July 3, 2014

Mugwumps, high jumps, and speed bumps

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:30 pm

crop of Godfathe Goldr

When and where was it decided that the Republicans would be given sole possession of the right to be considered patriots while the Lefties would be portrayed as Commie Curmudgeons? As this year’s Forth of July weekend approached, the World’s Laziest Journalist was skimming through “Documentary Expression and Thirties America,” by William Stott and searching for a column topic. In the early thirties, writers fanned out across America to document the effects that the Great Depression was having on Americans in the middle and poor classes. Photographers, such as Walker Evans and Dorothea Lang took photos that inspired action to be taken. Later in the Thirties, many writers took President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s suggestion (page 241 – 242) to go see America and listen to what the Americans had to say. Stott describes (on page 255) a change happening in the USA: “As the war drew nearer, it was rare that a book documenting America did not have a passage, usually in the final pages, where the enumerated glories of the land aroused the author’s confidence in the nation and its destiny.” Stott sees the trend as “conservative ‘documentary’ reportage.”

Why must liberal writers sound like disgruntled commies and conservatives get subsidized extended vacations to gather material to bolster their views?

Ronald Reagan’s flippant attitude toward giant sequoia trees (“Once you’ve seen one giant redwood tree, you’ve seen them all.”) apply to Hollywood’s annual awards ceremony? Any columnist who attended both the 47th and 48th installments of the Oscar Awards knows that’s not true. When the awards for 1974 were handed out early the next year, very few of the nominated actors and actresses (two separate awards two different words) were in the audience at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to accept the award if they were named. Fred Astaire, nominated for his supporting role in “The Towering Inferno,” and Valerie Perrine, nominated for her leading role in “Lenny,” were there but they didn’t win. Mario Puzo and Frances Ford Coppola were there and won awards for “The Godfather Part II.” For anyone who had never covered the Oscars it was quite exciting.

A year later, the Oscars for 1975 received much better news coverage because “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” swept the awards and many of the nominated the actors and actresses were there to see if their name got called. That was the year that the only member of the Carradine family ever to win an Oscar got one for writing the Best Song, “I’m Easy,” from “Nashville.” The excitement level in the press area was perceptibly higher. The two successive years were quite different events.

Fast forward to forty years later: 2014. Have things change? You bet. Now, it’s rather rare for a nominated actors in the Best Actor and Best Actress (It’s complicated; don’t ask.) categories not to be seen on TV’s around the world, waiting anxiously for the winner’s name to be called. Land-line telephones, teletype machines, and ash trays are (we expect) quaint reminders of the past missing from the press rooms in the digital era.

If Berkeley does anything to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech on top of a police car (he took off his shoes so as not to scuff the paintjob), the World’s Laziest Journalist will probably take some photos and write a column about the symbolism of the event.

Where was it established that only conservatives can run a list of things that make the country surrounding the White House such a great destination for those seeking a better life?

In the time between taking a photo of a lone anti-war protester in the Times Square area of New York City in late1966 and taking some photos in Dorothea Lang’s home town (Berkeley CA) of some homeless kids, the World’s Laziest Journalist has been gathering a long list of items which (if we ever get around to it) can be included in a modern version of the conservative’s “I’ve seen America” genre of books that are a prose version of the song “God Bless America.”

If (big IF) we can get a press pass to go back and see how much the Oscars ceremony has changed in the last forty years, that would be a marvelous addition to the list of memories that sound rather like a typical bit of Forth of July rhetoric.

At the Sebring race, the disk brakes were glowing red hot in the dark. At a Hollywood premiere our reaction to seeing Paul McCartney arrive was: “OMG, he’s not dead!” When we heard John Carradine’s voice coming from a person within a yardstick away from us, we wished we had a cassette recorder so that we could have asked him to say something for our phone message. Seeing Jack Nicholson hold up his Oscar was more fun that seeing him portraying a drifter asking for an order of toast. If you are going to see the United States Grad Prix auto race, a press pass that gets you into the pits makes it so much more enjoyable. (Particularly if James Garner is there getting second unit shots for a Hollywood film.)   What was so special about the parties at the “A-frame” in Hollywood? The Goodyear blimp climbs at the same angle as a jet intercept, but just not as fast. Nicole Kidman is remarkably tall.

Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes made a person realize that no photographer (not even Richard Avedon) could accurately depict their effect on anyone lucky enough to see them less than a yard away.

People all across the United States (and some regular readers in the W. A. [“It’s so big you could stick the state of Texas in a corner.”]?) should be informed about the long range implications of the recent changes in the Ellis Act. Stories about that topic need to be filed in the Marina Tenant Association’s reference library and archives and probably some day soon we’ll do that.

For the July Forth weekend in 2014, we will forget about the long list of political activists urging columns about their pet cause and we will kick back, visit San Francisco, and dream some Fred C. Dobbs type dreams while trying to do some fact finding for our latest example of gonzo punditry. We want to know: What was the event that caused Democrats to concede the point that only conservatives can sound patriotic?

Listening to the radio lately, we have begun to wonder: Is all the constant criticism of the President of the United States part of a concerted Communist plot? The phrase “patriotic Liberal” is not an oxymoron. Are all these voices of doom and gloom being patriotic when they make it sound like a lynch mob rules the airwave?

Do the conservatives really believe in Democracy, elections, and the peaceful transfer of power? How would the conservatives like it if Bill Clinton was still the President who had to confer periodically with Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin?

What could be more American than a cable TV show about a journalist (with a Go-Pro camera?) driving around the USA (in a 1959 Cadillac convertible?) looking for barn finds while talking to various folks about the current state of the union?

If given a binary choice of a press pass for either: A. the Oscars or B. the final game of the World Cup; which event would a true red-blooded American patriot choose?

Mark Twain (do they still have a jumping frog contest in Calaveras County) seems to have anticipated the Fox in the journalism henhouse when he proclaimed: “A man who doesn’t read a newspaper is uninformed. One who does, is ill-informed.”

Now the disk jockey will select some of his favorite “proud to be an American” tunes. He will play Arlo Gutherie’s “City of New Orleans,” Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom” (wasn’t that recorded in Santa Monica?), and the entire “Best of the Mamas and Papas” album. We have to go see (we missed him in Sydney) Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Warfield (Monday or Tuesday). Have a “sitting in the club car” type week.

Fred Astaire

crop of Astaire arriving

Valery Perrine

crop Perine waves


April 26, 2013

Bombs, Bullets, and Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:35 pm

CA stands tall with Boston

“The Third Bullet” (Simon & Schuster New York © 2013) by Stephen Hunter is a fictional account of an investigation by a former U. S. Marine Corps sniper named Bob Lee Swagger into the murder of President John F. Kennedy.  Since this is the year of all gun chat all the time on talk radio and since this year will be the fiftieth anniversary of the tragedy in Dallas Texas on November 22, we were pleasantly surprised to learn of the existence of this new installment in a series of mystery-adventure novels about a fellow who is loosely based on the legendary Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock because it seemed that none of the trolls who dominate the national discussion on guns has mentioned this new book.  We have read several of the preceding installments in the series and were aware that the book would contain some very detailed technical information about guns and bullets.  Suffice it to say that this new book blends accurate details of known American history with some speculation in a manor that is both entertaining and thought provoking.

Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Agent,” which describes the anarchy caused by bomb throwing Bolsheviks and was published in 1907, is based on a true life incident that occurred in London in 1894 but it still has that “ripped from today’s headlines” aura of relevancy to it.  We wonder if teachers will urge their students to read this example of American Literature.  Conrad’s novel “Under Western Eyes,” is an almost century old look at the world of political fanatics in Russia.  What’s old is new and these two old books may start selling again.

“Twilight at the World of Tomorrow,” (Ballantine Books New York © 2010) by James Mauro tells the story of the use of a bomb by terrorists at the Great Britain Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair on July 4, 1940.  There had been other bomb incidents at that time in the New York City which were caused by a union dispute.   This bit of New York City terrorism remains an unsolved mystery.

“Live Fast, Die Young (The Wild Ride of Making ‘Rebel without a Cause’)” by Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel (Touchstone © 2005) just happened to be the next book on our recreational “in” pile as pundits around the world faced the task of doing a weekend wrap-up for the week that included the Boston Marathon Bombing.  In that book, we learned (on page 79) that on the G. E. Theater episode titled “The Dark, Dark Hour,” James Dean worked with Ronald Reagan.

In a world where folks can see hundreds of cops standing around (on OT?) doing nothing, while the air traffic controllers are taught the pragmatic reasoning behind the move that destroyed their union, some cynics think that it may just be the latest installment in the long history of the anarchy caused by bomb throwers.

Did the folks on all Gun Chat radio all the time notice that while the police searched for the bombers, Sen. Harry Reid was saying “gun control legislation is dead for this year.”

Will the capitalist business owners in Boston charge employees who missed work on the day of the lockdown with a vacation day or will they cry “sequester cuts!” and declare that it was a one day sequester event and they need not pay for it?  How many will be magnanimous and pay regular salary for the missed work day?

Boston dominated the news but KPFA reported that something bad may have happened at Guantanamo the Saturday before Patriots’ Day.  Naturally the mainstream media ignored that and other important stories.

A fellow who was arrested for sending poison to politicians was released and can resume his career as the most famous Elvis impersonator alive.

If the Butthead and Bevis duo used cell phone technology to detonate the backpacks, did they also learn how to do that from material they found on the Internets?  If not who mentored them?  If the two brothers were enrolled in Terrorism 101, will President Obama pull a Dubya and invade the campus and destroy the school?  If the American military is spread too thin, then does it not follow that the investigation must conclude that the older brother, Lee Harvey Tsarnaev duped his younger brother into being part of the gang of two and that they acted alone?

Now that the story is out that Syria has used poison gas after President Obama warned them not to do that, he seems to be caught in a classic binary choice familiar to barroom brawlers:  “Throw a punch or shut up and go away.”  Will President Obama and the Syrian leader now do a political version of the “chickie run” sequence in “Rebel without a Cause”?

If Obama sends American troops to get involved in that country’s Civil War, will Kim Jung Un get bolder thinking that Obama has run out of troops to send abroad?

Will Obama back up former President Bush’s threat to deal severely with any country that provided a training ground for any terrorists who would subsequently attack the USA or will he find out that the military is stretch too thin to back up that old warning with the promised action?

After seeing the spectacle of Boston being brought to a complete halt for a day by two young bomb throwers, cynics are asking:  “Will their quick apprehension serve as an effective deterrent or will it act as a catalyst inspiring copycats to make many more well publicized political statements with bombs?”  Will historians say that the boys from Chechnya opened the flood gates for a hoard of Mongol copy cats?

Has one other news item, the slipped past most of the mainstream media?  According to the Los Angeles Times, more charges have been filed against the County Assessor.

Since Dubya was notorious for not putting anything on paper we have always wondered what will be displayed at the Bush Presidential Library.  Apparently all the e-mails from fans will be one of the major attractions.

In the recently published book, “Ayn Rand Explained,” (Open Court Chicago © 3013) readers are informed (on page 17):  “Ideas, values, and behavior which we would reasonably think were wrong because they lead to the destruction of life are considered as acceptable as any others.”  What will conservatives do if it turns out that Tamerlin Tsarnaev was an avid Ayn Rand fan?  Could it be that he wore a WWJGD (What Would John Gault Do?) bracelet?

The guy, A. J. Clemente, who dropped the “F-bomb” on his debut as a news anchor in Bismarck, North Dakota, got invited onto the Letterman and Today TV shows, but our attempts to just find the name of his co-host, who remained composed and continued doing her job, were inconclusive.  Did A. J. read “Atlas Shrugged”?  Have American kids learned yet that “Incompetence Rules!” and that the old philosophy “Nothing is true, everything is permitted” would make a better motto for use on the money use by the USA.

Did the debate over “Miranda Rights” precipitate a situation where the prosecution’s case in the trial of the Boston Bomber is compromised before the opening statements are made?

Is an online pundit, who lives in Berkeley CA, being facetious and critical of the Democrat in the White House when he sports a 1940 Wendell Wilkie political button that proclaims:  “No Third Term”?

[Note from the photo editor:  While covering Occupy Oakland, we noticed an odd bit of graphics, from something called, which combined the outline of the state of California with the logo for Boston’s major league baseball team but we didn’t think it was relevant back then, but now that all the USA is expressing a desire to stand tall with Boston, we thought this photo might be an appropriate visual way to say that CA stands with Boston.]

Speaking of the New Deal, we are working on getting more details about an effort to establish a New Deal Museum.  With our luck the assignment editor for the features desk at the New York Times will read this column, scoop us, and save us a bunch of work.

According to “Live Fast, Die Young,” in early 1955, after being inured in a car wreck, actress Natalie Wood summoned movie director Nicolas Ray to her hospital room.  A Hollywood legend was born (page 40) when she (allegedly) whispered in his ear:  “They called me a goddamn juvenile delinquent.  Now do I get the part?”

Now the disk jockey will play the new Boston anthem, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” a memorial playing of Ritchie Havens’ “Freedom,” and a memorial playing of George Jones’ “He stopped loving her today.”  We have to go find a good Walpurgis Night Party to crash.  Have a “Why do we do this, Buzz” type week.

April 20, 2012

Storytelling makes a comeback

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:32 pm

Is this the Republican budget philosophy?
Columnist’s file photo of “the magic love bus”
”So this little old lady walks into the showroom . . .”

Guernica happened 75 years ago, on April 26, but that story is not liable to be noted much in American media during the coming week because the military tactic of using bombs to kill civilians is anathema to Obama’s reelection team because they want to project an image of Lincoln-esque nobility for his term in office and the Republicans (the American Republicans and not the neo-fascists in the Spanish Civil War) do not want to hear any criticism of the American military adventures started by George W. Bush and so it was with great joy that the World’s Laziest Journalist accidentally encountered a second chance last weekend to photograph the art installation in San Francisco titled “Defenestration” because that provided a striking visual metaphor for the Republican budget philosophy. “Defenestration” depicts useful household items being recklessly tossed out of a building’s windows. The Republicans seem intent on throwing out useful social programs so that the taxes on millionaires can be either greatly reduced or eliminated.

This week’s news stories about the role the Secret Service played in President Obama’s trip to Columbia provide a columnist with a chance to make a casual allusion to a half century old novel titled “The One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding,” but it also provides a rather tenuous chance for the team at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory’s Research and Development Department to unleash some trial balloon speculation about the possibility for something more dark and sinister such as a Republican spawned plan to reinforce their contention that President Obama is an inept manager.

Is there anyone in the Republican Party who could arrange for the Secret Service to be humiliated and left looking that bad? Could it have been a gigantic Political Dirty Trick which would just add more evidence to the Republican assertions that Obama is a poor administrator? Would any Republican be that unscrupulous?

This week the Los Angeles Times published pictures which may stir up anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. Won’t what that newspaper did be as helpful to the American mission in Afghanistan as someone spreading thumbtacks on the route Sisyphus will use and then forcing him to work barefooted?

When Guernica was bombed, a contingent of journalists was in the nearby city of Bilbao. When their dinner was interrupted by news of the bombing, they raced off to cover the news and get the chance to hear survivors tell their stories.

Since neither conservatives nor progressives want to read about Guernica, perhaps the fact that April 26th is also National Story Telling Day, could provide us with a chance to morph the focus of this column to the topic of storytelling?

Back in the day, when Jack Paar was the host for NBC’s Tonight Show, talk show guests were given ample opportunity to tell amusing and entertaining stories. Now the only reason for someone to be on a talk show is to sell some new bit of entertainment such as a movie or album. The stealth talk show sales pitch spawned a new word. Such unpaid ads can be called promobabble.

Traveling and story telling seem to go together like ham and eggs ever since the guy who wrote the “Iliad” the “Odyssey” was in J-school.

As we recall, TV personality Herb Schriner wrote a history of mobile homes.

War correspondent Ernie Pyle traveled about the United States before World War II writing columns in a Chevy coup that had a modified trunk that functioned as his portable office.

Jack Kerouac made a career out of writing about the adventures on the road that he experienced with his pal Neal Cassady.

John Steinbeck wrote “Travels with Charlie” in the early Sixties. Some critics compare that with Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Travels with a donkey,” which may have provided the motto for travelers with this sentence: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

If that philosophy appeals to you, then you might want to do some Googleing and investigate the possibilities offered by spending July in Paris taking the travel writing course offered by Rolf Potts. (What would the boss say about an assignment to go report on that learning experience? Maybe we could include some reports about the 24 hour race at Le Mans for sports cars and get a twofer for our money?)
Speaking of an endless summer on the road, we noticed that the University of Sydney is offering their students who are studying United State Politics a chance to spend their winter (our summer) studying at UCLA. Hey, fellows, what about turn about is fair play? Gees any student who got into that program and who knows how to surf would only be a MTA bus ride away from The Call to the Wall surfing contest in Malibu while they were calling Westwood their home.

If they believe that turnabout is fair play shouldn’t UCLA students get a chance to study for a semester (our winter their summer) in Sydney?

Personal note: If things go as planned we intend on doing our Christmas shopping in Paris (France not Texas) and perhaps attending Christmas Eve midnight Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral (has this year’s Mass been sold out already?). If that doesn’t happen, then we will change to Plan B and opt for celebrating Christmas in the traditional Australian way; i.e. on the beach (Bondi or Cottesloe?) in a bathing suit.

Speaking of “On the Road Again,” on Friday April 20, 2012, on CBS radio’s World News Roundup, they mentioned that a statue of Willie Nelson would be unveiled in Austin later in the day.

Tom Wolfe wrote an article for the Sunday magazine section for the New York Herald Tribune and got enough material for a book by joining a busload of hippies (with Kerouac’s buddy Neal Cassady doing the majority of the driving) going from San Francisco to the New York World’s Fair. A documentary film about that expedition was released last summer. Many folks have written about their attempts to imitate the Kerouac “On the Road” exploration of America but the fact that Tom Wolfe wrote about Ken Kesey’s installment in that category inspired many more subsequent imitations.

Now (thanks to a news tip in the form of a comment posted about Kerouac for a recent column) we have learned that a modern attempt to chronicle a similar adventure for something called the “magic love bus” will be posted online as that story unfolds. (Google tip: “magic love bus.”)

Who hasn’t wanted to write their own version of “a savage journey to the Heart of the American dream”?

Early in the Online era two fellows traveled about in a mobile home and produced the magazine “Monk” on a computer from their mobile office. Don’t they still maintain an online web site?

The history of cars and California are intertwined and mystery writer Charles Willeford may have produced a minor classic novel on the topic of used car salesmen with “The High Priest of California.”

Southern California used car legend Cal Worthington was a regular guest on the Tonight Show during the Johnny Carson phase of its history.

In the late Seventies, former President Richard M. (Tricky Dickey) Nixon in an interview tossed out a quote that Americans were like little children and needed to be told stories. Fact checkers with access to Lexis/Nexis should be able to find the exact detail about the origin of this obscure bit of Presidential history. President Ronald Reagan was a gifted story teller and usually managed to work a folksy story about ordinary Americans into most of his Presidential speeches.

Didn’t the New York Times do a trend spotting story about the resurrection of the dead art of story telling recently? Doesn’t that provide conclusive proof that story telling is making a comeback?

Speaking of used cars and California, earlier this week a little old lady (from Richmond CA) walked into the new car showroom at McKevitt Volvo in Berkely CA and asked what they would offer as a trade in value for her car parked in front of their establishment. As luck would have it, the World’s Laziest Journalist just happened to walk past there and got some car-spotting photos to use on his photo blog. She was driving a 1960 MGA (with the old style yellow California license plate with black letters [used up until 1961]) in mint condition. By Thursday afternoon, the sports car was sitting in the middle of their new car showroom (with 10,238 miles on the odometer).

We sent an e-mail about this classic example of tales from the used car trade to the tips editor at Jalopnik.

Columnist Herb Caen used the term “Little old lady” so often that he resorted to the initials “LOL” and his regular readers knew what that meant. Caen’s Name Phreaks department used to take note of people with names that were either very appropriate or inappropriate for the job they held. A used car salesman who worked on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, named Bob Cheatum, was submitted by readers so often that he was given Hall of Fame status.

After Aimee Semple McPherson told an incredible tale about being kidnapped, journalists asked some skeptical questions about the details and she responded: “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

It’s been a sad week in musical history, so the disk jockey will play some songs that will always evoke American Bandstand memories for this columnist; “The stroll,” Fabian’s “Tiger,” and Duane Eddy’s “Forty Miles of Bad Road” plus “Cripple Creek Mountain.” We have to go and check the Porchlight calendar for this month’s story telling competition in San Francisco. Have a “You’re never going to believe this, but . . .” type 4/20 day.

January 30, 2012

Newt ‘n’ Mitt: Republican Populists?


September 22, 2011

The Ghost of Ronald Reagan on Class Warfare


September 21, 2011

Matching Prominent Republicans with Appropriate Film Titles

The story is Dan Quayle saw the 1972 Robert Redford film ‘The Candidate’ and thought it was a primer on entering politics instead of a warning about selling out one’s principles. Ronald Reagan is said to have had a regular weekly ‘movie premiere night’ while in the White House. Then we had GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy using a clip from the 2010 Ben Affleck crime saga ‘The Town’ to make a point to Teabaggers in Congress. For a party that has so much enmity towards Hollywood, seems the GOP loves itself some flicks, which got me to wondering what movie titles would accurately reflect certain prominent Republicans. For better or worse, here’s what I came up with, in no particular order:

– Rick Perry: ‘They Live!’

– John Boehner: ‘The Lost Weekend’

– Mitch McConnell: ‘Hell Comes to Frogtown’ (or, ‘White Hunter, Black Heart’)

– Mitt Romney: ‘Liar, Liar’

– Michele Bachmann: ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’

– Tim Pawlenty: ‘The Incredible Mr. Limpet’

– Sarah Palin: ‘Mars Needs Women’

– Allen West: ‘Watermelon Man’

– Paul Ryan: ‘Throw Momma from the Train’

– Herman Cain: ‘Blackula’

– George W. Bush: ‘Moon Over Parador’ (or, ‘Wag the Dog’)

– Dick Cheney: ‘Above the Law’

– Scott Walker: ‘Gone with the Wind’ (or, ‘The Great Dictator’)

– John Kasich: ‘Joe Dirt’

– Rick Snyder: ‘Shadow on the Land’

– Rick Scott: ‘The Hucksters’

– Rupert Murdoch: ‘Citizen Kane’

– Rush Limbaugh: ‘It Came from Outer Space’

– Glenn Beck: ‘Dumb and Dumber’

– Bill O’Reilly: ‘The Mouse That Roared’

– Sean Hannity: ‘Frances the Talking Mule’

– Ann Coulter: ‘Heathers’

– Michael Savage: ‘Home Alone’

– Frank Luntz: ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

– David H. Koch: ‘The Magic Christian’

– Karl Rove: ‘Revenge of the Nerds’

– Ron Paul: ‘Dr. Strangelove’

– Rick Santorum: ‘Look Who’s Talking Now’

– Newt Gingrich: ‘No Country for Old Men’ (or, ‘Goldfinger’)

– Donald Trump: ‘Mr. Bug Goes to Town’ (or, ‘Hairspray’)

© 2011 RS Janes.

August 12, 2011

“Corporations Are People” Gaffe Dooms Romney’s Presidential Bid

These days, Mitt Romney has the haunted look of a mountain climber who just heard half the strands of his lifeline snap while hanging only a few yards from the peak of Mt. Everest. He can’t turn back from his life-long quest to reach the peak, yet he knows there’s a good possibility the rope will break before he reaches his goal and he’ll go plummeting down the side. Along with the overstuffed carload of gobsmacking flip-flops on everything from women’s rights to income taxes to health care that Mitt carries with him like a mummy’s curse, his sure-thing Golden-Haired Boy 2012 GOP presidential nomination is now showing its dark roots, and it’s all the fault of Romney himself.

At the Iowa State Fair the other day, Romney attempted another of those tedious ‘Ask Mitt’ torture sessions where he is forced to extemporize to answer questions from the overly-corndogged locals. This is a dangerous zone for the Mittster, who has a hard enough time getting through his soporific stump speeches without sweating through his magic underwear. Romney no doubt figured he was on safe ground — it’s Iowa and Republican runs here like boiling grease through a deep fryer. But the rubes were having none of it — missiles of verbal pyrotechnics, along with derisive laughter, always deadly for a serious candidate, pierced the hot air as oldsters in the crowd fusilladed Romney about Social Security, Medicare, and raising taxes on corporations and his own top one-percent tax bracket to help pay for them. After taking the standard Norquist stupidity pledge never to raise taxes, which is akin to vowing never to move out of your house, even if it’s burning down around you, Mitt then exhibited the complacently haughty behavior that has appealed to his party’s Christopublican-Teabagger base by serenely patronizing his irate interrogators with “Corporations are people, my friend,” a phrase that will follow Romney like a dead skunk chained to his leg for the rest of his doomed quest for the Republican presidential nomination.

Consider that prior to this gaffe, Romney’s thin hold on the nomination was threefold: First, Wall Street reptiles with ice in their aortas and gin-embalmed country club Republicans embraced Mitt as a fellow-traveler — a man willing to make the hard decisions before lunch of how many American jobs to cut or send to foreign shores and live without guilt on the proceeds. Secondly, others in the party elite thought Romney was an agreeably vacillating vessel who could easily be packaged as a caring ‘moderate conservative’ with a chance of beating Obama in 2012. Third, he has a pile of his own money to sink in his campaign, always a relief and comfort to the political investment class.

But with his ad-lib proclamation on the personhood of corporations, which comes as close as Romney gets to a core principle, he tossed it all away. Mitt might as well have announced he’s a Communist who worships Joe Stalin. To most Americans, unschooled in the prevailing hallucinations of five members of the U.S. Supreme Court, the ruminants of global high finance, the silly supply-side economists of which there seems to be an endless supply, and the curdled cognoscenti of the Federalist Society, corporations are clearly nothing like flesh-and-blood human beings and should not enjoy the same rights. Aside from the obvious that corporations cannot vote, or be hauled into court, or put in jail, and can only be fined for their wrongdoing. (They could also be put out of business, but in corporate-beguiled Washington that happens about as often as Sarah Palin submitting to an interview outside of Fox News.) Unlike Shakespeare’s Shylock, the modern corporation never suffers from cold nor heat nor injury from wounds physical or emotional and represents a unique eternal legal construct — the front-office executives may change from death and retirement, but the corporation can go on forever. Ambrose Bierce aptly defined this swindle a century ago in “The Devil’s Dictionary”: “Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.” Adding to the legalized larceny, the multi-national corporations take advantage of tax loopholes that are not available to the average American citizen, nor even small businesses, which gives these artificial abstractions unequal and superior rights to real people.

Most Americans are only vaguely aware of any of this, but they do have the fed-up feeling, rightfully, that those at the top of the corporate pie are making out like bandits, and forcing them to work longer hours at less pay to keep their jobs, and they don’t appreciate that ugly pie smashed into their faces by a spoiled multi-millionaire who thinks he should be president. Uttering “Corporations are people” with the passive-aggressive condescension of “my friend” appended removed any chance of Romney reaching the summit as he publicly tried to flim-flam the Iowans into believing that having a mountain of reeking manure in your backyard is the same as owning a prize racehorse.

In another era, a bland and malleable aspirant such as Tim Pawlenty would have taken the top spot after Romney implodes, but this is not that era in GOP politics as the pathetic two-percenter Pawlenty bends over so far backwards trying to appeal to the Teabaggers he appears to be engaged in a bizarre perpetual circus trick and the Republican base rates his conservative sincerity barely above that of Mitt’s.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin’s presidential ambitions will be confined to wistful private moments inside her ridiculous tour bus; Ron Paul will, as usual, fade as quasi-libertarianism and oligarchic corporatism actually don’t mix well; and Gingrich, Cain, Santorum, Huntsman and the other GOP stragglers will depart with vanity-wall photos of their brief moment on the national stage.

Predictions at this early stage are foolish, but here’s one anyway: I don’t think Romney will last beyond the South Carolina primary, if that far. If Obama was counting on running against Mr. Corporate Personhood, he might want to recalculate — the vacuous but wingnut-popular Rick Perry is about to announce, and the Ed Rollins version of Michele Bachmann is taking it seriously now, and both are ready to genuflect to the Republican party establishment to get a crack at the White House.

Any progressive or liberal Democrat who takes either the Texas Governor or the Minnesota Congresswoman lightly does so at their peril. Remember the lesson of the 1970s when Ronald Reagan was dismissed as a buffoon too far right to be electable — we are still paying for that mistake.

Copyright 2011 RS Janes.

February 8, 2011

100th Birthday Quote-to-Quote: The Real Ronald Reagan

Filed under: Quote — Tags: , , , , , — RS Janes @ 4:53 am

Ever wonder where current Republican twits like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann get some of their goofiest, dumbest twists on history, society and government? Seems they are simply borrowing from the ‘Master,’ the same mental colossus many members of the GOP want engraved on the dime and enshrined on Mount Rushmore:

“Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?”
– Ronald Reagan, campaign speech, 1980.

“Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal.”
– Ronald Reagan, quoted in Time, May 17, 1976

“I favor the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it must be enforced at the point of a bayonet, if necessary.”
– Ronald Reagan, Los Angeles Times, October 20, 1965

“I would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
– Ronald Reagan, Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1966

“Today a newcomer to the state is automatically eligible for our many aid programs the moment he crosses the border.”
– Ronald Reagan, in a speech announcing his candidacy for Governor, January 3, 1966. (In fact, immigrants to California had to wait five years before becoming eligible for benefits. Reagan acknowledged his error, but nine months later said exactly the same thing.)

“…a faceless mass, waiting for handouts.”
– Ronald Reagan, 1965. (Description of Medicaid recipients.)

“Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.”
– California Governor Ronald Reagan, in the Sacramento Bee, April 28, 1966

“We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry every night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”
– Ronald Reagan, TV speech, October 27, 1964

“History shows that when the taxes of a nation approach about 20 percent of the people’s income, there begins to be a lack of respect for government…. When it reaches 25 percent, there comes an increase in lawlessness.”
– Ronald Reagan, in Time, April 14, 1980. (History shows no such thing. Income tax rates in Europe have traditionally been far higher than U.S. rates, while European crime rates have been much lower.)

“Because Vietnam was not a declared war, the veterans are not even eligible for the G. I. Bill of Rights with respect to education or anything.”
– Ronald Reagan, in Newsweek, April 21, 1980. (Wrong again.)

“What we have found in this country, and maybe we’re more aware of it now, is one problem that we’ve had, even in the best of times, and that is the people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice.”
– Ronald Reagan, defending himself against charges of callousness on Good Morning America, January 31, 1984

“All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk.”
– Ronald Reagan (Republican candidate for president), quoted in the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press, February 15, 1980. (In reality, the average nuclear reactor generates 30 tons of radioactive waste per year.)

“Trains are not any more energy efficient than the average automobile, with both getting about 48 passenger miles to the gallon.”
– Ronald Reagan, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1980. (The U.S. Department of Transportation calculates that a 14-car train traveling at 80 miles per hour gets 400 passenger miles to the gallon. A 1980 auto carrying an average of 2.2 people gets 42.6 passenger miles to the gallon.)

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The U.S. Geological Survey has told me that the proven potential for oil in Alaska alone is greater than the proven reserves in Saudi Arabia.”
– Ronald Reagan, quoted in the Detroit Free Press, March 23, 1980. (According to the USGS, the Saudi reserves of 165.5 billion barrels are 17 times the proven reserves–9.2 billion barrels–in Alaska.)

“I have flown twice over Mount St. Helens. I’m not a scientist and I don’t know the figures, but I have a suspicion that one little mountain out there, in these last several months, has probably released more sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere than has been released in the last ten years of automobile driving or things of that kind.”
– Ronald Reagan, quoted in Time magazine, October 20, 1980. (According to scientists, Mount St. Helens emitted about 2,000 tons of sulfur dioxide per day at its peak activity, compared with 81,000 tons per day produced by cars.)

“…until now has there ever been a time in which so many of the prophecies are coming together. There have been times in the past when people thought the end of the world was coming, and so forth, but never anything like this.”
– President Reagan revealing a disturbing view about the “coming of Armageddon,” December 6, 1983

“Ronald Reagan is the first modern President whose contempt for the facts is treated as a charming idiosyncrasy.”
– James David Barber, presidential scholar in “On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency,” by Mark Hertsgaard

“He demonstrated for all to see how far you can go in this life with a smile, a shoeshine and the nerve to put your own spin on the facts.”
– David Nyhan, Boston Globe columnist

“He has the ability to make statements that are so far outside the parameters of logic that they leave you speechless”
– Patti Davis (formerly Patricia Ann Reagan) talking about her father in “The Way I See It.”

“Poor dear, there’s nothing between his ears.”
– British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Quotes selected from a post at

February 6, 2011

Collegiate Teabaggers Celebrate Ronald Reagan’s 100th Birthday


August 30, 2010

Glenn Beck’s Fall in 2011


October 18, 2009

Tales From the FOXholes, Part 9


May 29, 2009

The Tattlesnake – Cheney the War Criminal Edition

Those who watched Dick Cheney’s speech Thursday, May 21 had a glimpse of the ‘real Cheney’ stripped of his usual condescending corporate-CEO cold-bloodedness and country-club sham machismo — for the first part of his remarks he was a shaken, sick old man of 68 desperately trying to make a case for brazenly violating the laws of civilization and the US Constitution, apparently clinging to the notion that if he can summon up enough public support for his torture policies he can avoid the temporary judgment of a jury, and the more lasting condemnation of history.

For, in fact, Cheney’s fervid protestations that ‘we didn’t torture’ and his subsequent bizarre assertions that ‘everything we did was legal’ fail on both counts, yet another prime example of the perpetually wrongheaded Cheney approach on display since he assumed the vice presidency by way of an illicit Supreme Court decision in 2000.

The waterboarding that Cheney has blithely admitted to in several different public forums has been defined as torture since the autos-da-fé of the Spanish Inquisition 500 years ago, and various international tribunals and American courts in the Twentieth Century have reaffirmed that definition. Cheney’s justification that the torture he authorized was ‘legal’ because a couple of DOJ lawyers told him so holds no more water than if they had advised him it was legal for him to own slaves. The Constitution Cheney took an oath to uphold states clearly that ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ is banned, as do several treaties the US has signed which are by dint of Congressional approval the law of the land, as well as the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment signed by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1988 which specifically prohibits the sort of cruel and degrading treatment of detainees Cheney authorized.


May 10, 2009

The Origins of the Two Mother’s Days

Before becoming the commercial holiday it is now, the Mother’s Day we celebrate on the second Sunday in May was originally about other issues, such as battlefield hospital sanitation and world peace. As Mother’s Day on the Net says in “The History (AKA Her-Story) of Mother’s Day”:

“In the United States, Mother’s Day experienced a series of false starts before eventually transitioning into the “Hallmark” holiday that we celebrate today. In 1858, Anna Reeves Jarvis was the first woman to hold an official celebration of mothers, when in her home state of West Virginia, she instituted Mothers’ Work Day to raise awareness about local sanitation issues. During the Civil War, she expanded the scope of Mothers’ Work Day to include sanitary conditions on both sides of the battlefield.”

In 1870, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” author Julia Ward Howe, appalled at the bloodshed of the American Civil War, proposed making it a Mother’s Day for Peace, as “Julia Ward Howe: Beyond the Battle Hymn of the Republic” at states:

“In 1870, Julia Ward Howe took on a new issue and a new cause. Distressed by her experience of the realities of war, determined that peace was one of the two most important causes of the world (the other being equality in its many forms) and seeing war arise again in the world in the Franco-Prussian War, she called in 1870 for women to rise up and oppose war in all its forms. She wanted women to come together across national lines, to recognize what we hold in common above what divides us, and commit to finding peaceful resolutions to conflicts. She issued a Declaration, hoping to gather together women in a congress of action.”

Not surprisingly, a world Mother’s Day for Peace never received the support of the politicians that the later commercialized version would. From the article:


January 24, 2009

Wish Granted for Jim Morrison and Dutch

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:31 pm

President Reagan had, while he was in office, (according to two reliable sources) expressed a wish that the United States would have a new Great Depression.

(Note for conservative troll/moles:  I invoke the Limbaugh rule of discourse; only insecure nancy-boys will challenge that pronouncement and they are not worth a rebuttal effort.  So take it or leave it go.)

If Reagan’s wish had been immediately granted, the whole country would have been upset with him and his party so good strategists would move slowly to achieve that goal and if they were especially devious and conniving, they would arrainge for a Republican administration to make it inevitable, but fix it so that a Democratic successor would take the fall for the event when it happened.

For rich people the advantages of a new Depression would be many:  undoing the unions, making many government provided social services unaffordable, returning to the old way of running a society: the rich vs. the poor, and making it an enviable thing to be so wealthy that cares about day to day expenses were irrelevant to good living.

Jim Morrison (lead singer of the rock group “the Doors”) once said he wanted to get his kicks before “the whole S*******e (outhouse) goes up in flames.”  Naturally the conservatives denounced this as being unpatriotic claptrap and therefore reprehensible.  It was the irresposible ravings of a lunatic and quite fully condemmed.  How clever is it to denounce what a rebel says if that is exactly what you want? 

So George W. Bush and his cronies have gutted the banking industry (can you say Broward Savings and Loan, boys and girls?), invaded Iraq (what was said at Nuremburg about “any invasion”?) is handing out “bail out” funds to various companies (who nationalized the German auto industry in the thirties?), and is destroying your 401K nest egg?

Then, just as folks realize “we’ve been had!,” the opposing party wins big and takes the reigns of control just in time to preside over a new Depresssion.

Does it look, to anyone else, like President Obama is being set-up as the fall guy?

Herbert Hoover once said:  “Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.”  To which one conservative friend would reply:  ” . . . and so, what’s your point?”

Now, the disk jockey will play a song just for George W. Bush, Woody Guthrie’s (ever notice how much he looks like Sean Penn?) song:  “So long, it’s been good to know you.”  We’ll wave good-bye to the departing president (using just one finger) and we’ll do the dustbowl thing and head for California.  Have a “rich fat cats never notice a depression” type week.

August 23, 2008

MSNBC Says It’s Biden

MSNBC reported early Saturday morning that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has picked Sen. Joseph Biden, 65, to be his vice presidential running mate. There is an Obama rally planned in Springfield, Illinois, this afternoon to officially announce Biden’s addition to the Dem ticket.

Predictably, the half-crazed wingnuts aboard the sinking USS McCain and their allies, the 101st Keyboard Commandos, will be sharpening their pitchforks ready to stick it to the Delaware Senator and erstwhile presidential candidate in any spot that looks tender. Here are the soft places they’ll likely poke with glee:

1. Biden was once called the Senator from DuPont, and for good reason. Joe has been very chummy with the chemical giant, as well as other large corporations from his state, which has no corporate tax. These slings and arrows of outrageous fortune — considering they’re from the wholly-corporatized Republican Party — will be shamelessly slung at Biden for being too close to evil Big Bidness, probably via a strenuous Internet email campaign and multiple postings on some of the more frothing hoof-and-mouth neocon websites like Hind-Acher’s Powerline blog and Freeper Republic.

2. Joe will be endlessly drubbed for appropriating without attribution British Labour Party PM candidate Neil Kinnock’s “born the son of a coal miner, first in the family to attend college” bio that derailed Biden’s presidential run in 1988. That this might have been an innocent mistake won’t cut any mustard with the ravening wolves of the right — “Plagiarist!” “Liar!” will be sprinkled like salt on potato chips all over the right-wing Media Vomitorium, with Michelle Malkin no doubt inferring in a screechy nut-pile smackdown that perhaps Biden really is a liberal Brit, and therefore a foreigner not to be trusted. Next Sean Hannity will demand that Pennsylvania-born Biden produce his birth certificate and, when produced, will ignore it. I can see the Fox News splash now: “Is Joe Biden Really an American Citizen – How Can We Be Sure?”

3. Obama will take a hit for naming Biden since Joe has been in the US Senate for over 30 years, longer than John Sidney McBush III. “Some change you can believe in,” the Tighty-Righties will sneer without embarrassment while in the next paragraph they praise their sealed-in-amber candidate, trying to drag the country back to the Age of the Cold War and a victory in Vietnam – I mean, Iraq.

Also, look for McCainiac ads quoting Biden during the 2008 Dem primary debates wherein he called Obama too inexperienced to be president, and for his ‘yea’ vote on the Iraq invasion. I hope the Obama campaign has some quick short answers ready for these slaps up the side of the head.

Biden’s Good Points:


Powered by WordPress