December 12, 2014

Flashbacks in Berkeley

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: — Bob Patterson @ 1:33 pm

St. Ronald Reagan
































On Tuesday December 9, 2014, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates canceled the regularly scheduled meeting of the Berkeley City Council. According to a city councilman, the Mayor did not have the power or authority to do that. The next night at a meeting of the Berkeley Police Review Commission the public comment segment produced a stream of assertions that on Saturday December 6, 2014, a demonstration protesting recent grand jury decisions elsewhere in the country, the Berkeley Police Department employed the unauthorized use of teargas and baton strikes for crowd control. The speakers noted that subsequent news coverage of the event was inaccurate.

One of the public comment speakers said that he had posted videos on Youtube of Saturday night’s confrontation using the handle “rancid diesel” and the titles smoke bomb 1 and smoke bomb 2.

An organization of journalists announced they were going to file a complaint about the way members of the press were treated while covering the Saturday night confrontation between protesters and police.

On Thursday December 12, in the evening, KCBS news radio reported that on the previous evening an undercover California Highway Patrol officer had drawn his gun and aimed it at a crowd of protesters. Was a modern Kent State incident narrowly avoided?

In Washington on Thursday, the legislative maneuvers that were used to pass a budget measure looked like political extortion.

Has Democracy in action in the United States disintegrated? Is the Republican Reich really what the voters wanted?

For one cynic, what the Berkeley Police Department did on Saturday night could be summarized by the glib question: “Wasn’t the Berkeley Police Department merely carrying out Mayor Dailey’s orders?”

The journalist who had his camera smashed by police this week might be tempted to think that he had experienced a flashback moment that revived the spirit of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention.

Americans have traditionally been advised that if a catastrophe occurs, they should stand by and wait for the authorities to tell them what to do . . . and what to think.

As this tumultuous week in Berkeley came to an end, the situation might cause some nostalgic prone conservatives to recall the words of (then governor of California) St. Ronald Reagan who said: “If it takes a bloodbath to end this dissention on campus, let’s have it and be done with it.” About four weeks later, students were shot at Kent State and the era of student unrest came to a halt.

Christmas is rapidly approaching and if Santa Claus gets enough identical requests from conservative millionaires, perhaps St. Nick will accede to their requests and give them a Christmas present America will never forget.

It seems that Karl Rove’s wish for a Republican Reich will make his Christmas a happy and holy time this year.

Speaking of Christians, it seems that a new tactic for handling the homeless during a rain storm is to deny them permission to spend time in places like under the awnings of a movie theater. Many liberals seem to forget that in the famous Sermon on the Mount Jesus Christ said: “Blessed are the fascists who kick the homeless f**kers out into the rain!”

Since today is National Believe Day, we will quote W. C. Fields: “A man’s gotta believe in something . . . and I believe . . . I’ll have another drink.”

To be continued . . .




August 8, 2014

The ballad of the Oakland/L. A./Oakland (/L. A. ?) Raiders

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:26 pm

crop of nader

A photo of Ralph Nader giving a talk to protesters at the Berkeley Post Office supporting their efforts to prevent the sale of the downtown Post Office building had news value and could be used as part of the week in review the weekend after the event occurred but after that, unless it was work done on assignment for a monthly magazine, the images had lost their news value and only had residual value as a stock shot.

Businesses supplying stock shots for various publications used to be an integral part of the magazine industry but now that the internet supplies photos for free the stock shot businesses are being diminished by the trend.

A long fact checked story about the demise of the stock shot agencies would have a very limited audience and most of the general public would glance at the headline and move on to other content.

A long and detailed think piece using the incredible shrinking stock photo world to support the assertion that journalism and the free press tradition in the United States are suffering the death of a thousand cuts might attract the attention of reporters who happened to stumble upon it, but the rest of the audience would shrug their shoulders and say: “So what?”

If the World’s Laziest Journalist takes some photos at an event this weekend titled “Naked Girls Reading: Dearly Departed,” happening in San Francisco, the images might have some news value and would possibly attract some curiosity seekers to next week’s installment of our week in review column. (Google hint: sexandculture dot org) They might have more residual stock shot value than the Ralph Nader photos. If he runs for President again, we might get to use the photos as mug shots to go with future columns.

While he was in Berkeley, did Nader notice that the Liberals’ wildly enthusiastic support for President Obama seems to be diminishing lately?

If journalism is dying; some might say: “So what?” Police and politicians might be anxious to see the free press go the way of covered wagons, but voters might want to think about it before endorsing that eventuality.

Back in the day, when the weekly news magazines were expected to tout the Establishment’s values, the staff could pull an end run on the owners by doing trend spotting stories about the counter culture. If, for example, an outlaw journalist ran for the office of sheriff in Colorado and if the staff of some New York based Establishment publications wanted to ditto his point of view; they couldn’t, but by covering that story as an aspect of the pop culture scene, they could say what he was saying and thus get it into their publication.

Austerity budgets and staff cuts have reduced to a considerable degree the window of opportunity for the staff of an Establishment publication to run counter culture material as part of a trend spotting story.

Liberal talk shows on radio seem to be going the way of Wolfman Jack on XERB. Back in the day one man on one radio station was heard regularly in 38 states. Whew! He had “clout.”

Recently the World’s Laziest Journalist, who has very little interest in sports, stopped into Pappy’s Sports bar on Telegraph Ave., in Berkeley (they have a good buger deal that fits our austerity budget requirements) and the one conversation we overheard was critical of the quality of journalism available in the USA. (In a sports bar?) Imagine how mundane TV would be if there were no expressions of traditional sport rivalries permitted.

Will Boston Red Sox fans be ecstatic if it turns out that our prediction that the seventh game of this year’s World Series will be decided by a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth hit by Derrick Jeter in his career’s last time at bat?

So if a TV network can be relied upon to blame Obama for all the misfortunes in the world today, who is going to waste their time watching that? To quote a line from a Rolling Stones song: “You’re so predictable!”

What the hell ever happened to top 10 radio? We skimmed through a copy of Billboard magazine last weekend and didn’t know any musicians on their charts. When does a person become too old for a “Good Guys” T-shirt?

The novelty value of Liberal punditry and/or (as George Carlin used to say): “Last week’s pick hit of the week, this week’s no. one, and next week’s Golden Oldie” style radio would be enough to attract a goodly number of listeners who just want to get away from the all propaganda all the time nonsense.

Didn’t a European country try out the “One politician, one political philosophy, one nation” approach to pop culture? How did that work out for them?

Speaking of sports, what’s with all this subsidizing the sports moguls crap?

Los Angeles hasn’t had a local professional football team for about twenty years. Now a team owner in Oakland wants the citizens to think that subsidizing a move to their town is a crucially important idea.

What’s wrong with this picture: If Los Angeles subsidizes a new sports venue as a way to lure a money hungry team owner to the city of angels, they might then donate generously to the reelection campaigns of the cooperative politicians. The politicians will then, in turn, buy ads in conservatively owned media, to win reelection. The conservatively owned media will avoid any criticism of the shenanigans and loudly proclaim what an honor it is for the local voters to become eligible to spend vast amounts of their hard earned dollars to go and cheer for the new guys in town. Everyone will conveniently forget that those same suckers provided the tax revenue which funded the new stadium. Texas Guinan used to use the same greeting for all her customers: “Hello, sucker!”

Meanwhile, back in the Bay Area the 49ers are moving to a new stadium in Santa Clara, a few miles further South of San Francisco’s city border. If the after game traffic jams continue to be nightmarish, who will pay for more traffic officers to be brought into the area on game day?

Oakland just had to do handstands and back flips to keep the A’s there. Now the basketball team is threatening to move over to San Francisco. When the Raiders moved back to Oakland they incurred some financial obligations that seem to have been forgotten and or forgiven. Are homeowners getting the same kind consideration from the banks that want to foreclose on homes?

Now the folks who play college athletic games want to get paid. Just because they could get hurt and ruin their lives, they think they should get some of the cash that they help generate. Isn’t that just the kind of philosophy that Sen. Joe McCarthy was trying to protect America from thinking? At long last, have the college players no sense of altruism?

If as some cynics on the campus of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory (which needs a tax payer subsidized employees sports stadium) are correct in their assessment, team owners, media owners, bankers, (and the clergy?), and politicians have formed a mutual defense treaty organization which practically guarantees that in the country that fights and dies for freedom of speech, no Establishment publication or broadcast program is going to alert the audience that they are being had. (Not even Jon Steward?)

Could it be that in a town where they have two (counting the one that’s just been sold) professional basketball teams, an ice hockey team, two professional baseball teams (counting the Los Angeles Angels who play in Anaheim), host the Rose Bowl every year, have the UCLA and USC football teams, and the college basketball team that did so well when John Wooden was the coach, could it be that the politicians are a wee bit afraid to try to convince the locals that they just “have” to subsidize a football stadium to bring the Raiders (who were in L. A. from 1982 through the 1994 season) back to “tinseltown”?

Learning how to track down and use photos in the public domain that are available on the Internets sounds like too much work. Going out among them and getting some photos that have some relationship with a column that is being written is a bit more challenging than searching for the perfect stock shot in the public domain but wandering around Frisco with a Coolpix is definitely much more fun.

There used to be a poster for sale in California that showed St. Ronald Reagan in a cowboy costume, holding a six-shooter, saying: “Thanks for the votes, suckers!”

Now the disk jockey will play Bobby Bare’s “Drop Kick Me Jesus,” the Beach Boys’ “Be true to your school,” and “the Blind Man in the bleachers.” We have to see if we can buy a West Coast Eagles T-shirt on the Internets. Have a “tape of the play is being reviewed” type week.

March 14, 2014

Land of the “Ever Young”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:11 pm

Three American Presidents share Irish ancestry; Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and Obama.  In recent years, that fact has made the Republicans uncomfortable, but this year, as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, their worst nightmare will bring their propensity for hypocrisy into play:  the Republicans hate the Communists and they hate Obama so being forced into a binary choice will deliver an uncomfortable decision: racism or McCarthyism?  The fact that some Republicans seem to be endorsing Putin over the American president in the Crimean Crisis speaks for itself.

Would it be ironic if some genealogists offered a theory that St. Reagan and Obama were related?

“It takes too long to retrain them!” is the punch line for an ethnic joke that might “get your Irish up,” if you were offended by that sort of attempts at “humor.”

Is it true that Adolph Hitler, who was a well known vegetarian, gave himself a dispensation from the usual rules by ordering corn beef and cabbage every year when Saint Patrick’s Day was celebrated at Berchtesgaden?

Is it true that one of the founding members of the Black Panthers would astound his posse by producing evidence that he held dual American and Ireland citizenship because he was born as an “Army brat” son of an American Air Force officer serving at a base on the Emerald Isle?

Ernesto Guevara Lynch’s son became known to the world as Che Guevara. You don’t find many references to that fact when St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are being held in the United States.

In the U. S. vs. Mexico war, induced by offers of higher pay than the American army paid and land grants, a group of gringos led by some Irish with military experience, fought on the side of Mexico.  They were called Batallón de San Patricio (Saint Patrick’s Battalion).  Many of those who survived battle were hanged (30 simultaneously) for treason.  Some (urban legend?) escaped and became Mexican landowners.

In the WTF file we see that on Monday many of the employees of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory plan to be wearing green T-shirts with the word “Diego Garcia” printed on them.  When asked what they symbolize; they shrug their shoulders and say:  “It’s a mystery.”

John Wayne was a member of John Ford’s “repertoire company of film makers” and many of the films featured a recurring group of actors (AKA the usual suspects”) but some of his most memorable films featured Maureen O’Hara (who made many films directed by John Ford) as his costar.  The best and best known would be “The Quiet Man” from 1951, in which John Wayne sang “Wild Colonial Boy.”

[In “Ned Kelly,” Mick Jagger sings the same song.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear what a good sound man could do making a mash up of the two versions?]

In “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Irish History and Culture,” written by Sonja Massie, readers learn (page 191) that sparks flew when William Butler Yeats met James Joyce, who, upon learning that Yeats was thirty-five years old, said:  “I’ve met you too late” and elaborated the age meant that he (Joyce) wouldn’t have any influence on Yeats.  Subsequently the fellow summarized Joyce by saying “Never, have I encounter so much pretension with so little to show for it.”

What is it like in Ireland?  According to a reliable source, “In the summer the rain is warm; in the winter, the rain is cold.”

Aren’t sailors on the USS O’Brien the only crew in the U. S. Navy that is permitted to wear green baseball caps rather than the regulation Navy blue gear everyone else must use?

For many years, the St. Patrick Day celebration in New York City was very popular with college students because back then the State of New York had a drinking age of 18 and was surrounded by states where it was 21.  Talk about “Aye, lad there’s the rub.” Eventually political pressure was used to convince New York to change it’s drinking age laws to 21.

Self-deprecating humor is a hallmark of Irish wit.  St. Ronald Reagan told a story about knocking on a farmer’s door during the Iowa primary season.  The local looked at the former movie actor and sputtered:  “You’re . . . you’re . . . you’re.”  St. Reagan tried to offer a hint:  “Do the initials R. R. help?”  The fellow turned and yelled into the interior of the house:  “Momma, come quick and meet Roy Rogers!”

George Berkeley has been described as being the only philosopher from Ireland.  He traveled to the United States.  A town “near Harvard” was going to be named after him, but an error by a court clerk changed the spelling of the town to Berkley.  A city in California was also named for him.  The Californians weren’t content to just spell the name correctly’ it was also decided to build a better University in the city a few miles East of San Francisco.

The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in San Francisco this weekend is being touted as the 164th installment of the annual celebration.

The California town of Dublin will also have a parade this weekend.

[Note from the photo editor:  We dug up some photos from a past Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Frisco.

Hat tip to a clerk at San Francisco’s Beat Museum for that obscure historical sidebar item about the Saint Patrick’s Battalion.]

William Butler Yeats wrote:  “The best lack all convictions, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Rolling Stones’ “Flight 505,” the Irish Rovers’ “The Unicorn,” and he rarely does dedications, but just this once, for Clint Eastwood, he’ll play John McCormack singing “The Empty Chair.”  We have to go try to solve the riddle:  “Why can’t Irish employees be given a lunch break?”  Have a “Sinn Fein (it’s pronounced Shin Fain and means “Ourselves alone”)” type week.

August 23, 2013

Were the Sixties just on “pause”?

The America’s Cup yacht races on a Trinitron screen did not draw overflow crowds to San Francisco’s Marina Green on Monday.

If a TV personality tells an American audience that something terrible happened in the Middle East and then runs a sound byte of a Republican saying that it’s an abomination and is entirely Obama’s fault and follows it with a quote of a Democrat saying the Middle East is in shambles but it isn’t all Obama’s fault, the rubes think that’s an outstanding example of fair and balanced journalism.  Then they tune into a long and convoluted analysis of the implications of a personnel change on a base baseball or football team and can later give a verbatim report on what was said and state eloquently why they disagree with the expert commentary.  Are sports more important than politics?

If a newspaper reporter who has been covering the Dodgers for years is suddenly traded to a San Francisco newspaper (for an undisclosed amount of cash and a draft pick?) most fans expect that the wordsmith will have a St. Paul’s moment and suddenly be rooting for the Giants.  If he doesn’t woe betide him who tries to keep his previous enthusiasm for the despicable rivals from “shaky town.”  It wouldn’t take long for a ME (managing editor) to tell such a traitor to hit the showers.

Genuine enthusiasm is vastly different from spin.  If, hypothetically, a veteran travel writer were given a lucrative writing assignment to go to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and make it sound like a panacea for anyone suffering from traveler’s ennui it would be a challenging opportunity.  If, however, an alert writer went to the remote destination in Western Australia and had a delightful experience because it catered to his distinctive personality, then he would have to caution readers that they might not share the stamp of approval that he gave to the area that exemplifies the advice that if you love Sacramento, California, then you can reasonably expect that it might be worthwhile to head for the hometown where Skimpy’s Bar is located.

When we were in Fremantle, Western Australia, the young people in the hostel where we were staying were very strong in their recommendation that we take a train excursion to Kalgoorlie, so we did.  When we arrived, we noticed that they might have been playing a practical joke with the expectation that we would be disappointed by the result, but the joke was on them because the World’s Laziest Journalist has, since the time we first viewed “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” been fascinated with the topic of gold prospecting.  Not everybody will be wowed by a chance to visit the Prospectors’ Hall of Fame, but for a Fred C. Dobbs wannabe, it is an exhilarating travel experience.

Could a writer who lays on extravagant praise for a very specialized destination be considered a practical joker like the kids in Fremantle or would he actually be something worse?  Is travel information more important than politics?

Does that mean that liberals should view George W. Bush’s forever war as the payoff for some political journalism done by practical jokers?

If a columnist were to be invited to some very exclusive parties held in conjunction with an event being held in San Francisco and were to get some very humorous quotes and some celebrity gossip scoops, it would be prudent to expect him to heap lavish praise on the vent itself, wouldn’t it?

If however, a writer were to go to the event venue and mix with the general public and come away with a lack of enthusiasm, could it be time to cue the “sour grapes” cliché?

When Sgt. Bill Mauldin was ordered to go to New York City, as WWII was entering its final phase, he was given “celebrity” travel priority which was equal to that level of importance usually accorded to someone with the rank of brigadier general or higher.  On the flight from Europe to the Big Apple the sergeant sat with the enlisted men and played cards rather than hobnobbing with the brass.  Ernie Pyle was at home eating K rations in a foxhole.

Would a columnist who has attended the Oscar™ ceremony, flown in the Goodyear blimp, and been to the Playboy Mansion be expected to be able to give the aforementioned generic event in San Francisco a fair evaluation if he observed the proceedings with the regular citizens?

These days nationally known journalists expect to be given celebrity status and the tradition of going on the road to take the pulse of the nation seems to be an extinct method of reporting.  Someone who has the profile of a brigadier general has very little chance of operating in the “fly on the wall” mode of operation.

Can you honestly imagine a Fox personality going into a workers bar and listening to the locals complain about how things are today?  Would Scott Pele be able to function as a “fly on the wall” or would he cause a sensation if he walked into a neighborhood bar in San Francisco?

Have the opinions of the man in the street evaporated completely as a factor for evaluating newsworthyness?  That could explain why politicians now seem to completely disregard what the voters want when they are making decisions which will profit the companies run by the fellows who also make large reelection campaign donations.  When counterfeit journalism can be palmed off on the suckers as fair and balanced analysis, the country that tolerates such a masquerade is in deep trouble.

Is it time to write a column comparing and contrasting the state of the art for journalism in the USA today with how it was in Germany in 1937?

What if a rogue pundit were to speculate about what is really going on behind the scenes in the Middle East and correctly hit the nail on the head?  Would that open the gates to a cable TV gig or would it merely earn the poor blighter the cell between the ones reserved for Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning and Edward Snowden?  (Is the rumor true that Charlie Manson and Sirhan Sirhan have adjoining workout areas and that they can talk to each other but not see each other when they burn calories?)

After noticing that the Texans for Public Justice website had posted a story announcing the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate a dispute involving Texas Governor Rick Perry and the Travis County District Attorney, the World’s Laziest Journalist hopped over to Yahoo and sent a tip to the news desk at the Mike Malloy radio show.

The World’s Laziest Journalist isn’t going to get invitations to the Bohemian Grove so we’ll take the Zen advice to be grateful for the beef in our bowl and enjoy stumbling over interesting topics that are new blips on our pop culture beat radar, such as the niche group that invalidates the warrantee on their digital camera and customizes them to take photos using infrared light.  We recently encountered such as the images at the brick and mortar location at 720 Geary Street in San Francisco.

About two dozen students were arrested this week protesting the plight of the City College of San Francisco.  The arrests got only a fraction of the news coverage that the arrests of the students protesting the HUAC hearings in the same city got in 1960.

“Subversives:  The FBI’s war on student radicals and Reagan’s rise to power,” by Seth Rosenfeld (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York N. Y. © 2012 by Seth Rosenfeld) showed up recently in the Friends of the Berkeley Library used book store and we immediately snapped it up.  A student is quoted as saying “We do know, however, that others of (FBI director Herbert) Hoover’s statements either are based on lack of information or are made in bad faith.”  The book indicates that in a confrontation between the FBI and wiretapping laws, the result resembled something that would have outraged Edward Snowden.

The author seems to believe and resent the idea that student’s lives and reputations provided convenient stepping stones for St. Ronald Reagan on his path to the White House.

San Francisco columnist Herb Caen loved rubbing elbows with the “swells” and earned a comfortable living writing columns about his various experiences doing that.  In 1960, Caen did defend the student who protested the HUAC hearing and was hit with a tsunami of letters objecting.  Rosenfeld quotes Caen (on page 96) as writing:  “To sum up, what I object to most heartily is the attempt of the Committee to smear the students present as ‘Communist stooges.’  There is no more effective way of enforcing conformity and instilling fear.”

Sarah Burke, in the August 21 – 27, 2013 edition of the East Bay Express, reports (pages 10 – 11) that the University of California at Berkeley will achieve a national first when they approve a new redistricting which will give the school its own city council district.

[Photo editor’s note:  In the summer of 1969, when the song “The Age of Aquarius” was  ubiquitous the World’s Laziest Journalist spent some afternoons lounging in the sun on the Marina Green in San Francisco.  The nostalgic appeal of returning there to mix with the general public to get a photo of the America’s Cup festivities to use with the new column was overwhelming.  Seeing an aircraft carrier start out on a journey to the waters off Vietnam by sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge evoked a greater emotional reaction than learning that a yacht race was being canceled because the winds were too strong for a second race on Monday August 19, 2013.  (Wouldn’t stronger winds just make the sail boats go faster?)]

Edward R. Murrow, in a speech to Radio and Television News Directors,  said:  “ . . . Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night . . . the time normally used by Steve Allen is devoted to American policy in the Middle East . . . .  Otherwise, it (television) is merely wires and lights in a box.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Sea Cruise,” “Big Bear Lake,” and “Red sails in the sunset.”  We have to go get a Virginia City Muckers’ t-shirt.  Have a “Eureka!” type week.

March 22, 2013

Deja vu and new wars

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

Is the ice cap melting?

Last week, on the Armstrong and Getty radio show, one of the voices pointed out that in 2012 when there were 20,000 Americans killed by guns only 400 of the victims were killed by assault rifles and so the fussing over an insignificant portion of the total seemed like a complete waste of time and energy; this week Senate Majority leader Harry Reed agreed.  Some treehugging hippies responded by stealing a page from the right to life playbook and lamented that every life is precious and that each and every one of the bullet riddled corpses was a tragedy that could have been saved with a renewed assault weapons ban.

The hippies’ favorite conservative villains (billionaires) hate the poor and middle class and when their views are challenged, they usually respond by destroying the critics’ reputation and character and so the treehuggers weren’t surprised when, immediately after the new Pope’s program of helping the poor was announced, a whisper campaign started about his activities during Argentina’s Dirty War.  Journalists responded in the Oklahoma land rush fashion and immediately inflated the rumors to news item level because they know that helping the billionaires is a shortcut to media fame and success.

After veterans who served in Vietnam started criticizing the level of support they were receiving, the biggest group that was sympathetic to their complaints was the peaceniks who had opposed the war itself.  Are the wounded and crippled veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, who are alleging that they need more help and support services, getting any more than brief mentions in the “pro left” corporate media?

Did any conservative show any remorse or regret about the expensive search for the WMD’s in Iraq on the tenth anniversary of the Invasion or did they leave it up to the hippies to get surly and sound righteous in retrospect about that bit of American history?

At least the Faux Facts Folks who dedicate their lives to fair and balanced propaganda didn’t wallow in the usual tsunami of “never again” commentary.  As a matter of fact, the day after the 10th Anniversary, President Obama was sounding bellicose about the fate of the FSA (Freien Syrishen Armee) and the Iranian WMD development program. Is there some reason why they aren’t called the SLA (Syrian Liberation Army)?

Will the allegations of chemical attacks in Syria provide a convenient rational for sending American military to that country to fight and die for democracy?

In a country that (ostensibly) honors a free press as one of the cornerstones of democracy, it would be sad and pathetic if very few pundits and commentators remarked on the preceding items, but how ominous would it be for champions of truth, justice, and the American Way, if the World’s Laziest Journalist was the only columnist to gather those four items of concern together in one posting?  Yeah, we know folks just skim the Internets but if a columnist doesn’t mention several items how can do-it-yourselfer analysts do a comprehensive connect the dots summation type overview?

These items ripped from the headlines from early 2013 might just be symptoms of a malady that was predicted by St. Ronald Reagan and George Carlin.  WTF?  St. Ronald Reagan emphatically informed voters that Social Security and the deficit are separate and unrelated items.  The sound byte of him explaining that is frequently played by Norman Goldman on his radio show and is available on Youtube.

George Carlin, some years ago, explained, in  a bit titled “The American Dream,” that bankers don’t care about voters in an expletive laden diatribe which is also available on Youtube.

If both of those diverse sources are correct in their assessments, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise to well informed voters that a coherent, coordinated program is being conducted to deliver the money in the Social Security’s “locked box” into the hands of greedy bankers and that part of the program is a distorted view of reality that has been just as carefully crafted as the Propaganda produced by the Third Reich.

Our ability to read French has suffered from a lack of constant practice and so we may be wrong but a columnist in the most recent available issue of Paris Match magazine seemed to be saying that Europe is on the edge of a massive united upheaval of civil unrest.

This week the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory (ACTF) compound was buzzing with speculation wondering if (subjunctive mood alert) the Syrian rebels are using a false flag attack on their own ranks to precipitate American intervention.

Another topic on the ACTF agenda recently brought up the possibility that the World’s Laziest Journalist didn’t participate in the national discussion on gun control because he had been tipped by a high placed source in Washington that such an effort would be an exercise in futility.

The Internets seems to be bringing out a lot of amateur treehuggers who have aspirations of becoming a member of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory’s Research and Development Department.  For example one amateur has suggested that there might be a basis for a new Conspiracy Theory in the fact that St. Ronald Reagan worked on getting Public Displays of Weapons declared illegal when the Black Panthers’ urged their members to be strapped (i.e. carry a weapon) as a way of defending themselves from racists, but when the Tea Party folks urged people to carry a weapon to rallies for a candidate for a  the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination that was strongly endorsed by the folks who had previously opposed it back in the day.

Remember when a bandoleer for rifle cartridges was a de rigueur fashion accessory?

This week, Mike Malloy reported that most news organizations reporting on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq Invasion had missed the story (in the Financial Times) that Haliburton made 39 and a half billion dollars on the War in Iraq while Armstrong and Getty were ridiculing the fact that any reevaluation of the Bush/Cheney decisions would be a waste of time and brain cells.

The only relevant question for political pundits this week is:  “Will American Intervention in Syria help speed up the privatization of the Social Security program?”

[Note: Supporters of the Global Warming theory might see some art decorating a storage unit building in Berkeley at Adeline and Shattuck as a subtle endorsement of their opinion and so we snapped a photo and will run it with this column.  Were network news videos of cars traffic slipping and sliding in the latest blizzard meant to be a subtle way for providing traction for the Global Warming theory?]

If reevaluations of the invasion of Iraq had any social relevance wouldn’t the network news organizations have interviewed Honey Booboo to get a cogent quote about the historic event?  What would they do if she repeated Carlin’s “American Dream” rant?

Isolde Kurz wrote:  “The only people who have a completely untroubled conscience are the great criminals.”

Now the disk jockey will play Edith Piaf’s “No Regrets,” Ed Sanders’ “Beer cans on the Moon,” and CCR’s “Someday Never Comes.”  We have to toddle off to San Fancisco to see the new “On the Road” movie.  Have an “American Dream” type week.

May 17, 2011

Obituary for planet earth?

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

It was a dismal cold day in May and the clocks had just sounded 0800 hours. The view from the Victory Mansions nestled high in the hills above Berkeley provided a reinforcement of the previous evening’s weather guess with a tableau of pewter skies and soggy ground. Uncle Rushbo was scheduled to read out a list of figures which have something to do with the production of safe atomic energy.

Adhering to the journalistic tradition of writing a column about the end of the world a few days in advance of when the catastrophe was expected, by many devout conservative Christians, to occur seemed imperative to the World’s Laziest Journalist, but the cynical curmudgeonly columnist couldn’t provide himself with the logical motivation for undertaking (did you have to use that word?) of such an existentialist errand.

If the World really was going to end on Saturday, why bother to do the keystrokes necessary for an obituary for use on Sunday? Why bother?

Heck, if the United States can continue the War in Afghanistan for no discernable reason, why couldn’t the columnist bang out a few more snide remarks, bits of esoteric information, and political predictions that seemed to be a bit too liberal even by Berkeley’s standards? Why not? The alternative was to get the umbrella and go for a cold wet walk to the usual destinations.

Would the tree-huggers appreciate the humor if the world did end on Saturday? Such a catastrophe would mean that the human race became extinct in a photo finish with the end of the polar bear (Ursis Maritimus) species, which had been predicted extensively since long before the first “End of the World” billboard had been unveiled.

What about a bit of irony for the optimists who assume they’ll get docked if they are late for work next Monday morning? Because, we believe, there will still be “miles to go” on Monday Morning.

In the film “Point Break,” the surfer/bank robber, Bhodi (Patrick Swayze) advises the Establishment, in the form of FBI agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves), to “think it through.”

Have the banksters used the “think it through” method to assess the long term effects of the wave of home repossessions?

What will happen if the new masses of homeless Americans have a morphic resonance style collective epiphany moment and find that they have learned the Zen and the Art of Being “On the Road” lesson?

Isn’t literature rife with variations of a story about a traveling wise man who preaches to the people that they can be happy without a storage unit full of superfluous material possessions?

Wouldn’t it be dangerous for capitalists to face a mass movement of the Zen philosophy of renouncing extraneous material possessions? Isn’t America built on the concept that “Greed is good” and that if the Jones family next door has a flat screen TV (don’t they wear out more quickly? [“Mommy, is ‘planned obsolescence’ a Zen concept?”]) your family needs a bigger one?

Here is a hypothetical example: if you are traveling around Australia with a suitcase and you find some amusing tchotchke that would be a perfect gift for someone 12,000 miles away, should you buy it and lug it around with you for the rest of the trip or should you pay the postage and send it on its way? (Isn’t it ironic if the postage fee will be more than the cost of the book you want to send?)

If you are always on the move, you tend to only buy those things you know you need such as a very light battery powered alarm clock and a flashlight. (Kids will tell you that a cell phone is a flashlight.) Even a dedicated life long sloppy (and slovenly?) person will quickly learn the advantages of knowing precisely where things are in the suitcase, so that they can be located quickly in the dark without the need to empty the entire contents of the suitcase on the hostel bunk, just to find the elusive item. Suppose the item you need is the flashlight? If you dump the suitcase on the bed, you would need the flashlight to sort through the contents to find the flashlight. Hence even a slob will come to adopt the “a place for everything and everything in its place” philosophy while being “on the road.”

Wouldn’t it be very dangerous for the recovery, if massive numbers of people who have been made homeless via foreclosure suddenly learn and begin to preach the advantages of renouncing material possessions?

The German concept of Schadenfreude explains why TV interviews with people, who have just lost their home by tornado, flood, or foreclosure, attract large audiences, but what would happen if, instead of a crying victim, the interview produced an interviewee with the happy-go-lucky attitude who shrugs and says: “I learned I didn’t need it”?

The happy wanderer such as Chang Kai Kane, the guys on Route 66, the Fugitive, Sal Paradise (symbolism?), the Lone Ranger, Dr. Gonzo, etc. is amusing and entertaining but true patriotic Americans must never forget that such cultural rebels are the antitheses of American values and must not be permitted to weave their web of subtle philosophy heresy that repudiates American ideas and culture.

Back in the sixties there was a main stream media report (urban legend?) that some hippies used to stand in the middle of Highway 1 in the Big Sur area and extend both hands in the hitchhiker’s thumb a ride style and take the first ride they were offered.

That kind of ambivalent approach to life might have worked back then, but it doesn’t work. Sure, most folks in the Sixties could name several famous counter-culture personalities but sorry to say, the Sixties are over! Can you name one prominent counter-culture personality alive and thriving today?

Will the World really end this Saturday? The World’s Laziest Journalist has received reassurances from a reliable source, that the “fixeroo” is “in” and that it ain’t gonna happen.

Do not, whatever you do, do not tell your boss on Friday to do something that is physically impossible because you are going to need your job on Monday morning to be able to make those every growing monthly mortgage payments and perhaps, if your credit card isn’t maxed out, buy some new designer label threads to arouse some good old fashioned envy in your neighbor’s heart.

It’s just like St. Ronald Reagan used to say on the sign-off for a weekly TV show: “At GE, progress is our most important product.”

Now the disk jockey will play “This old house,” “Come On-A My,” and “Home on the Range.” We have to go buy a fondue maker and also give a shout out to the folks who will be having the Saturday evening barbecue on the roof of the Sydney Backpackers’ Hostel just about the time that the world is supposed to end. If it does happen, mates, you’ll have a marvelous view of the spectacle. Have a “Chill out, dude!” type week.

Afterward: Personal message for MM and KM in the area that hosted Sherman’s famous 1865 “March to the Sea” Tour: You should work out a quid pro quo agreement with “Blue.” See if you can get an offer to use his home as a short term crash pad so that you might learn the “No worries, mate” attitude (you will love Australia; it’s like America without war crimes) and, in return, let him have a night (or week?) serving as your vacation substitute host. Ask Blue if Harold Holt was “Osama-ed” for his opposition to the Vietnam War.

February 28, 2011

Some of the best actors . . .

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 6:11 pm

Once again, Hollywood has managed to survive the ordeal of voting awards to themselves, but if they really wanted to hand out awards for outstanding acting, why didn’t they honor some of the world class performances in Washington D. C., which they overlooked?

In Hollywood it’s easy to please your friends and upset your enemies, but there is one fellow in political arena who played the part of a liberal change of pace Presidential Candidate and managed to earn the undying hate of the Republicans and simultaneously displease the true lefties base. Barry Obama’s role as the personification of change was a very convincing performance by a Reagan Democrat who let war criminals (who are wanted men in other countries) walk and then continued their illegal methods that earned them the distain of many citizens in ally countries.

The Australians are very well informed about celebrity news from Hollywood, perhaps because the Australian film industry seems to be functioning as a “farm club” for the American film industry. The Australians were disappointed (to put it mildly) with the “who knew?” acting job turned in by George W. Bush and Company. (Explaining the intricacies of American Politics brought a “Who is Rush?” response all over Oz.)

Would folks outside “the Industry” (AKA Hollyweird) appreciated the sarcasm if this columnist wrote a column asking: Is the Bush family the Charlie Sheen of American Politics?

The level of excitement over the Oscar™ telecast in the Los Angeles area is quite a bit more intense than it was during the preceding week in Berkeley CA. In the San Francisco Bay area, the attitude was “Who’s nominated this year?” In Los Angeles, it’s “where are you going to watch the show?” and “What parties will you attend?” In Hollywood, it’s like the home team is playing in the World Series every year. It is a news event reported around the world.

While taking a Saturday stroll on Ocean Front Walk, we encountered a film crew talking to a young man. We asked what was going on and learned that the Danish news crew was interviewing William Jøhnk Nielsen who was in the Danish film competing for the Best Foreign Film Oscar™.

A woman (his mother?) suggested that we ask the young man for his autograph, so in the spirit of interline courtesy, we did and the Danish film crew had some additional footage for their story.

We snapped a few paparazzi shots for our photo blog and continued on our way. It then occurred to us that young Mr. Nielsen had something in common with John Wayne: they are the only two actors whom this columnist has ever asked for an autograph. (John Wayne handed out business cards with a copy of his signature on it.)

John Wayne won his Oscar on the same day that California Governor Ronald Reagan held a small impromptu news conference. The Los Angeles Times buried the governor’s news conference on page 3 and splashed “the Duke’s” Oscar™ all over the front page. The world will little note nor long remember what was said by the Governor that day. What’s not to love about a governor who says: “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with.” Would he give the same words of wisdom to the governor of Wisconsin tomorrow, if he could?

On our walk, we discovered that the topic of the homeless in Venice these days has the potential to be very disturbing to a cynical IrishCatholicDemocrat who hears one philosophy from the mouths of Conservative Christian Capitalists and then sees that sweeping the homeless under the rug and out of Venice, contradicts what they say. We will have to do some additional fact checking so that we can write a column about the relevant facts for yet another column that asserts that hypocrisy is one of the Seven Cardinal Virtues for Republicans.

American politicians can give glib explanations for wars of aggression and then turn around and blithely dismiss any concerns about the “what ever you do to the least of my brethren” who lack a sleeping bag to cope with a cold night on the beach.

Shame, it seems, is a quant facet of nostalgia just like silent movies. Do TV addicts know what “slapstick comedy” is?

Speaking of nostalgia when was the last “anti-war in Vietnam” rally held? We see that some old hippies will be gathering next month in Washington D. C., for a rally against the Iraq-Afghanistan military adventures. Maybe by the time it occurs they can toss in their objections to a new adventure in Libya?

We have been advised that if we wish to understand the apparent disparity between millionaire actors giving awards and “air kisses” to each other one day and engaging in cut-throat business deals the next (which may necessitate the actors doing research on the homeless so that their next film [a musical comedy look at life on the ragged edge?] will have a veneer of authenticity to it); we should read Ayn Rand’s “the Fountainhead.”

What ruthless corporate mogul wouldn’t appreciate seeing his merciless conduct portrayed in film that rationalizes his ruthlessness and portrays his immoral conduct as the work of a benevolent crazy uncle who is loved by all his devoted employees?

Isn’t Ayn Rand’s philosophical take on morals similar to Andy Warhol’s definition of art? He said “Art is whatever you can get away with.” If you don’t get arrested; apparently, it wasn’t a crime. Sin no longer exists.

Unless a film competes in the Documentary categories, isn’t it considered a work of fiction?

If the Republicans are looking for a theme song for their next convention to select a Presidential Candidate, perhaps they should consider using Don Henley’s song “Kick ‘em when their down.” Ya think?

It’s “buy Girl Scout cookies” season again. How many boxes will the Koch brothers buy?

The Razzie Awards honoring the lousiest films of 2010 was held on Saturday.

Marshall McLuhan said: “Affluence creates poverty.” Could the Republicans believe that it’s the other way around? “Poverty creates affluence.” For them, it does. More foreclosures means more profits for the banks. Hence the banks have an obligation to continue the trend.

Now the disk jockey will play some of the Oscar™ winning songs from years past, such as “When you wish upon a star,” “Whatever will be will be,” and “High hopes.” We have to go try to find out what has happened to the hippies who have been kicked out of Venice. Have a “we may look ragged and funny” type week.

February 22, 2011

Trend-spotting and the end of Liberal Media?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:19 pm

Two years ago while visiting Australia, one of the bits of cultural differences we noticed was that sports on TV was ubiquitous. Enthusiasm about cricket matches and rugby games was rampant. Monday night football games from the USA played well being seen live during the day on Tuesdays in Sydney. Fox Sports seemed to have a cash-cow with their corner on the sports fans market in Australia.

This columnist preferred to take the Ronald Reagan philosophy for giant sequoia trees when it came time to assess chances to spend portions of the excursion glued to the boob tube watching rugby or cricket: “If you’ve seen one match/game, you’ve seen them all.”

Lately we have noticed a new trend on the media horizon: The conservatives aren’t satisfied with the preponderance of their presence in the media world, they want to banish all vestiges of liberalism in contemporary American culture. They seem to regard a grain of truth with the same amount of tolerance as if seeing it appear anywhere, at any time, would be comparable to a doctor finding a case of the bubonic plague. Has any writer ever used a plague as a metaphor for the truth?

The Mike Malloy radio show is often preempted in the San Francisco area by basketball and on Presidents’ Day we heard Stephanie Miller note that in a Florida market, the station that carries her has gone all sports and she’s MIA.

On the Malloy program for Monday, February 21, 2011, he mentioned that his hours were being curtailed in the Madison Wisconsin area on the radio station there. He also had a caller who referred back to a call from “Blue” on Friday night, but we hadn’t heard that because Malloy had been preempted by Cal’s Women’s Basketball.

Could it be that the Republican philosophy will not be satisfied with a strong numerical superiority over liberal talk radio? Could the Republicans want to shut down progressive radio completely and are they willing to spend the money to get their way?

Back in the day, this columnist had a continuing debate going with a maiden aunt who stoutly maintained that the wrestling matches on TV were rigged. We did our best to refute her wild and irresponsible assertions and prove that she was subscribing to a conspiracy theory that was reprehensible because it attacked the veracity of a pillar of American culture.

We assume that if she were alive today, she would be reading some of the well known Internets sites for conspiracy theory lunatics and joining with them in the unpatriotic questioning of the elections which delivered a Republican landslide last fall and are presenting the Republicans with a voter mandate to eradicate collective bargaining for state employees in Wisconsin.

According to Ozzie Osborne, the “Wobblers” disorder manifests itself when small problems take on the aspect of the End of Time. (We heard about that bit of medical news on the aforementioned Stephanie Miller Show on Monday morning.) If you listen to any liberal talk radio this week, they are making it sound like events in Wisconsin are a union worker’s version of the End of Time events. Is it time for the liberal talk show hosts to call Dr. Ozzie and find what he recommends as a cure for the “Wobblers”?

We only heard our maiden aunt utter the word ********** (10 letter word meaning oral sex [Uncle Rushbo prefers to use the term “a Lewinski.”) once when the topic was Nixon’s “expletive deleted” mystery. We think we can guess what her assessment of George W. Bush would have been.

In the movie “Jaws” a brief reference was made to a horrible ordeal involving sharks suffered by some American sailors during World War II. The cruiser Indianapolis was on a top secret mission (delivering an atomic bomb to an AAF base in the Pacific) when it was torpedoed by the Japanese. It sunk rather quickly and the crew had no time to launch the life boats so they jumped into the ocean. Since their mission was top secret their radio silence was not questioned. The sharks attacked the guys one at a time and inflicted a high number of casualties. Would that obscure facet of naval history provide an adequate analogy for what is happening to progressive media these days? Some of the crew managed to survive.

Would the fate of the Americans who fought at the Alamo be a better example of appropriate symbolism? They were wiped out. So was the cavalry unit which fought at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

When will Mike and Stephanie see their heresy and recant so that they may receive absolution and attain the large monetary remuneration and throngs of adoring fans that await them if they (like the prodigal son?) begin to spout Murdock approved Republican talking points?

My aunt was a bit of a bigot. She wouldn’t acknowledge that folks with dementia had just as much right to be President as any of the other candidates. She refused to discuss the possibility of voting for St. Ronald Reagan for re-election.

Would my dear aunt maintain that Obama has done for the Republicans what a desperate boxer does when he agrees to “throw the fight.” Did he squander his legacy by taking a long time to write a law that was bound to flunk the Supreme Court test?

Did the weekend Teabagger rally in Madison Wisconsin evoke references to the concept of solipsism?

[Note: Uncle Rushbo (on his Monday program) declared that throat cancer is caused by “Lewinskis.” That’s good news for fellows who may have experienced one before Clinton invented that bit of perversion, eh, Rush? Uncle Rushbo ridicules “scientific” opinions about global warming and the possibility that the polar bears are in peril, but he accepts and disseminates the Lewinski story because of the scientific supporting evidence. Could that be an example of the Republican Philosophy that hypocrisy is one of the seven cardinal virtues, along with lying, cheating, stealing, etc.? ]

Bartlett’s attributes to Voltaire this quote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Apparently that was amended to apply only to Republicans’ right to free speech. Democrats need not apply.

The disk jockey will play the “Jaws” soundtrack album, “Please Mr. Custer,” and “Eve of Destruction.” We have to go prepare to hear some Dons Basketball. Note: Berkeley’s Rugby team has escaped elimination via budget cuts (baseball didn’t) and so maybe we will soon have the chance to hear some of those games on Progressive Talk Radio in the SF Bay area? Have a “T-t-t-that’s all f-f-f-folks!” type week.

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