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 22, 2011

Pundits doing a Turnabout?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:12 pm

Thorne Smith’s 1930 novel, “Turnabout,” was recommended to this columnist, before the Vietnam war began to spin out of control, as a hilarious romp for several reasons and, since the suggestion to add it to our reading list came from “a reliable source,” we commenced an effort to locate a copy of the book.

When it looked like a win in the California primary would give Bobby Kennedy a big boost in momentum and a good chance to win the Democratic Party’s Presidential Nomination, we were seized by a strong premonition while entering a used bookstore in downtown Los Angeles. We were certain that we would find a copy of the sought after novel there. As we left, we noted that our hunch had been bogus, but then we suddenly rekindled our effort by going back in and looking in the “humor” section. Success!

The book tells the story of a married couple whose spirits, due to a mysterious magical statue, exchange the host bodies. The man is in the wife’s body and she finds herself inside the man’s body. The guy is immediately paralyzed by the prospect of becoming pregnant and enduring the challenges of childbirth. The woman is plunged into the world of bonding with the other “guys” at work.

Smith had a short but productive career and many of his novels were turned into profitable films. To the best of our knowledge, “Turnabout” wasn’t filmed. The basic plot-line has been turned into a Hollywood cliché, but in all the examples of mind-exchange films, “Turnabout” has been overlooked.

Some time after reading “Turnabout,” we learned that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had written a short story about a similar mystical event that involved a college professor and one of his students, who had a school boy crush on his teacher’s wife.

[Smith’s “The Bishop’s Jaegers” is still too far ahead of its time to be movie-ized. Perhaps some avant-garde French director will show Hollywood, how it can be done.]

What brought this to mind while we were hypnotized by a tea kettle making ominous seductive noises at Oh-dark-thirty in the morning was the recent bit of political philosophy disorientation produced when a nominal member of the Democrat Party used a page right out of the Bush Family White House Instruction manual and sent thousands of bombs and cruise missiles into Libya to protect that country’s citizens from being killed by its leader.

The Democrats are recycling all the Republican pro Invasion of Iraq arguments to answer the Republicans’ recasting of the old “Bush is a war monger” Democrat talking points from earlier in this century. Talk about bringing “Turnabout” to life on the evening news broadcast.

For example, when a fellow member of the Berkeley Brigade of Bloggers (at the Berkeley Press Club?) asked this columnist to explain why Barry Bush (AKA code name “Obama”) had authorized the use of depleted uranium ammunition in the new jingoistic military adventure, before we could take a deep breath, we had blurted out this question: “If the American goal is genocide, doesn’t it make sense to use radiation to sterilize the males that can’t be killed?”

All the confusion brings up a question with disturbing psychological implications: “Are the Republicans being hypocritical when they use old recycled anti-Bush material to disparage Obama?

If some Republicans assert that Obama should be impeached for ignoring the Constitution which specifically states that Congress should vote to authorize any new wars rather than letting the President use the military in a “king’s army” capacity, do they realize that they are opening themselves up to the allegation that Bush committed an impeachable offence when he ordered up a search for Iraq’s non-existent WMD’s?

If the Republicans are using old Democratic talking points inadvertently, then they would seem to be blissfully ignorant of the nature of Bush’s offences, but if they are fully cognizant of the fact that they are spouting old Democratic talking points then that means they could be doing so with extreme sarcastic intent.

Are Democrats that anxious to believe that the Republicans who, under the direction of Field Marshal Karl von Rove, have spent years preparing for the time when a conservative majority judicial system might come in handy, have now made an inept and impulsive error? Could it be that plans for a Democratic party dupe (knowingly or unknowingly?) who would use the Bush strategy to start a new and unauthorized (by Congress) war, were at the ready when the first day of “Shock and Awe” was presented on network Television?

Perhaps the recycling of old Democratic talking points was part of a long term strategy and it is being implemented now with an extra added amount of “rubbing salt in the wounds” enthusiasm just for spite?

At this point giving Republicans credit for being sly as a Fox (news?), while playing “dumb,” to make a subtle point might remind some fans of the comic strip “Peanuts,” of the series where Charlie Brown, on the pitcher’s mound, tries to out-think the opposing team’s batter. “If he knows that a fast ball would work well now, but he knows that I would figure out that a fast ball would work well now, and I know that he knows that I would figure that out . . .” Strategy gridlock? Isn’t war for completely humanitarian reasons a bit of an oxymoron?

On Tuesday, March 22, 2011, Uncle Rushbo was asking if any listeners could tell him why the United States is “in Libya.” If the Democrats and Conservatives run the emotional level of discussion up enough, could there be a Twilight Zone type twist ending waiting in the wings? When the Democrats start delivering fever pitch defenses of the Obama decision to defend Libyans would it be a Rod Serling ending if the Conservatives suddenly say: “We fully agree with the Democrats, we just wanted to hear them enthusiastically promoting a new war in the Middle East.”?

If America uses a private company to provide support services to the military and if a new war will produce greater gross revenue for such a private company, what (if any) are the drawbacks for a new and profitable military venture . . . especially if it can become a perpetual war providing that company with an infinite supply of profits?

Isn’t it time for some clever editor to write a “Yes, Virginia, Americans are still ‘the good guys’” editorial? Of course a conservative might want to wait until a Republican is elected President to “straighten out the Obama mess” before running such a hypothetical opinion. The Republicans have all the time it will take, if the wars become perpetual.

Isn’t a perpetual war a lot like increased radiation levels? You either learn to live with it or die in the attempt.

In “the Bishop’s Jaegers” (Pocket Books Inc. November 1954 17th printing paperback edition [25 cents for “the complete book” {“Illustrated with many wonderful drawings by Herbert Roese”}]) on page 64, Thorne Smith wrote: “It was this latter possibility that brought Peter to a full realization of his position. For the first time he saw himself as indubitably he would appear in the eyes of others. He saw himself not as an innocent man but simply as a stark naked coffee importer dazzlingly greeting his guests at the door of his ancestral home.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Lady Godiva,” “Night train,” and Janice (“It’s all the same f*****g [Remember what Col. Kurtz said about that word?] day, man”) Joplin’s “Get it while you can.” We have to go apply for press credentials for this year’s Nudestock Music Festival. Have a “let it all hang out” type week.

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