immediately.

The trouble with the 2012 Presidential election snapped into focus when we heard Merle Haggard sing “Drink up and be somebody” while writing the column on a “crash cloes” basis.

There are two candidates trying desperately to win the votes of guys who wouldn’t touch either one of them with a ten-foot pole.

Can anyone really imagine either candidate going into a honky-tonk bar to do some campaigning?

The two lawyers from the Harvard-Yale axis back east are trying to convince the good ole boys to vote for either one of the two who would be called “slick” in a bar that plays C&W music on the jukebox.

Do you really think that a guy with a horse that participates in dressage competitions can sing the lyrics to “I turned 21 in prison doing life without parole”?
The other guy tries to debate as if it is an exercise in etiquette. He should listen to the words of “Colorado Kool-Aid” and then tell Mitt that he should wear his knife-proof earmuffs to the next debate.

Seeing Harvard-Yale lawyers trying to mix with just plain folks in the local diner is theater of the absurd cubed.

Either one of them would do better to imitate the English poet who was regarded as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” than to pretend they might qualify for votes from the “Ladies Love Outlaws” crowd.

In a bar with Waylon and Willie’s song “Clean Shirt” on the jukebox, could Bishop Romney really carry it off if he ordered sarsaparilla? That would be fun to watch.

When will either the Romney or the Obama campaigns release the tie-breaking photos of the candidate clearing brush on his ranch?

Luckily the electronic voting machines can take all these various factors into consideration before awarding an indisputable result to the eagerly waiting journalists around the globe.

In “Kingdom of Fear,” Hunter S. Thompson wrote: “On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”

Now, the disk jockey will crank up the volume and play: Tony and the Bandits’ song “I can’t lose,” the Partridge Family’s song “Something’s wrong,” and the Grateful Dead’s song “Throwing Stones.” We have to go be one of the million and a half visitors in San Francisco this weekend. Have a “this must be bat country” type week.

December 18, 2011

Capricious and arbitrary journalism decisions

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:43 pm

New exhibit at Beat Museum
Michael Moore speaks to Occupy Oakland

Calling the new exhibit at the Beat Museum as our top selection for the top ten news stories of the year may seem to be an arbitrary and capricious example of poor journalism, but the same people who would get very upset at such a choice by a blogger on some liberal web sites, don’t seem to mind that Rupert Murdoch runs his journalism endeavors with a similar dysfunctional level of personal involvement in the editorial decision making.

How likely is it that any of Murdoch’s lackeys will say that one of the top ten news stories of 2011 is the fact that the integrity of America’s much vaunted Free Press has been compromised and that the Murdoch hacking scandal is Exhibit A on the list of evidence?

Time Magazine named “the Protester” as the Newsmaker of the Year. Will Murdoch concur or will he direct his subservient surfs to ignore reality and spin it with the absurd interpretation that: “It’s about time the liberal media acknowledged the achievements of the tea baggers!”?

During 2011, we heard one reporter on CBS radio news state that JEB Bush has his campaign headquarters in a hotel in Miami (where by a big co-inky-dink the Republicans will hold their Nominating convention). If that fact hasn’t been reported on Fox, is the withholding of that news evidence of an arbitrary and capricious example of poor journalism, or is it indicative of something more ominous?

At one point during 2011, this columnist/photographer was stopped dead in his tracks by a tableau in the lobby of the Shattuck Hotel in downtown Berkeley CA. There were three young men having breakfast together and that wasn’t remarkable in a town that provides a worthy rival for the UCLA baseball, basketball, and football teams. What was astounding was the visual of thee young guys ignoring each other and peering intently at their own laptop computers. We took a photograph of the scene that illustrates the paradoxical aspect of contemporary society whereby friends ostensibly feel more connected to the world by being isolated from each other.

The fact that the image is somewhere in among a vast number of digital files of frames taken with our Nikon Coolpix brings up the fact that now with computerized photography we can shoot the equivalent of several 36 exposure rolls of 35mm color film and not freak-out over the price of the material and subsequent development costs. The down side of the freedom to do an extensive amount of shooting at a news event is that there is a massive amount of boring clerk work for a photo librarian to be done.

The fact that a California housewife won a Pulitzer Prize in Photography for taking a photo of a highway accident, can be used to segue into another story from 2011 that will be ignored by Murdoch’s marauders: Citizen journalists will not (based on preliminary legal precedents being set in 2011) be accorded the same legal safeguards that are available to professional journalists carrying a Press Pass.

That, in turn, brings up another development in the journalism world that will be ignored by Murdoch’s wage-slaves: the increasing number of times when legitimate members of the press are treated like the protesters being rounded up.

That brings up yet another important but unlikely candidate for inclusion on the top ten stories lists: If, as we have been assured, protesters, who are arrested for trespassing, have committed a routine misdemeanor and will not have to worry about anything but a minor fine; why then are people now collecting funds to be used by arrested protesters facing expensive court proceedings?

Will Murdoch’s propagandists include stories about abuses by the privatized prison industry on their list of the year’s top news stories?

Will horrific prison conditions, as revealed by the events at Attica about forty years ago, become one of this year’s top ten stories or will the Project Censored group be the only ones drawing attention to obscure stories such as the one the Los Angeles Weekly ran recently denouncing the conditions in the L. A. County Jail for prisoners with handicaps?

Is the “Island of Trash,” caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Northern Japan, which is slowly drifting towards the USA’s West Coast, going to have any radio active trash when it arrives? Why was fighting the recently ended War in Iraq during 2011 more important than spending money on efforts to minimize the “Island of Trash” threat?

Will any of Murdoch’s practitioners of “fair and balanced” journalism castigate the Jubba the Hut legislative style of Republican Politicians during 2011 or will they ignore the conservatives’ sit down strike and pretend that it’s all President Obama’s fault?

Recently storms on the West Coast have caused some trees in Sequoia National Park to fall down. Is it true that some well known conservative executive with ties to the lumber industry has paid to acquire the fallen timber and will use it to make gavels for various conservative judges around the USA?

Will the Oscar competition for the Best Picture of 2011 produce a heavy weight championship battle between Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg?

Will “No taxes; no mercy” (i.e. no taxes for the rich; no mercy for the poor) be the bumper sticker summary of future historians for the year 2011?

If we had gone to Occupy Oakland, Occupy San Francisco, and Occupy Cal events and taken some photos which would be appropriate for use with a Year-in-Review column, that would tend to indicate that our news value judgment was in synchronization with the editors of Time magazine and that we were only being facetious when we went to San Francisco on Friday December 16, 2011, to take a photo of their new exhibit to use as an illustration for our top ten news stories of the year column.

Wouldn’t that be a bit overboard even for a guy with an Irish-Apache heritage (and most likely related to Che Guevara) or would that be spot on?

Will the quote of the year be: “This is what a police state looks like!”?

The disk jockey should probably pick a song by Amy Winehouse or Lady Gaga as the one tune that will always evoke memories of 2011, but since he is a bit of an old foggy who is blissfully unaware that the Sixties are over, he will play us out with the Stones, “Satisfaction,” Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” (because they conjure up vivid memories of better years). We have to go see if we can get tickets for a revival of “Hair.” Have a “Beggar’s Banquet” type week.

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