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.”

July 30, 2010

Oil eating bacteria destroys journalism

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 2:26 pm

This week Fox News had people (and the Mamas and Papas in song) asking about where has all the oil gone? When will they ever learn that Houdini didn’t really make the elephant disappear? It had to go somewhere. In all the time that Americans have been fighting, dying, and losing assorted limbs to bring Democracy to Iraq, the oil industry there may have lugged along in second gear, but it has never shut down completely; so where the hell did all that oil go? Somebody had to be paying for it; so where did all that money go? Was BP earning up the financial reserves to pay for unexpected, unforeseen future expenses such as the ones cause by the Gulf oil spill? For nine years, the Iraq oil fields have been coughing up “Texas tea,” so inquiring minds want to know: “Where did all that oil go?”

Could America be doing all that fighting in Iraq just so that BP could pump out oil to be sold in China?

Has America vaulted past existentialist thinking and begun the epoch of post-absurdism?

Any country that conveniently forgets about the dispersants and embraces nonsense about oil eating bacteria causing the oil spill to disappear deserves to be swindled into believing that Houdini used elephant eating bacteria or that when (not “if”) Jeb Bush gets inaugurated in January of 2013, it will have been the result of a legitimate win in the 2012 Presidential election.

When a news story about billions of missing dollars is reported, the reaction is: “That only proves that the Bush tax cuts for the super wealthy need to be extended!”

Isn’t it ironic that Americans shrug off the conspiracy theory lunatics’ idea that George W. Bush committed war crimes but they bristle at any hint that the Republicans would sanction anything that would compromise the sacredness of free elections in the U. S. A.

Americans, who take complacency to heights of achievement undreamed of by the Third Reich, accept the fact that President Obama has continued the war crimes policies of the Bush Administration but they react furiously to the possibility that the Republicans, if they are “given” a majority in the House and Senate via the 2010 midterm elections, will start impeachment proceedings against President Obama by producing a foreign student loan application that swears the applicant was not a native born American.

That idea might make some liberals gag, but eventually with repeated haranguing from Fox News, the Americans will (like Monica Lewinsky?) swallow it and get used to breathless impeachment updates around the clock in lieu of actually doing what the House and Senate is supposed to be doing. Has any pundit ever speculated on the possibility that Monica was deliberately sent (Mata Hari style) to sabotage Bill Clinton’s presidency?

Americans might assume that if such a hypothetical news development about a possible student loan perjury existed, Andrew Breitbart would already know about it and would not hesitate to rush the allegation onto the Internet and not wait until it’s just about time for the new Congressional representatives to be sworn in next January. Is it a conspiracy theory to think that he must wait for the Minister of Propaganda to give (like a maestro for a symphony orchestra) the signal to push the “post” button for this (hypothetical) example of citizen journalism in action?

With major elements of the so-called pro-Liberal mainstream media, like trained seals performing on cue, making the case for the oil eating bacteria, the Conservatives will consider any attempts by online pundits to point out that the dispersants caused the oil to dissipate with the same level of amused distain as would be assigned to a cough during a performance of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. Where is Arturo Toscanini when Fox News truly needs him?

Have you noticed that now that Bush isn’t President the Conservatives don’t need Ann Coulter to act like the rodeo clown to switch the media’s attention away from a possible chance to debate war crimes?

Isn’t it a bit inconsistent for Republicans to say that the unemployed don’t need an extension of benefits but that the Rich must have an extension of the tax cuts? In the one case adding to the cash flow coming into the U. S. treasury would be a bad thing, but stopping money from coming into the bank accounts of the unemployed would be a good thing. How can cutting off the flow of money (into the U. S. Treasury) be bad and shutting off a weekly check into families’ bank accounts be a good thing?

The silver tongued devils have convinced America that having the rich’s tax dollars go elsewhere (like into their bank accounts) would have a positive effect on the economy but that putting a few bucks into the hands of folks waiting for the next unemployment check to arrive would not help stimulate the economy. The apparent paradox is ignored by “journalists” who do not try to explain the difference.

The allure of being a Republican member of Congress in 2011 and 2012 is something that the World’s Laziest Journalist can readily appreciate. The fact that Republican politicians will be well paid just to make sure that no work gets done, makes this columnist green with envy.

Speaking of the Beach Combers’ Hall of Fame, this week this columnist was unable to ascertain if Garland Roark, author of the novel which was the source material for the John Wayne film “Wake of the Red Witch,” ever actually traveled to the South Pacific or if he did his research in the Nacogdoches Public Library. Say, isn’t that the town where this columnist’s newest hero, Joe R. Lansdale, lives? Speaking of Texas, whatever happened to Kinky Friedman? Did he go back to writing mysteries?

Which, of course, brings us to this nagging question: Will the new James Bond Cars Museum have taped guided tours and will those tapes feature the voice of Sean Connery? If not; why not?

Writing columns for the post-absurdism era won’t be much of a challenge for this writer.

In the introduction to his own book, “The Hoax,” Clifford Irving wrote: “I believe that the past is fiction, the future is fantasy and present for the most part is an ongoing hoax.”

Now the disk jockey will try to embarrass the columnist by playing Peter, Paul, and Mary’s version of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” and then throwing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song, and the soundtrack album from “Giant” on the turntable. It’s time to go and take Buzz’s “chickie run” dare. (Isn’t a “chickie run” when fraternity brothers are sent on an emergency mission to find more young ladies to populate a Saturday night party?) Have a “Match me, Sidney!” type week and remember that if Jesus and Fox News can forgive BP’s sins, so can you.

July 29, 2008

The Tattlesnake — The Pickens That Ain’t Slim Edition

Let’s Stop T. Boone’s Clever Greenmail Plan

“I’m doing it for America.”
– T. Boone Pickens on his plan to wean us off of oil, as quoted by David Lazarus in the Los Angeles Times, July 9, 2008.,0,7890733.column

“Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

“Patriotism, n. … In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.”
– Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary.”

Maybe you’ve seen the TV commercial by now: a reassuring Texas twang drones on in the background clicking off the environmental crises we face in the future as images of black clouds boiling out of smokestacks and abandoned oil derricks fill the screen. At the end of the ad, a homely man with the plain weathered face of a Steinbeck Okie tells us he’s T. Boone Pickens and admits he was an ‘oilman all his life,’ but now he’s seen the environmentally-green light and there’s no time to fiddle around – this is an ‘emergency we can’t drill our way out of’ and we have to start work today to solve our energy problems. He then informs the audience that in the next few weeks he’ll be unveiling his ‘Pickens Plan’ for sustainable energy.

The casual viewer might think: ‘Whoa, things are bad enough that a former Panhandle oilman has turned into Mr. Green Jeans, and isn’t it nice of him to come up with a plan to save us all and spend his money to promote it!’

Time to toss a big bucket of ice-cold reality on this slop: 1.) Pickens is a diehard Republican who co-funded the demented Swift Boat group that helped elect Bush in 2004, and he’s made carloads of money from the petroleum business. 2.) Rich oilmen don’t run $58 million dollar advertising campaigns unless there’s a huge profit for them at the end of the line. 3.) Pickens currently owns the largest wind farms in Texas and he’s aching to expand; he also holds leases on vast natural gas deposits, two major alternative-energy legs of his ‘Pickens Plan.’ 4.) Word is, this molasses-mouthed slickster will be trying to change Texas law – not difficult for a wealthy Republican — so that he’ll be the only wholesale dealer of wind and solar energy in the state, selling it to the various power companies there. And he plans to extend this model into other states; if successful, he’ll eventually become the largest dealer of green technology in the country. 5.) This means Pickens will be setting the price for environmentally-safe power in the future, at the expense of the rest of us.

If this sounds like the recipe for another Enron disaster, well – it is. The power may be green, but the results will be the same – screw the consumer blue.

We are going to have to convert to sustainable alternative technology if we expect to survive, but, for god’s sake, let’s keep the market from being cornered by the oily likes of known predators like T. Boone Pickens.

June 10, 2008

The New ‘Tithing’

Filed under: Toon — Tags: , , , , , — Volt @ 6:59 am

May 25, 2008

The Grovelator

Filed under: Toon — Tags: , , , , , — Volt @ 1:02 pm

March 14, 2008

Why Do the Powerful Keep Doing Risky, Stupid Things?

Filed under: Toon — Tags: , , , , , — Volt @ 2:00 am

March 7, 2008

Top Iraq Contractor Avoids Paying US Taxes Using Offshore Shells

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , , — Volt @ 10:24 am

The Boston Globe, March 6, 2008

CAYMAN ISLANDS – Kellogg Brown & Root, the nation’s top Iraq war contractor and until last year a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp., has avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicare and Social Security taxes by hiring workers through shell companies based in this tropical tax haven.

More than 21,000 people working for KBR in Iraq – including about 10,500 Americans – are listed as employees of two companies that exist in a computer file on the fourth floor of a building on a palm-studded boulevard here in the Caribbean. Neither company has an office or phone number in the Cayman Islands.

The Defense Department has known since at least 2004 that KBR was avoiding taxes by declaring its American workers as employees of Cayman Islands shell companies, and officials said the move allowed KBR to perform the work more cheaply, saving Defense dollars.

But the use of the loophole results in a significantly greater loss of revenue to the government as a whole, particularly to the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. And the creation of shell companies in places such as the Cayman Islands to avoid taxes has long been attacked by members of Congress.

A Globe survey found that the practice is unusual enough that only one other major contractor in Iraq said it does something similar.

Read More Here

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