July 18, 2014

Are 12 Senators better than 2?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:29 pm

crop lifeguard station

An initiative that qualified to be on the ballot in California this fall will get little, if any, coverage in the national media which is operating on reduced staff status because of austerity budgets. In the era of the “smaller is better” philosophy becoming ubiquitous in the political arena conservatives will be obliged to ridicule the idea of dividing (like the loaves and fishes shtick) the California state government up into six groups. The conservatives will be quick to remind voters that mom and pop businesses will need to print new stationary if the change is approved and therefore the little guy can save a few bucks if he (and his wife since women got the vote) defeats this change which is bound t be labeled as just another nutty California idea.

California sends a large contingent of representatives to Congress along with two Senators. If the change is approved, there would be twelve Senators representing the same geographical area that now gets only two.

Isn’t California always depicted as a “stronghold” for the Democratic Party? Obviously if one of the new states included Orange County, they wouldn’t send Democrats to the Senate, but statistics for the whole of California tend to indicate that over the long haul, most of the new Senators would be Democrats thus urging small business owners to save a few bucks and staying with their old stationary would be an economically appealing way to let selfishness determine a difficult and complex issue.

On Wednesday, July 17, 2014, the San Francisco Chronicle, which was once owned by Presidential hopeful William Randolph Hearst, was featuring a story headlined “State of confusion over 6 Californias” on its front page.

Conservative media owners are not going to let the voters become convinced that California needs more Senators than Delaware or Rhode Island, so don’t waste any money betting on the measure passing.

Initially, Berkeley and Venice Beach may seem like identical twins separated at birth but don’t jump to any conclusions before you take a closer look. Political activists in the Venice Beach area are very concerned with the activities of the California Coastal Commission, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and the effect global warming will have on raising the tide line. Berkeley has other issues to concern political activists. The Coastal Commission is ignored in Berkeley as an irrelevant diversion. UCB students can vote for a politician who wants to be a Berkeley City Council representative. Decisions regarding the University have a large influence on local residents in Berkeley. Folks in the Venice Beach area let the schools (such as Pepperdine, UCLA, Santa Monica College, and USC) tend to their own business.

Sports fans in the San Francisco Bay area are very different from sports fans in Southern California.

Conservatives who believe less government is best, will want to maintain the status quo so that the huge state has only one government entity to worry about shorelines, forests, prisons, highways and the state parks.

People from outside the area (such as the ones that work on the staff at the New York Times) would do well to skim through Curt Gentry’s book, “The Late Great State of California,” and Jon Winokur’s collection of quotes about the vast and very diversified state (“The War between the State”) before they sit down to write (ex cathedra) an editorial telling California voters what to think on this complex issue.

Literature from California is as diverse as the people and geography. Many critics consider “Grapes of Wrath” to be the greatest novel written in America. Mystery novelist established a cottage industry genre based on a lone detective. Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade worked in San Francisco; Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe worked in L. A. County.

A driver can leave San Diego head North and after a full day of driving still be in California. People who live at Lake Tahoe refer to going shopping as “go into the City.” It takes (if memory serves) about four hours to get from the casinos to the cable cars.

Music in Cali is also very diverse. The L. A. sound is best exemplified by the Doors and the San Francisco sound means “crank up the Jefferson Airplane.” What country music fan doesn’t think Bakersfield and Buck Owens are synonymous? Doesn’t Merle “Oakie from Muskogee” Haggard live somewhere in California? In Santa Monica an apartment house once owned by Lawrence Welk dominates the skyline.

Ansel Adams was born and raised in San Francisco.

Didn’t Clint Eastwood become mayor of Monterey? Didn’t Sonny Bono wind up as a Congressman from So Cal? Wasn’t Richard Nixon born and raised in Southern California? St. Ronald Reagan changed American politics starting with his manipulation of the protesters at Berkeley. They were a convenient foothold for his climb to the White House.

Innovation and growth are important when it comes to the people known as corporations, but as far as administering the services needed by the voters in California the conservatives will dust off the references to the wishes of the founding fathers and stress that a lot of expenses for new stationary can be avoided with a “No” vote in November.

If less is more, maybe political activists from California should urge the consolidation of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia into one state?

Dividing California could have dire repercussions. Are there ten local politicians in Delaware or Rhode Island who wouldn’t be glad to become a repetitive in the United States Senate?   If a state is so small that it gets only one Congressional district doesn’t it make sense to divide it into six smaller states so that the same geographical area will suddenly have six people in Congress?

The media in New York can’t completely ignore this developing political story because the conservative media owners will want to stifle innovation at the git-go and sending a top notch reporter to cover the bowl of granola aspect of the story will be as good as giving them a big cash Christmas bonus.

People in flyover country (such as Concordia Kansas) love the jokes that make fun of California such as: Why is Los Angeles like a bowl of granola? (It’s all nuts, fruits, andf flakes!)

Since California would (most likely) fit into the Southwest corner of the W. A. (AKA Western Australia), it might be best to quash this break it into smaller pieces political trend right here and now before the voters in Kalgoorlie start to get some strange ideas from America.

[Note from the photo editor: we dug into the archives to find some photos from the Venice Beach area and some tourist type pictures from Frisco to illustrate the point that both areas are far apart physically and (upon closer inspection) politically too.]

William Hjortsberg has written: “The future remains an unwritten book, its cryptic pages blank, and no crystal ball wizard, palm reader or Tarot deck manipulator can accurately provide a sneak preview of what’s coming in the next chapter.”

The disk jockey will play the Doors “L. A. Woman,” the Jefferson Airplane’s “Plastic Fantastic Lover,” and the CCR (from “near” Berkeley) song, “Run Through the Jungle.” We have to go see where the Buffalo Springfield is playing this weekend.   Have a “Point Break” type week.

crop of SF heart


November 30, 2012

Has the 2016 Election become a horse race?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 2:37 pm

America’s journey to Election Day 2016 began with a single step in the form of a front page article in the New York Times on November 23, 2012, which effectively anointed JEB Bush as the Republican frontrunner.  Since the World’s Laziest Journalist rarely gets news tips and doesn’t have well placed sources who will provide him with newsworthy inside information such as we read in a recent Tom Hartman column that described some astounding chicanery used by Richard Nixon in his second bid for the Presidency in 1968, we will have to continue relying on our usual modus   operandi of occasionally attempting to point out the obvious in the “naked emperor” manner, ridiculing pomposity, while mixing in some obscure facts and names (which we call Google bait), and pop culture references, as a way to inform and entertain the regular readers while simultaneously conducting the search for topics which we (occasionally) manage to find before the mainstream media does.

For those who doubt that there are any “naked emperor” stories that journalists in America haven’t explored fully, we would ask: Why haven’t they asked these questions?:

Why did George W. Bush get a pass on Questions (Building 7, the vanished airplane wreckage near in and near the Pentagon, and the mysterious entities who profited from short sales of airline stocks) regarding Sept. 11, while President Obama is being held accountable for a full and immediate explanation of what happened in Benghazi?

Why did the press sit silent when George W. Bush expanded Presidential powers yet they join the chorus denouncing it when the Egyptian President makes a power grab?

Now that voices from the left are virtually extinct, where are the howls of outrage about the “liberal media”?  In a country that says it values free speech, shouldn’t there be patriots asking: Where did it go?

Was coach John Madden serious when he suggested on his KCBS radio show that it was a good idea to slather mayonnaise on a peanut butter sandwich?

It is a bit too early for a rogue pundit to start assessing the likelihood of a 2016 contest between Hilary and JEB that will be compared to a horse race, so we will try to find some interesting and entertaining topics that are available to a pundit without “reliable sources” and let the mainstream media report the latest poll results.

On Black Friday, we encountered five young guys from Belgium whose quest for adventure had brought them to San Francisco.  They were part of a group of artists calling themselves Harmony Street (which has a Facebook page) and they were selling hand made post cards to augment their finances to sustain their “on the road” lifestyle.  If we run an item about the San Francisco phase of their journey in one of our columns, isn’t it likely that several of their friends back home will be sent some links which will provide an infinitesimally small bump in the total number of hits?

Later that same day we encountered a young man from San Diego who was interviewing people about their assessment of the annual deluge of holiday films.  We told him that we personally were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the film version of “On the Road.”  We managed to give him our opinion without having to forfeit our record of keeping the Internets clear of images of our face.  To see it, click this link:

If a blogger can be considered a “digital Kerouac, then we have a reason to mention that postings have resumed on the blog that describes the “on the road” facet of life for “the Hitzels</a>.”

The road to the next Presidential Election Day is littered with hazards but there is one possibility that all political pundits both conservative and liberal are completely (until earlier this week) discounting:  what if the Republicans want to drive the economy off the fiscal cliff?  (Who will be the first pundit to compare the political showdown for the fiscal cliff to the game of chicken sequence in the film “Rebel without a Cause”?)

The Liberal pundits can not conceive of choosing to make that move so they use the psychological phenomenon called projection to assume that since they wouldn’t do that, then neither would the conservatives.

It would take a fair amount of work to write a column suggesting that the “please don’t throw me in the briar patch” strategy (from the Uncle Remos stories about B’rer Rabbit) might be lurking in the Republican leaders’ minds and neither liberals nor conservatives would give such a column serious consideration, so scratch that idea . . . but if that’s exactly what does happen don’t blame the World’s Laziest Journalist for not writing a tip-off alert column.

On Black Friday, we went to the Union Square in San Francisco to see how the convention of shoppers, political activists of the animal rights variety, protesters, office workers, tourists, police, and journalists was going.  The contingent of police was augmented by mounted patrolmen who were riding horses wearing badges and Santa hats.

After a referendum in Berkeley CA to enact a sit-lie law was narrowly defeated, Mayor Tom Bates brought up a variation of the issue of who should sit where by requesting that the seating chart for the city council be adjusted so that his colleague and political opponent councilman Kris Worthington would not be sitting next to the Mayor.

When the local web site Berkeleyside asked the Mayor why, his quick quip answer (“So I don’t strangle him.”) brought renewed intensive journalistic scrutiny to the Berkeley City Council.  Mayor Bates told a local TV crew “It was just a joke!”

In the Go-go era, would an independent citizen journalist have been able to report the possibility for an ecological disaster because of the gold mining efforts in the Pascua Lama area before the BBC ran a similar item about that business story from South America?

What about beating the New York Times with mentions of the 1939 BMW replica motorcycle, smoking bath salts, and pointing out that the opening statement by the lead American prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials crippled the Bush supporters “he didn’t know” argument?  Do they count as “scoops”?

The famous, fictional San Francisco cop, Dirty Harry (Cling Eastwood) said:  “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  In the new era of overextended news staffs, rogue pundits who report information which will appeal to liberals has got to expect that conservatives will disparage any items that don’t fit the conservatives’ narrative and they will marginalize any such independent commentators.

Could the Myth Busters TV program be plotting an expose that makes the assertion that the World’s Laziest Journalist works very hard to maintain his laid-back, happy-go-lucky ersatz Gonzo style of column writing?

The conservative critics who think that the über-cynical World’s Laziest Journalist is being led astray on his path to an eternal reward will be glad to learn that he has been provided with an autographed copy of “Turtle on the Fencepost:  Finding Faith through Doubt” (Richard B. Patterson Liguori Publications) and will read every word of it.

Back when Sean Connery was slipping into the role of James Bond and the Rolling Stones were trying to land a deal with a recording company, we were trying to improvise a plan that would deliver a life consisting of: meeting interesting people, seeing interesting sights, and witnessing interesting events.  As this column was being written CBS radio news ran an item noting that the film “Casablanca” opened on November 26, 1942, and we were delighted to realize that would give us plenty of conversational opportunities to resort to this comment:  “I’ve been to Casablanca and I’ve been to Paris – I prefer Paris.”  Sometime between now and the 2016 Election Day, we will write a column that will go under the headline:  “Raspberries, Jim Morrison’s grave, and the missing sewer tour.”

The road to the 2016 Presidential Election will be a tough slog so why should a freelance pundit bother to make that journey?  Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream offer bumper stickers that advise “If it isn’t fun, why do it?”  According to the philosophy of Ben and Jerry and the guiding principles of Gonzo Journalism, if it looks like fun then have at it.

Robert Louis Stevenson, in “An Inland Voyage,” wrote:  “To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”

Now the disk jockey will play Dave Dudley’s “Six Days on the Road,” the Beatles’ “Long and Winding Road,” and Johnny Cash’s “I’ve been everywhere.”  We have to go and prepare to attend the “Winter Pow Wow.”   Have a “Why do we do this, Buzz?” type week.

July 16, 2012

From Watergate to Baingate


May 25, 2011

Workers! Join the Republican Party!


February 10, 2011

Don’t mess with the Teamsters!

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:28 pm

On Tuesday, after posting a column which ruminated about the possibility that a group of exploited writers might want to consider using the labor negotiating tactic known as a “strike,” we tuned in to hear one of the episodes of the Mike Malloy radio program which featured Brad Friedman (of the Brad Blog) as the substitute host. One of his callers, that night, was a trucker who lamented the fact that since the deregulation spawned by St. Ronald Reagan (the patron saint of the Reagan-Democrats) independent truck operators have been exploited by management by a lack of increases in the per-mile rate and a 10% reduction of their mileage figures. Brad mused aloud about a need for a work action in the Washington D. C. area.

On Wednesday night, Brad’s main hope was that maybe sympathetic truckers could help him publicize his effort to focus attention on the financial shenanigans of the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas because of the fact that, according to Brad, crimes were committed when Thomas submitted some required paper work that mistakenly indicated his wife didn’t earn any money for the work she provided for a partisan political organization. Brad’s main concern seemed to have morphed from “what can we do to help the drivers” to “they have a chance to focus America’s attention on a potential crime.”

Quite recently politicians in Europe have seen the extensive effect a truckers’ work action can have on a country’s day-to-day existence. The truckers crippled France for a short duration.

If Brad focuses America’s attention on the exploitation of the group that was once represented by one of the most powerful unions (arguably the most powerful union) in the United States, then, since the teamsters were not politically naïve, they would return the favor and make the Thomas affair something that even the hens in the Fox house could not ignore.

Truckers seem to be rather conservative patriotic individuals who might not care to be involved in spreading an allegation about an American icon. Didn’t the Teamsters Union once trade a crucial endorsement for Richard Nixon for a legislative political favor in return?

The story that Jimmy Hoffa is buried in the end zone of Giants Stadium is an urban legend. His body was, a little birdie told us, disposed of via an industrial strength garbage disposal grinder at a (union of course) meat butchering plant. As far as the question of who ordered the hit, don’t look at this columnist. We ain’t gonna go there. If your curiosity about that question is insatiable, we recommend that you read pages 61 to 71 of Steven Brill’s 1978 book “The Teamsters” (Simon and Schuster hardback).

When this columnist was a member of the Teamsters’ local 229 (Scranton Pa.), there was a young lady, of the ordinary size and weight variety, in the office (no – the one where we worked not the TV series) who could beat all the guys at arm wrestling. At that time, this writer was working out regularly with weights and we never could figure out how the heck that happened.

The firm had previously provided office space in the Secaucus (gees, I can still spell it right on the first try) terminal for the two union guys known as “the two Tonys.” (One was the Tony Pro and we can’t remember the other’s name.)

Since the company had been owned by the man who founded the American Trucking Association and since his grandson was one of the fellows who became a member of the Humphrey for President posse in 1968 (has anything ever happened in any other year?), the level of political sophistication in the Scranton office was notably high.

[Did Humphrey really trade a promise that one particular airline would get the rights to fly to and from Hawaii in return for a $300,000 campaign contribution? How the heck is this columnist supposed to fact check a rumor that is more than forty years old? Everybody we could ask is dead.]

Wasn’t there one particular group of steel hauling teamsters who cause considerable distress if people tried to foil their strikes?

Columnist Victor Reisel found out the hard way that labor issues were a very vitriolic topic.

Back in the day, the teamsters were not a group that permitted their members to be exploited. If the caller on Tuesday reported his plight accurately, it would seem that the times they have changed considerably. Much to the delight of the trucking industry management team.

It seems quite reasonable to expect that if liberals help the truck drivers with a problem that has existed for almost thirty years, then those folks will owe some favor in return. If not, the Republican philosophy of “divide and conquer” has worked again.

In the last decade, this columnist stumbled across information online that indicated that the Trucking Music Hall of Fame is contained inside a trailer that moves about the country.

Brad’s engineer, Tony, has used C. W. McCall’s hit song “Convoy” to conjure up the trucking image.

Our favorite German musical group is named “Truck Stop” and we do know a thing or two about songs that truckers play. Our list of items, which we hope are featured in the Trucking Music Hall of Fame (hope Tony reads this), would (in alphabetical order) include:

Convoy but not Convoy goes to Europe
Eastbound and Down (from Smokey and the Bandit)
Forty Days on the Road
Forty Thousand lbs. of bananas (which is based on a true incident in Scranton)
Giddyup Go
Gimme Forty Acres (and I’ll turn this rig around)
I’ve been everywhere (by Johnny Cash)
Phantom 309 (We’d call that the Best trucking song of all time)
Teddybear and Teddybear with German lyrics version
White line fever
Wolf Creek Pass.
And the bonus track of John Wayne’s “Pledge of Allegiance”?

Teamster strikes are powerful medicine. Steven Brill (Ibid page 380) wrote: “His (Einar Mohn) problem with Nixon, according to Gibbons and another (union) vice-president who was there, was that the White House’s proposed legislation to prevent strikes in the transportation industry would, he thought, severely threaten the union.” In a footnote (Ibid page 381), Brill drolly notes: “The Nixon bill was suddenly withdrawn, much to the embarrassment of the Republicans in Congress who had sponsored it for the President and were not informed beforehand of the sudden policy reversal.”

Now our disk jockey will play a Truck Stop album. We gotta go check out the rumor that Che Guevarra was put in the witness protection program and was seen recently in Cairo.” Have a “you wanna screw that knob back on there, Earl” type week.

November 23, 2009

Palin is the New Nixon

Filed under: Commentary,Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , — RS Janes @ 4:52 am


August 8, 2009

And a Lot of Dan Quayle, Too


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