March 5, 2013

Haiti, Baby Doc, GWB & Obama: Let the punishment fit the crime?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 10:21 am

David Pratt, my favorite war correspondent (besides myself, of course), just wrote an excellent article describing the BBC’s recent interview with Tony Blair — wherein Blair repeatedly made embarrassingly ineffective attempts to excuse and defend his indefensible and inexcusable actions regarding the illegal invasion of Iraq ten years ago.

But one particular thing that Pratt wrote caught my eye bigtime. “Challenged in the interview [emphasis mine] on what kind of mandate or legal basis would be required for military action in Syria,” wrote Pratt, “Mr. Blair dismissed the role of the UN as readily now as he did back in the days leading up to the Iraq war.”

Might this actually mean that somebody in the British mainstream media actually came up with the integrity and guts to actually challenge Tony Blair live on national TV? That’s amazing.

But where, exactly, was this brave and intrepid reporter back when we needed him most — back in 2003, when nobody in the mainstream media ever challenged Tony Blair or even thought of challenging him. Nobody. And also, where were the intrepid reporters back then who had the cojones to challenge George W. Bush as well? 2003 was definitely not our mainstream media’s finest hour.

But it’s still not too late. Our mainstream media can still spring into action and demand the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from Mr. Blair (and also from Mr. Bush and even from Mr. Obama as well) — and win a Pulitzer Prize doing it too.

And then perhaps some intrepid souls in the mainstream media might even demand that the punishment fit the crime as well.

But Bush, Blair and Obama aren’t the only ones who have happily murdered folks for fun and profit — and gotten away with it too. Various courts in Haiti are, even as we speak, still trying to bring Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier into the dock of justice for his crimes — and are equally having no luck.

27 years after committing innumerable horrible atrocities between 1979 and 1986, Baby Doc is finally being subpoenaed for his crimes. Hey, maybe 27 years from now, Blair, Bush and Obama may finally get subpoenaed for their crimes too!

However, Baby Doc’s lawyers are apparently trying to postpone his trial, claiming that Duvalier’s statute of limitations are up. According to IPS News Service, “Duvalier was first indicted for crimes against humanity in 2008 and then again in 2011. But last year, the court suddenly ruled that he would only be tried for embezzlement, saying that the alleged abuses had taken place too long ago.”

No, no, no and no.

The statute of limitations for torture and murder are never, ever up — no matter what “Zero Dark Thirty” might lead us to believe. Baby Doc must pay for his crimes. And so must Blair, Bush, Cheney and even Obama.

PS: I’m still trying to get to Haiti by the end of March, but so far things aren’t looking so good. Why? Because of problems with money, transportation, in-country contacts and even hotel accommodations. But wouldn’t it be any (non-mainstream-media) reporter’s dream come true to sit in on Baby Doc’s trial for murder in Haiti? That would be almost as good as being here in an American courtroom when Cheney, Bush and Obama go on trial for murder in the Middle East!

PPS: Since War Street has so obviously screwed up our own American interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Palestine and Syria, what makes us think that a war on Iran is gonna go any better?

War Street, however, has not screwed up their own interests in these countries at all — only ours. Trillions of dollars in profits have been pouring into War Street as a result of these cruel and unnecessary invasions. “Keep it coming!” cries War Street. And so Iran is now next. And once again all of us poor “sequestered” fools in America will be paying for this whole new war adventure for the rest of our lives as well.

Here’s an article from the Washington Post that a friend of mine just sent me — her sons have served in Iraq and Afghanistan as Marines so she keeps on top of this kind of stuff. The article’s headline reads, “The U.S. may not have money for infrastructure repairs, but Afghanistan does.” Maybe some people in the MSM are finally getting it right after all.

February 9, 2011

Religion and war crimes go together like . . .

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , — Bob Patterson @ 1:44 pm

The week following Super Bowl LXV is providing numerous examples of the new American morality that teaches that hypocrisy is one of the seven capital virtues. The string of new evidence started with the images of George W. Bush at the game. See, boys and girls, if he had done a bad thing (as the Reagan Democrats assert) he would be in jail, but he ain’t so he di-ent. (That’s hip speak for did not.) All week long Donald Rumsfeld was given plenty of TV time to spread the message that stupidity and incompetence are OK because, at the very worst, you’ll get a lucrative book contract and your peeps will see you on TV and not in a war crime trial court room. Comes next Sunday morning, America’s priests, ministers, and rabies will get a few minutes to deliver a sermon during Mass to convince the gullible Reagan-Democrat party’s kids that they should “Obey!” Meanwhile, the Republican kids will get an autographed copy of both the Bush and Rumsfeld books and can snicker while watching the Sunday morning talk show/spin rebuttal programs that send the subliminal “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” message that real men have big bank accounts.

Hitler wasn’t even tried in absentia for war crimes, but his posse was. Bush & Co. will never be taken into custody. (If Radovan Karadzic was scheduled to appear at a speaking engagement in Switzerland, do you think he would have gone and been arrested or do you think he would have gotten the traditional con men’s secret signal [watch “The Sting”] to cancel the trip?)

You don’t see Rev. Billy Graham denouncing George W. Bush do ya? Rev. Graham has never spoken harshly about America’s military adventures and thereby he became the White House clergy/mascot for nearly a half century. While many of America’s young Democrats were off to WWII, Graham was in Divinity School and starting his ministry. Gee, with all those young widows to console he must have been very busy. (Did someone just ask: “Did he get laid a lot?”? If so; you’re catching on to how this Republican Morality scam works.)

Getting back to Rumsfeld and the profitability of stupidity and ineptness, we know of one guy, who is both an ordained minister and a blogger, who was aghast at the stupidity of the Gaffer’s Tape and Plastic Sheeting suggestions made right before the Invasion of Iraq. He wrote columns about the hilarious aluminum tube “evidence” and even wrote a letter to the Editor of the New York Times about the possibility that the tape and plastic sheeting suggestion would lead to asphyxiations. He added that the dumb “be prepared for gas attacks” suggestion indicated that fools were at the nation’s helm and did not bode well for the long haul.

The day the letter was published [Feb. 14, 2003 (we can’t find it online)] Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon press conference that the tape and plastic sheeting idea was an instance of metaphorical speaking to convey the seriousness of the terrorism threat.

Doesn’t the suggestion itself indicate a binary choice: they were either being diabolically devious or they were stupid and inept from the git-go?

Doesn’t the fact that they used a glib “let’s move on” line at a press conference and then continued their efforts to marshal public opinion to favor the impending war indicate that they weren’t stupid? If so, then the binary choice in the previous paragraph means they were being devious then and are continuing the coy act today while promoting their disingenuous invasion and books?

Here’s an item for your consideration directed to the fans of the obtuse and esoteric references department: Rumsfeld’s adorable “didn’t know” shenanigans reminded this columnist of the opening of “The Big Sleep,” when Carmen Sternwood falls backwards. Philip Marlowe says: “I had to catch her or let her crack her head on the tessellated floor.” The mainstream media does for Rumsfeld what Marlowe did for Carmen by unquestioningly accepting his disingenuous explanations. “Good boy, Rover!”

The previously mentioned letter sent to the New York Times was published on the letters to the editor page (wasn’t that on Valentine’s Day in 2003?). The war? It’s going on to this very day and you can look that up on the Internets if you don’t believe us. Certain logistical support companies have enthusiastic annual reports that also substantiate that fact.

Rumsfeld got a lucrative book deal and the blogger? . . . He’ll have to apply for a writing grant from the Nihilism Foundation, if he wants to fulfill his dream of touring the famous auto museums of Germany this summer.

[Note: This columnist used to use the concept of the “Gonzo Journalism Foundation” as the imaginary source for money, but we have to drop that shtick because we have learned that Mrs. Hunter S. Thompson has started the real Gonzo Foundation. Now our new imaginary source for money will be called “The Nihilism Foundation” and let’s hope that’s not a real institution. Is there such a thing as “the Tree-hugger Foundation”?]

The journalists who heartily endorsed the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are still churning out “atta-boy” stories in support of the Bush/Obama war efforts, while liberal bloggers scramble for invitations to the Huffington Post weekly soirees at the publishers house (in O. J.’s old L. A. neighborhood, n’est ce pas?).

Do the children of Reagan Democrats want to become union members who buy a house that goes into foreclosure or do they secretly want to become bankers who own private jets, vacation homes in Tahiti, and have trophy wives while his peeps do the foreclosing paperwork?

Speaking of high rollers, we have learned that one bookie operation in Ireland can not accept bets originating from America on the possibility that the 40-1 long-shot candidate, JEB, will win the next Presidential election. Drat! Are we going to have to schmooze with a certain British Film Critic to get a three day crash pad stay in London, invitation, while on our way to Germany, to make the bet? Stay tuned to this columnist for further developments.

Speaking of Germany is there a bit of archeological irony in the WWII photos of the chaplain holding a “blessing of the bombs” ceremony?

Most Americans know who Hitler and Mussolini were. Can they name the guy who was Pope during WWII? Who was America’s leading clergyman during WWII?

O’Reilly wanted nothing but the highest respect for the war criminal George W. Bush, but he didn’t think all his interruptions of the President of the United States was anything other than a respectful interview in the Edward R.

One final irrelevant interjection: San Francisco columnist Herb Caen often used to point out people who had inappropriate names didn’t fit their jobs, such as a used car salesman named Bob Chetham. As we were completing this column, liberal talk show hostess Stephanie Miller and the mooks were obsessing about names with risqué double meanings. We should direct her attention to a plumber in Santa Monica who was named Dick Shaver.

Our last column probably shot to hell our chances of ever being added to the Huffington Post roster of regular contributors. It’s OK, though. This columnist wouldn’t have cut the mustard. The hypothetical job offer would probably have turned out to be like some of the snappy dialogue Raymond Chandler wrote: “I was fired. For insubordination. I test very high on insubordination, General.”

Now the disk jockey will play both the Beatles and Stones version (the only song recorded by both bands) of “Money (That’s What I Want),” plus “Fools Rush In” and Johnny Cash’s “I’m just an old chunk of coal.” It’s time for us to make like a shepherd and get the flock outta here. Have a “get on board” type week.

January 24, 2011

The Noir City Report

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 3:50 pm

During an intense effort to convince a Conservative friend that he should listen to some of Mike Malloy’s radio shows, we suddenly realized that we had earned the right to take a short break, so we hopped on a bus and headed out for the Ninth Annual Noir City Film Festival in San Francisco. A nostalgic trip back in time to an earlier era when all Hollywood movies reinforced the American principle that the bad guys always get caught would be therapeutic. All the classic examples of the film noir genre were made before some nefarious subversive intellectuals (AKA dirty commies?) were able to get the Hayes code repealed and start making movies hinting that bankers had hearts of stone and that only crooks and liars, not true red-blooded altruistic American patriots, run for public office.

The theme for this year’s event is: “Who’s crazy now?” and all 24 examples of the noir genre being shown tell the story of a protagonist who is either insane or suspected of being insane. Republicans would perceive the movie event as a preview of the next Democratic Party convention to select a Presidential nominee.

The first installment of the film festival presented the double feature of “High Wall,” and “Stranger on the Third Floor.” The second film is credited with the distinction of being the first appearance of a movie that would be labeled as “film noir.” It featured some genius examples of black and white cinematography that included images of shadows to tell the story. It included a surrealistic dream sequence as did many subsequent examples of quality noir. The leading man is falsely arrested for murder and his frail does the detective work necessary to find a suspicious stranger and thus clear her man.

The Saturday matinee was up next. “Strangers in the Night” tells the story of a crazy old lady and her efforts to control the life of a wounded war veteran.

Then they showed “Gaslight,” the 1944 film featuring an Academy Award Winning (AKA the Oscar™) performance by Ingrid Bergman. Spoiler warning: If you haven’t seen this stunning mystery, there will be some plot surprises revealed below. In it a young singer, Paula Alquist (Ingrid Berman) falls under the control of a man who exudes charm and savoir faire. They get married and she begins to manifest examples of memory loss. Her husband gives her a family heirloom broach and she immediately loses it. It reminded this columnist of how the liberals have lost their memory about the news stories that described how the airplane that had hit the Pentagon was painstakingly reassembled in a hanger in Langley Virginia, and how that provided valuable clues linking the perps to Saddam Hussein.

The wife continues to have distressing examples of losing touch with reality despite her husband’s constant efforts to remind her of the truth. The husband, Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), reminded this reviewer of Donald Rumsfeld. When they clash over a chance to go to a party, he reluctantly relents and is mortified when she breaks down in tears at the event. (I’m sure that, in these more compassionate times, some effeminate guys would assert that she was merely showcasing her softer side and not manifesting emotional instability as her husband maintained.)

Just as the husband is about to take steps to have his wife committed to an insane asylum, a Scotland Yard fellow steps in and proves that a crime has taken place and that the husband is a bigamist, a murderer, and was after some valuable jewelry.
At that point, we became obsessed with the idea that we should rush back to our pad in Berkeley and do the necessary key strokes to produce a column that compares what the husband did to what the Bush Administration did to the conspiracy theory nuts who thought they understood reality and that the highly paid government staff workers did not.

By early Sunday morning, we realized that it was senseless to worry about things such as:
How did the US Army lose Osama in the Torra Borra mountains?
Did Building 7 just fall down?
Aren’t the electronic voting machines unhackible?
Isn’t it best for a conservative majority Supreme Court to decide close elections?
If there is more than one film noir film festivals in the USA, why isn’t there a vampire film festival?
Years and years from now, if someone does start a vampire film festival, and if Dick Cheney is selected as guest of honor, what will the curmudgeonly Democrats say that means?

Sunday the twin bill was “A Double Life” which won the lead actor, Ronald Colman another one of those gold statue awards for acting, and “Among the Living” which was an obscure gem notable for several different reasons. The second film featured Francis Farmer and Rita Hayward. In it, Americans were depicted as having a lynch mob mentality, which we now know happens only when justice involves national security factors such as the WikiLeaks case.

We chatted briefly with the Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller, who is an author and the event host. Was one of the fans who spoke to him, Freddy Francisco the former columnist known as “Mr. San Francisco”? Unless that fellow has the life expectancy statistics of a vampire it would be impossible for it to have been the guy Mr. Hearst fired personally two different times.

Noir fans who can’t wait until the Los Angeles event from March 31 to April 17, later this year, might enjoy the Film Preservation Blogathon (For the Love of Film [Noir]) starting on February 14 being hosted by Ferdy on Films and The self –Styled Siren.

The Film Noir Foundation has been working with the UCLA Film and Television Archive to preserve noir movies which are in danger of disappearing from contemporary culture (like a tiger in the smoke?).

We realized that the World’s Laziest Journalist may have become overworked in his efforts to win the debate with the conservative friend and, perhaps, the columnist needs a bigger and better bit of divertissement than the Noir City event. We have noticed that a new film playing in Berkeley is titled “Nuremburg.” Maybe it’s a travelogue? Doesn’t Germany have the highest excellent Quality Automobile Museum rating of any country in the entire world?

Maybe a trip there to see those tourist attractions would take our mind off Bush and our misperception that he has done a bad thing by approving waterboarding? Yes! We’ll get our mind right, boss! We’ll start with a trip to downtown Berkeley to see that travelogue.

What about a travelogue and a fine meal? What is chef Lecter serving at his world famous restaurant tonight?

Speaking of conflicting points of view, we are anxiously awaiting the return of Roger Ebert to the TV screens of America, even though the only movie critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize did fail to grasp reality in his review of Van Wilder.

Which quote doesn’t belong?
“Tell, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up!”
“Let’s see, three times 35 – is a hundred and five. I’ll bet you 105,000 dollars that you go to sleep before I do.”
“There was another key . . .”
“How many shots did he fire . . .”
“We have proof that there are WMD’s in Iraq.”

Now, if our disk jockey can find the records he seems to have lost, he will play the theme song from “Laura,” the Vertigo soundtrack album, and “The Ballad of Lucy Jordon.” We have to go and Buy War Bonds today. Have a “if it looks suspicious; report it” type week.

July 16, 2010

The Tattlesnake – Dick Cheney Doesn’t Have a Pulse Edition

Rachel Maddow reported July 14th that five-heart-attacks-since-he-was-37 Dick Cheney is hanging on by a thread following complete heart failure, kept alive only by a machine called a LVAD resting externally on his belly that keeps his blood moving. Ironically, because an external machine is circulating his blood rather than his damaged heart, Cheney apparently has no pulse, not that I would have sworn he had one before. Although I wouldn’t wish death on any human being (leave that to the kill-crazy wingnuts; I’d rather see him in jail), and Deadeye Dick marginally qualifies in that category, this would seem to be close to the end of the line for the Torture Boy – the doctors can do no more except a full heart transplant and he’s physically in such bad shape he likely couldn’t survive the operation. (Although the sci-fi plot possibilities of Cheney receiving the heart of, say, a peaceful Buddhist monk and publicly renouncing his past self is nearly irresistible. “I’ve done wrong and now I must pay the price! President Obama, put me in prison for war crimes – waterboard me, I insist! And I’m donating all of my millions in wealth to Green Peace! Liz, stop crying like that!”)

If he goes, are we going to be subjected to the full-pomp, days-long state funeral, or will every news outlet but Fox let him pass with just a brief mention and obit? I also wonder if, in his final moments in this realm, a fearful-of-judgment Cheney will pull a Lee Atwater and ask forgiveness for his past crimes and deceptions?

© 2010 RS Janes.

February 22, 2010

Back when the good guys were the good guys

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 7:24 pm

Since it is slowly becoming obvious that the Bush Administration will accomplish what the Nazis couldn’t (be forgiven for committing war crimes); it seems concomitant to find some other topics for columns to be posted online. It would be best to come up with topics which will be previously untouched but will proved a “Eurika!” moment/reaction with this site’s regulars.

One hypothetical question which has always been a concern for this columnist has been: “If you could travel back in time to anyplace to see history happen; where would you be going when (not if) they actually invent and activate the “Wayback Machine”?

At this point we direct readers’ attention to the comments section below.

For this columnist, the first response has always been: I’d go to Paris to watch the Liberation during WWII occur.

We used to work with a guy who was, according to the judgment of the other workers, very boring. We made a specific effort to get to know him hoping that he would have some hidden trove of memories that we could get him to share. We’ve always been anxious to hear the experiences of the men who fought in WWII. When this fellow mentioned the Army, we hauled out our verbal questionnaire form. What theater of operations, what unit, what time frame, etc.

The guy didn’t offer any spectacular possibilities for combat stories. He had been wounded in action but it wasn’t life threatening. Then he proved my point by dropping a game winner: while he was in a military hospital, he and a nurse who spoke French went AWOL and snuck into Paris three weeks after the Liberation. He succinctly reported “We had a good time.”

The highlight, according to his reminiscences, occurred when he went into one of the best restaurants and ordered up a “once in a lifetime” dining experience. When the bill wasn’t presented, he asked for it. The waiter explained that it was impossible to present a bill to a member of the very same Army that had Liberated Paris. Sweet.

One might assume that living in Berkeley wouldn’t offer much possibility for finding some vicarious material for flashbacks to the aforementioned historical series of events that transpired in August 1944. Thanks to some items found in the Berkeley Public Library book store, such an assumption would be misguided.

In a copy of “By-line: Ernest Hemingway,” we found (on pages 382 – 3): “We ran through the road where the munitions dump was exploding, with Archie (his driver), who has bright red hair, six years of regular Army, four words of French, a missing front tooth, and a Frere in a guerrilla outfit, laughing heartily at the noise the big stuff was making as it blew. . . .

“We were going downhill now, and I knew that road and what we could see when we made the next turn. . . .

“‘Yeah,’ I said. I couldn’t say anything more then, because I had a funny choke in my throat and I had to clean my glasses because there now, below us, gray and always beautiful, was spread the city I love best in all the world.”

A day or so later, in “Wayward Reporter: The Life of A. J. Liebling,” we found (pages 4 – 5): “For the first time in my life and probably the last, I have lived for a week in a great city where everybody is happy. Moreover, since this city is Paris, everybody makes this euphoria manifest.”

We’ve read some of the articles that Albert Camus wrote for Combat, the resistance newspaper, but were surprised to find that Liebling had written a book that critically evaluated the journalism produced in Paris during the Occupation. Where the heck are we ever going to find a copy of “The Republic of Silence”? Now we have a reason to go to bookstores.

Somehow George W. Bush thought that the troops he sent into Baghdad would get the same tumultuous reception that the Parisians gave to the American troops who arrived in Paris in 1944. Unfortunately, Bush miscalculated. Bush ultimately came off looking like a guy standing in the rain watching his girlfriend and her husband boarding a train that was leaving Paris.

When we started flipping through a recently acquired copy of “Anthology: Selected essays from the first 30 years of The New York Review of Books,” we came across Bruce Chatwin’s piece titled “An Aesthete at War.” It tells about the life of Captain Ernst Junger who won Iron Crosses in both World Wars.

Part of fact finding for our imaginary time travel trip had been a reading of “Is Paris Burning?” many years ago. “An Aesthete at War” mentions that General Speidel “forgot” the order to V-bomb Paris. How did we miss that bit of trivia? It seems that Paris was doubly lucky to survive the Liberation relatively unscathed. We also just read (In Joseph Harsch’s book about covering WWII?) that the night they left Paris, the Germans did send some airplanes on a bombing raid over Paris’ outskirts.

Junger loved war, but he also loved Paris. According to Chatwin’s article it seems likely that Rush Limbaugh would cherish Junger’s book about WWI titled “Storm of Steel.” Apparently, if you like war; you will love Junger’s book “Storm of Steel.” A guy who was wounded 14 times in World War I and then fought again in World War II would be the kind of guy Uncle Rushbo would urge all American kids to emulate. Uncle Rushbo would agree with the warmonger aspect of Junger’s personality and it isn’t hard to imagine the fat man also wishing for an alternative history where Paris was leveled by the retreating German Army.

It seems that Dick Cheney will never stand trial for war crimes and that time travel back to the days when the Americans were “the good guys” will never be perfected, but a columnist can dream, can’t he?

Chatwin delivers an occupation era quote from Madame (Mrs. Paul) Morand: “For me the art of living is the art of making other people work and keeping pleasure for myself.” (Does Uncle Rushbo need a motto for his radio program?)

Now, we’ll pry the disk jockey away from his transistor radio (where the True Oldies Channel delivers a limited dose of time travel) and have him play “The Last Time I Saw Paris (the song was inspired by the fall of France),” “Paris vor Hundert Jahren” and Waylon Jenning’s song, “He Went to Paris.” (What? You were expecting “As Time Goes By”? The boss don’t like to hear that song.) It’s time for us to go do some fact finding about the new John Cusack movie with the intriguing title “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Have a “filled with those events which alter and illuminate our times” type week.

December 23, 2009

The Case of the Sabotaged Christmas Carol

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 9:13 pm

Back in the day when Johnny Dollar was riding high on the radio waves, this columnist was there when the squealer was masquerading as a singer. Here’s how it went down: when the class of seventh graders was attempting to apply their talent to a traditional Christmas song, the nun became rather riled because somebody (the tenor terrorist?) was ruining (the nun couldn’t very well use a vulgar colloquialism to designate the deliberate efforts to mess up the melody, could she?) it by singing off key. What kind of fiend would be trying to foil the youngsters attempt to perform a Christmas carol?

We decided that in order to hear the possible perpetrator and track him (her?) down; we’d just mouth the words. The dastardly warbler disappeared. If we kept quiet things went smoothly. Could it be that our efforts to become the modern embodiment of Caruso was so misguided that it seemed likely that our most sincere efforts to croon were being misinterpreted as deliberate effort to sabotage the song?

Lately, we’ve been wondering if something similar is happening with our efforts to do some noteworthy blogging.

Recently we ran a column about what we perceived as the inherent dangers of Instant Recall Voting (IRV). Yikes, it went over like changing keys in the middle of a note while singing. Is concern about accurate vote tallies antiquated and as much in he past as the Zero decade which is about to end?

If this columnist wants to boost the number of hits on his efforts should we check out some of the top political blogs and add our voice to the topics that are hot? What if our voice cracks? Or should we stick with our efforts to track down topics that are more unique?

If a priest encourages poor parishioners to resort to shoplifting, if necessary, to feed their kids, then how should this columnist react? Should we make allusions to Jean Valjean or would a condemnation of stealing be better? What if we drew attention to the fact that the shrill reaction to that opinion by the good father’s superiors was coming from people who had no trouble ignoring questions about the morality of torturing prisoners?

Recently we wrote a column about how good causes are begging for funds to continue their work. Should we do an update and insert some we forgot to mention such as Planned Parenthood or Environment California?

After we pointed out that mixing a celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace with preparations for sending more troops into a battle (which most experts say is impossible to win) might seem inappropriate, Mike Malloy on his radio program made a similar observation.

Conservatives, who endorsed the massive deficit spending needed to fund the start of a perpetual war, are now having conniptions about spending money on health care for their own country’s citizens. Do Republicans have schadenfreude copyrighted?

Would writing a column pointing out that Tiger quit golf to spend time with his wife and family and then she left, indicate that he should return to the links and make the best of it? Could we work in a line about the siren call of the groupies being as irresistible as the attraction to the money he will win?

Who cares about polar bears? They are gigantic beasts who will not hesitate to kill humans given the chance. As long as global warming isn’t killing off the pandas, isn’t that good enough reason to keep using your SUV’s and ignore all this voodoo science stuff?

Has anyone pointed out that Glenn Beck’s efforts to get his fans to buy him a car seem inappropriate? Isn’t he supposed to be spokesman for the self made man party? Don’t Republicans value the self-reliant man? Is he a hypocrite who hopes that his political masters will not notice this abject failure of philosophy or is he just a chiseling SOB no better than the “spare change?” beggars the Republicans despise?

Maybe we should just send a letter to the all good, all knowing, all powerful Santa and ask him to send us a literary agent for this Christmas? Maybe if we put our efforts into a book length effort to wrap up incidents like the time Paul Newman asked for our autograph, we slept through a murder, the time we got our first photo lesson from a future Pulitzer Prize winner, etc., into one coherent manuscript; then maybe a literary agent could provide us with some bankable reasons for a shift in our literary endeavors?

It’s obvious that this columnist is incapable of writing something for the Internet that will precipitate events that will deliver a war crimes trial for George W. Bush, so maybe, in the holiday spirit of Peace on Earth, we can grant absolution so that the former President can sleep well at night?

A columnist who has been consistent in his disapproval of George W. Bush for his sanctioning of torture, various invasions, and failure to apprehend Osama (as promised on the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center) can’t very well switch to the role of adoring cheerleader when his successor, who picks up just where 43 left off, is a Democrat. That would smack of inconsistency and partisanship, wouldn’t it?

Wait! There’s still time! It isn’t Christmas yet! Time to wrap up this column and go buy a California Lottery Ticket!

W. C. Fields has been quoted as saying: “Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. And while everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we’ll be seeing six or seven.”

Now, the disk jockey will play the Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” and two versions of songs that share the same title: “Christmas in Jail.” We gotta go buy a lottery ticket. Have a “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Man” type week.

December 9, 2009

So Many Causes, So Little Time

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:35 pm

(Berkeley CA) While visiting San Francisco, it became necessary to go to a bank branch that wasn’t the one this columnist usually uses and in the course of a conversation with the manager, he mentioned that if this customer intended to give the teller a tip, it would be better to donate to one of the charities that they suggested and then he dealt out a list of about a dozen good causes.  He caught us a bit unaware since we have never tipped a bank clerk.  Maybe the rich folks tip them like they tip the croupier when they win a big pot at Monte Carlo? 

The sheet of paper he provided was carefully tucked away so that the list could be accurately transcribed at this point in this column.  One of the disadvantages of a rolling stone existence is that things get lost and so, despite a sincere effort, no list.  The only one that comes to mind is the fog city SPCA.

A clothing store in San Franciso directed their customers to St. Jude’s Hospital ( which assures donors that the organization in Memphis will never stop looking for cures for the diseases which severely affect children.

Activists on Venice Beach. Recently, were asserting that folks shouldn’t shoot sea lions (

While staying at the hostel in the Fort Mason National Park (spectacular scenery with a supermarket a just across Laguna St.) we encountered Padma Dorje who was collecting signatures as part of her effort to eliminate torture in the world.

Across the bay from San Francisco, the Asian Community Mental Health Services is conducting the Tiny Tickets effort.  Travelers are asked to send in their Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) tickets to help support that good cause.  (

Fellow columnist (and occasional war correspondent) Jane Stillwater is conducting an online petition urging the reform of campaign financing.  For more about that click this link(

While traveling in Australia (looks like the folks on Cottesloe beach will have to celibate Christmas without this columnist this year) activists for Greenpeace and Amnesty International seemed to be ubiquitous, but, upon reflection, they may not have been encountered in Kalgoorlie.  We assured those eager young workers that since we couldn’t afford to give money to their causes, we would urge the people who read our columns to support the altruistic efforts of both groups.   

Now that President Obama is in office and is directing his best efforts towards ending the war in Afghanistan, it will no longer be necessary for this columnist to constantly harangue his faithful readers with diatribes about the absurdity of the continued slaughter and carnage involved in the commendable American efforts to convert that county’s citizens over to advocates of democracy and free elections.  Also, this year as Christians celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, it will not be appropriate to suggest that former President Bush, who ignored the precepts of war established at the Nurmberg Trials or the rules of the Geneva Conventions, deserves a severe reprimand in the form of another War Crime Trial for himself and some of the members of his administration.  He didn’t know that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (what better reason could there have been for invading Afghanistan?). 

Americans have given 43 a “Get out of Jail” card and so it will be necessary for columnists of both the conservative and progressive persuasion to find new and more compelling causes to espouse. 

We were pondering the monumental problem of deciding what crap to buy for friends for Christmas so that they could cram their closets with irrefutable evidence that they support capitalistic democracy via their effort to spend the country out of Great Depression 2.0 and not just by mouthing meaningless platitudes such as “Peace on Earth good will to men (who should be tortured to prevent new terrorist attacks),” when we realized that the Christmas scenes that depict polar bears (<I>Ursus martimus</I>) lurking in the background of the images of Santa may become anachronisms when the last polar bear drowns in an ice free Artic Ocean.

Bill O’Reilly made a pledge to America that he would protect them from pinheads in the media who disseminated faulty information.  O’Reilly is as much history as is “the Lone Ranger” program which must logically mean that the cry for Climate Justice is a legitimate concern.  He’s gone from radio and we’re still here writing columns.  Nice try, Bill!  Guess the people just didn’t buy your BS, eh?  Hence, if we write about global warning, it will now be up to Uncle Rushbo to protect the hillbillies from pro science points of view. 

Speciescide happens.  Folks who live in Berkeley know that UCB’s mascot is the California Golden Bear (<I>Ursus arctos callifornicu</I>) and many of them also know that the last one of that species was shot in Tulare county in 1922.  Therefore we will compose a column which will have the headline:  “Dead polar bear walking!” and fictionalize an interview with the plight of a unfairly convicted (that never happens in the USA, but movie fans know that some unjustified executions do occur in places such as Saddam’s Iraq) prisoner on death row.

What will happen in the future when there are summer heat waves and there are no polar bears in the local zoo to photograph?  How will the wirephoto division of AP cope with that challenge?

There are good causes and there are bad causes, but are there any uncaused causes?

Hmmm.  As an ordained minister this columnist has to wonder:  Does the Berkeley cheerleading squad need the services of a volunteer chaplain?

George Carlin has said:  “The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.”  How many little boys and girls in Iraq would like to ask Santa to bring back their arms or legs?

Now, the disk jockey, who heard this song on Revolution Radio (KREV 92.7 FM in the San Francisco area), will play the new curmudgeon anthem:  “I’m beginning to drink a lot at Christmas” (will that become this year’s viral Internet fad?) and this columnist will go Christmas shopping.  Have a “ho, ho, ho in Freo” type week.

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 21, 2009

Beware of the Terrorist Supervillains!


May 12, 2009

Gullibility Test

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , — Bob Patterson @ 3:42 pm

At the same time that John Demjanjuk has been extradited from Cleveland to face trial for things he did as a German soldier during World War II, Americans believe it when the news media reports that due to the statute of limitations, time is running out as far as indicting and prosecuting George W. Bush because of his torture policy.  Why do citizens in other countries believe that Americans are very stupid and gullible?

April 23, 2009

When Euclidean Geometry Fails

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:18 pm

Two things equal to a third are equal to one another.
Germans who did waterboarding committed a war crime.
Japanese who did waterboarding committed a war crime.
Americans who did waterboarding did not commit a war crime.

March 16, 2009

Silence Implies Consent

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 3:39 pm

After the news stories broke last week that Seymour Hersh would be publishing a story about a death squad that reported directly to Dick Cheney, we sat back and waited for a tsunami of editorials decrying the appearance of the final link in the chain of similarities between the Nazis and the Bush Junta.

When the story about U. S. actions at Abu Ghraib Prison first broke, back when many U. S. newspapers had large staffs and would have had the resources to check for any relevant editorials from the Nuremberg trial era, did any one of them, some, or none; bother to check to see if any of the rules, which America helped establish, had been broken? Were the ones who remained silent giving their tacit approval to whatever happened?

Were there any editorials at the time of the Nuremberg War Crime Trials denouncing the moral turpitude of the members of the German Military who carried out the heinous atrocities committed to please the Fuhrer?

Should American journalists have established any differences between the two countries’ actions, to eliminate any possible misperception prevalent at that time?

Didn’t Americans, in the post WWII period, revel in their righteous indignation knowing that American troops would never (ever) resort to Gestapo methods of interrogation?

Didn’t the war crimes trials at Nuremberg, establish the principle that the German troops (as did all soldiers around the world) had a moral obligation to refuse to follow orders to commit atrocities?

Wouldn’t the legal principle that silence implies consent mean that if (speculation alert!) President George W. Bush is ever convicted of war crimes, then the American troops who remained silent were guilty of violating the principles established at Nuremberg? Wouldn’t it also mean that when the allegedly pro-Liberal mainstream media remained silent, they were giving their consent for what happened? Wouldn’t it also mean that members of the clergy in America were also giving their consent?

If the legal axiom that silence implies consent is valid, and if Bush is ever convicted, then some people who expressed patriotic enthusiasm for what was happening, would then have some need for confession and contrition, if they also have endorsed the principles established at Nuremberg.

If President Bush’s authorization of extreme questioning methods was not prohibited by the rules established at Nuremberg, then shouldn’t a Congressional investigation be held to clear up any doubt and misconceptions about what he knew, sanctioned, and ordered?

Ordinary citizens who want to establish that Americans did not consent to any violations of the Nuremberg rules of military conduct during war: write to your congressional representative and your two Senators and urge that a preliminary inquiry be conducted so that at least from this point forward, each citizen will know that he or she didn’t hide behind a “go along to get along” attitude that was the same as consent by silence endorsement of any possible Bush violations of the rules of war.

Readers can speak up now, by forwarding this column to various well known (bur curiously silent about the death squads) journalists and ask them to reveal their philosophy about what President George W. Bush did and didn’t do or they can continue to remain silent.

Robert Benchley said: “Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing. ”

Now, the disk jockey will play Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” and we will quietly sneak out of here. Have a (Silence is) Golden week.

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